• The Kings showed fight and promise against the Rockets on Wednesday night but just couldn’t get the victory, falling 100-91 in Houston.

    Zach Randolph sat out tonight’s game due to rest purposes, opening the door for JaKarr Sampson to get the start. Plugging Sampson into the lineup allowed the Kings to run and play with energy early on. All five starters could get out and push the pace, and the early returns were positive against a team that’s generally so dominant playing that way. Within the opening five minutes Sampson made numerous hustle plays, including a monster put back jam to give Sacramento the early lead.

    The Kings were active defensively, limiting the Rockets’ open looks during the first quarter and they helped themselves to a 25-20 lead. Justin Jackson led the way for the Kings with eight points through 12 minutes. The Rockets love shooting the long-ball, but Sacramento held them to 2-of-9 shooting from distance in the quarter and also added an impressive four blocks. Defense was the name of the game early for the Kings and it was certainly leading to positive results.

    Sacramento didn’t score their first bucket of the second quarter until over three minutes in and that allowed the Rockets to build a lead. Houston bounced back after their underwhelming start to the game, rattling off a 9-0 prior to the Kings’ first second quarter points. Chris Paul was settling in, scoring on multiple trips down the floor. Normally when the Rockets get hot things get out of hand, but the Kings were fighting punch-for-punch and were making their own shots on the other end to keep pace.

    Paul dropped 17 points in the second quarter alone to lead the Rockets to a 45-55 lead at halftime. The Kings’ defense slipped and the Rockets took full advantage. Willie Cauley-Stein tried to go at Clint Capela for the duration of the first half but had minimal success, shooting a measly 2-of-10 from the field. Both teams weren’t shooting great from the field, the Kings at just 41.3 percent and the Rockets at 42.9 percent, however, the difference was at the free throw line as Houston were 12-of-13 to the Kings’ 2-of-4.

    Being down 10 at halftime is a solid result for the Kings, considering how dominant the Rockets have been lately. They lead the NBA in points differential (plus-8.8) due to their fast paced play and dead-eye shooting from deep, so giving up just 55 first half points is a positive result for the Kings.

    Things got away from Sacramento to start the third quarter. Their offense had sputtered out, and while Houston’s wasn’t much better, the Rockets were still scoring at a respectable rate that allowed them to jump up 67-52 with 4:42 left in the third quarter — their largest lead of the game. However the Kings bounced back and refused to go away, trailing 63-72 through three quarters.

    Both teams were still struggling to make shots consistently, shooting sub-40 percent, but it was essentially working in the Kings’ favor as the Rockets are a team that relies heavily on its offense.

    The shooting, for both teams, improved during the fourth quarter. The Kings managed to get as close as five with 25 seconds left in the game, making the Rockets work down the stretch. It was a fitting end to a hard-fought game for the Kings, but they didn’t quite have enough in the tank to take the cake.

    With Sacramento’s track record against the Rockets, and Houston’s general play of late, this wasn’t meant to be close. But the fight the young Kings displayed was promising heading into the All-Star break. It was a loss, but the team will certainly be going into the break on somewhat of a high.

    Game Notes

    • De’Aaron Fox took a hard fall with under a minute left in the game. He hit his head hard on the court, and was bleeding quite badly from his forehead. He obviously did not return, and will likely be evaluated for a concussion. Fox was recently named as a replacement for Lonzo Ball in the Rising Stars game on Friday night, but that looks to be in jeopardy after his fall. He tallied nine points, two rebounds, three assists and one steal in 26 minutes (3-of-10 from the field) before exiting the game.

    • Bogdan Bogdanovic led the way for Sacramento, posting 20 points, four rebounds, five assists and two steals on 8-of-15 shooting from the field (4-of-8 from three). Bogi continued to make tough shots and set up his teammates, as he’s done all year-long. He’ll participate in the Rising Stars game on Friday so keep an eye out for him there.
    • Justin Jackson played a team-high 34 minutes tonight, totaling 12 points, five rebounds, four assists and two blocks on 5-of-9 shooting (2-of-5 from three). The 34 minutes were a career-high for Jackson, while his two blocks tied a career-high. Jackson’s off-ball movement creates so many opportunities for him to score, and the Kings seem to play better whenever he’s on the floor. He’s seemingly earned the trust of Dave Joerger and is slated for big minutes moving forward.
    • The Kings held Houston to under 40 percent shooting from the field (39.8 percent) and just 28.6 percent shooting from the deep which is a great achievement. The Rockets are an offensive powerhouse but for the Kings to keep them somewhat contained is a victory in itself.
    • Sacramento followed their season-high 30 assists from last night with 26 assists tonight. Their passing has elevated to another level of late, as has their pace of play. The Kings are playing better when they move the ball and play fast, so it’s no surprise so see them give the Rockets a run for their money.

    The All-Star break is now upon the Kings. There won’t have anyone representing Sacramento in the All-Star game, but they do have three players selected to participate in the Rising Stars game which is played on Friday night. Buddy Hield, Bogdan Bogdanovic and De’Aaron Fox will all be suiting up, Hield and Bogdanovic on the World team, while Fox will play for the team USA.

    Development will remain the focus on the other side of the break. Skal Labissiere and Frank Mason are both expected back from injury, while the newly acquired Iman Shumpert and Bruno Caboclo could see the floor at some stage too. There won’t be many wins over the last two months of the season, but it’ll be fun watching the future of Kings basketball take the court.

Fantasy News

  • Trevon Bluiett
    PF, Utah Jazz

    Trevon Bluiett and Juwan Morgan sign with the Jazz in the hopes of one day playing in an NBA game.

    Bluiett was on a two-way contract with the Pelicans last season while Juwan Morgan played for the Jazz in the 2019 Summer League. They will both compete for a roster spot in training camp but neither is a guarantee to make the final roster. They both have yet to see the court in an NBA game and can be ignored from a fantasy perspective until that day comes.

    Source: Tony Jones on Twitter

  • Zach Collins
    C, Portland Trail Blazers

    Zach Collins (ankle) began daily contact workouts on Monday and is on pace to head into training camp fully healthy.

    Collins is heading into what could be a breakout season as he is likely to start at the power forward position. In the 2019 playoffs, the Gonzaga product blocked a shot in 11 of the 16 games including three games in which he blocked three, four and five respectively. Collins has averaged around 33% from distance throughout his career which is exactly what he shot in the postseason (7-21). If he is able to improve from long range and plays starters minutes, Collins is a can't-miss player. It's far from a guarantee though as the 21-year-old has never finished with standard-league value. It does seem like Collins will be ready for training camp barring a major setback.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Cory Joseph
    PG, Sacramento Kings

    Nick Nurse said that reports of Cory Joseph missing the FIBA World Cup are “incorrect”.

    Nurse added that he spoke to Joseph on Wednesday and that the guard has his flights booked to China. Joseph was in Canada’s camp at home earlier this month, but did not make the trip to Australia and has missed the past four exhibition games. The situation has become a little bit murky but Canada Basketball keeps holding out hope that Joseph will rejoin the team before they depart for China, which doesn’t happen until Monday.

    Source: John Casey on Twitter

  • Tyronn Lue
    PG, Los Angeles Clippers

    Shams Charania of The Athletic is reporting former Cavs championship-winning coach Tyronn Lue has agreed to join the Clippers as their top assistant coach to Doc Rivers.

    The Lakers and Clippers rivalry continues to heat up. Lue was very close to a deal with the Lakers in May to become their head coach, but the sides couldn’t reach an agreement. Lue now joins Kawhi Leonard as another person to spurn the Lakers this offseason.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • PJ Tucker
    SF, Houston Rockets

    P.J. Tucker says he is optimistic about signing a contract extension soon.

    The 34-year-old 3-and-D wing hopes to extend his deal with the Rockets, but a potential extension wouldn't begin until his age-36 season. Houston has him under contract for two more seasons at this point, so they may not be motivated enough to get something done this offseason. However, a maximum Tucker extension would only have him in the $10 million per year range. Even as a 37-year-old, that could be a great deal if he can keep up his current production. Tucker remains a sneaky source of threes and steals late in fantasy drafts or off the wire.

    Source: Kurt Helin on Twitter

  • Jaylen Adams
    PG, Milwaukee Bucks

    The Bucks officially announced the signings of guards Jaylen Adams and Rayjon Tucker on Tuesday.

    Adams and Tucker have their work cut out for them in their bid to claim a roster with the big club, as the Bucks have a reasonably deep guard rotation. Adams and Tucker are more than likely competing to get playing time in the G-League this season and can be ignored in fantasy.

    Source: NBA

  • Jeff Ledbetter
    G, San Antonio Spurs

    The Spurs have offered summer league guard Jeff Ledbetter an Exhibit 10 deal, but he is still mulling over his options which include playing in Europe.

    Ledbetter had a productive summer league and now finds himself with a chance to play for the Austin Spurs of the G-League. Ledbetter is sure to be staring at a bigger payday in Europe, so his choice will be an interesting one. We should have a decision soon.

    Source: Nicola Lupo on Twitter

  • Eric Mika
    C, Sacramento Kings

    The Kings announced on Tuesday that they signed summer league standout C Eric Mika to an exhibit 10 contract.

    The former BYU big man is now set up to play for the Stockton Kings of the G-League. The Kings have a deep big man rotation, and it's unlikely that we'll see much, if any, of Mika on the roster this season.

    Source: Sean Cunningham on Twitter

  • JA Morant
    PG, Memphis Grizzlies

    Ja Morant (right knee) said that he is completely healed from the minor knee surgery earlier this summer, saying he is "100 percent right now."

    Morant will look to get back into the swing of things in the coming weeks as he prepares for his rookie season. Morant has the talent and the role on rebuilding team and is undoubtedly going to cost a pretty penny in fantasy drafts.

    Source: Peter Edmiston on Twitter

  • Derrick Alston
    Team, New York Knicks

    The Westchester Knicks have named Derrick Alston as the new head coach, replacing Mike Miller who was promoted to join David Fizdale’s staff.

    Alston, a former NBA player, has been an assistant for Westchester for four years. Before that, Alston was a player development coach with the Rockets. This will be Alston’s first head coaching gig as he continues to move up the ladder.

    Source: Ian Begley on Twitter