Kings

Three things to watch in Kings' preseason game vs. Maccabi Haifa

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Three things to watch in Kings' preseason game vs. Maccabi Haifa

SACRAMENTO -- Three down, three to go. After a drubbing at the hands of the Golden State Warriors, the Sacramento Kings look to get back on the winning track during the exhibition season. They’ll face Maccabi Haifa, an Israeli Liga Leumit team, hungry to make an impression. 

The Kings are trying to find their way. They have youth and talent, but they need it all to come together quickly. They’ve had a few bright moments through three games, but they’ve also had issues on both ends of the court.

Maccabi Haifa comes to Golden 1 Center with a familiar name. Former Stanford Cardinal and NBA wing, Josh Childress, highlights the roster. The 35-year-old hasn’t played in the league since 2014, but has just under $40 million in career earnings stateside.

[RELATED: Positives, negatives from Kings' preseason]

Here are three things to watch as the Kings attempt to put on a show in front of their home crowd. 

Get better

The Kings looked bad against Golden State. They struggled to defend and they shot just 34.7 percent from the field. Finding consistency is a very difficult task for a young player to learn. When you throw a dozen or so young players together, chaos often ensues. 

Maccabi Haifa isn’t exactly a world beater. The Kings have an opportunity to work on their execution and Dave Joerger can continue to experiment with his roster. The plan is to get out and run on every possession. That doesn’t mean that they can forget about defending on the other end. 

Step up

With guard Bogdan Bogdanovic sitting out, the Kings need Buddy Hield to take a huge leap in his production. This is his third season in the league. He’s an elite shooter and projects as a high-end scorer.

So far in the preseason, Hield has struggled in two of the three games. His defense against Klay Thompson wasn’t starter level. If the Kings are going to compete this season, Hield has to bring it, at least until Bogdanovic returns.

Feed the bigs

So far, Harry Giles III and Marvin Bagley III have impressed. Giles is second on the team in scoring at 15 points per game and he’s third in rebounding with six boards a night. The Duke product has struggled to stay out of foul trouble, but that’s typical of a young player.

Bagley is up and down, but he’s fourth on the team in scoring with 11.3 points per game and his 7.3 rebounds a night rank second behind Willie Cauley-Stein. 

At some point, these two are going to need to carry more of the load. The coaching staff should test them by running the offense through one or the other on each play. It’s not an easy task, but if these two are the future, force them to perform.

Kings struggle in second half, embarrassed on the road by Brooklyn Nets

Kings struggle in second half, embarrassed on the road by Brooklyn Nets

Sluggish. Slow to react. Embarrassed.

Some losses you can’t explain. After a bumpy start, the Kings looked solid through the first half against the Brooklyn Nets. And then the wheels completely fell off the bus in a 123-95 loss.

“The second quarter, we were much better defensively,” coach Dave Joerger told reporters in Brooklyn. “We just didn’t come out with that same intensity in the second half.”

Sacramento was outscored 35-28 in the third quarter, and then they didn’t even show up in the fourth. The Kings only scored nine points in the fourth quarter, while the Nets added another 30. 

The final outcome was a completely forgettable shellacking.

This happens on occasion in the NBA. One team loses their energy, and the other goes for the jugular.

Brooklyn is a quality opponent. They play extremely hard for coach Kenny Atkinson, and they have no issues scoring at an extremely high clip.

After starting the season 8-18, the Nets are 17-5 and in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff chase.

Sacramento is in the midst of a long road trip. They were coming off of an extremely emotional win over the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night. They looked both mentally and physically exhausted in the second half, and the Nets took advantage.

During the final 24 minutes, the Kings shot just 15-of-47 (31.9 percent) from the field and 2-of-8 (25 percent) from behind the 3-point line. After turning the ball over four times in the first half, Sacramento gave it away 10 times after the intermission.

Iman Shumpert shot 1-of-10 from the field overall. De'Aaron Fox finished 4-for-14 and Buddy Hield scored just 11 points on 4-of-10 shooting.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Kings were a mess in the second half. They were outrebounded 26-18 after the break, and 56-37 overall. They allowed the Nets to shoot 61.9 percent in the final two quarters, including 8-for-17 from behind the arc.

D’Angelo Russell did plenty of damage, scoring 18 of his game-high 31 in the second half. But, it was a team effort for Brooklyn. 

The Kings don’t have long to think about the loss. Following the game, they hopped a plane for Toronto, where they’ll face a tough Raptors team Tuesday evening of the second night of a back-to-back.  

They’ll need a much better effort, of Toronto will hand them another lopsided loss.

Kings takeaways: What we learned from 123-94 loss to Nets on MLK Day

Kings takeaways: What we learned from 123-94 loss to Nets on MLK Day

BOX SCORE

Beatdown in Brooklyn. The Sacramento Kings went into halftime with a lead and then never showed up for the final 24 minutes of the game Monday at Barclays Center. 

The Nets were the better team for most of the night as they ran Sacramento over by a final of 123-94.

D’Angelo Russell torched the Kings for 31 points on 7-of-14 from behind the arc. Joe Harris added 19 points and Rodions Kurucs ran through Sacramento’s defense for 16. 

Here are three takeaways as the Kings get embarrassed in Brooklyn to fall to 24-23 on the season.

Third Quarter Collapse

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Kings take a lead into halftime, only to give it all away in the third quarter. 

Through the first couple of months of the season, the Kings owned the third quarter. That hasn’t been the case in January. After leading 60-55 heading to the intermission, the ball got sticky and the shots didn’t fall in the third. 

Like most games this season, the Kings allowed their offensive woes to carry over to the defensive end. Brooklyn outscored Sacramento 38-25 in the third to take a 93-85 lead into the fourth. Russell got hot and the Kings didn’t have an answer.

Defensive? 

Sacramento lost their defense somewhere between Detroit and Brooklyn. Playing against a solid offensive club, the Kings couldn’t stay in front of anyone.

They made some adjustments in the second quarter, but they never figured out the counter move from the Nets coaching staff.

When Brooklyn wasn’t running layup lines past Sacramento’s guards, they were firing away from behind the arc with deadly accuracy. 

If the Kings want to compete for a playoff spot, they have to find a way to stop someone. The effort was bad, the rotations were slow and the rebounding was atrocious. 

Bogdanovic at the point

Bogdan Bogdanovic is the Kings’ most versatile player and against the Nets, he took on the role of distributor.

Coach Dave Joerger turned to his super-sub off the bench early and he instantly opened up the Kings’ offense. He got everyone involved, including Willie Cauley-Stein, who went on a dunking binge in the second quarter. 

Bogdanovic finished the game with 22 points, a career-high 11 assists and six rebounds in the loss.