No Fox, No Bagley, No Dice For Kings In Loss To Orlando
De’Aaron Fox’s absence was significant during an ugly Kings loss to the Orlando Magic
As if it wasn’t clear enough, Friday night’s blowout loss made it even more apparent that De’Aaron Fox is a very valuable player to the Sacramento Kings.
Fox missed his first game of the season after suffering a knee contusion during practice on Thursday, meaning the Kings would need to battle the Orlando Magic without its star guard.
Things would not go well for Sacramento, as the Magic would win by a final of 123-112 at Golden 1 Center behind a huge night from All-Star center Nikola Vucevic.
Thanks to 18 turnovers that ended up turning into 21 points for Orlando, the Kings (12-13) were not able to close the gap late, dropping their second-straight game to fall back below the .500 mark.
Friday night’s action got off to a rough start for Sacramento well before tip-off, with both De’Aaron Fox (knee) and Marvin Bagley III (calf soreness) being considered questionable.
Both players would be held out for the first time this season, with Tyrese Haiburton and Glenn Robinson III filing into the starting lineup, respectively.
According to Kings head coach Luke Walton, Fox banged his knee at practice and was sore on Friday morning. Bagley has been experiencing soreness in his calf, but Walton stated that the soreness is not expected to become a lingering issue.
“We do not expect it to be a long-term issue,” Walton told the media regarding Bagley’s injury before facing Orlando.
Sacramento was not the only team suffering from the injury bug, with Orlando playing on Friday without the services of Aaron Gordon (ankle), Cole Anthony (shoulder), Evan Fournier (back), Al-Farouq Aminu (knee) and Frank Mason III (groin).
Even with most of its roster out due to injury, the Orlando Magic had a very important piece of their franchise on the floor for Friday’s contest: All-Star center Nikola Vucevic.
The 6’11 big scored 23 of his 42 points in the first half, helping pace the Magic to a much-needed win on the second-night of a back-to-back.
Vucevic’s massive night comes just one week after Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic scored a career-high 50 points agains the Kings, proving that the Kings defense has to make some changes.
Along with Vucevic’s offensive explosion, Magic guard Michael Carter-Williams posted a season-high 21 points to go along with seven rebounds and seven assists in his return to action.
“They physically pushed us around tonight. They took it to us,” head coach Luke Walton said postgame.
Tyrese Haliburton got a very extended look at the point guard position with Fox out, logging his second start of his career.
The rookie would get off to a hot start, scoring 12 points and dishing five assists during the first half. Haliburton would go on to finish with 14 points on six-of-12 shooting and 7 assists over just 27 minutes–the least playing time that the rookie has seen since January 20th.
Hassan Whiteside acted as the interior anchor for Sacramento, finishing with a season-high 16 points on seven-of-seven shooting to go along with seven rebounds during the loss.
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For the first time since January 9th, Nemanja Bjelica saw the floor with Bagley out with a sore calf.
The veteran forward was a solid presence off of the Kings bench, finishing with 15 points, nine rebounds and six assists over 28 minutes. Trade rumors have been swirling surrounding the 32-year-old, with the Philadelphia 76ers appearing as the most likely destination.
Friday night was a strong showcase for the 6’10 forward, as Bjelica knocked the dust off in a big way with a solid performance.
“One thing that I have learned in this league is that you always have to stay ready on any given night,” Bjelica said postgame. It will be interesting to see how the Kings handle the sharpshooting big, as the NBA trade deadline is just over a month away.
Bjelica’s $7 million contract expires at the end of the season.
Harrison Barnes did a little bit of everything against the Magic, scoring 13 points while also grabbing five rebounds and dialing up four assists over 33 minutes.
Buddy Hield knocked down five triples on Friday night, finishing with 19 points on seven-of-15 from the field.
After missing the first 24 games of the season due to a severe ankle spain, DaQuan Jeffries made his season debut against the Magic, appearing in 17 minutes and scoring six points during the losing effort.
The Kings will enjoy an off day on Saturday before playing the first game of a back-to-back on Sunday night against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Last season, Sacramento took three out of four meetings against the Grizzlies, the most recent being a 104-101 win at Golden 1 Center last February 28th.
Be sure to tune in for all of the action right here on Sports 1140 KHTK, starting with pregame coverage at 6:30pm PST with tip-off following at 7:00pm PST.
Upcoming Kings Schedule
- 2/14: vs Memphis Grizzlies
- 2/15: vs Brooklyn Nets
- 2/18: vs Miami Heat
- 2/20: @ Chicago Bulls
- 2/21: @ Milwaukee Bucks