Sacramento’s rally from down 20 fell short as the Milwaukee Bucks survived a scare to win, 109-104, Saturday night at BMO Harris Bradley Center.
After a bad start, the Kings bench kept the game competitive, led by Zach Randolph with 22 points, Buddy Hield (19 points) and Frank Mason III (13 points). It was Randolph’s first time coming off the bench this season. It was the second time Sacramento (7-16) lost to the Bucks this week after being defeated handily at Golden 1 Center on Tuesday.
Willie Cauley-Stein left the game in the second quarter with a lower back strain.
Giannis Antetokounmpo led Milwaukee (12-9) with 33 points and 13 rebounds. The Bucks also attempted (42) and made (35) the most free throws of any Kings opponent this season. The Kings were called for a season-high 28 fouls.
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Here are three takeaways from the game:
Sometimes a lineup change doesn’t work
The Kings started Cauley-Stein and Kosta Koufos on Saturday, presumably to deal with the length of Milwaukee, which was a problem in Tuesday’s lopsided loss in Sacramento.
The Kings were quickly down 14-0 and the entire starting lineup had been benched. The second unit, led by Randolph and Hield, got the Kings back into the game.
Kings coach Dave Joerger was smart not to waste too much time getting the starters out as they looked completely lost to start the game.
Cauley-Stein’s injury and Skal Labissiere’s foul trouble allowed for one of Sacramento’s two-way players, JaKarr Sampson, to receive significant playing time.
Sampson’s energy and enthusiasm, the same traits he showed in summer league, jumped out as he played with urgency even as the Kings trailed by double digits.
The Kings need more players to play like that when Sampson isn’t with them and is instead with the Reno Bighorns. It was refreshing to watch a player and know he would play like that every minute he’s on the floor.
Who can you trust?
Randolph is emerging as the Kings’ most reliable player. He’s Sacramento’s leading scorer and rebounder this season and the one player the Kings know they can go to when things get shaky.
Sure, this season is supposed to be about young players, but don’t tell Randolph he’s supposed to be coasting now at age 36. He laughs at the notion he’s too old to make an immediate impact, and there’s no reason not to believe that on this team.