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. 
 

Marvin Bagley makes case to join starting lineup despite Kings' loss

Marvin Bagley makes case to join starting lineup despite Kings' loss

At some point, Marvin Bagley III is going to force Dave Joerger’s hand with his play. Sacramento’s head coach has been reluctant to start his prized rookie, instead choosing to go with 30-year-old Nemanja Bjelica at the power forward position.

There are reasons you start a player like Bjelica over an unproven rookie, but those reasons are starting to fade. The veteran forward is a high IQ player that stretches the floor with his jumper. He’s seldom out of position and he can stuff the stat sheet.

But over the last few weeks, Bjelica has struggled mightily and Bagley is starting to build momentum to move into the starting lineup with his energetic play.

With Bjelica taking an evening off to rest and recover on Tuesday evening in Toronto, Bagley picked up his first NBA start. The 19-year-old didn’t disappoint.

“I think I played pretty good,” the former Duke star told reporters following the game. “I made a couple of mistakes here and there, but that’s the part of being out there and learning and growing as a player.”

Bagley dropped in a career-high 22 points on 10-of-20 shooting in the Kings’ 120-105 loss to the Raptors. It was first time a Kings player has scored 20 or more in his first NBA start since Omri Casspi achieved the feat in Dec. 16, 2009.

He also added a game-high 11 rebounds to go with a pair of blocks in 38 minutes of action. His double-double was the first 20-plus point, 10-plus rebound double-double in a first career start for the Kings since Nov. 29, 1972, when Mike Ratliff dropped in 20 points and 19 rebounds against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Bagley continues to say the right things when asked about whether he would prefer to start or come off the bench. But he made it pretty clear with his play that he’s open to bigger role.

“I love playing and being out there,” Bagley said. “I’ll do whatever I can to help the team win. We came up short tonight, but every game I try and come out and play like it’s my last game.”

Taken with the No. 2 overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft, Bagley is a walking double-double. He’s missed 14 games this season with two separate injuries, but his ability to act as a primary scorer in the post adds a new dimension to the Kings’ offense.

Where Bjelica helps spread the floor, Bagley has an advanced offensive game down low. He also has incredible potential as a rebounder and he continues to lead the team in blocks per game.

Joerger’s cautious approach to the development of the talented young big was the right move. Bjelica’s play helped the team get off to a shocking start and he is a valuable piece to what the Kings are trying to do.

But the time is coming when Bagley will step into the starting lineup on a regular basis. It might already be here.

Kings takeaways: What we learned from 120-105 loss to Raptors

Kings takeaways: What we learned from 120-105 loss to Raptors

BOX SCORE

Playing without three starters, the Sacramento Kings gave an equally shorthanded Toronto Raptors team a run for their money Tuesday evening at Scotiabank Arena.

With De’Aaron Fox, Nemanja Bjelica and Iman Shumpert all resting and recharging, Dave Joerger’s squad stayed within striking distance throughout three quarters. But with the game on the line, the more experienced team got some separation in the fourth to pull out the win on their home floor. 

Here are three takeaways as the Kings drop one in Toronto by a final of 120-105 to fall back to .500 on the season at 24-24.

Rookie First

19-year-old Marvin Bagley III picked up his first career NBA start in Bjelica place. The No. 2 overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft answered the call and put up big numbers against a quality Raptors frontline.

The rookie patrolled the paint and ran the floor to finish the game with a career-high 22 points on 10-for-20 shooting. Bagley added 11 rebounds and two blocks in 37 minutes of play.

Bjelica was lights out to start the season, but he’s faded over the last month. It’s only a matter of time before Dave Joerger and his staff make the move to Bagley as a full-time starter. Games like this might expedite that decision.

The Other Rookie

Harry Giles continues to build momentum with his play. He makes plenty of mistakes, but he also shows flashes of brilliance on both ends of the court.

In 22 minutes of action, Giles finished with 11 points on 4-for-8 shooting. He also chipped in four rebounds, two assists and blocked two shots. 

He’s improving every time he steps on the floor.

Buddy and Bogi

Without Fox in the Kings’ lineup, the Raptors focused on stopping Bogdan Bogdanovic and Buddy Hield. 

Bogdanovic started at the small forward spot and finished the night with 16 points, nine assists, eight rebounds and three steals. 

The Raptors locked down Hield for much of the game, but he still managed to score 15 points on 5-of-14 from the field. He added five assists, but he wasn’t much of a factor after dropping 10 points in the first quarter.