Kings

Two positives, two negatives from Kings' upset win over Wizards

Two positives, two negatives from Kings' upset win over Wizards

SACRAMENTO -- Who doesn’t like a good track meet? The Sacramento Kings and Washington Wizards both pushed the tempo and hoisted a bunch of 3-pointers Friday evening at Golden 1 Center.

In an entertaining display of offense, the Kings came out on top by a final of 116-112. The loss dropped the Wizards to 1-4 on the season and if their post game comments are any measure, they are in complete disarray.

Sacramento is enjoying some early season success. With the win, the Kings improved to 3-3 on the season and they are carrying some momentum into a four-game road trip beginning Monday in Miami.

Here are two positives and two negatives as the Kings climbed back to .500 in a win over the Wizards.

POSITIVES

Bjelica

It’s hard not to like what you are seeing from Nemanja Bjelica. The 30-year-old Serbian is one of the few veterans getting floor time for the Kings and through the first six games with the team, he’s been an unexpected surprise.

Against Washington, Bjelica went off from long range, knocking down 6-of-10 from behind the arc on his way to 26 points. He’s not the most athletic player, but he understands the game and seems to always be in the right spot.

The former Minnesota Timberwolve added 12 rebounds, giving him back-to-back double-doubles. On the season, he is now averaging 13.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and three assists in 26.3 minutes as the Kings’ starting power forward.

He’s also shooting 60.8 percent from the field and an incredible 57.1 percent from 3-point range on 3.5 attempts per game. His true shooting percentage is 73.7 and he’s posting an offensive rating of 141 versus a defensive rating of 110.

Don’t overlook Buddy

The Kings are young, exciting and on plenty of occasions, completely out of control. While De’Aaron Fox and Willie Cauley-Stein are being lauded for their breakout performances, third-year guard, Buddy Hield, is having a very nice start to the season as well.

Hield scored 22 points, grabbed five rebounds and dished out a pair of assists in 35 minutes. With Fox in early foul trouble, Hield even played some point guard on offense and was asked to defend the speedy John Wall on the defensive end.

The early returns are good on Hield. He’s averaging 17.2 points and five rebounds in 30.5 minutes a night. He’s shooting 42.9 percent from 3-point range and 50 percent from the field overall.

Buddy’s being asked to do a lot right now with Bogdan Bogdanovic on the shelf. With Bogi scheduled to return after the four game road trip, Hield’s role will shift, but his production might even improve.

NEGATIVES

Turnovers

The Kings are running and gunning and it’s a lot of fun to watch. They also lose focus on occasion and make mistakes. Against the Wizards, Sacramento turned the ball over 19 times as team, which led to 19 points for the Wizards.

In a growing trend, rookie Marvin Bagley struggled with the turnover bug, giving it away a team-high five times. Most of his turnovers were on travel calls and the replays confirmed the mistakes. He’s given the ball away 14 times over the last four games, which is a big number for a post player.

The 19-year-old old big still managed to score 11 points, grab eight rebounds and block a shot in 23 minutes of action, but he has to do a better job of taking care of the ball.

Production at the wing

Consistently inconsistent. The tandem of Justin Jackson and Iman Shumpert have been all over the board so far this season. One night, Shumpert will hit for 26, the next game, Jackson is dropping in 17 points.

Against the Wizards, neither player could find the basket. Shumpert started and played 17 minutes after missing the previous game with a hip issue. He went scoreless during his time on the court, misfiring on all four of his shot attempts. He managed to grab six rebounds and block a shot.

Jackson shot 1-of-7 from behind the 3-point line, mostly on wide open looks. Fox is getting his shooters clean attempts, players like Jackson and Shumpert need to knock them down. On the plus side, Jackson grabbed five rebounds, dished out a pair of assists and finished with two steals in 29 minutes off the bench.

Nemanja Bjelica's career night gives Kings much-needed win over Mavs

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USATSI

Nemanja Bjelica's career night gives Kings much-needed win over Mavs

Marvin Bagley is almost back. What that means for Nemanja Bjelica is a decision head coach Luke Walton will have to make over the next few games.

The veteran forward might have made life a little more difficult for his coach in the team’s 110-106 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday evening.

Since Bagley went down in the season opener, Bjelica has started the last 21 games at power forward. He’s had some ups and downs, but against Dallas, he was on his game.

“One of the best, here for sure,” Bjelica told Grant Napear and Doug Christie following the win. “I was feeling good, coach trusts me, I have a green light to shoot. That’s my advantage on offense. I need to get a little bit better on defense, but the important thing is we won the game.”

A former EuroLeague MVP, Bjelica is a very smart player. He might not have the athleticism that a few of his teammates possess, but he can impact a game in many ways.

Against Dallas, he came out firing early and never let up. When Bjelica is on, his range is limitless and he spaces the floor for the rest of his teammates. The Mavericks caught the Serbian sharpshooter in rare form.

The 31-year-old power forward knocked down a perfect 7-of-7 from the field in the first half, to help give his team a 20-point lead heading into the intermission. He continued to fire away during the second half, but he was much more than just a shooter, which Walton and his staff have been pushing for.

“He’s a heck of a ball player,” coach Luke Walton told media following the win. “We keep talking to him about how we view him as much more than just a space four-man. When he was younger in Europe, he played point guard for his club team. He’s got the skill, the passing ability and the shooting ability to really put the pressure on defenses.”

In addition to tying his career-high of 30 points, Bjelica added seven rebounds, four assists, a steal and a block in 34 minutes of play. He knocked down 13-of-18 from the field and 4-of-7 from long range and failed to register a turnover.

“We’re constantly encouraging him to be more aggressive and I thought tonight, he was aggressive and it helps when you’re knocking down those shots too,” Walton added.

After a tough overtime loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Friday, the Kings needed a team win. They almost let the game slip away, but Bjelica helped seal the deal in the waning seconds to come away with the first win of the road trip.

“We just need to play 48 minutes, we need to respect our opponents,” Bjelica added. “Everybody can play, everybody can score in this league.”

The peaks and valleys of this season has taken its toll on Kings. They’ve had to play without Bagley for nearly seven weeks and De’Aaron Fox has missed major time as well.

Players like Bjelica, Cory Joseph and Richaun Holmes have stepped up and kept the team competitive on most nights. 

“This team is growing, we have a bright future, but we’re here to win the games,” Bjelica said. “We had a bad start to the season, but now we just have to play harder.”

With the victory over the Mavs, the Kings now sit at 9-13 on the season. Bagley is expected back in the next few days, which should bolster the front line and give Bjelica a bit of a break. While his role might change, Bjelica has earned a spot in the rotation with his strong play, whether that’s with the starters or off the bench.

The Final Play

With 4.4 seconds remaining in the fourth, Holmes ripped down a rebound and was instantly fouled by the Mavericks. It was the first foul in the final two minutes, which allowed the Kings to inbounds the ball and potentially kill the clock.

Bjelica set a screen for Harrison Barnes who broke for the midcourt line. Bjelica then slipped to the hoop while his defender jumped out to help on Barnes.

Bogdan Bogdanovic faked to Barnes and then fired a bullet to a wide open Bjelica standing under the basket.

[RELATED: Bagley doesn't return vs. Luka, Mavs]

The Serbian connection worked. Bjelica went in for a two-handed jam to tie his career-high of 30 points. The bucket gave Sacramento a four-point lead with 3.4 seconds remaining and effectively ended the game.

If you’re going to have a career night, you might as well be the player who seals the win.

Kings takeaways: What we learned in scrappy 110-106 win over Mavericks

Kings takeaways: What we learned in scrappy 110-106 win over Mavericks

BOX SCORE

After a devastating overtime loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Friday evening, the Sacramento Kings almost had a replay Sunday against the Dallas Mavericks. After leading by 20 at the half, the Kings melted down in the fourth quarter.

Luka Doncic missed a runner in the final seconds that would have tied the game and Richaun Holmes ripped down a rebound to help preserve the 110-106 win for Sacramento. 

Tim Hardaway Jr. knocked down nine 3-pointers to keep the Mavs in the game and Doncic dropped in a near triple-double performance, but it wasn’t enough to come away with the win. 

Here are three takeaways as the Kings surprised the Mavericks on their home floor to improve to 9-13 on the season.  

The other European

Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis and Bogdan Bogdanovic are three of the best European players in the NBA. On Sunday in Dallas, it was another Euro who stole the show early.

Bjelica couldn’t miss in the first half, scoring 17 points on a perfect 7-for-7 shooting. And he didn’t stop there.

The Kings’ starting power forward tied his career-high of 30 points on 13-for-18 from the field and 4-of-7 from long range. He also grabbed seven rebounds and dished out four assists to help propel the Kings to victory.

Good Buddy

Buddy Hield has been all over the place this season. He’s struggled with his shot selection, missed open looks and had a few mental lapses on defense as well. That was not the player that started against the Mavs.

After a tough outing against the Spurs, Hield lit up the Mavs for 26 points on 5-for-6 from 3-point range. 

Maybe more important than the shooting, Hield set up his teammates for five assists and grabbed four rebounds.

Value the ball

Despite playing at the slowest pace in the league, the Kings rank 19th in the league in turnovers at 15.7 per game. Against Dallas, they valued the ball and it made a tremendous impact on the outcome of the game.

Sacramento turned the ball over just four times through three quarters and then came undone late to all the Mavericks back in the game.

In the final 12 minutes, the Kings had a pair of 24-second shot clock violations. They made a few bad passes and they picked up two offensive fouls. In total, they turned the ball over seven times in the fourth to finish the game with 11.