Willie Cauley-Stein

Kings takeaways: What we learned in 115-107 win over Trail Blazers

Kings takeaways: What we learned in 115-107 win over Trail Blazers

BOX SCORE

SACRAMENTO -- Not this time. After losing a heartbreaker in overtime to the Portland Trail Blazers earlier in the month, the Kings made up for it Monday night at Golden 1 Center. 

Surviving a big night from Damian Lillard, the Kings used their balanced scoring attack to come away with a 115-107 victory over the Blazers.

Here are three takeaways as the Kings finished their homestand 3-0, and improved to 23-21 on the season:

The Defensive Effort

With Sacramento’s up-tempo style of play, defense often becomes an afterthought. That was not the case against the Trail Blazers.

After an up-and-down first quarter, the Kings turned up the heat in the second quarter, holding the Blazers to just 17 points on 28.6 percent shooting. 

The Kings continued to be the aggressor on the defensive end, holding Portland to 40.2 percent from the field and 32.3 percent from long range on the night. This was one of Sacramento's better defensive showings of the season. 

Battle of the Backcourts

Lillard and C.J. McCollum have been the driving force behind the Blazers for years. De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield are becoming the same for the Kings.

Lillard put up his customary 35-point night against the Kings, but Sacramento’s guards put the clamps on McCollum.  They held the sharpshooter to just six points on 2-for-14 shooting.

Fox pushed the tempo and attacked the lane for 16 points and nine assists. Hield poured in a team-high 19 points on 7-for-10 shooting, and chipped in seven rebounds. 

Portland’s pair scored more points. Sacramento’s pair stuffed the stat sheet, and came away with the win.

Icing Nurkic

The last time these two teams faced off, Jusuf Nurkic went off for 24 points, 23 rebounds, seven assists, five blocks and five steals. He didn’t find the same success Monday evening at Golden 1 Center. 

Willie Cauley-Stein, Harry Giles and Marvin Bagley kept a body on the big man, limiting him to just six points on 3-of-7 shooting to go with 11 rebounds and five assists. 

Kings Under Review: Balanced attack leads Sacramento to much needed win

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AP

Kings Under Review: Balanced attack leads Sacramento to much needed win

SACRAMENTO -- Nothing like a little home cooking to get back on the winning track. The Sacramento kings handled their business Thursday evening at Golden 1 Center, pounding the Detroit Pistons for a wire-to-wire 112-102 win.

The final score doesn't tell the entire story. Sacramento led by as many as 23 points and the Kings held a double-digit lead from the 8:25 mark of the second quarter on.

Coach Dave Joerger received contributions across the board as they bounced back from a very disappointing loss on Tuesday to the cellar-dwelling Phoenix Suns.

The win jumped Sacramento back to the .500 mark at 21-21. Here are the positives and the negatives from the victory.

POSITIVE

Centers Gone Wild

Willie Cauley-Stein set the tempo early and Harry Giles played big minutes as well, as the Kings' two centers worked hard to keep Andre Drummond, the NBA's leading rebounder, off the glass.

Drummond finished the night with 12 points, 11 rebounds and seven turnovers for the Pistons. He looked frustrated for much of the night and did most of his damage after the game was decided.

Cauley-Stein put in a complete effort for the Kings, finishing the evening with 14 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, and two blocks. He was active and focused on slowing the Pistons All-Star from the opening tip.

Giles came off the bench to add 14 points, four rebounds, three assists, three blocks, and two steals. If Sacramento can get anywhere near this kind of production from this tandem going forward, they're going to win a lot of games.

[RELATED: Dave Joerger thrilled with Harry Giles' impact]

POSITIVE

Balanced Attack

Seven players scored in double figures for Sacramento. Buddy Hield led the way with a quiet 18 points on 8-of-13 shooting, but Sacramento shot an impressive 51.2 percent from the field and 40.9 percent from long range.

The second unit made a huge impact on the final score, combining to score 48 of the team's 112 points. Giles led the bench scoring with 14, but  Joerger got plenty of solid contributions across the board.

Yogi Ferrell chipped in 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting and Marvin Bagley added 10 points and seven rebounds in the win.

NEGATIVE

Trouble with the Turnovers

For the second straight game, the Kings finished the night with an unacceptable amount of mistakes. It wasn't a complete breakdown, like the 26-turnover game against the Suns on Tuesday, but 20 turnovers Thursday night is more than enough to cause concern.

Giles led the way with five gaffs, including four in the fourth quarter when the game out of reach and turned sloppy. Eight other Kings turned it over at least once, with five of those players giving it away two or more times.

If this is a trend with this team, that's an issue. They've done a nice job playing a crazy pace and not turning the ball over all season.

POSITIVE

Crashing the Boards

Sacramento isn't a great rebounding team, but against the Pistons, you wouldn't have guessed that. They boxed out and rebounded as a team Thursday evening, winning the battle of the boards 47-37.

Detroit isn't a great rebounding team, but they came in ranked ninth in the league on the offensive end. The Kings held them below their average of 11.8 offensive boards per game, limiting Drummond and Co. to just nine offensive rebounds and six second-chance points.

Pistons star Blake Griffin didn't make the trip and might have impacted the overall rebounding totals, but then again maybe he wouldn't have. The All-Star forward grabbed a total of two rebounds over his two previous games in a combined 75 minutes of action. 

Harry Giles making impact on Kings, and coach Dave Joerger is thrilled

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AP

Harry Giles making impact on Kings, and coach Dave Joerger is thrilled

SACRAMENTO -- Bigs, beware. Harry Giles III is coming for your minutes.

The 20-year-old rookie is starting to make an impact on a nightly basis, which was evident Thursday night in his 23-minute stint in the Kings' 112-102 win over the Detroit Pistons.

“I feel like I’m just at the point where I can just be free and have some fun out there and compete at a level I feel like I’m comfortable [with] out there,” Giles said. “I’m in it now, so I’m playing and just having fun and competing and doing what I do.”

Kings coach Dave Joerger pulled Giles over after the game, and had a few words with his young center.

“I grabbed him after the game and told him, ‘I feel like you're getting better and the work that you put in, you’re getting better,’ ” Joerger said.

It was a big moment for Giles. After being in and out of Sacramento's rotation through the first half of the season, he seems to be building momentum, and his coach is rewarding him for his efforts.

“He embraced me, he encouraged me, it felt amazing,” Giles said of the encounter with Joerger. “That’s what it’s all about.”

Against the Pistons, Giles went toe-to-toe with All-Star center Andre Drummond, who has a huge weight advantage over the Kings reserve. Giving up a minimum of 30 pounds to the 7-footer, Giles did his work early and kept his body on Drummond as much as he could.

“Everybody outweighs me at my position, so it’s great,” Giles said. “It’s all about that heart anyway.”

Giles stuffed the stat sheet, finishing with 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting and 4 of 4 from the free-throw line. He added four rebounds, three assists, three blocks and two steals to help the Kings improve to 21-21 on the season.

“He’s not afraid to make mistakes, and I think he understands that, ultimately, you have to make mistakes to learn and you only get that by playing,” Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein said.

The mistakes Cauley-Stein mentioned came in the form of turnovers. Giles gave away the ball a team-high five times in this game.

“He’s able to do everything,” Kings guard De'Aaron Fox said. “He’s just working on his turnovers. A couple of turnovers he had can be prevented, but it’s just because he’s trying to make a play. He’s getting a lot more comfortable on the floor.”

The comfort level might be everything for the former top prospect. After sitting out most of his senior year in high school, playing 300 total minutes at Duke and then watching from the sideline last season with the Kings, Giles needs time on the court to develop a rhythm. That’s not an easy task for Joerger when his team is playing better than expected. As the season became equal parts winning and development, Giles often has had to watch from the bench.

[RELATED: Would Enes Kanter be a fit in Sacramento?]

Sacramento’s front office even has sent the talented big to the G League on multiple occasions in an attempt to give him court time. Somewhere along the way, the game started clicking for Giles.

“I thought he did some good things around the rim,” Joerger said. “I thought he contested some shots and he caught some passes that might have ended up in the second row; he has some great hands.”

Like the rest of the Kings' young core, Giles is a work in progress. He has incredible potential, and the more he plays, the better he gets. If he continues on this pace, he’ll be in line for a major role in the rotation sooner rather than later.