Preview: Kings look to avoid fourth-straight loss vs. Blazers
Nov 8, 2023, 9:33 AM | Updated: Nov 9, 2023, 10:27 am
(Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images)
Life without De’Aaron Fox will continue for the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night as the ‘Beam Team’ will hope to avoid a fourth-straight loss.
The Kings (2-4) will face a Portland Trail Blazers (3-4) team that has won three of its past four contests, including two on the road, thanks to solid contributions from recently acquired center Deandre Ayton (13.3 rebounds per game) and veteran wing Jerami Grant (averaging 24.8 points over the past four games).
Sacramento, who has yet to lose four consecutive games since starting last year with an 0-4 record, has no shortage of issues in its rotation–especially on the offensive end.
Last season’s record-setting offense has taken a massive step back without its leader in Fox, and Wednesday’s matchup will give the Kings another chance to right the ship and find the bottom of the net.
As we learned during a brutal two-game trip to Houston, last year’s records do not indicate how a team will perform in 2023-24.
Houston, who posted a 22-60 record last season, swept Sacramento in a two-game set by an average of 21.5 points. The Blazers, who finished 33-49 in 2022-23, are currently a top-ten defensive team regarding opponent points per game (tenth) and defensive rating (ninth).
If the Kings want to snap this losing skid, they will have to dig deep and find a way to win without Fox–something that they have yet to accomplish during this young season.
Sacramento Kings vs. Portland Trail Blazers Game Info
When: 7:00 PM PST
Where: Golden 1 Center – Sacramento, CA
TV: NBC Sports California
Radio: Sactown Sports 1140 AM – Coverage starts at 5:30 PM on Game Night
Line: Kings -8.5, O/U 220.5
Be sure to tune in right here on Sactown Sports 1140 for all of your Kings vs. Lakers coverage, beginning at 5:30 PM PST on Game Night before a 7:00 PM PST tip-off from downtown Sacramento.
Tickets: Click here
Needing More Out Of… Everyone?
We all knew that the Kings would struggle without De’Aaron Fox… but I’m not sure if this much of a drop-off was anticipated.
Sacramento’s once-lethal offense has looked like a shell of itself during three games–all losses–without the All-Star guard:
- Kings offense (3 games with Fox): 125.3 PTS | 45% FG | 34% 3PT | 27.7 AST | 2-1 record
- Kings offense (3 games without Fox): 95.7 PTS | 41% FG | 31% 3PT | 22.0 AST | 0-3 record
You’re reading that correctly. That’s a 30-point difference, which is likely not a coincidence, as Fox averaged 31.3 points per game on 48/37/81 shooting splits before suffering an ankle injury.
With Fox in line to miss his fourth-straight game on Wednesday, the Kings need more from everyone against Portland. That’s right. Everyone.
Keegan Murray has taken over as Sacramento’s leading option during Fox’s absence, but the shots haven’t fallen for last year’s standout rookie.
Over six games this season, Murray is shooting 35 percent from the field and 26 percent from three-point range, though his field goal attempts have risen from 9.8 during his rookie year to nearly 14 per game thus far.
Kevin Huerter has picked up his rebounding while he struggles to find his offense (5.0 rebounds per game this season), but Sacramento needs its shooters to start converting from the perimeter.
Huerter (24%), Murray (26%), Sasha Vezenkov (27%), and Domantas Sabonis (25%) have not been able to find consistency from three-point range to begin the season, and that makes matters worse when you take into account how the offense has lacked fluidity.
Davion Mitchell has struggled in a starting role, a part of his game that has regressed in each of his three NBA seasons:
Rookie season: 19 games started
- 18.0 PTS, 2.3 REB. 7.4 AST, 37.1 MIN, 45% FG, 33% 3PT
Second year: 9 games started
- 9.2 PTS, 1.7 REB, 4.0 AST, 28.8 MIN, 44% FG, 29% 3PT
Third year: 3 games started
- 8.3 PTS, 2.3 REB, 3.7 AST, 37% FG, 33% 3PT, 27.8 MIN
The Kings don’t need Mitchell to replicate Fox’s production to a T, but they need more than what ‘Off Night’ is currently offering as the leader of this dormant offense.
Harrison Barnes is another player that needs to assert himself on the offensive end with Fox out of action.
Following an impressive season-opener that saw the forward score 33 points on 11-of-16 shooting from the field, Barnes has yet to take more than nine shot attempts in a game since.
Over the past five games, Barnes is averaging 9.6 points and 2.0 rebounds per game while shooting 42 percent from the field.
Unlike the majority of his teammates, three-point shooting hasn’t been an issue for Barnes (38%), but rather the lack of volume in attempts from the veteran.
Barnes’ 8.5 field goal attempts per game rank sixth on the Kings’ roster, and his 4.7 attempts from three-point range are fifth. During a time where several players have been unable to jump-start their offenses, Barnes should show an uptick in aggression and look to score, especially on the break or when he gets downhill.
More aggression on the offensive end is needed from Barnes, while his 2.3 rebounds per game average on the season is unacceptable for a player that has grabbed 5.3 rebounds per game during his five-plus seasons in a Kings uniform.
- Scoot Henderson – OUT (right ankle sprain)
- Anfernee Simons – OUT (right thumb ligament tear)
- Robert Williams III – OUT (right knee sprain)
- Ish Wainright – OUT (right calf strain)
Upcoming Sacramento Kings Schedule
- Wednesday, November 8th – Sacramento Kings vs. Portland Trail Blazers – 7 PM PST
- Friday, November 10th – Sacramento Kings vs. Oklahoma City Thunder** – 7 PM PST
- Monday, November 13th – Sacramento Kings vs. Cleveland Cavaliers – 7:00 PM PST
- Wednesday, November 15th – Sacramento Kings @ Los Angeles Lakers – 7:00 PM PST
- Friday, November 17th – Sacramento Kings @ San Antonio Spurs – 4:30 PM PST
** NBA In-Season Tournament Group Play