The Sacramento Kings looked like world-beaters when they got their first win in the NBA restart.
Bogdan Bogdanovic came alive, scoring 35 points to lead the Kings to a 140-125 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans. Sacramento is 1-3 in the bubble, and with only four games left, it will take an almost-miracle to get the Kings back to the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
The Kings will try to make it two wins in a row when they take on the Brooklyn Nets
Where: Orlando, Florida
When: Thursday, 2 p.m. PT
TV: NBC Sports California, (Interim play-by-play man Gary Gerould, and color commentator Doug Christie will call the games on NBCSC), NBATV.
Streaming: fuboTV, NBA League Pass
Kings: Marvin Bagley III (out)
Nets: Jarrett Allen (questionable), Joe Harris (questionable)
It has been a frustrating first week in the bubble for Sacramento. The team came out embarrassingly flat in its first two games — both losses — and squandered a fourth-quarter lead against the Dallas Mavericks before beating the Pelicans on Thursday.
The good news is that Bogi found his form after an ugly 1-for-15 shooting performance against the Mavericks.
“We lost the ball so easily against the Spurs and against Dallas as well. Both games were the same way, we opened up well against Dallas and we couldn’t keep the lead so that was one of the issues,” Bogdanovic said after the win. “The second one was probably defense. We talk about the defense a lot and I think we did a good job the other two games, but tonight, I think we can play better defense. But you’re 0-3, this is your last chance, your back’s up to the wall, you got to give everything — it’s more hustle and a mental game for. So that’s a good [response] from our team.”
Sacramento looked much more comfortable in the win over New Orleans. De’Aaron Fox has been terrific over the last two games, averaging 29 points, and 9.5 assists over the pair of contests. The Kings also got a boost from Harrison Barnes, Richaun Holmes and Alex Len, who are starting to look more comfortable after missing some valuable practice time early on in Orlando.
Head coach Luke Walton even had a bounce back performance. The Kings came out strong in the opening quarter against New Orleans and were able to sustain their offensive and defensive efficiency throughout the game, at least temporarily curbing the consistency issues.
On paper, this is a game Sacramento should win, but we also said that leading up to the matchups with the Spurs and Magic, and we all saw how that turned out.
The Nets brought a depleted roster to Orlando, with seven players opting out of participating in the bubble for various reasons. Brooklyn has won two games during the restart, but was blown out 149-115 by the Boston Celtics on Wednesday.
Caris LeVert is leading the Nets averaging 21.3 points per game in Orlando, but the next two leading scorers for Brooklyn are expected to sit this one out. Joe Harris (groin) and Jarrett Allen (ankle) are questionable for the game, which will give the Kings every advantage they could ask for.
ESPN is giving Sacramento a 0.9% probability to get into the playoffs heading into this game. As the great Lloyd Christmas once said: