By Charlie O. Mallonee
The Toronto Raptors handed the Kings their second consecutive loss in two days as they downed Sacramento 120-105 at Scotiabank Arena on Tuesday night. This was the second game of a back-to-back set that began in Brooklyn on Monday. The Nets beat the Kings 123-94 on MLK Day.
Battle of the Tiers
The Raptors are a Tier One team. They know that they will be playing deep into the month of May and could be playing in the month of June for the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Their 36 wins are the most in the NBA to date.
The Kings are a Tier Three team that is working very hard to become a Tier Two team. Becoming a Tier Two team does not mean that they would make the playoffs this season, but it would mean they would have very few ping pong balls in the barrel for the NBA Draft Lottery.
The Kings are just four wins away from matching their win total of the 2017-18 season, and they still have 34 games to play in the regular season. Sacramento is just 1.5 games out playoff contention, even after losing on Tuesday night.
Both teams played shorthanded
The Raptors played without Kawhi Leonard, who has been on an eight-day break. Leonard has now sat out 13 games this season and the Raptors are 11-2 without him in the lineup. That is what you call depth.
Toronto plays the Pacers in Indiana on Wednesday night, and it is believed that the Raptors felt it was more important to have Kawhi available for that game than to play against the Kings at home on Tuesday night.
The official reason for Leonard’s absence was “Rest-Load Management”. Some observers are beginning to ask if Leonard would be worth a long-term contract investment since he has needed to be rested 13 times in 49 games to date this season.
The Kings also held out three key players on Tuesday night. De’Aaron Fox and Nemanja Bjelica did not dress and did not play. That was listed as a coach’s decision. Iman Shumpert was also held out of the game for “Rest-Load Management”.
Coach Dave Joerger mentioned in his postgame comments that two of those players went through therapy on Tuesday without giving any details. It would be fair to project that Fox was one of those players since he has needed on-going attention for a shoulder he injured approximately one month ago.
The Raptors did not miss a beat without Kawhi
Six Raptors scored in double figures in the win over the Kings on Tuesday night (four were starters):
- Fred VanVleet put up 19 points to go with seven assists and seven rebounds. VanVleet has been the “designated started” when Leonard has been unavailable.
- Kyle Lowry also scored 19 points and dished out nine dimes in 34-minutes on the floor.
- Pascal Siakam put 18 points up on the board, shooting 8-for-14 from the floor.
- Serge Ibaka had a double-double night, scoring 15 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
- CJ Miles came off the bench to score 15 points in just over 15-minutes in the game. Miles hit 4-of-5 3-point attempts.
- Norman Powell was the last of the double-figure scorers with 11 points.
Toronto refused to let the Kings build a lead in this game. The biggest lead for SAC on the night was five points. There were seven lead changes and six ties. The Raptors’ largest lead of the game was 19 points.
The Kings had seven players score in double figures
Sacramento has some strong individual performances, but they could not put together the runs they needed to stay with the Raptors. Much like game on Monday in Brooklyn, the Kings kept things close in the first half then the game started slipping away in the third quarter. By the time the clock started in the fourth quarter, the game became a runaway for the home team.
Important Kings performers:
- Marvin Bagley III made his first start of the season and he did not disappoint. MBIIIV scored a game-high 22 points and made it a double-double by adding 11 rebounds. It will not be his last start of the season.
- Bogdan Bogdanovic put 16 points in the book to go along with nine assists and eight rebounds. “Bogi” also had three steals in the contest.
- Buddy Hield scored a “quiet” 15 points in the game. He shot 5-for-14 overall and hit just two 3-point baskets. Hield did dish out five assists, but one has to wonder if fatigue was not a bit of a factor for “Buddy Buckets” in the game.
- Harry Giles III had a very productive 22-plus minutes off the bench for the Kings on Tuesday night. He scored 11 points, shooting 4-for-8 from the floor.
- Willie Cauley-Stein, Yogi Ferrell and Ben McLemore each scored 10 points in the game.
- The Kings outscored the Raptors 50-46 in the paint
- Toronto scored 24 Second Chance Points to 12 for Sacramento
- The Raptors scored 26 Fast Break Points to 16 for the Kings
The Kings (24-24) will travel to Memphis on Wednesday to prepare for their game with the Grizzlies (19-28) on Friday night.
The Raptors (36-13) will face the Pacers (31-15) in Indy on Wednesday night.