• The Raptors’ superior talent, and some careless mistakes from the Kings, helped get them the 102-87 victory in Sacramento.

    Dave Joerger decided to switch the starting lineup tonight and things didn’t look good at all early on. The starting unit of De’Aaron Fox, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Garrett Temple, Skal Labissiere and Zach Randolph fell into a 17-2 hole, displaying much of the same issues that plagued the Kings early in the season.

    The bench, as they have done countless times over the past couple of weeks, breathed life into the arena as they clawed things back to a 22-17 deficit after 12 minutes in Sacramento. The bench unit looked more cohesive on offense, and played with tremendous effort on defense which helped get the Kings back in the game.

    Sacramento managed to take a brief lead in the second quarter but the Raptors’ starters came in and picked up where they left off. The Kings started turning the ball over, most of them careless, lazy mistakes. It seemed as though when the Kings’ starters came in, all momentum and energy was lost; it’s hard to explain how the difference between the starters and bench is so dramatic.

    However, considering the nightmare start the Kings were only down 54-46 at halftime and they were in a position to give the streaking Raptors a run for their money.

    Fox had a first half to forget turning the ball over six times. It was the first time in his young NBA career where he’s really struggled. Every rookie, and most players has nights like this where nothing goes their way – it’s essentially inevitable. Fox was seen talking to Vince Carter on the bench multiple times and that’s the perks of having a 40-year-old veteran on the bench to help pick up a youngster in need.

    Throughout the third quarter the Raptors had a slight edge but a four-minute field goal drought for the Kings caused them to fall behind heading into the fourth quarter. Toronto were leading 79-76 after three quarters largely due to the Kings’ lack of scoring and careless turnovers over the final five minutes or so.

    The Raptors went on to top the Kings in every quarter. Sacramento just didn’t look the same tonight and the lineup change may have been a big reason why. It’ll be interesting to see what Joerger does moving forward as that starting lineup deployed tonight clearly doesn’t lead to success.

    Game Notes

    • Turnovers were a big reason why the Kings struggled to gather any momentum. They turned the ball over 21 times compared to Toronto’s 13. Many of Sacramento’s turnovers were unforced, careless mistakes that really shouldn’t be happening. An early Sunday start may be one reason why.
    • The Raptors managed to get up a high volume of 3-pointers but didn’t actually make many of them. They shot 11-of-37 from distance (29.7 percent) compared to 10-of-23 for the Kings (43.5 percent). Toronto had many open looks but they just weren’t falling tonight so the Kings were probably lucky the deficit wasn’t worse. Kyle Lowry, for example, shot just 3-of-12 from distance and 4-of-17 on the night overall.
    • Zach Randolph led the way for Sacramento again with 19 points and 11 rebounds on 9-of-11 shooting. He’s really turned it on as of late and is stringing together some impressive performances. It was his fourth double-double in his last five games.
    • Buddy Hield continued to shoot the ball well going 7-of-13 from the field and 3-of-5 from three for 17 bench points. Bogdan Bogdanovic turned in 15 points on 4-of-8 shooting too so it was nice to see Sacramento’s shooters having success on the same night – the hope is for more of this to come down the line. Bogdanovic’s four 3-pointers were a career-high.
    • JaKarr Sampson has been a major burst of energy for the Kings of late and you can see it helps the team on the court. He produced 11 points, four rebounds, one steal and three blocks on 5-of-5 shooting tonight. It’s unclear how long Willie Cauley-Stein will remain on the sidelines, but Joerger is loving what Sampson brings to the team.

    The Kings will be back in action against the Suns on Tuesday. It’ll be another home game in Sacramento so it’s one the Kings will be hoping to take against a team that had a fairly even talent spread. Not only that, but the Kings head out for a four-game road trip after that one which makes it even more important.

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