As the Kings prepared to embark on their longest trip of the season, they were coming off their fourth consecutive home victory.
They’ve found the road hasn’t been quite as friendly.
Playing their third game in four nights, the Kings fell to 1-3 on this trip after taking a 120-105 loss to the Toronto Raptors at Scotiabank Arena. Tuesday’s contest came on the second night of the team’s 10th back-to-back set this season.
Now, they will take some much-needed rest before visiting the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday.
“We’re going to get to Memphis (on Wednesday) and spend some time together, but not in the gym,” Kings coach Dave Joerger said.
A few players got a head start on resting. Joerger held out starters De’Aaron Fox, Iman Shumpert and Nemanja Bjelica against Toronto, so they’ll have four full days between games. All have seen a decline in numbers this month.
“Hopefully, some of the guys who got some rest will have some fresher legs,” Joerger said.
The lineup change opened the door for rookie big man Marvin Bagley III to make his first NBA start, and the No. 2 overall pick did not disappoint. He played 37 minutes and scored a career-high 22 points to lead the team to go with 11 rebounds for his sixth double-double. He also had two blocks, a steal and two turnovers.
“I think I played pretty good,” Bagley said. “I made a couple of mistakes here and there, but that’s the part of being out there and learning and growing as a player.”
The Kings (24-24) took their last lead at 37-35 just 52 seconds into the second quarter, then the Raptors took control.
After falling behind by nine, a 9-0 run over three minutes in the third quarter pulled Sacramento even, punctuated by an alley-oop from Bogdan Bogdanovic to Willie Cauley-Stein. However, Toronto answered with a 10-0 run and never looked back.
The Kings turned over the ball 14 times against the Raptors (36-13), who also played without three players, including two-time All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard. Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet tied for the team high with 19 points.
Bagley didn’t want to blame the schedule for the loss.
“Our mistakes were on us,” Bagley said. “I don’t think it had anything to do with being tired. We beat ourselves. ... We just have to learn from it, stay positive, continue to grow and move on.”
The Kings are averaging 99.3 points per game on this trip, their lowest four-game stretch of the season. It’s well below the 113.6 points per game that ranks them eighth in the league.
If not for a fourth-quarter rally from double digits and Buddy Hield spinning away from three defenders to hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer Saturday in Detroit, Sacramento would be 0-4 on the trip.
Still, with 10 road wins, the Kings have just three fewer victories away from Golden 1 Center than they had all last season. They have 17 road games left, closing with the regular-season finale in Portland.
The schedule eases for a while in terms of demand. The Kings have four more back-to-backs, but the next one won’t come until March 14-15 to close a four-game East Coast swing.
After being scheduled to attend what Joerger called a team function Wednesday, the Kings will hold a short practice Thursday.
“We need to get some work in,” he said. “It needs to be sharp and we’ll clean up some stuff.”
Kings rookie Harry Giles III welcomed the rest and hoped it can get the team back on the road to winning.
“It’s good to get a little break, regroup and figure out what we need to do to get some wins,” Giles said. “Forget stats and highlights, I’m all about the (W).”