Here are three takeaways from the Sacramento Kings’ 107-99 win over the Orlando Magic on Tuesday night at Amway Center.
Kings run and stop
When the Orlando Magic made a run to get within two points midway through the fourth quarter, the Kings did what they do best:
Point guard De’Aaron Fox pushed the pace on a few key possessions and Orlando faded in the final minutes as the Kings came up with a series of defensive stops, holding on to win their fourth in a row and fifth in six games.
The Kings went up by five when Orlando was called for goaltending on a transition layup by Fox. They stretched the lead to seven on a transition 3-pointer by Troy Williams and extended it to 10 on a jumper by Buddy Hield, who had 25 points and 11 rebounds.
“We just wear teams down,” Hield said.
Magic coach Steve Clifford said he’s most impressed with how quick the Kings are when they inbound the ball after allowing a basket at the defensive end.
“There are always a lot of teams that run the ball hard on misses, but after made baskets, literally, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a team play this fast,” Clifford said.
Sacramento coach Dave Joerger said the Kings are pushing the pace after a made basket by design.
“We feel like if teams can get their hands on us, we may struggle to score a little bit more,” Joerger said.
Fox explained why that strategy has been so effective.
“Teams want to set their defense up and we’re trying not to let teams be able to set their defense,” Fox said. “In the NBA, scoring against a set defense is probably the hardest thing to do.”
Bringing Koufos back
Joerger is working Kosta Koufos into the rotation after the veteran center missed the first six games because of a strained hamstring.
Koufos scored six points on an efficient 3-of-4 shooting and grabbed four rebounds in his season debut Monday against the Miami Heat. He had four points and five rebounds in Tuesday’s victory.
Joerger said he likes the idea of pairing Koufos with rookie Marvin Bagley III in the frontcourt.
“Marvin is a big priority for us, and to play Kosta and him is very beneficial for his growth as a player,” Joerger said. “... Kosta’s been in the NBA for a long time. He’s a good player. He has a lot of experience. He’s good in pick-and-rolls. He can cover Marvin up on the back side and I think that can be positive.”
Battle of young big men
Tuesday’s game featured the first matchup between Bagley, the second pick in June’s NBA draft, and Mo Bamba, who was taken by Orlando with the sixth pick.
Bagley, a 6-foot-11 forward, had 10 points, nine rebounds and one blocked shot in 22 minutes off the bench. Bamba, a 7-foot center, came off the bench to post seven points, seven rebounds and five blocked shots in 24 minutes.