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Kings 88, Thunder 95: The kids come up short

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The youth was on full display tonight.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Oklahoma City Thunder Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The youth movement was on full display for the Sacramento Kings as they visited the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday. Dave Joerger switched up the rotation and gave extended run to the kids. And wouldn’t you know it, they played pretty well. There were mistakes, there were turnovers, but the Kings were feisty and stayed with the Thunder throughout the night. Ultimately the Thunder stars were just too much, topping the Kings 95-88.

The loss aside, this was a really encouraging game for those who have wanted more minutes for the youth on the roster. Willie Cauley-Stein played 40 minutes and played pretty well, finishing with 15 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals. Bogdan Bogdanovic had a rough shooting night but still finished with 13 points. He was taking good shots but couldn’t get them to fall, and was visibly frustrated with himself. And despite his struggles, Joerger gave him a long leash and still played him 30 minutes.

De’Aaron Fox had a strong game. He pushed the pace and played aggressive, finishing with 12 points, five assists, and three rebounds.

Skal Labissiere struggled, but still played 27 minutes. Buddy Hield played 27 minutes as well, and Justin Jackson saw 24 minutes.

George Hill was moved to the bench and plYed well but played just 24 minutes. Zach Randolph didn’t play at all. Kosta Koufos and Garrett Temple each played less than 20 minutes.

Most telling was how Joerger didnt default back to the vets when the game got close. Russell Westbrook was ejected with 2:51 remaining, and the Kings had the lead cut to three possessions. Joerger stayed with Fox, Bogi, Buddy, Jackson, and Willie. The kids couldn’t steal a win, but it was nice to see them given the opportunity.

Stray observations:

  • Carmelo Anthony never shuts up and I’d hate to play against him.
  • Raymond Felton has the physique of a short Zach Randolph
  • Oklahoma City had music blaring during Kings possessions. Grant Napear mentioned that Joerger kept asking for he volume to be lowered. I guess that’s what you do when your fans aren’t loud enough.
  • De’Aaron Fox is insanely fast.