Rewind: Kings turn the page quickly to snap losing streak

Rewind: Kings turn the page quickly to snap losing streak

Sometimes getting embarrassed is just what the doctor ordered. After getting smoked by the Bucks on Saturday night, the Sacramento Kings looked like a completely different team in Toronto. Maybe they gleaned something from the 26-point loss in Milwaukee. Or maybe they were just tired of losing.

Whatever switch was hit, the Kings came out and stunned the Raptors, beating the home team 96-91 before boarding a flight and heading back to the friendly confines of the Golden 1 Center.

“We turned a page on last night’s game, we got better from that,” veteran Rudy Gay said following the Kings’ big win. “We came out here today and competed.”

Gay missed the Bucks game with a rib cartilage injury and was listed as doubtful to start Sunday morning. But he decided to test how he felt in pregame and gave coach Dave Joerger a tremendous 35 minutes of court time.

“I did not expect him to play and he strapped them up and made some big shots down the stretch,” Joerger said during his postgame scrum.

The 30-year-old wing has been tremendous early in the season for Sacramento and Sunday was no different. He finished the night with 23 points, including a pair of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter that gave the Kings a fighting chance.

“We played with energy,” Gay said. “Watching last night I didn’t see that at all. I just wanted to make an effort today to try and use my energy as much as I could. We’re a much better team when we play with passion.”

“I feel a lot better now that we won,” Gay added with a smile.

It was a team effort with four players scoring in double-figures and another two finishing the night with eight points. But where the Kings really excelled was on the defensive end where they held a very good Raptors team to just 35.7 percent from the field and outrebounded the home team 47-43.

“You’ve got to want to rebound,” 36-year-old Matt Barnes said.

Cousins led the way with 14 boards, but Barnes chipped in 10, Kosta Koufos added six and both Gay and Arron Afflalo finished with five apiece.

Sacramento’s early season schedule has been brutal. Their eight games in 12 nights, including six on the road, is tops in the league. And all of those contests without their starting point guard Darren Collison who returns to action Tuesday after serving his eight-game league mandated suspension.

“Our mindset is just to keep coming after them and I’m really proud of our guys,” said Joerger. “It’s been a tough road trip and it feels good to finish with a win.”

Joerger is still searching for the right combination of players. Willie Cauley-Stein and Ben McLemore drew the short straw against the Raptors, both sitting out as healthy scratches. Omri Casspi played just nine minutes and veteran Jordan Farmar logged 10 minutes as Joerger went to a tight nine man rotation.

“We’ve got some good players on this team,” Gay said. “Everybody’s capable of having big nights. That’s another thing we have to do. We have to spread the ball out and give everybody a chance.”

Arron Afflalo played a solid 36 minutes at the two, scoring 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting. He was one of a small group of players that was asked to guard high-scoring DeMar DeRozan, who was limited to just 23 points on 7-of-20 shooting after coming in averaging nearly 36 per night.

Cousins struggled from the field, but still managed to 22 points on 7-of-21 shooting. Koufos added 13 points, which is a high for the nine-year vet this season. It was a collective effort for a group that looked absolutely defeated less than 24 hours earlier.

“We can’t put our heads down and that’s kind of what’s happened on the trip,” Joerger explained. “We’ve taken a couple of hits and we’ve struggled to come down and execute and get a shot we want or we turn it over and heads get down. Guys made some shots, we kept battling and we were rewarded in the end.”  

The Kings don’t have time to celebrate the win. They boarded a plane for Sacramento following the game where they will take on the Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans Tuesday night, followed by a matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday.

After a rough trip, they now stand at 3-5 on the season. It wasn’t exactly a statement game, but certainly one the team can try to build off of.

“I think it just shows what we’re capable of,” Matt Barnes said. “Out of all the team’s we beat the best team after a back-to-back. We’ve just got to stick together and we’re going to start gelling and we’re going to be a problem.”

Seven fearless Kings predictions for 2018-19 NBA season


Seven fearless Kings predictions for 2018-19 NBA season

Just as predicting the Golden State Warriors’ upcoming season based on the traditional metric of “Will they win the championship?” is a monumentally pointless exercise, so is asking any similar question of the Sacramento Kings. They are as easily predictable as the Warriors, because they are the same team every year – no matter who’s on it.
Nevertheless, let’s play our game. “Will they win half their games?” No. Of course not. Not even close. You don’t get to be this bad for this long without having plans for being this bad awhile longer.
So what can we expect of them? What are their capabilities, minimal though they might seem? Who are they, and what will we discuss when that annoying guy in the office snaps at all the LeBron and Durant conversations and brings up Marvin Bagley?
Well, here’s what:
Head coach Dave Joerger is already past Sacramento’s sell-by date because he has coached 164 Kings games, putting him ahead of the following coaches in Sacramento Kings history:
George Karl.
Tyrone Corbin.
Michael Malone.
Keith Smart.
Calvin Natt.
Reggie Theus.
Eric Musselman.
Eddie Jordan.
Dick Motta.
Rex Hughes.
Jerry Reynolds.
Bill Russell.
Phil Johnson.
Joerger will last long enough to pass Paul Westphal on October 30, but needs three more years to pass Garry St. Jean and seven more years to pass Rick Adelman (including playoffs). Joerger is easy money to pass Westphal, but has no chance at the other two. Why? Sacramento. That’s why.
At least for awhile, because of the corrosive nature of losing. Bagley and De’Aaron Fox and Harry Giles and Willie Cauley-Stein and Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovich (once he’s healthy again) might enjoy the Sactown experience for awhile (and their joy will somehow be linked, largely unfairly, to the absence of DeMarcus Cousins), but this is the year in which they either grow together or grow apart. See Dave Joerger for the tell on how this goes.
Because a day without saying “Z-Bo” is like a day without smiles. 
See the Z-Bo item above.
At some point, he will come out with his perpetually exhausted expression and explain why something has gone wrong and how it isn’t actually wrong at all. People will nod and give their heartfelt “Yeah, whatevers,” and then we’ll all go back to our lives. We’re waiting for the Western Conference window to reopen in two years before we know if the Kings got this all right, but in the meantime Vlade must explain how all is going according to plan while they are 10-23.
The new arena has been filled for every game since it opened two years ago, but at some point empty seats may be announced, or at the very least manifest themselves. The Kings have been such a persistent disappointment that the fan base will at some point make its feelings of ennui be heard, because nobody’s patience is unlimited.
The Kings are in some ways playing either for Boston or Philadelphia (if it ends up being No. 1), since their top pick reverts to one of those teams as part of the still epochal Rajon Rondo-Marco Belinelli-Kosta Koufos trade in 2015. 
This means the Celtics and Sixers will attempt to run up the score each of the four times they play Sacramento, and the Kings will receive standing ovations in both cities this year. The Eastern Conference now runs through Sacramento, which makes since the Western Conference just runs over it.
The Hawks are trying to be even worse than Sacramento to get the first pick. We should just mention that in passing.
The Kings’ worst stretch in Sacramento was a decade ago, when they needed four seasons (2009-12) to win one season’s worth of games. This won’t be that barring injury, surrender or revolt, but as much as young players say a team’s history isn’t theirs, the weight of such relentless organizational failure has its weight. The Warriors felt it as they detached, slowly, from the Chris Cohan era, and the Kings feel it now. The task for them is to genuinely reinvent themselves while hearing “Same old Kings” every day. They need to make 30 wins feel like 50, as counterintuitive as that seems.
Then again, what are the Kings if not essentially counterintuitive?

Five ways Kings can jump in NBA standings in 2018-19 season


Five ways Kings can jump in NBA standings in 2018-19 season

SACRAMENTO -- Death and taxes. Those are the only two certainties in life, according to Benjamin Franklin.

The Sacramento Kings missing the NBA playoffs didn’t make the list.

After 12 seasons of struggles, the team appears no closer to snapping its playoff drought. The odds makers are against them, and so are the NBA talking heads. The consensus is 25 to 27 wins, and some believe even that's generous.

The Kings will enter the season with only one player over the age of 25 in their rotation -- 30-year-old Nemanja Bjelica, who was on his way back to Europe before a phone call from Vlade Divac and Peja Stojakovic changed his career path. 

Three of the Kings’ youngsters aren’t old enough to walk into a bar, and half of the team is too young to rent a car. 

But this is professional sports. Every year, the win/loss record is reset to zero, and there's always a glimmer of hope for each and every team. 

Sacramento is up against it, but if a few things fall the right way, there is a chance for a better-than-predicted season. Here are five ways the Kings can take a jump in the standings and surprise people around the league.

De'Aaron Fox wins gold in the triple-jump

A leap isn’t enough. The Kings need their point guard to go from 11.6 points and 4.4 assists per game to something closer to 18.5 points and 7.0 assists.

Fox has taken some huge strides in his maturity and appears to be taking ownership of the team. The team was built to play to Fox’s speed and athleticism. If he can push the tempo and become the two-way player he’s shown flashes of, the Kings can make a nice uptick in the standings. 

Buddy Hield = Jamal Crawford

Hield has shown signs of being a next-level scorer. He can bomb the 3-ball with the best of them, and he has improved in most facets of the game.

The Kings have tried to push Hield into the starting lineup, but he struggles in the role. Where he has found his niche is off the bench as the team’s primary scorer with the second unit. He averaged 13.5 points per game last season in that role, and he could easily push that closer to 20 if he took a couple more 3-pointers and found a way to get to the free-throw line. 

Bogdan Bogdanovic gets healthy

Bogdanovic spent his rookie season trying to fit in, but late in the campaign, he showed that he can be a big-money player.

Two knee procedures have Bogdanovic on the sidelines for a minimum of 10 games, but he’ll likely slide right back into the starting lineup when he’s healthy. If he can play a little more selfish brand of basketball, the Kings would be a better team and he would put up substantially better numbers.

Willie be consistent?

Management talks about it. Coaches talk about it. Willie Cauley-Stein talks about it. After three seasons of erratic play, the Kings are hoping that the allure of a giant payday is the final motivating factor to get their 25-year-old center to bring the same energy and effort for all 82 games.

Cauley-Stein wants to be the Unicorn. The team would settle for 13 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks per game. If Cauley-Stein shows up every night and Kings coach Dave Joerger can pencil him in for a double-double, the Kings are a better team.

Marvin Bagley III and Harry Giles battle for Rookie of the Year Honors

The Sticky Bandits. The Wet Bandits. The Kings need Harry and Marv to be more successful than the two villains chasing Kevin McCallister around town in the "Home Alone" movies.

Bagley and Giles both have tremendous upside and an opportunity to make a difference as rookies. They’ll make mistakes, but these two have the potential to be building blocks for the organization. If they learn on the fly and play more like second- or third-year pros, the Kings will be fun to watch.