Kings

Rockets star guard Russell Westbrook tests positive for coronavirus

Rockets star guard Russell Westbrook tests positive for coronavirus

So far, the NBA’s bubble has yet to turn up a positive coronavirus test. But getting to Orlando seems to be an obstacle for certain players.

On Monday morning, Houston Rockets superstar Russell Westbrook turned to twitter to announce that he has tested positive for coronavirus and is currently under quarantine.

“I tested positive for covid-19 prior to my teams departure to Orlando,” Westbrook announced. “I’m currently feeling well, quarantined, and looking forward to rejoining my teammates when I am cleared. Thank you for the well wishes and continued support. Please take this virus seriously. Be safe. Mask up! #whynot”

Westbrook, along with teammate James Harden, have both been absent from the Orlando bubble. Coach Mike D’Antoni skirted around the issue when speaking to the media.

"These are things that people are dealing with, we're not going to get in why, why not,” D’Antoni said. “They're on their way."

The Rockets coach thought both of his star players would arrive around mid-week. Whether that is still the case is unknown at this time.

The Sacramento Kings are slated to play the Rockets in their sixth game of the restart on August 9, which is still nearly a month away. If either Westbrook or Harden were to miss that contest, it would definitely change the odds for the contest.

At the time of the shutdown, Westbrook was averaging 27.5 points, eight rebounds and seven assists per game. The nine-time All-Star and former league MVP is in his first season playing with the Rockets after eleven seasons in Oklahoma City.

There is no word on why Harden is absent from the bubble, but like Westbrook, he is a key to the Rockets success. The 2017-18 NBA MVP was leading the league in scoring at 34.4 points per game when the coronavirus pandemic hit.

[RELATED: Kings get adrenaline pumping in first full-contact practice in Orlando]

If Westbrook or Harden miss substantial time during the restart, it would severely impact the Rockets chances of advancing deep into the playoffs. Either way, they are missing valuable practice time as the teams attempt to piece their squads back together on the fly in Orlando.

Houston is also waiting on the return of Luc Mbah a Moute, who was signed to replace Thabo Sefalosha. Sefalosha opted out of the restart.

Harrison Barnes places Kings' flameout in Orlando on himself, veterans

Harrison Barnes places Kings' flameout in Orlando on himself, veterans

The team that began the Orlando bubble saying “we want all of that smoke” just learned that smoke usually is accompanied by fire.

At 1-4 in the NBA restart, the Kings have shown they aren’t ready for the fire and they might not be ready for prime time.

“I think it starts with individual accountability, just in terms of the effort we are putting out there on a consistent basis,” veteran Harrison Barnes said following the Kings’ 119-106 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Friday. “It’s hard to win in this league and to be consistent, you have to do that every single night.”

[PURPLE TALK PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

The Kings have talent. But rarely is that enough at the NBA level.

You have to play together. You have to play for one another. In the end, you have to bring energy and effort every night or a team of no-names, like the squad the Nets threw on the court Friday, will embarrass you.

It’s a common theme with the Kings. They played a tremendous game in a 140-125 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday, scoring 49 points in the first quarter

Just over 24 hours later, they looked like a collection of players that had never played together. There was no chemistry. No passing. No rotations on defense.

Just forced and ineffective basketball.

“Frustration is high,” Barnes admitted. “I don’t know if it’s disappointing, but it’s frustrating. Coming into this game, we knew it was more mental than physical. It was meeting force with force. It was being disciplined. It didn’t matter what scheme we had or what game plan we had if we didn’t have any effort.”

Who's to blame for the Kings’ flame out in Orlando? Coach Luke Walton has already drawn plenty of criticism, but at some point the players themselves have to take ownership for the things they can control on the court.

Following the loss to the Nets, Barnes fell on his sword as one of the leaders of the team. He placed the blame on himself and the rest of the veterans.

“I’ll be the first to say it’s definitely on us as veteran players -- guys like myself," Barnes said. "I’ll take responsibility for that because I’ve been to the playoffs, I’ve been to the Finals. I know the energy and effort it takes to win games and if you don’t bring that, you lose.”

“As a group, we have to learn that you can’t just turn it on,” he added.

[RELATED: NBA puts money where its mouth is for racial, social justice]

The Kings have a choice. They can pout and get their lunch handed to them for the next three games. They can also play spoiler and leave the bubble on as high of a note as possible.

Either way, this isn’t the outcome the Kings were hoping for. They have had a few bright spots, like the play of De’Aaron Fox and Bogdan Bogdanovic, so the experience isn’t a total wash. But after five games, any talk of playoffs is over and changes likely are coming during the abbreviated offseason.

Kings takeaways: What you might've missed in 119-106 loss vs. Nets

Kings takeaways: What you might've missed in 119-106 loss vs. Nets

BOX SCORE

Consistently inconsistent.

After coming away with a huge win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday, the Kings failed to show up Friday on the second night of a back-to-back against the completely depleted Brooklyn Nets.

Sacramento looked stagnant on offense and a step slow in its rotations on the defensive end. The result was an embarrassing 119-106 loss that all but extinguished the Kings' remaining playoff hopes.

Here are three takeaways from the Kings getting out-hustled and fell to 1-4 in the Orlando bubble.

[PURPLE TALK PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Loud Thud

The Kings came into the restarted NBA season talking a big game. They played well enough to win against the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks, but couldn’t close out games. Their win over the Pelicans gave folks a glimmer of hope, but blowout losses to the Orlando Magic and Nets were completely unacceptable.

With Friday's loss, Sacramento has completely fallen out of the race for the No. 8 seed and would need a miracle to finish ninth and force a play-in series.

The Kings still have three games remaining in the restart, but general manager Vlade Divac has to take a long look at his roster this summer and make some difficult decisions. Everything outside of trading De’Aaron Fox should be on the table.

Bogi puts up a fight

Bogdan Bogdanovic posted a career-high 35 points in the Kings’ win over the Pelicans, and he was back at it again against the Nets.

One of the few Kings players to stand out, Bogdanovic finished with a team-high 27 points on 11-for-19 shooting, including 4-of-8 on 3-pointers.

A restricted free agent at the end of the season, Bogdanovic has been really solid in four of the Kings’ five games. Unfortunately for Sacramento, it just wasn't enough Friday.

[RELATED: NBA puts money where its mouth is for racial, social justice]

Star still shining

Since the beginning of the restart, De'Aaron Fox has come out aggressive and put on a show. He didn’t match his 27.5 points per game average from the first four games on Friday, but he was effective in his time on the court.

The Kings' starting point guard finished with 21 points and seven assists. There is the outline of a star, but he needs another really strong offseason to take that next step.