LOS ANGELES -- Don’t look now, but the Kings are on a roll.
With a 112-103 victory over the Clippers on Saturday, Sacramento now has won two in a row and eight of its last 12 games. There are plenty of reasons for the push, but flying under the radar is the improvement of second-year big man Harry Giles.
“There’s a lot of growth happening,” Kings coach Luke Walton told NBC Sports California after the win. “One, I think his conditioning and his body looks, and I’m assuming, feels pretty good right now.”
Giles went toe-to-toe with a huge Clippers frontline and managed to post his first career double-double. He finished the game with 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting and chipped in 12 rebounds, which matched his career high.
“It feels good, man,” Giles said. “I feel like I already had one, I should have had one. I’m glad I can finally put one in the books.”
On Jan. 30, Giles struggled to stay on the floor against the Clippers, picking up two quick fouls against Montrezl Harrell and then sitting for all but three minutes of the game while the Kings’ 3-point shooters rained down on Los Angeles.
“You have to give him a lot of credit for continuing to improve and do what we as a staff are asking him to do,” Walton added.
With very little support behind him because of njury, Giles came into Saturday’s game knowing that he had to stay on the floor. The only hope of doing that was to play defense without fouling.
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“With time and reps, I’m just going to get better,” Giles said. “The fouls -- it varies. It’s tough. It depends on how you play and how the refs let you play. I’m going to keep getting better at that and just keep playing hard.”
In a career-high 32 minutes of action, Giles picked up just three fouls. He set good screens, moved his feet on defense and limited his mistakes overall. More importantly, he played valuable fourth-quarter minutes in a huge team victory.
Richaun Holmes and Marvin Bagley continue to miss time because of injury, and the Kings are extremely thin upfront. Giles has started six of the last eight games, and he’s starting to build momentum.
“I’m just trying to build on the opportunity and keep winning,” Giles said.
With just over a minute left and the game still undecided, Giles got an opportunity to shine off the lob.
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The Kings decided not to pick up Giles’ fourth-year option back in October, but they’ve kept the door open for a possible return for the 21-year-old big next season. He has another 26 games to show what he can do, and he’s auditioning for all 30 teams at this point.
Giles wasn’t the only center to play minutes for the Kings. 7-footer Alex Len made his Sacramento debut and played very well for a player who has missed 11 straight games with a hip pointer.
“I wasn’t planning on playing him that much, I wanted to just get him out there a little bit,” Walton said. “I was going to come in with Jabari [Parker], but he looked good. He was moving well. He was clogging up the paint. He was putting out fires for us. So I pushed it a little more than I wanted to with his minutes, but he said he felt good, and it was nice to have a real big 7-foot body out there to help control the paint.”
Len, who came over from the Atlanta Hawks at the NBA trade deadline, finished with three points and eight rebounds in 16 minutes of play. He was active and made a nice impact on the game in his limited time on the court.