NBA Basketball

Kings try to shake slump against torrid Bulls

Back home where they can assess where things have gone astray, the Sacramento Kings are set to play host to the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday.

The Kings were just starting to feel good about their start to the season with three victories in four games before they hit the road and lost their way.

Sacramento sandwiched New Year's Day with a pair of defeats at Houston before they were crushed 137-106 by the Golden State Warriors on Monday. There was nothing cohesive in the Bay Area about the Kings, who had 20 assists with 15 turnovers and shot 37.8 percent from the floor.

De'Aaron Fox and Harrison Barnes each scored 18 points against the Warriors, but there were no other significant contributors. Buddy Hield had a season-low 10 points and was 3 of 11 from 3-point range.

Hield is shooting 36.1 percent from 3-point range to open the season with the seven games certainly a small sample size. But the low percentage is part of a larger trend.

After shooting a career-best 42.7 percent from 3-point range in the 2018-19 season, he fell to 39.4 percent last season. His current number would be his worst shooting percentage from deep if it doesn't improve.

Yet, there are more than just on-court issues in the California capital. The father of Marvin Bagley III made an emphatic trade request for his son on Twitter. After the loss to the Warriors, Bagley reportedly spoke to the team about the situation. The Kings insist there is no distraction.

"I don't think anyone is out there playing basketball worrying about two tweets," Fox said. "And if you are, this ain't what you should be doing because (expletive) are going to tweet you every day of your life while you're playing in this league. So if that's what you're worried about, then I don't know what to tell you."

The Bulls are familiar with drama of their own. After a disastrous 22-43 record last season, the Bulls fired head coach Jim Boylen and replaced him with Billy Donovan.

The team appears to be getting the message, defeating the Portland Trail Blazers 111-108 on Tuesday to give them four victories in their past five games. They have also defeated the Dallas Mavericks once and the Washington Wizards twice.

Seven Bulls players scored in double figures Tuesday, led by Coby White with 21 and Otto Porter Jr. with 19. After winning the opener of a four-game west-coast trip, the Bulls head to California for the final three games, finishing with the Lakers and Clippers in Los Angeles over the weekend.

In developing a new culture in Chicago, Donovan has leaned on his veterans. While Donovan still searches for a preferred starting lineup, he leans on experienced players like Garrett Temple, Thaddeus Young and Porter late in games. White, a second-year player, did have nearly eight fourth-quarter minutes against the Blazers.

"You want to win games, you want to teach young guys (and) the ultimate thing to teach young guys is how to win," Temple said. "... At the end of the day, as long as we're winning, as well as learning a few things along the way, I think that's the goal. We've done a pretty good job of that as of late."

--Field Level Media

Updated January 6, 2021

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