SACRAMENTO — It must be noted that the Sacramento Kings were going through another turbulent season of disappointments, letdowns, role players’ dissatisfaction, and failures up until the All Star Break of 2020.
But now it’s after the break and the Kings (24-33) are….uhhh…winning with confidence? And winning with a few pieces they acquired through trades and Buddy Hield coming off the bench to do a lot of helpful damage on offense.
The Kings took down the Memphis Grizzlies at home Feb. 20, beat the Los Angeles Clippers, again, on their home court Feb. 22, and walked out of Chase Center with a victory against the Golden State Warriors on Feb. 25.
“I think we’re playing well on both sides of the ball,” said Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox. “We are playing desperate right now and it’s been going good for us. We’ve been able to execute and I think we have played the best basketball of the season so far during this.”
It must also be documented, in some form or fashion, that head coach Luke Walton has been able to keep cohesiveness with the Kings through an injury-riddled course. Especially with the absence of big men Marvin Bagley III and Richaun Holmes.
Walton said the Kings’ progression is more about a bigger picture and the process may be coming in full focus based on recent play by the team. The Kings are 7-3 in their last 10 contests and are 3.5 games out of the eighth spot in the Western Conference.
“I think we’re showing growth with just being a steady team, which is what we want to be,” Walton said after the Kings beat the Golden State Warriors 112-94 in San Francisco. “It’s not about the game that you are playing. We’re trying to build something. It’s more than the record. The way you come out each and every night is big.”
Building the blocks started with key trades before the Feb. 6 deadline. The Kings got Ken Bazemore in exchange for Trevor Ariza, Caleb Swanigan, and Gabriel Weyen from the Portland Trail Blazers.
General Manager Vlade Divac followed that transaction with getting the services of Jabari Parker and Alex Len from Atlanta for Dewane Dedmon, who didn’t want to be here because it was he who was not playing well.
Len is already making an impact in limited minutes at center, Parker is waiting for opportunities, and Bazemore has been scorching hot on both ends of the floor with his endless energy. He doesn’t take plays off.
“I think guys are starting to figure it out, understand how to take it game by game, and understanding what we need to do to get wins,” Bazemore said.
It’s also with the understanding that Hield has been regulated to the bench and for good reasons. His play has sparked the Kings in an area that was much needed. He watches the first few minutes on the pine but Hield still gets starter’s minutes.
“He’s a big part of us having any success and we need him to lock in and be ready to go on those scoring explosions all the time,” Walton said. “I know he’s not always gonna make shots. Team’s defenses are keyed in on him. But when he knocks down shots it’s big for our team.”
After playing back-to-back games on the road against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Memphis, the Kings start a March 1 date at Golden 1 Center against the Detroit Pistons. The Kings will have 10 home games during the third month of the year.
They must protect the homecourt like nobody’s business but their own.
By Antonio R. Harvey | OBSERVER Staff Writer
Photo by Russell Stiger Jr.