Kings

Two positives, two negatives from Kings' 144-109 loss to Bucks

Two positives, two negatives from Kings' 144-109 loss to Bucks

3-1 ain’t that bad. That is the mantra the Sacramento Kings have after returning from a four-game road trip out east. Of course, the one loss was a 144-109 blowout at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks.

At 6-4 on the season, there is a good vibe around Sacramento. The Kings have played a tough schedule, including seven out of their first 10 away from Golden 1 Center. Now they return home to face a difficult four game schedule beginning Wednesday against the 9-1 Raptors. 

Here are two positives and two negatives from the Kings loss to the Bucks.

POSITIVES

Consistency from the guards 

De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield are both finding their niche in the Kings uptempo style of play. Fox is the ringleader, but Hield is there every step of the way so far this season.

In Milwaukee, the pair continued their strong play, with Fox pushing the tempo and finishing at the rim while Hield launched targeted jumpers in the flow of the offense. 

These two are growing every game and showing more and more of what they are capable of. Fox finished with 15 points, six rebound and six assists in 25 minutes and Hield added 19 points on 8-of-15 shooting. With the game out of hand early, neither player stepped foot on the floor in the fourth quarter. 

Wingers

Iman Shumpert started at the three, but like his frontcourt mates Willie Cauley-Stein and Nemanja Bjelica, he had a rough game. With not a lot going right, coach Dave Joerger turned to Justin Jackson and Troy Williams and received plenty of production from both.

Jackson had a career-best 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting with four makes from behind the 3-point line. Williams was a perfect 3-for-3 from deep and added 11 points and three rebounds in 16 minutes of action. 

The minutes are going to get scarce at the three once Bogdan Bogdanovic returns this week. Both players made a case for staying in the rotation.

NEGATIVES

144

The Kings are going to get into a lot of shootouts this season, but allowing 144 points is not a good look, unless you manage to score 145. The Bucks attacked the key and when they broke down the Kings’ defense, they launched from the perimeter.

Milwaukee launched 56 3-pointers, knocking down 22 from long range. It came from every angle, including makes from 11 different players. 

This is the second time in the first 10 games that the Kings have given up 144 or more and they’ve lost both contests. They are allowing 119.3 points per game, which ranks 26th in league, but they’re defensive rating of 111.8 ranks 18th. 

Stopping the run

Sacramento plays at breakneck speed. They are building their identity around playing with pace, which more than fits their roster makeup. On occasion, the shots stop falling and you have to reset and look for a high percentage basket to stem the tide. 

The Kings don’t have that kind of mechanism yet. They might not even have a player ready to accept the responsibility as a go-to scorer in these types of situations. 

Last season, the young players relied heavily on Zach Randolph to break runs and keep them out of large deficits. Bogdanovic might be the best candidate to recognize this issue and calm the game down, but he’ll need time to find a rhythm on the floor after missing the first 10 games of the season. 
 

Kings notes: Crashing the glass proving to be a key to success

Kings notes: Crashing the glass proving to be a key to success

SACRAMENTO -- The Kings have the Thunder’s number. For the second time this season, Sacramento took down OKC, this time by a final of 117-113.

The Kings blew a 19-point first half lead, but recovered with a 7-0 lead to start the fourth. The Thunder drew to within two points in the final 10 seconds, but De’Aaron Fox made his free throws when it mattered to help put the Kings over the top.

Here are six notes as the Kings jump back over .500 on the season at 9-8.

Iman on a mission

For the second time this season, Iman Shumpert posted huge numbers against the Thunder. The veteran wing looked like he was on his way to a new career-high when he dropped 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting before the intermission. 

Shumpert took just three shots after the break, missing all three. 

Buddy to the rescue

The game got a little too close for comfort in the fourth quarter, but then Buddy Hield started launching. Hield scored 11 of his team-high 25 points in the final frame, including three makes from long range. The third-year guard loves the big moment and the Kings love when he comes through in the clutch.

Earning time

Marvin Bagley has had his ups and downs through the first month of the season, but he showed up in the win over the Thunder. After struggling early, Bagley scored 12 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter and posted his first career double-double when he added 13 rebounds. 

The 19-year-old was active on both ends of the court, adding three blocks to his stat line. Coach Dave Joerger stuck with him late, allowing him to play all but 18 seconds of the final quarter.

The struggle is real

Fox hasn’t had many setbacks this season, but he struggled to put the ball in the hole against OKC. Fox finished the game with six points on 1-of-10 shooting. He managed to dish out 13 assists and hit a pair of huge free throws with 4.6 seconds remaining to ice the game. 

Playing into shape

Bogdan Bogdanovic posted another solid performance in his sixth game back from injury. With Hield continuing to get the start, Bogdanovic led the second unit, scoring 16 points to go with five rebounds and three assists. There will be a point where Joerger has to make a decision on whether to put Bogdanovic back in the starting lineup, but for now, he is doing a nice job of stabilizing the reserves. 

Crashing the glass

The Kings grabbed a season-high 59 rebounds in the win. Willie Cauley-Stein led the way with 14 boards, plenty of other players helped out. Sacramento is now 6-1 on the season when they outrebound their opponent. The Kings also set a new season-high in 3-point makes with 16 and attempts with 38.

Why Kings' win over the Thunder meant so much to coach Dave Joerger

Why Kings' win over the Thunder meant so much to coach Dave Joerger

SACRAMENTO -- How do you stop the noise? You go out and win another game. 

The Kings continued their hot start Monday night at Golden 1 Center, surviving a rough third quarter to come away with a 117-113 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder. The win snapped a two-game skid, and propelled the Kings back over .500.

Caught in a media storm over his future with the club over the last 48 hours, Kings fans gave embattled coach Dave Joerger a loud ovation before the start of the game. 

“We really care about our fans, we’ve got great fans, I love it here, I love listening to the ovation tonight - that was really cool,” Joerger said after the win Monday. “And to get the win over a very, very good team tonight is really gratifying.”

It’s not the situation that anyone wants to be in. Despite assurances that his job was never in jeopardy, the stress of hearing your name brought up in regards to a potential coaching change is never easy. Joerger took the chaotic situation to heart.

His young team did their best to block out anything coming from beyond the walls of the locker room.

“Every game is important for us, we just try to stay together, don’t listen to the outside and nothing really matters, except everybody on this team,” rookie big man Marvin Bagley III said. “Going out and winning, that’s the main goal for us is to win every game we step on the floor and play and that’s all that matters.”

One of the few veterans on the squad, guard Iman Shumpert, has seen just about everything in his eight-year career. After putting up 23 points on the night, he was feeling good and tried to lighten the mood in the locker room.

“I’ve been a part of all type of rumors,” Shumpert said. “When I was with the Knicks, I got traded for three years before I actually got traded. I don’t know how accurate your guys' information is sometimes.”

Joerger survived the ordeal, and may have even come out stronger. His team is playing a fun brand of basketball, and the fans are engaged and ready to back him.

No one expected the Kings to sit at 9-8 through 17 games. They took their first negative hit from the outside, and bounced back for a big win. There is a resiliency to this group that is refreshing. They’ll have another test come Wednesday when they fly to Utah to face another playoff contender in the Jazz.