Kings

Why Luke Walton wants Kings shooting 35 3-pointers per game in 2019-20

Why Luke Walton wants Kings shooting 35 3-pointers per game in 2019-20

MUMBAI, India -- Last season, the Kings ranked third in the NBA in pace at 103.88, but 20th in 3-point attempts with 29.9 per game.

This season, the Kings aren't too concerned with the first metric. They know if they stick to their game plan, the possessions will come. But they want the second number to go up.

During the portions of practice sessions open to the media in Mumbai on Thursday and Friday, 3-point shooting has been the focus. Coach Luke Walton and his staff have set a lofty goal that could put Sacramento in the top five in the NBA in 3-point attempts per game.

"We have a goal, something we can track to see if we’re playing the way we want to play," Walton told NBC Sports California after practice on Friday. "Thirty-five is the number that we feel is, with the type of shooters we have, will give us a better chance of winning ballgames if we can keep it around that number."

While the coaches might be setting a baseline for the players to reach, De'Aaron Fox is more focused on doing the things that lead to more open shots.

"The way that we play, a lot of guys get in the paint and I feel we’re going to get a lot of kick-out threes and probably some threes that we passed up on last year," Fox told NBC Sports California. "I don’t think we’re necessarily focused on it, I just think the way we play we’ll end up getting a lot of threes."

On Thursday, Walton said the Kings don't want to run, they want to fly and that they will "fly all year." A day later, he explained what he meant by that.

"Part of the idea of flying is, you seeing anything out there flying, it’s beautiful," Walton said. "You see birds, the way they fly, it’s beautiful, there’s a rhythm to it, there’s a flow to it. So it’s not so much as far as trying to get shots up as fast as possible, but when we get stops and we get the ball, when we get the ball going, we want our wings to get to those deep corners as quickly as possible to create the space we want. We want our guards pushing it."

Fox is the Kings' floor general and it will be imperative that he find the open teammate. When asked, he said decision-making is the thing he wants to get better at in his third season.

"Get assists up, turnovers down," Fox said. "I had the ball in my hands a lot last year, but just being able to take care of the ball, even more, I feel like will be a bonus."

[RELATED: Walton doesn't feel India trip will disrupt Kings' preparation]

Walton, Fox and the Kings will get their first chance to test out these goals when they take on the Indiana Pacers on Friday night at the NSCI Dome in Mumbai.

Kings' narrow overtime loss to Heat all too familiar in trying season

Kings' narrow overtime loss to Heat all too familiar in trying season

The Miami Heat are the best home team in the NBA. They came into Martin Luther King Jr. day with an 18-1 record at AmericanAirlines Arena, and they picked up their 19th win in 20 chances with a nail-biting 118-113 overtime win against the Kings.

It’s another tough pill to swallow for Sacramento. After trailing late in the fourth quarter, Heat big man Bam Adebayo appeared to push off of Kings point guard Cory Joseph at the rim. Adebayo made a bucket with 0.8 seconds remaining that likely will show up on Tuesday’s Last Two Minute Report. 

The Kings fell behind early in overtime, but a couple of huge three-pointers from Buddy Hield gave them a late lead. Miami didn't give in, though, eventually handing Sacramento a fifth straight loss. 

“That’s more of our team that I’m used to seeing as far as how hard we competed,” Kings coach Luke Walton told reporters in Miami. “That kind of has to get back to being the standard of how we play each and every night. All guys giving everything they have. Unfortunate loss. Give Miami credit, they had a lot of big shots.”

In a season filled with bad beats and last-second misses, this one felt familiar. The Kings now have played 20 games decided by five points or fewer, and they are just 7-13 in those contests.

It’s not one player or one reason for the record, but an assortment of issues that always seem to pop up at the wrong moment. 

Nemanja Bjelica put up big numbers for the Kings in Miami, finishing Monday with 22 points on 7-of-13 shooting. His rebound and putback with 1.9 seconds remaining in regulation looked like the game-winner for the Kings.

Marvin Bagley put in a strong game as well, scoring 15 points and grabbing 15 rebounds in 38 minutes in just his fourth game back from injury. 

“I thought he gave a winning effort tonight,” Walton said of Bagley. “It’s unfortunate it didn’t turn into a win for us.” 

Hield gave the Kings a late lead in overtime, but the Heat kept charging back once again.  

“He’s always a constant threat to score quickly and he’s evolving as an all-around player too, taking more responsibility on defense and the other things that we ask him to do,” Walton said. 

Hield finished the night with 20 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, but he also shot just 5-of-17 from 3-point range in 43 minutes of action.

“I don’t necessarily consider ourselves a bad team, we just can’t figure it out,” Hield said. “Guys hurt, in and out of the lineup. We’re trying to figure out coverages.”

[RELATED: What will Kings' plan be as NBA trade deadline approaches?]

The Kings have been in a tailspin since mid-December, and it could continue. 

They are 3-13 over their last 16 contests, and they currently sit a season-worst 13 games under .500 at 15-28. The Kings also are in the middle of their longest road trip of the season with stops in Detroit, Chicago and Minnesota on the schedule before their next home game on Feb. 7.

Kings takeaways: What we learned in 118-113 overtime loss to Heat

Kings takeaways: What we learned in 118-113 overtime loss to Heat

BOX SCORE

The best way to avoid the South Beach flu? Spend an extra day in Utah.

After a blowout loss to the Jazz in Salt Lake City on Saturday, the Kings (15-28) took their time getting to Miami. They looked fresh and focused from the opening tip Monday night against the Heat (30-13) and put up a strong showing against one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference.

Unfortunately for the Kings, it wasn’t quite enough to come away with a win.

Playing without All-Star Jimmy Butler, veterans Goran Dragic and James Johnson stepped up to combine for 40 points off the Heat bench. Rookie Kenrick Nunn scored 25 and Duncan Robinson hit some huge threes to give Miami a boost in a 118-113 win over Sacramento. 

Here are three takeaways from the Kings' fifth straight loss. 

From Serbia with love

Nemanja Bjelica and Bogdan Bogdanovic have plenty of chemistry from their time playing together on the Serbian National team. Against the Heat, the two looked completely in sync. 

Bjelica hit his first five shots and finished the game with 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting. He added six rebounds, three assists and a steal in 36 minutes of action.

In his second game back from injury, Bogdanovic came off the bench to score 14 points for Sacramento. He had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds, but Johnson blocked the 3-point attempt.

Battling Bagley

Marvin Bagley struggled with his pick-and-roll defense against Rudy Gobert on Saturday. That wasn’t the case Monday against the Heat. 

Bagley scored 15 points on 7-of-13 shooting and grabbed a season-high 15 rebounds. He was active on the defensive end and even had a couple of big hustle plays. 

This is the type of game the Kings need from their second-year centerpiece. Bagley held Bam Adebayo in check, and he was opportunistic on the offensive end. 

In the final minutes of regulation, Bagley attacked the glass and came up with a pair of huge putbacks to help the Kings keep it close.

[RELATED: What will Kings' plan be as NBA trade deadline approaches?]

Stuff the stat sheet

Buddy Hield is known for his scoring, but he did a little bit of everything against the Heat.

With his 3-pointer on the fritz, Hield became a distributor for Sacramento and dished out seven assists. He hit the glass for seven rebounds and even picked up three steals and a pair of blocks. 

When the shot isn’t falling, this is the type of outing the Kings need from Hield. He was active on the defensive end and made an impact on the game.

After hitting just 3-of-14 from deep through the first 48 minutes of the game, Hield finally got a pair of triples to drop in the overtime session and finished the game with 20 points.