If this season is about learning and growth, Sunday was a study in point-guard excellence and where the Kings need to be in the future.
It’s not that Toronto Raptors All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry had a stellar shooting night – he shot 4 for 17. But he did just about everything else, which included showing Sacramento’s rookie point guards how to make a positive impact on a game in the midst of a bad shooting performance.
So Lowry’s shooting was only a footnote as he schooled the Kings, who lost 102-87 at Golden 1 Center. Lowry grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds, had six assists and committed just two turnovers.
“Kyle has been around doing this for a long, long time,” Kings coach Dave Joerger said. “I think he gave our younger guys some fits. Our (point guards) had a tough night. It’s something to learn from.”
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With George Hill not with the team for personal reasons, there was no veteran point guard to turn to when Lowry asserted himself against the youngsters.
De’Aaron Fox had a career-high seven turnovers, six points that came in the fourth quarter with Toronto in control, one rebound and two assists. Frank Mason III didn’t turn it over but shot 1 for 10 and finished with six points and three assists.
“It’s always a learning curve,” Fox said. “Kyle was a great player. Playing against him, even when he’s not scoring a lot, he’s just not making mistakes. Just trying to get to that level.”
Fox’s seven turnovers were the most by a King this season. Fox was especially off his game in the first half, when he had three fouls and committed six of those turnovers.
“Sometimes that can be general fatigue, you know traveling around, flying around, playing a bunch of games and you’re 19 years old,” Joerger said. “Sometimes it’s just like, ‘Whoa.’ I thought there were some turnovers that you just don’t see very often.”
Lowry’s lessons for Fox including confusing him on defense. Fox has only played in 26 NBA games, so there is still a lot to learn.
When Fox wasn’t turning the ball over, Lowry made sure it was tough for Fox to find his game. Fox said the Raptors did a lot of switching on defense later in the shot clock to keep him off balance.
“Kyle would come and and stay with me for about one dribble and then go to Z-Bo (Zach Randolph), so it was kind of different playing against that,” Fox said. “I’ve never seen that before. At the end of the day, I just have to be aggressive.”
That’s been the message to Fox most of the season. The Kings need him to be aggressive and engaged early, not just score when the game is out of reach, as was the case Sunday.
That might help prevent the Kings from falling behind big early, which they did again Sunday. The Raptors opened the game on a 20-5 run.
It was again up to the bench to get the Kings back in the game. Buddy Hield helped with 14 of his 17 points coming in the first half. But Hield wasn’t happy with himself, as he had a career-high six turnovers.
The Kings (8-18) gave up a season-high 27 points off turnovers. Zach Randolph led Sacramento with 19 points.
The Raptors (17-7), who have won six in a row, were led by All-Star DeMar DeRozan’s 25 points.
“I feel like turnovers killed us, especially my turnovers in the second half,” Hield said. “In the fourth I had two, back-to-back ones, crucial.”
The game also left Hield realizing he’s tired of repeating something that he and his teammates have said a lot and will probably say a lot more this season.
“I’m tired of saying it’s a learning experience,” Hield said. “I’ve got to go out there and make it happen.”
Until the Kings know how to make it happen, Lowry and other veterans will continue to teach more lessons.