The Rerun: The Sacramento Kings were outpaced in Indiana

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

The Sacramento Kings dropped their lone game played in Indiana this season while everyone aside from Richaun Holmes and Marvin Bagley struggled.

7 Takeaways From The Game

1) Nemanja Bjelicia was on fire to start this one out, scoring 13 of Sacramento’s first 23 points on 5/7 shooting. Bjelicia was being guarded by the slower footed Domantas Sabonis and was able to blow past him with ease to begin the night.

After the first quarter buzzer rang, Bjelicia’s impact would disappear in a hurry. He ended the night with nothing more than those 13 points he scored in the opening quarter, and his defensive deficiencies were on full display against a talented Indiana frontcourt.

2) Buddy Hield’s middle name, Buckets, is in question this season. Another night of subpar shooting from beyond the arc, finishing with 1/9 from three is just unlike him. Previously, if Buddy was struggling to knock down the three-pointer, he was of little use. But this game, he found how to add value to the offensive end with his improved playmaking ability.

Six assists on the night made Buddy one short of his career-high, and none were prettier than what is shown below. An insolated pick-and-roll with Marvin Bagley ran from the corner and Buddy comes off the screen, does a very slight shot fake that Sabonis bites on and threads the needle perfectly to Bagley that has a wide-open lane for two.

Here, Hield made the right read when he came off the dribble handoff into a screen by Richaun Holmes and curled to the basket, engaging Holmes’s defender, Myles Turner. Sabonis is forced to sag off of Bjelicia to slow Holmes rolling and Buddy immediately makes the one-handed swing pass on the money that leads to a good look for a 40% three-point shooter.

3) Richaun Holmes had himself another one of those nights that Kings fans nearly expect at this point. He shot 9/10 from the field including an absurd run in the first half. With 5:25 remaining in the second, Holmes checked into the game and scored the next 12 points for Sacramento.

Every basket came off an assist from varying teammates aside from one offensive-rebound putback. Holmes gets his buckets in the flow of the offense and is beginning to get nice chemistry with the recently returned De’Aaron Fox with lobs similar to what we saw from Wille Cauley-Stein at times last season.

4. Not only is Fox elite at engaging two defenders and setting up his teammates for lobs, but he also has some of the most active hands in the league on the defensive end. Combine that with an unbelievable basketball IQ and motor, and you’ve got yourself a difference-maker on that end of the floor.

Fox gets switched onto the much larger Goga Bitadze and instantly makes a move for the ball rather than allowing the post up to happen and asking for help. After the first poke away, Fox could have relaxed and allowed Bagley to come and take his place but sees an opportunity and strikes, stripping it from Bitadze then following it up with a gorgeous outlet pass to Justin James who is out running.

Fox reads the exact time that Sabonis is going to spin and doubles just when the big man did not see it coming. The determination and perseverance are on full display in the next clip when he nearly intercepts the passing lane but continues to trail T.J. McConnell until he is finally able to pry it away. He is a defensive star in the making.

5) The aforementioned T.J. McConnell was able to pick apart the Sacramento Kings defensive rotations that were just a step slow for most of the night. He ended the night with 15 points on 7/8 shooting and 8 assists including the one shown below against a Sacramento 2-3 zone defense that had no clue the other T.J. (Warren) had slipped behind Holmes to the rim.

6) Many have wanted to see it, and against Indiana, there was a rare moment of Bagley and Holmes sharing the floor. While it only lasted a bit under 4 minutes, the results were about what I would have expected. Marvin Bagley was left wide open on back to back possessions to shoot from beyond the arc, with mixed results. Defenses will live with Bagley shooting from beyond the arc, and Sacramento should not be content with possessions ending in that manner.

The real issue came from the lack of spacing that was available for Bagley to go to work inside when he was not settling for jump shots.

Justin Holiday stood no chance of stopping Marvin Bagley who, of course, goes hard to his left. It more than likely would have been an easy two if Myles Turner, an elite shot-blocker, wasn’t conveniently waiting for Bagley since his defensive assignment in Holmes was sitting in the dunker position.

I still do not see the pairing being successful long term due to this issue, but I am glad Luke Walton tried it for a bit.

7) With Bogdan Bogdanovic and Trevor Ariza both being injured, Justin James was on the floor for 24 minutes and I continue to like what I see. He was able to knock down corner threes off the catch and finished the game with 14 points on 5/11 shooting.

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The rookie is simply entertaining too, and one day he will have his poster-dunk moment that he has strived to complete. How could you not enjoy watching Justin James get some run?