by Matt George
Amidst the chaos of the trade deadline and the coming and going of some of the best teams in the NBA, the Sacramento Kings wrapped up a very successful homestand with a comfortable 117-104 win over the Phoenix Suns on Sunday, finishing the stretch 5-1. Now with 30 wins on the season, the Kings are four games over .500 for the first time since early in the 2014-2015 season, and turn their attentions to a tough four-game road trip and the All-Star break.
“Good win. Great homestand. To go five and one on this homestand is terrific,” said head coach Dave Joerger, “One guy I just mentioned in the locker room; I thought Willie Cauley-Stein had a terrific week”.
Cauley-Stein was a brick wall for Sacramento tonight, collecting five blocks in 27 minutes. He has a combined eight blocks over his last two games, including three crucial blocks in the fourth quarter against Miami Friday to help the Kings complete the comeback win.
“We in a race. Our goal is to be in the playoffs…one game at a time…” said Cauley-Stein.
Marvin Bagley put on a show in his first regular season meeting with number one overall pick De’Andre Ayton, scoring a career high 32 points in 32 minutes off the bench. The last rookie to score 30 points or more for Sacramento was Skal Labissiere, who also put up 32 on Phoenix on March 15th, 2017.
“I try to match him up intentionally,” said Joerger, “He continues to improve, watches a lot of film, and works hard at it…”.
After the win Bagley said, “I love playing against the Suns. I don’t know what it is. I treat every game the same but I love playing against De’Andre”.
After the Lakers loss in Philadelphia earlier today, Sacramento is now two games above the Lakers in 9th place, just a half game behind the Clippers for the 8th and final seed in the West.
Coach Joerger was asked to speak on the accomplishment of his team, reaching 30 wins in mid-February; “Our team really cares. They care about the goal. They care about each other. Maybe there’s a little pressure, certainly from outside, but from within…Really really proud of our guys. They have put the work in, not just the players but our organization…”.
Sacramento opens up this road trip in Denver against the Nuggets on Wednesday before over a week off for the All-Star break. De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Marvin Bagley will all partake in the All-Star festivities in Charlotte.