The Kings get burned by the Suns 124-95 in their NBA season opener

PHX Kingx team
Graphic: @Kings.com

by Charlie O. Mallonee

The hopes and dreams of the Sacramento Kings hit a brick wall at 100 mph when they were blown out in their 2019-20 season opener in Phoenix by the Suns 124-95 on Wednesday night. The Suns did make upgrades to their team personnel in the offseason, but no one has them even coming close to making the playoffs. The Kings are considered to be a potential playoff team.

The first half was a back and forth affair

The teams played evenly in the first half. The Kings won the first quarter 29-25. Buddy Hield put 11 points in the book sinking 4 of 7 shots (two 3-pointers) to go along with seven points from Harrison Barnes.

Hield led the charge for Sacramento in the second period as he put in 11 of the Kings 30 points scored in the quarter. De’Arron Fox added five points and three assists.

The Suns scored 29 points in the second quarter. Kelly Oubre Jr. led the scoring attack with eight points and Ricky Rubio added five.

At the half, the Kings were up 59-54 over the Suns.

Third-quarter turnaround

The Suns came out of halftime on fire. They hit 14 of 25 (56%) of their shots from the floor and went 3-for-6 from 3-point range.

The Kings shot just 29.4% for the quarter while turning the ball over 10 times which resulted in 19 points for Phoenix.

When the quarter ended, the Suns held an 86-76 lead over Sacramento and they would never look back.

Two major problems for the Kings

Turnovers were a major problem for Sacramento in their season opener. The Kings committed 27 turnovers that resulted in 35 points for the Suns. Last season, the Kings highest turnover total was 26 which ironically came in a game on the road in Phoenix.

The Kings were dominated in the paint. The Suns outscored Sacramento 68-34 in the paint on Wednesday night.

Both of those problems were seen in India when the Kings played the Pacers, but both issues had appeared to go away in the preseason games played in the States.

Players of the Game

PHX

Deandre Ayton recorded a double-double scoring 18 and grabbing 11 rebounds. He also blocked four shots and had one steal. Ayton went 9-for-14 shooting for a 64.3 Field Goal Percentage. For fantasy players, Ayton’s score was 46.2.

SAC

Buddy Hield scored 28 points, hauled in five rebounds and added two assists. He hit 10 of 19 shots (52.6%) from the floor and went 6-for-12 from 3-point land. His fantasy score was 32.0.

Honorable mention

Kings

  • Marvin Bagley III recorded a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds
  • Harrison Barnes scored 12 points and added six rebounds
  • Corey Joseph put up 10 points and dished out four assists
  • De’Aaron Fox added eight points and five assists while missing most of the third quarter with foul trouble

Suns

  • Devin Booker scored 22 points and added 10 assists
  • Ricky Rubio recorded a double-double with 11 points and 11 assists
  • Kelly Oubre Jr. put up 21 points plus nine rebounds

Up next

The Kings will return to action on Friday night when they will host the Portland Trail Blazers in their home opener at the Golden 1 Center.

 

Kings fall to Jazz 133-112 on Sunday night in SAC

Jazz final score

By Charlie O. Mallonee

The Sacramento Kings faced a major uphill battle on Sunday night at the Golden 1 Center. They had played their butts off in Oakland on Saturday night only to lose to the Golden State Warriors 117-116 with less than one second remaining in the game.

The team then had to travel home and get ready for a 5 PM game on Sunday against the Utah Jazz. Let’s change that to the very angry Utah Jazz.

Sacramento had played the Jazz in Salt Lake City last Wednesday and embarrassed the Utah squad in front of their home fans by handing them a 119-110 loss. You must remember that the Jazz were a playoff team last season and to be beaten at home by a bunch of upstarts like the Kings is something that is not supposed to happen in the NBA.

The Jazz entered the contest with revenge on their minds.

Back-to-back games
NBA teams hate back-to-back games because they often spell disaster for them. The games on Saturday and Sunday were the Kings fifth back-to-back set of the season. They were 4-5 in those games coming in the contest with the Jazz. They had swept one series, split two series and been swept once.

The Kings needed to win on Sunday night to prevent being swept in a back-to-back series for the second time this season. They lost to the Jazz 133-112 and have now been swept twice in a back-to-back series.

Kings could not take advantage of a break
The Kings (10-10) knew before the start of the game that Utah’s star guard Donovan Mitchell would not be in uniform on Sunday. Mitchell who averages 20.6 points per game is usually the “heart and soul” of the Jazz offense. His absence did not guarantee the Kings a win, but it should have given them an advantage to exploit. They were unable to do so.

Coach Dave Joerger even warned the media before the game that Utah had a deep bench that was very capable of making up for Mitchell not being in the lineup. He was correct.

Things started well for SAC
The Kings jumped out to a 7-0 lead but things went downhill from there. Coach Dave Joerger did not mince words about what he saw from his team.

  • The Jazz outscored the Kings in the paint 66-52
  • Utah scored 17 second Chance Points to Sacramento’s 9
  • The Kings did win the battle of fastbreak points 13-12
  • The Jazz shot 53.3% (49/52) for the game while the Kings shot 47.1% (40/85)
  • UTA out-rebounded SAC 49-36
  • The Jazz dished out 30 assists while committing 19 turnovers (23 Kings points)
  • The Kings recorded 20 assists and turned it over 17 times (23 Utah points)

De’Aaron Fox on the loss to the Jazz

  • Kings high scorer was Bogdan Bogdanovic with 20 points in his first start of the season
  • De’Aaron Fox scored 13 points while dishing out 3 assists and adding 3 steals

  • Marvin Bagley III scored 18 points and grabbed 6 rebounds
  • Harry Giles III put up 10 points, hauled in 8 rebounds and added 6 assists in just under 20 minutes of playing time

Utah Jazz leaders

Jazz Rubio

  • Ricky Rubio was the Jazz unlikely leading scorer. The point guard hardly ever shoots yet on Sunday he shot 11-for-16 from the floor and went 2-for-3 from behind the 3-point arc. He scored 27 points while distributing 5 assists and adding 7 rebounds.
  • Rudy Gobert posted a double-double with 18 points and 15 rebounds. This was his 18th double-double of the season
  • Joe Ingles was quiet for much of the game and then suddenly had 18 points

Up next

  • The Jazz (9-11) will be back in action on Monday night when they host the Pacers in Salt Lake City
  • The Kings are off until Thursday night when they will welcome Clippers to the Golden 1 Center
  • The Jazz and Kings will meet one more time this season in SLC on April 5, 2019

Kings squeak past Timberwolves 106-103

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Sacramento Kings
Photo Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

by Charlie O. Mallonee

Sacramento – The Sacramento Kings won their first game in the new Golden 1 Center on Saturday night by squeaking by the Minnesota Timberwolves 106-103.It was literally a last-second victory as the Timberwolves had the chance to tie the game or take the lead with 02.6-seconds left on the clock.

The Kings record improves to 2-1 on the season with the victory. Head coach Dave Joerger said the win has some meaning as the Kings get ready to start a five-game road trip.

“It just means you go on the road trip 2-1. I think there is a nice difference between being 2-1 and 1-2 and how you feel about yourself, knowing you are going to play your next five in all kinds of different states around the union,” said coach Joerger about the upcoming road trip. “I think that’s a better feeling getting on the plane tomorrow.”

The loss leaves the Timberwolves winless on the season. Minnesota lost their season opener in Memphis when they let a 14-point lead slip away late in the game. The Timberwolves let an 18-point lead over the Kings evaporate on Saturday night.

New Minnesota head coach Tom Thibodeau likes his teams talent but feels that something has to happen before they can start winning.

“We have to get a lot tougher. We got to get a lot tougher.”

Minnesota can pass and shoot the ball. The Timberwolves shot 51.4-percent from the floor in the game. They shot over 60-percent in the first quarter. Thibodeau is also correct when he says they are not a very physical team when they need to be.

The Kings started the game slowly shooting under 40-percent for much of the first quarter and allowing Andrew Wiggins to score 13 points. Dave Joerger became so frustrated that he pulled his five starters off the floor with 3:18 to go in the quarter and put in the entire second unit.

The Kings came back to life in the second quarter behind Rudy Gay who scored 12 points and DeMarcus Cousins who put up 11. Matt Barnes came off the bench to make a real difference especially on defense.

The Timberwolves led the Kings 65-54 at halftime.

The third quarter was the difference maker in this game. The Kings came out on fire on both ends of the floor. Sacramento outscored Minnesota 31-12 in the period. The Timberwolves shot only 25-percent from the floor.

Minnesota turned the ball over seven times in the period that resulted in 14 Sacramento points. The Kings had just two turnovers the Timberwolves were unable to turn into any points.

“The 3rd quarter was a problem, big problem. We have to take a look the problems and see where the issues are,” said Tom Thibodeau.

The fourth quarter began with the Kings leading 85-77. Sacramento opened up a 10-point lead then the Timberwolves began to chip away at the that lead. Minnesota went on a 9-0 run and tied the game 100-100 with 3:11 to play.

The Kings went back up by five. After Wiggins hit a free throw and cut the lead to four, the unthinkable happened. DeMarcus Cousins picked up his sixth personal foul with 50.9-seconds left in the game. The Kings had to finish the game with their best player on the bench.

Rookie guard Kris Dunn who was fouled by Cousins missed both of his free throws. Gorgui Dieng grabbed the rebound and Zach LaVine missed a 3-point jump shot. Karl-Anthony Towns got the rebound and converted the lay up to make it a two point game, 105-103.

After winning a jump ball, the Timberwolves were unable to hit a basket. Matt Barnes was fouled going for a rebound with 00.2-seconds left. He hit 1-of-2 free throws to end the game.

The Kings won the game 106-103.

Kings (2-1)

  • Cousins was the Kings leading scorer with 29 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists
  • Rudy Gay had a big night 28 points, 11-for-20 shooting
  • Matt Barnes – the impact player of the game off the bench – 12 points including three 3-pointers to go with 9 assists
  • Ben McLemore bounced back from his troubles in the Spurs game scoring 13 points and shooting 50-percent from the field
  • The Kings improved their shooting by 6-percent over Thursday by shooting 45.9-percent (39-for-85) in the game.

Timberwolves (0-2)

  • Andrew Wiggins scored 29 points to lead the Timberwolves scoring attack. He is very difficult to stop when he wants to shoot.
  • Guard Zach LaVine had a big night putting up 21 points while shooting 50-percent from the floor
  • Karl-Anthony Towns added 15 points but the battle between him and fellow Kentucky Wildcat DeMarcus Cousins was a non-event. They just did not match up much in the game
  • PG Ricky Rubio experienced a sprained elbow. Rubio was rumored to be a trade target of the Kings but Minnesota was reluctant to part with him until Kris Dunn is ready

Up Next

The Kings begin a five-game road trip on Monday night in Atlanta. Sacramento will play five games in seven nights all in the Eastern time zone except for the Milwaukee game which is in the Central time zone.

Minnesota heads home to open their home season with the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday night. The Timberwolves will be looking for redemption after losing to Memphis in their season opener.

Kings: the search for a starting point guard

 

ronnie-price-seth-curry
Seth Curry runs the offense for the Kings

By Charlie O. Mallonee

Now that the draft is over, the Kings have started the search for their bench players. The real search is for who is going to play point guard and who can help the team at shooting guard.

The point guard situation has become clouded because of the situation with Darren Collison. Unfortunately, Collison has been indicted in a domestic violence case and will almost certainly face a suspension from the NBA related to the situation. When Collison will be available to play for the Kings is a major unknown at this point.

Last season’s starting point guard – Rajon Rondo – is a free agent and had a very productive year for Sacramento. The consensus is that Rondo would be open to signing another short-term contact of one to two years to stay in with the Kings. Sacramento does not have “Bird Rights” on Rondo so his salary would have to come out of this year’s cap money.

The big question is – do you want Rondo at the point again this season? There is no doubt that Rondo can produce assists and is capable of scoring in spurts. There is also no question that he will not provide the team with the type of defense the Kings are looking to establish this season.

Rondo has also become a target of the Brooklyn Nets who are looking to replace Jarrett Jack. There have to be other teams who are looking at what Rondo did last season and are thinking that he would be worth offering a big dollar-short term contract for that type of potential production for a season or two.

Who does that leave for the Kings to target for the point guard position? Ricky Rubio of the Timberwolves appears to have become expendable with Minnesota drafting Kris Dunn. Rubio averages 10.1 points and 8.3 assists per game. A trade would be necessary to bring Rubio to Sacramento. The Kings do have Kosta Koufos and Ben McLemore that could be packaged in a possible exchange. The key worry involving Rubio would be his history of injuries.

Jeremy Lin is an unrestricted free agent who spent last season in Charlotte. He averaged 11.7 points and 3.0 assists per game. Lin made $2-million last season but he will want a raise this year and some security. UPDATE: Lin signed a three-year, $36-million deal with the Brooklyn Nets. That is a $10-million a year raise over his last contract. The Lin signing also potentially affects the Rajon Rondo situation.

Ty Lawson has experience and has been a major disappointment in his last two stops in Houston and Indiana. He also earned over $12-million last season.

Mario Chalmers played for Joerger in Memphis averaging 10.3 points and 3.8 assists per game but then was waived by the club. He made just over $4-million last year.

Ish Smith has become a legitimate starter in the league for the Sixers. He averaged 12.6 points and 6.5 assists per game. Smith will certainly want a raise from his $1.1-million salary. Also is he willing to go from one bad team to another just for the money? UPDATE: Smith signed a three-year,$18-million contract with the Detroit Pistons on Friday.

The best option for the Kings may be to re-sign Seth Curry, the combo point/shooting guard who came on strong for the team in closing days of last season. The team has given Curry – a restricted free agent – a qualifying offer so they have the opportunity to match or exceed any offer Curry would receive from another team.

This would mean the Kings would have to start the season with Curry and rookie Isaiah Cousins while they wait for the Collison situation to play itself out. It would allow the Kings to spend money on shooting guards that they so desperately need plus one of those shooting guards might be able to play some limited time at the point.

The Kings may well need to embrace “positionless” basketball to compensate for the lack of a star point guard. Former head coach George Karl said the best passer on the Kings is DeMarcus Cousins. Maybe the offense will need to flow through the high post until the point guard situation can be firmed up.

The worst thing the Kings could do right now is make a knee-jerk decision and spend too much on a player that they might not need later in the season or in seasons to come.

 

 

Last second shot downs Warriors, lose 121-120 to Wolves

By Gabe Schapiro

The Golden State Warriors (26-18) lost a hectic back-and-forth contest to the Minnesota Timberwolves, 121-120, Friday night, at Oracle Arena. The game featured a ton of offense, and seemed to come down to which side would blink first. The Warriors grabbed a late lead, before a Kevin Martin 20-foot jumper with eight seconds left ultimately put the Timberwolves ahead for good. Three Minnesota players finished with 20+ points in the win.

The fast pace was set early on, as both squads combined for 72 points in the first quarter alone, deadlocked at a 36-36 tie. The foes continued to go blow-for-blow, with neither establishing a significant lead. The Timberwolves opened up the game with a 6-0 run, but that would be the biggest advantage either would enjoy until the third quarter.

Heading into the locker rooms at half time, they remained tied, 63 all.

Late in the third quarter, Golden State finally made a bit of a run. Minnesota failed to score for the final 2:53, sending the Warriors on a 10-0 tear, and a seven-point lead, heading into the fourth. It appeared as though the dubs could fight them off, but the rollercoaster ride wasn’t over.

In the fourth the momentum slowly swayed back in the Wolves favor. With 5:54 remaining in the contest, a Martin three-pointer had erased Golden State’s lead, and had taken back a one-point lead of their own. They continued to trade punches down the stretch. With 27 seconds left a pair of Andre Iguodala free-throws gave the Warriors their last lead of the game, 120-119. With eight ticks left, Martin played the game-changer again, sinking a jumper. Harrison Barnes had one last shot at the buzzer, after a double-teamed Stephen Curry passed the rock his way, but his attempt clanged off the rim.

In all five Warriors finished in double figures. Curry led all scorers with 33 points, including six three-pointers, to go along with 15 assists. David Lee pitched in 23 points and seven rebounds. Andrew Bogut set a Warriors season-high with seven blocked shots, to highlight his line of eight points and 11 boards. Klay Thompson had 18, Iguodala finished with 16.

Kevin Love led the way for Minnesota, filling up the stat sheet with 26 points, 14 rebounds, and eight assists. Martin did plenty of damage as well, chipping in another 26 points. Center Nikola Pekovic scored 22, and hauled in 14 rebounds. Ricky Rubio led the team with 12 assists.

Golden State will look to get back to their winning ways this Sunday, when they take on the tough Portland Trailblazers, back at Oracle. The game begins at 6:00pm.