Kings

Three things to watch in Kings' preseason matchup vs. Jazz

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USATI

Three things to watch in Kings' preseason matchup vs. Jazz

SACRAMENTO -- The end of preseason is near. After running over Maccabi Haifa on Monday, the Sacramento Kings draw a tougher opponent Thursday night when the Utah Jazz drop by Golden 1 Center.

Sacramento currently sits at 2-2 for the exhibition season. They’ll finish things off with a back-to-back as they will play in Portland on Friday.

Harry Giles III and Marvin Bagley III will get their first look at former Duke teammate, Grayson Allen, when the Jazz roll through town. The 23-year-old rookie was selected by Utah with the 21st pick in the 2018 NBA Draft after spending four seasons with Mike Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils. 

Here are three things to watch as Sacramento looks to battle a tough Western Conference foe.

Battle of the sophomores

The Kings drafted De’Aaron Fox with the fifth overall selection last season, but it was Donovan Mitchell, the tenth overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, that found massive success as a rookie.

The two guards should see time against each other Thursday night. Fox has the potential to defend a player like Mitchell, but he’ll have to show that he can sustain the pressure for an extended period of time.

Mitchell was an offensive juggernaut in his first season out of Louisville. He led all rookies in scoring at 20.5 points per game and finished second behind Philly’s Ben Simmons in the Rookie of the Year balloting.

Slow the Gobstopper

Rudy Gobert has developed into a weapon for Jazz head coach, Quin Snyder. Willie Cauley-Stein will get the first opportunity to shut down the 7-foot Frenchman, but it will take a team effort from Sacramento.

Gobert is outstanding in the pick-and-roll, he hits the glass hard and he alters more shots than any other player in the game. The Kings need to keep a body on Utah’s big man or he’ll ruin their evening. 

Continue to improve

Preseason is an opportunity for the young players to get minutes without having to look over their shoulder. We have seen some good things during the preseason, but also plenty of mistakes. 

On paper, Utah looks like a 50-plus win team this season. This is a quality opponent and another chance to hit the floor and get better for Sacramento, regardless of the final score.

Kings coach Dave Joerger sidesteps Yahoo report about his job status

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AP

Kings coach Dave Joerger sidesteps Yahoo report about his job status

Dave Joerger wasn't in a mood to talk about his job status moments after his Kings lost to the Rockets on Saturday night.

Asked by reporters about a Yahoo Sports story claiming "substantial disconnect" between him and the Kings' front office, Joerger tried to deflect the question back to basketball.

"Well, usually, I would say, 'I'd be happy to answer all your questions about tonight's game,' but in this case, I'm going to tell you that my focus is with our team," Joerger said. "And coaching our team and getting better every single night. And we've got young guys, and they're mixed with older guys, and go in there and rally them up.

“This is a tough five-game stretch for us, so I want to make sure we stick together, grab onto each other ..."

Pressed on the reported disconnect, Joerger refused to address it.

"I'm not going to get into that stuff," the coach said before exiting the scrum after no other questions were asked.

The Yahoo story came out about 30 minutes before the Kings and Rockets tipped off in Houston. During the game, Kings general manager Vlade Divac issued a statement to NBC Sports California's James Ham and denied there was any issues between Joerger and the front office.

"Dave has our full support and confidence,” Divac said in the statement. “We continue to work together to develop our young core and compete.”

Kings takeaways: What we learned from 132-112 loss to Rockets

Kings takeaways: What we learned from 132-112 loss to Rockets

BOX SCORE

Never get in a shootout with the Houston Rockets.

The Sacramento Kings learned this fact the hard way Saturday night at Toyota Center, dropping their second consecutive game, this one by a final of 132-112.

Chris Paul, James Harden and Clint Capela all posted huge numbers for the Rockets, who they pushed their record over .500 for the first time this season. 

Here are three takeaways as the Kings dropped back-to-back games on the road and fell to 8-8 on the season.   

Offensive defense

The Kings left their defense somewhere between Memphis and the hotel in Houston. They allowed the Rockets to get in the lane, finish at the rim and shoot as many 3-pointers as they wanted.

Houston is waking up after a very slow start to the season. They were an offensive juggernaut last season, and they seem to be finding their stride.

The Rockets shot 56.8 percent from the field and knocked down 20 of 47 from long range. 

The Guards

Kings coach Dave Joerger is using De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic in a three-man rotation, and the trio played well in Houston.

Fox posted 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting and chipped in three assists. Hield let it fly from long range, hitting 3 of 7 from behind the arc on his way to a 23-point, seven-rebound performance. Bogdanovic played in his first set of back-to-backs and finished with 14 points and five assists in 19 minutes.

The group pushed the tempo and hit shots, but it wasn’t nearly enough.

Bounce-back game for Bagley

Rookie Marvin Bagley had a rough Friday night in Memphis, scoring just seven points with a single rebound in 22 minutes of action.

He looked like a different player against the Rockets. 

Coming off the bench, Bagley posted 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds in 27 minutes. He would have seen more time on the court if the game was competitive late. 

Joerger turned to Harry Giles and Skal Labissiere to play most of the fourth quarter with the game out of reach.