Phoenix Suns

Kings Under Review: Marvin Bagley takes game to new heights against Suns

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USATI

Kings Under Review: Marvin Bagley takes game to new heights against Suns

SACRAMENTO -- Taking care of business. The Sacramento Kings finished their season-long six-game homestand Sunday evening with another victory to finish the block at 5-1.

Led by the hot shooting of Devin Booker and a late surge from rookie Deandre Ayton, the Suns made it interesting in the fourth. Sacramento rode a career night from rookie Marvin Bagley and received solid contributions up and down the roster to pull out the 117-104 win.

The victory pushed the Kings four games over the .500 mark at 30-26 with just one game remaining before the All-Star break. Here are the positives and the negatives from the win.

POSITIVE

The Breakout

Taken with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, Bagley has been waiting for his moment to shine. Maybe he was just waiting for his first official game against the Suns, the team that passed on him and selected Ayton No. 1 overall.

The 19-year-old big went to work early and often against Phoenix. He hit his jumper, took players off the dribble and ran the floor like a gazelle.

In 32 minutes of action, Sacramento's prized rookie posted a career-high 32 points on 10-of-15 from the field and 11-for-13 from the line. He added seven rebounds, as well as an assist, block and steal in the Kings' win.

Bagley adds a different element to the Kings lineup and his teammates did an excellent job of feeding the 6-foot-11 inch leaper.

POSITIVE

Speed Kills

De'Aaron Fox loves to run. Against the Suns, he turned on the jets and opened up the entire game for both himself and his teammates.

The Suns countered his attack by trying to isolate him against Devin Booker on the defensive end. Initially, it worked with Fox getting in early foul trouble, but the Kings' starter made adjustments.

Fox stuffed the stat sheet, finishing the night with 17 points, nine assists, six rebounds, and two steals. Although he's cooled off slightly from his hot start early season, the 21-year-old guard continues to drive the Kings pace of play.

POSITIVE

Blockentstein

When the Kings drafted Willie Cauley-Stein with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, it was with the understanding that he had the ability to defend the rim.

In his fourth NBA season, he's gotten away from being a shot blocker, but over the last two games, he's made an adjustment.

After not blocking a shot in five straight and eight of his previous nine contests, Cauley-Stein has eight over his last two games, including a five against the Suns. The fourth-year big added 10 points and eight rebounds in 26 minutes of action.

Sacramento could really use someone to play goalie. If it's not Cauley-Stein, the team will need to look for a different answer during the offseason

NEGATIVE

Hanging Around

Sacramento led wire-to-wire, including a 25-point advantage in the third quarter and a 20-point lead with seven minutes remaining in the fourth.

While the game was never in doubt, the Kings also never truly put the Suns away. Phoenix pulled to within 12 on multiple occasions in the fourth and Dave Joerger was forced to leave most of his first unit on the floor.

[RELATED: Vlade Divac's growth into GM job has Kings heading in right direction]

The Kings came into the night 9.5 point favorites and they won by 13. It was their fifth win in six chances on the homestand and they're just a half game out of the eighth spot.

Saying all of that, the game could have gone a different way against a better team. Sacramento needs to find a killer instinct and learn to put teams away completely.

Marvin Bagley reminds Phoenix Suns what they passed on in 2018 NBA Draft

Marvin Bagley reminds Phoenix Suns what they passed on in 2018 NBA Draft

SACRAMENTO -- You could see it coming. It was only a matter of time before rookie Marvin Bagley III had a true breakout game. On Sunday afternoon, it finally came against the team that passed him over in the 2018 NBA Draft.

“Yeah, I love playing against the Suns, I don’t know what it is,” Bagley said with a smile.

Bagley was extremely vocal about his belief that he was the best prospect during the pre-draft process. Phoenix went a different direction, instead selecting Deandre Ayton, a one-time high school teammate of Bagley’s.

“It’s fun playing against Deandre and the whole organization, everybody involved,” Bagley said. “I got to meet them when I went for my pre-draft workout. I met a few of those guys so it was good competing against those guys and always beating them.”

Sacramento’s prized rookie finished the Kings' 117-104 win with a career-high 32 points on 10-of-15 shooting to go with seven rebounds. He attacked the Suns in the post, setting new bests for free throws and attempts when he went 11-of-13 from the line.

“He’s getting the time, he’s put in the work and it’s showing,” Willie Cauley-Stein said.

At 6-foot-11, Bagley can run the floor like a guard and he isn’t afraid to push the tempo and take the ball coast-to-coast. Where he really thrives is with his back to the basket.

“He’s making progress game-by-game,” Fox said. “He was out there comfortable, he was getting to his spots and just raising up.”

Bagley has started just one game so far this season for Sacramento. Coach Dave Joerger is using veteran Nemanja Bjelica as his starting power forward to stretch the floor. Bagley is improving as a perimeter shooter, but he needs more time to develop his range.

Fox was in a similar situation last year. Joerger brought him off the bench early in the season behind veteran George Hill. Watching and learning from the sidelines while playing against second team players helped Fox develop into the player he is today.

“I think it lets you learn the game a lot better instead of some people that are just thrown in the water,” Fox said. “For us, it definitely helped both of us. He’s going to continue to get better and the sky’s the limit for him.”

There will likely come a point in the season when Bagley makes his way into the starting lineup, but with the Kings entrenched in a playoff race, there’s no rush. He is getting plenty of touches with the second unit and since returning from injury, he is finding a niche with the team.

[RELATED: Kings swing for fences at NBA trade deadline, add depth to rotation]

Through five games in the month of February, Bagley is averaging 16.6 points and 9.4 rebounds in 28.6 minutes a game.

Bagley’s big night helped secure the Kings’ 30th win of the season. They finished their current homestand at 5-1 and they are in the thick of the playoff hunt in February for the first time in more than a decade.

Kings takeaways: What we learned from 117-104 win over Suns in Sacramento

Kings takeaways: What we learned from 117-104 win over Suns in Sacramento

BOX SCORE 

SACRAMENTO -- Home is where the heart is. The Sacramento Kings made quick work of the spiraling Phoenix Suns Sunday at Golden 1 Center, running away for a 117-104 win for their 30th victory of the season.

Devin Booker, Josh Jackson and Deandre Ayton all put up numbers, but it wasn’t nearly enough to help Phoenix avoid their 14th consecutive loss.

Here are three takeaways as the Kings finished the homestand 5-1 and improved to 30-26 on the season.

No. 1 vs. No. 2 

Deandre Ayton and Marvin Bagley will forever be connected. Not only did the pair play on the same high school team for a stint, but they also went with the top two selections in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Bagley missed the first two matchups between the two teams, but he was ready to go Sunday at Golden 1. The 19-year-old was aggressive on the offensive end, scoring a new career-high 30 points on 10-for-15 shooting. He added seven rebounds, a block and a steal in the win.

Ayton wasn’t nearly as successful. Sacramento fronted the young big and made life difficult on him all night long. He finished the evening with 16 points and nine rebounds for Phoenix.

It’s too early to start making claims of who will be the best pro, but Bagley certainly appeared motivated by the matchup.

10 Deep 

When the Kings made a series of moves at the deadline, it was to improve the overall depth of the team. The early returns are solid.

Bagley had the big night, but six players scored in double-figures and Harrison Barnes barely missed the mark for Sacramento as they pulled away from the Suns.

The starting backcourt of De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield combined to score 35 points, grab 12 rebounds and dish out nine assists.

Making a Move 

The Kings continued their hot streak at home. With the win, they climbed four games over the .500 mark for the first time since 2016.

Sacramento currently sits a half game behind the Los Angeles Clippers for the eighth best record in the Western Conference standings. With a Lakers loss earlier in the day, the Kings pulled two games ahead of the 10th spot.

Coach Dave Joerger’s group has already surpassed their win total of 27 from last season.