Here are three takeaways from the Kings’ 149-129 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night at Smoothie King Center:
Bagley looks comfortable
Marvin Bagley III came off the bench with 8:49 left in the first quarter and turned in a solid first-half performance. The rookie made his first five field goals – including some powerful dunks and a nice spin move on Anthony Davis, a first-team All-Defensive selection, for a layup. He led Sacramento in the first half with 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting, his only miss coming on a 3-point attempt. He didn’t have as many attempts after the break and committed his fifth foul with just under two minutes left in the third quarter, but coach Dave Joerger left him in for most of the way. He finished with 19 points and eight rebounds in 32 minutes while missing just three shots overall.
Too many points in the paint
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The Pelicans scored 46 of their 72 first-half points in the paint, and it wasn’t just the bigs doing the damage. Starting guard Jrue Holiday had three layups in the second quarter alone. The trend continued after the break, as six of the Pelicans’ first nine made baskets in the second half were at the rim. New Orleans later took more outside attempts, but still finished with 76 points in the paint.
Kings shoot well, but at what cost?
The Kings shot well over 50 percent for most of the game and finished at 52.1 percent, but despite the accuracy, they were outpaced by the Pelicans, who shot 58.9 percent, including 16-of-31 on 3-pointers (51.6 percent). Sacramento didn’t seem to have trouble scoring, but the defense allowed too many shots inside and a lot of uncontested 3s. If the Kings want to play fast, they’ll need to improve their defensive intensity to avoid allowing teams to score at a high rate. The Pelicans’ point total was a franchise record.