Winless Kings are blown out in Utah 113-81

Jazz kings final
Graphic: @NBCBA

by Charlie O. Mallonee

“That was embarassing,” said Kings Head Coach Luke Walton after his team was blown out by the Utah Jazz 113-81 on Saturday night. Walton was not blaming just his players. He was blaming himself and his coaching staff as well. The poor performance the team has shown in its 0-3 start to the season has the entire organization on edge.

To say that no one saw this coming is a total understatement. The Kings were projected to be one of the teams fighting for the eighth playoff slot in the NBA Western Division. Right now, fans are asking when will the Kings win their first game of the season.

This game was over by halftime

The Kings trailed the Jazz 35-25 after the first 12 minutes were in the book. Then came the disastrous second period. Utah outscored Sacramento 31-16.

The Kings put in just 5 of 15 field goal attempts (33.3%) in the second quarter while the Jazz was shooting at 57.1% clip. Sacramento had no Fast Break Points in the first half. It was just ugly.

The teams went to the locker rooms with the Jazz leading the Kings 66-41.

Hey, it was the back end of a back-to-back

Yes, the Kings were playing the second game of a back-to-back set on the road which means the odds were not in their favor. However, the Jazz (2-1) lost to the Lakers on the road on Friday night 95-86, so they were on the second game of a back-to-back as well.

Back-to-back games on the road are tough to win, but that is no excuse for the poor performance the Kings showed on Saturday night.

All Sacramento starters report to the bench

With 8:39 to go in the third quarter, Luke Walton pulled his starters off the floor. It was a coach waving the white flag. He took the opportunity to put in his reserves and get them some valuable playing time.

Utah top performers

  • Bojan Bogdanovic scored a game-high 26 points in just over 24 minutes on the floor. He hit 10 of 18 shots from the floor including five 3-pointers.
  • Donovan Mitchell added 15 points. He went a perfect 3-for-3 from behind the 3-point line.
  • Mike Conley and Georges Niang scored 12 points each.
  • As a team, the Jazz shot 56.4 % from the floor and 48.6% from downtown. They outrebounded the Kings 43-31.

Kings in the spotlight

  • Dewayne Dedmon led the Kings in scoring with 11 points. He also added six rebounds.
  • Bogdan Bogdanovic put up 10 points and dished out two assists.
  • De’Aaron Fox scored nine points and distributed five dimes.
  • The Kings shot just 37% from the field.

Up next

The Kings will have Sunday off and will return to play on Monday night when they will host the 2-0 Denver Nuggets at the Golden 1 Center.

The Jazz will travel to Phoenix to take on the Suns on Monday evening.

 

 

 

 

Kings steal one on the road downing the Thunder 119-116

KINGS 223 score
Graphic: @NBCS

by Charlie O. Mallonee

The Sacramento Kings entered the homestretch of the NBA season knowing that they needed to really improve their record versus Western Conference teams. As they began the game in Oklahoma City on Saturday night, Sacramento was 16-22 on the season versus Western Conference foes and just 5-12 playing those teams on the road.

After losing a heartbreaker to the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night, the Kings had to travel to OKC to face the Thunder who feature Russell Westbrook – “the King of the triple-double” – and the potential 2018-19 MVP Paul George who own the third spot in the Western Conference.

OKC was coming off a tough Friday night

The Thunder hosted the Utah Jazz on Friday night and had to really battle to come away with a victory. That game went into two overtimes before the Thunder finally put the Jazz away 148-147.

Paul George had to play 50-minutes. Russell Westbrook spent almost 43 minutes on the floor before fouling out in the first overtime.

The Kings needed to take advantage of the Thunder playing in the second game of a back-to-back set, especially when the first game went into double overtime.

First half perfection

Kings 223 hield
Photo: @SacramentoKings

The Kings did exactly what they needed to do in the first 24-minutes of the game. Sacramento shot 50-percent (25/50) from the floor. They struggled a bit from downtown hitting just 3-of-12 (33.3%) from long range. They dished out 16 assists while turning the ball over just six times. Those six turnovers resulted in eight Thunder points.

Buddy Hield led the SAC scoring attack with 18 points in the half. He went 8-for-12 shooting including two 3-pointers. Bogdan Bogdanovic added 12 points by going 4-for-6 from the floor. Marvin Bagley III came off the bench to score 11 points and grab six rebounds.

To no one’s surprise, Russell Westbrook led the charge for Oklahoma City who looked tired and out of sync right from the opening tip-off. Westbrook put 18 points in the book while Paul George was the next leading scorer with seven points.

The Thunder shot just 35.8-percent (19/53) from the field. The had just eight assists and turned the ball over eight times which resulted in 12 Sacramento points.

At the end of the first half, the Kings held a 63-49 lead over the Thunder.

The second half had to mean a Thunder comeback

Even if they are tired, a visiting team cannot expect to keep a talented team like the Thunder from making big runs in order to get back into the game.

The Thunder went on an 18-6 run to begin the third quarter and cut the Kings lead to just two points with 7:29 to go in the period. The Kings woke up and began to play their game. Sacramento went back up by 14 points with 2:24 remaining in the quarter.

With 36-minutes in the book, the Kings still held a 94-83 lead, but everyone had a feeling that the Thunder were not ready to give up.

The final 12:00

OKC used a combination of strong play from Dennis Schroder, Paul George, Markieff Morris and of course, Russell Westbrook to fight their way back into the game one more time. By the 6:26 mark, the Thunder had cut the Kings lead to three points.

Russell Westbrook would go on to score 15 of the 33 points the Thunder would score in the quarter. The lead changed four times in the period. OKC outscored SAC 33-25 in the final 12-minutes which is what made it such a close game.

When the final buzzer sounded, the Kings free throw shooting down the stretch allowed them to hang on and win the game 119-116.

Kings by the numbers

The win raised the Kings record to 31-28 on the season which allows them to remain in sole possession of ninth place in the Western Conference. The Clippers beat the Grizzlies so they are 1.5 games ahead in eighth place. The Lakers lost to the Pelicans (even with Anthony Davis held out of the game) which means they are now two games back of the Kings in 10th place.

Top performers:

Kings 223 MBIII
Bagley scores two of his 19 points Photo: @SacramentoKings
  • Buddy Hield led the SAC scoring attack with 34 points. “Buddy Buckets” hit 12-of-22 shots overall and went 3-for-5 from beyond the 3-point line. He also was very effective from the free throw line converting 7-of-9 opportunities.
  • Marvin Bagley III recorded a double-double by scoring 19 points and hauling 10 rebounds. MB35 also added three assists, three blocked shots, and two steals.
  • De’Aaron Fox also scored 19 points in the game. He also dished out nine assists, blocked three shots and added a steal.

Team performance:

  • The Kings outscored the Thunder 48-46 in the Paint
  • The Thunder won the battle of 2nd Chance Points 16-7
  • Even though they were tired, OKC scored more Fast Break Points than the Kings 25-19
  • SAC shot 45.8-percent (44/96) for the game
  • They hit 7-of-19 (36.8%) from long range
  • The Kings converted 24-of-34 (70.6%) from the free throw line. The key was the number of opportunities.
  • The team was out-rebounded 59-46 and still managed to win the game
  • Protecting the ball has become a key trait for Sacramento. They turned the ball over just nine times which resulted in 15 OKC points.
  • The Kings recorded 24 assists which denotes excellent ball movement

Checking the book for OKC

Key individuals performances:

  • Russell Westbrook was the game’s high scorer with 41 points. Westbrook connected on 15-of-30 field goal attempts and made 5-of-12 3-point shots. He also had a good night at the charity stripe converting 6-of-8 opportunities. Westbrook made it a double-double game by adding 10 rebounds.
  • Dennis Schroder came off the bench to score 14 points. The German transplant went 5-for-12 shooting.
  • Paul George also scored 14 points but he was 4-for-19 shooting for the contest. That 50-plus minutes of playing time on Friday obviously took its toll.
  • Markieff Morris put 10 points playing some key minutes late in the game for George.

Team numbers

  • The key number you need to know is the field goal shooting percentage. The Thunder shot just 38.1-percent (40/105) for the game. A team almost never wins a game in the NBA when they shoot under 40-percent. Yet, OKC came within four points of putting this game in the win column.

Up next

The Kings wrap up this 3-game road trip on Monday in Minnesota versus the Timberwolves.

The Thunder will return to action on Tuesday on the road in Denver against the Nuggets.

Clippers lead the game wire-to-wire, down the Kings 122-108 on Sunday

lac bogie
Photo @SacramentoKings

By Charlie O. Mallonee

Have you ever had one of those days at the office when you show up and you feel that your rhythm is just a half a beat off? For you “old schoolers,” everyone in the workplace is moving at 45 rpm while you are dragging at 33 1/3 rpm. The was the kind of day the Kings had on Sunday in Los Angeles versus the Clippers as they lost 122-108 to close out their six-game road trip.

Sacramento never held a lead in the game on Sunday. The Clippers largest lead of the game was 25 points. LAC held a 16 point advantage — 67 to 51 — at the half.

The Kings came out in the third quarter playing with improved energy and appeared to ready to make a game of it. In the fourth quarter, Sacramento twice closed within five points of the lead, but the Clippers were able to go a scoring barrage that would allow them to open a lead as large 19 points in the final period to end Kings hopes of a comeback victory.

The victory upped the Clippers’ record to 28-22 for the season while the loss drops the Kings back to .500 on the year at 25-25. The loss dropped the Kings’ record on the road trip to 2-4.

Early Start
The Kings did have to battle an early start in the “City of Angels” on Sunday. Because the Lakers also have a home game scheduled on Sunday at the Staples Center, the Clippers always have to play the early game. That game has to tip-off by 12:30 so the second game can begin by 6:00 PM.

The early start may have been a problem, but then again, this is a young team that should be able to handle time diversity easier than older veterans.

Playoff Picture at Game 50
LAC holds the eighth and final playoff berth in the Western Conference with the win on Sunday. They are 7.5 games behind the conference-leading Warriors. The Clippers have won three consecutive games and are 4-6 in their last 10 games.

Sacramento is in 10th place in the Western Conference 3.0 games behind the Clippers for the final playoff spot in the West. The Kings are now on a one game losing streak and are 5-5 over their last 10 games.

From the Game Book
Kings

lac kings 5
Kings starting five Photo: @SacramentoKings

Team Stats

  • SAC shot 39.8% (37/93) for the game. NBA teams do not win shooting under 40%
  • It was a horrible 3-point shooting night: 8-for-36 (22.2%)
  • 44 rebounds – 8 less than LAC
  • The Kings recorded just 18 assists. That is not their game. They average 25.8 assists per game
  • The team committed 12 turnovers that resulted in 18 points for the Clippers
  • Two positives: 12 steals and six blocked shots

Player Stats

  • De’Aaron Fox was the Kings’ leading scorer with 21 points. He shot 8-for-16 from the field with one 3-pointer
  • Bogdan Bogdanovic came off the bench to put 19 points in the book. He was a monster at the free throw line, converting 8-of-9 opportunities
  • Buddy Hield and Iman Shumpert scored 16 points each in the game. Hield went just 2-for-7 from downtown
  • Marvin Bagley III did not start, but added 14 points, hitting 5-of-10 shots in the game
  • Willie Cauley-Stein flirted with a double-double as he scored nine points and grabbed 12 rebounds

Clippers
Player Stats

lac beverley
Graphic @LAClippers
  • Montrezl Harrell came off the bench to score a game-high 25 points. He shot an incredible 11-for-13 for the game
  • Tobias Harris scored 18 points, including going 4-for-4 from the charity stripe
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander put 17 points up on the board by going 7-for-7 from the free throw line
  • Patrick Beverly tried to post a triple-double by scoring 16 points, hauling in 10 rebounds and dishing out eight assists

Team Stats

  • The Clippers shot 47.7% (42/88) overall versus the Kings
  • LAC hit 11-of-29 (37.9%) of their 3-point field goal attempts
  • Los Angeles converted 27-of-29 opportunities from the free throw line (93.1%)
  • They dished out 35 assists and made just 19 turnovers to very close to that magic 2:1 ratio

Up Next
The Kings return to Sacramento and will host the Atlanta Hawks for the only time this season. Hawks guard Jeremy Lin has been rumored to be a trade prospect for the Kings.

The Clippers will host the Hawks on Monday night at Staples Center.

Indiana sets the pace and downs the Kings 107-97 on Saturday night

Kings at Pacers scoreboard
Graphic: @Pacers

By Charlie O. Mallonee

The Sacramento Kings knew going into Indianapolis they faced an uphill battle with the Indiana Pacers. The upstart Kings handed the Pacers a 111-110 loss in Sacramento last Saturday night and the Indiana team was ready to revenge that loss.

The Pacers are one of the best defensive teams in the NBA and they win by controlling the pace of the game. Indiana had no intention of allowing the Kings to run and gun like they did in Cleveland on Friday night.

Indiana did slow the Kings down and the Pacers won the game 107-97.

Back-to-backs
This was the second game of a back-to-back set on the road for the Kings. Some statisticians place the chances of the visiting team winning the second game of a back-to-back schedule on the road at under 33 percent. That means the Kings were at a great disadvantage before the opening tipoff of the game in Indiana on Saturday night.

Battle of the Tiers

Pacers flag

This was a battle of two teams that are in different NBA tiers. The Pacers are a solid Tier Two team (a consistent playoff team) that may be ready to jump into to the lower end of Tier One in the Eastern Conference. The Kings are a Tier Three team (Draft Lottery participants) who are trying to become a lower Tier Two team that battles for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.

The fact that the Kings split the season series (1-1) with an accomplished team like the Pacers shows the kind of improvement they are experiencing this season.

The Pacers “D” suppressed the Kings’ offense

sac sac

After posting big team numbers versus the Cavaliers, the Kings team stats dropped dramatically against the defensive-minded Pacers:

  • Field Goal Shooting: 38-for-90 (42.2%)
  • 3P Field Goal Shooting: 28.1% (9-for-32)
  • Points in the Paint: IND 56 SAC 46
  • Second Chance Points: SAC 24 IND 19
  • Fast Break Points: SAC 22 IND 18
  • The Pacers outrebounded the Kings 52-43

A Check of the Book

Kings at Pacers starters
Photo: @SacramentoKings

The Kings played the game without Iman Shumpert who was inactive due to an injury that was categorized as “load management”. Joel Embiid has been kept out games for the same reason a number of times.

  • Buddy Hield was the Kings top scorer with 20 points shooting 8-for-20 from the field
  • De’Aaron Fox started slow but stepped up in the second half to put 18 points in the scorebook along with six assists
  • Willie-Cauley Stein put up 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds
  • Bogdan Bogdanovic and Justin Jackson each scored 11 points in the game
  • Nemanja Bjelica scored six points and hauled in 12 rebounds for SAC

The Pacers were still without their star guard Victor Oladipo (sore right knee). Indiana still has no definite date for his return to active status.

Kings at Pacers Collison
Photo: @Pacers
  • Thaddeus Young led the Pacers scoring attack with 20 points
  • Bojan Bogdanovic added 18 points converting 7-of-7 from the free throw line
  • Former King Darren Collison scored 14 points and dished out six assists
  • Miles Turner put nine points in the book and grabbed 13 rebounds

With the loss, the Kings record drops to 13-12 for the season and they fall to ninth in the Western Conference. The Pacers improve to 16-10 on the year and are now in sole possession of fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

Up Next
The Kings will wrap up this four-game road trip on Tuesday night in Chicago versus the Bulls. A win would give Sacramento a record of 3-1 on the trip which they would be very happy to finish with for a December road tour of the East.

The Pacers will host the Wizards on Monday.

Kings pull one out of the fire, beat the Pacers 111-110 on Saturday night in SAC

By Charlie O. Mallonee

SACRAMENTO — The Sacramento Kings broke a three-game losing skid on Saturday night when they defeated the Indiana Pacers 111-110 on their home court. The Kings took the lead with 16.1-seconds to go in the game and then had to battle through one of the ugliest jump ball endings any NBA has ever seen.

Even after the final buzzer, the game’s ending remained in doubt as the officials called for a replay to determine who committed a violation on the jump ball play. The violation was charged to the Pacers’ Darren Collison (yes, the former King) and 1.3 seconds was put back on the clock with the ball being awarded to Sacramento.

The Kings inbounded the ball and held it until the clock expired to seal the victory.

This was not a “typical” Kings win
The Kings were not able to run the Pacers into the ground as they have so many other teams this season. Indiana entered the game holding their opponents to the second lowest average points per game at 102.3. The Pacers were seventh in shooting defense holding their opponents to a 46.6 Field Goal Percentage.

Sacramento did win the battle of the Fast Break Points 18-10, but that is a far cry from a team that has twice this season scored 38 points on the break.

One of the keys to the Kings win was their offensive rebounding. They pulled down 14 rebounds off their own shots while the Pacers grabbed only six offensive rebounds. Those offensive rebounds would lead to 15 Kings second chance points while Indiana could muster only six of their own.

The Kings also helped themselves with some well-timed 3-point shooting in the game. The Pacers came in holding their opponents to a 37.7 3-point shooting percentage. The Kings shot 44.8 percent (13-for-29) from downtown on Saturday night. Indiana shot above their normal 3-point shooting percentage of 37.8, hitting 10-of-24 attempts (41.7-percent), but their effort fell short of the Kings’ pace.

Both teams were missing key players
The Pacers were without Victor Oladipo for a seventh game due to sore right knee. The bad news for Indiana is that there is no timetable for Oladipo’s return. It is not easy to replace 21.4 points per game in your lineup.

The Kings had to play without Marvin Bagley III, who was suffering from back spasms that flared up late in the game versus the Clippers. Sacramento is hoping that he will be available on the upcoming four-game road trip.

Battle of the Bogdanovics
Each team’s leading scorer had the name Bogdanovic on his jersey. Bojan Bogdanovic was the Pacers leading scorer and the high scorer in the game with 27 points in just over 37 minutes on the floor. He hit 10-of-19 shots from the field, including two 3-point baskets. Indiana’s Bogdanovic converted 5-of-6 opportunities from the free throw line.

The Kings’ Bogdan Bogdanovic led his team in scoring with 20 points coming off the bench as the sixth man. Bogdanovic also added six assists and two steals for Sacramento. He put 7-of-12 shots through the hoop with three of those buckets being 3-pointers. Bogdanovic was a perfect 3-for-3 from the charity stripe.

Dave Joerger had a lot to say after the game

Joerger point of emphasis
Coach Dave Joerger met the press corps at the entrance to the locker room to tell us he overlooked something in postgame remarks to the media. He wanted to be sure to let us know that in his opinion that Justin Jackson had his best game of the season on Saturday night.

Jackson scored eight points, hauled in three rebounds and dished out two assists in just under 25 minutes of playing time. Jackson also played some tenacious defense for the Kings that will not show up in hard numbers but helped lead them to a win.

Don’t overlook Troy Williams
Troy Williams scored 12 points in 16 on the floor Saturday night. He connected on 4-of-6 shots and was a perfect 3-for-3 from behind the 3-point arc. Williams brought a high charge of energy to court every time he entered the game.

De’Aaron Fox is always ready to talk after a win

Final Takeaways

  • The Kings are now back to .500 for the season with a record of 11-11
  • The Pacers’ record now stands at 13-10
  • Bogdan Bogdanovic has scored 20 or more points in his last three games
  • Willie Cauley-Stein recorded his eighth double-double of the season with 17 points and 13 rebounds
  • Bojan Bogdanovic put up 27 points which is a new season-high for the Pacers star
  • The Kings win broke a four-game overall losing streak to Indiana
  • This game featured 25 lead changes, 11 ties and neither team ever held a lead of more than seven points
  • The Kings are now 8-2 when they outrebound their opponents

Up Next
The Kings will head out on the road for a four-game trip that will take them to Phoenix, Cleveland, Indianapolis and Chicago. Sacramento will kick off the trip on Tuesday night in Phoenix.

The Pacers will return to Indianapolis and will host the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday evening.

No defense equals no win for Sacramento; Kings lose to Nets 128-119

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Brooklyn Nets
Photo Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

by Charlie O. Mallonee

Opposing teams have figured out how to defeat the Sacramento Kings. First, you have to start fast because the Kings are slow to start playing defense. Second, shoot the 3-ball because the Sacramento perimeter defense is non-existent.

The Brooklyn Nets came out fast in the first quarter on Friday night against the Kings. The Nets put up 33 points in the first period. In fact, the Nets scored at least 30 points in three of the four quarters in the game. This scoring barrage was from a team that averages just 95 points per game.

The Nets also came prepared to shoot from long distance. Brooklyn connected on 18 of 28 (64.3-percent) 3-point attempts versus the Kings. Bojan Bogdanovic hit on 7-0f-9 3-point shots while Joe Johnson went 5-for-7 from downtown. Donald Sloan shot 4-for-5 from long range.

Brooklyn (13-38) – who had lost five consecutive games – shot 55.8-percent (48-for-86) from the field. Sacramento (21-29) never found its defensive footing in the contest.

George Karl described his team as having a “shootout mentality” rather than a defensive mentality. Karl went on to add that things felt “very empty” after the game.

The fact is the Kings can score enough points to win but they cannot stop enough points to keep from losing.

Sacramento has now lost six of their last seven games. This game versus the Nets was supposed to be one of the most winnable contests on this four game road trip that includes games in Boston and Cleveland before the All-Star break.

It is very apparent that something has to change for the Kings and it has to happen quickly.

DeMarcus Cousins was very cryptic after the game saying his team has a “big issue” to deal with internally. He was clear that the issue went beyond energy and effort.

Even with the loss, the Kings are just three games out of the number eight spot in the Western Conference playoff race. The potential of the playoffs may just be an afterthought if the Kings cannot find solutions to whatever is ailing them in the locker room and on the court.

Kings

Darren Collison led the Kings in scoring by putting up 25 points in 25 minutes of playing time off the bench. Collison went 7-for-9 from the floor including two 3-point baskets. He was also an impressive 9-for-9 from the free throw line.

DeMarcus Cousins posted a triple-double against the Nets. Cousins scored 24 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out 10 assists in the game. He was a perfect 4-for-4 from beyond the 3-point arc.

Rajon Rondo had a double-double game as he scored 15 points and distributed 15 assists. Rondo had three steals and turned the ball over just two times.

Willie Cauley-Stein added 16 points, Marco Belinelli 13, Caron Butler 8 and Omri Casspi 7.

Rudy Gay scored just two points in the game. Gay went down early in first quarter with a twisted ankle. Karl had no update on Gay’s condition after the game.

Sacramento shot 50.6-percent (45-for-89) from the floor hitting on 8 of 26 3-point shots. The Kings shot 21-for-22 from the foul line. They had 30 assists and just 11 turnovers.

All of these numbers support the premise that the Kings score enough to win. They just cannot keep the other team from scoring more.

Nets

Joe Johnson scored a season-high 27 points to lead the Nets scoring attack. Johnson shot 11-for-16 from the floor including 5-for-7 from downtown. Johnson did not make one trip to the free throw line in the game.

Center Brook Lopez posted 26 points in the game. Lopez made it a double-double game by hauling in 12 rebounds.

Bojan Bogdanovic scored a season-high 23 points against the Kings. He shot 8-for-10 from the field and 7-for-9 from long range. Bogdanovic also did not make a trip to the charity stripe in the contest.

Donald Sloan had a season-high 17 points versus the Kings. A team cannot allow that many season high scoring performances from the opposition and expect to win.

Up next

The Kings will return to action on Sunday with an early game in Boston. The Celtics (30-22) beat the Cavs 104-103 in Cleveland on Friday evening. The Kings – Celtics game will tip-off at 10:00 AM Pacific Time.

The Nets play the second game of a back-to-back against the Sixers in Philadelphia on Saturday.