Kings bounce back with a 111-95 over the Magic
That wasn’t Chris Webber out there with Mike Bibby, Doug Christie, Peja Stojakovic and Vlade Divac. It was Harry Giles, Yogi Ferrell, Justin Jackson, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Nemanja Bjelica — passing, cutting, creating like the Kings of old.
“That was a fun possession,” Kings coach Dave Joerger said.
The Kings (20-20) ended a four-game losing streak with a 111-95 victory over the Orlando Magic (17-23) on Monday night at Golden 1 Center, and there was a lot to like about their performance. Rookie big man Marvin Bagley III returned from injury, De’Aaron Fox dunked in Nikola Vucevic’s face and Kings legend Brad Miller was caught doing a little dance in his baseline seat on the giant video board inside the arena.
There was one play, in particular, that epitomized the team’s fast, fluid, unselfish style. Giles grabbed the rebound and passed to Jackson, who gave the ball up to Bjelica on the wing. Bjelica threw a bounce pass to a cutting Ferrell, who kicked it out to Bogdanovic.
Bogdanovic gave his defender an up-fake, passed the ball to Giles and got it right back on an exquisite give-and-go bounce pass in the paint. Instead of forcing up a contested shot, Bogdanovic kicked it out to Jackson, who whipped it back inside to a wide-open Bjelica for an uncontested layup.
The ball went inside, outside, inside, outside and inside again — one possession, eight passes, one easy basket.
“When everybody’s touching the ball, that’s when we’re at our best,” Jackson said. “Everybody feels involved, everybody feels like they had a part in it.”
Most of the team’s starters were on the bench at the time, but they sprang to their feet and threw their arms up when they saw Bjelica by himself under the basket.
“A lot of guys had shots they could’ve taken and everybody was just patient, moving the ball,” Fox said. “I think that’s the growth that this team’s taken. ... It’s just great. The camaraderie we have is definitely continuing to get better.”
This wasn’t a typical possession for a Kings team that travels at the speed of light and rarely runs more than 10 seconds off the shot clock, but it was a welcome sight for a team still trying to refine its half-court execution.
“I think it shows our versatility,” Jackson said. “When we don’t have something on the break or something quick, we also have the ability to score in the half court. Scoring in the half court usually comes with us moving the ball, so I think it kind of shows how we’re maturing throughout the season.”
That possession easily could have been overlooked on a night when the Kings dominated every facet of the game. They led by 29 points late in the third quarter, allowing Joerger to rest his starters in the fourth in anticipation of Tuesday’s road game against the Phoenix Suns.
Fox scored 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting with a career-high-tying five steals and a few highlight reel dunks. Bogdanovic had 15 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Willie Cauley-Stein posted 11 points and 11 rebounds, recording his 15th double-double of the season.
Bagley received a huge ovation when he checked into the game for the first time after missing 11 games with a bone bruise in his left knee. He finished with eight points and six rebounds in 20 minutes.
Joerger said Bagley would be on a minute restriction for several games, but he wouldn’t say how much the 19-year-old power forward would be allowed to play or whether he’ll play on the second night of a back-to-back against the Suns.
“I feel great,” Bagley said. “... That was a good feeling, to be able to get out there again with my teammates, having fun like that.”
The Kings shot 46.4 percent from the field, held the Magic to 36.8-percent shooting, amassed a 57-46 rebounding advantage and outscored Orlando 64-24 on points in the paint.
“I think our defense was active and energetic,” Joerger said. “We wanted to try to run into their length (and) try to negate it with speed. It’s much easier to do off of (defensive) stops, so one thing definitely helped the other, and then I think our cutting game is continuing to improve. Guys are giving themselves up on cuts and all of a sudden (they’re) finding that they’re getting some layups.”