Kings’ bench depth helps them end skid in win over Blazers originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
It was an all-hands-on-deck game for the Kings, but they managed to pull out a win thanks to contributions from some unlikely heroes.
In their second game under interim coach Alvin Gentry, the Kings held on to beat the Portland Trail Blazers 125-121 on Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center.
With Harrison Barnes exiting the game early with a foot injury, and star De’Aaron Fox ejected after receiving two technical fouls, the Kings were left without two of their most important players in the fourth quarter.
Fortunately for Sacramento, it was center Damian Jones and former No. 2 overall draft pick Marvin Bagley who stepped up in the clutch, helping the Kings fend off the Blazers.
Bagley, who has been at the center of trade rumors for months, hasn’t seen much playing time this season. Reportedly refusing to play when called upon off the bench two weeks ago against the Phoenix Suns, Bagley’s relationship with the team initially appeared to be frayed to some degree before.
Jones, on the other hand, just hasn’t really seen much playing time at all. Logging single-digit minutes in seven of the 10 total games he has appeared in, Jones took full advantage of his time on the floor Wednesday night.
“I think we’re all excited, it feels good to win a game any way you get it,” Tyrese Haliburton told reporters postgame. “We had a lot of guys step up. On any given night you could be called upon and Marvin [Bagley] and [Damian Jones] were big for us down the stretch. They’re just staying ready like they’re supposed to as pros.”
“I was happy for Marvin, I thought he played a really great game,” coach Alvin Gentry said. “I thought D-Jones came in and did a great job for us. He’s a guy who hasn’t played very much at all if any at all. For those guys, it just shows you the type of pros that they are. They keep themselves ready, they work out every day. I thought they came in and did great.”
For Bagley and Jones, the two unlikely heroes of the Kings’ victory Wednesday, have been ready, putting in work behind the scenes for when their time does come.
“The biggest thing for me is staying ready,” Bagley told reporters. “That’s what I’ve been doing, I’ve been doing a great job at that. Coming in every day, just trying to stay locked in, stay together. It pays off, especially in times like this. I’m just staying locked in, staying ready for whatever comes my way.”
“It’s great, it’s great. I’m happy for my guy,” Bagley said of Jones. “We see him every day playing (1-on-1s), shooting after practice, doing everything he’s gotta do to stay ready. Then to see him go out and have a good game like that, I’m happy for him. He helped us in a big way tonight, and I’m glad to see that out of him and any of my teammates.”
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Playing 18 critical minutes Wednesday night, Bagley looked sharp. In prior appearances this season, the fourth-year power forward was rusty, and he’d be the first to tell you that.
“There was a little bit of rust when I started to play and get in more,” Bagley admitted. “It’s basketball, and I’ve been playing it for as long as I can remember. Just getting that vibe and that swag back, that’s what it’s all about for me. I’m just enjoying it, I’m trying to have as much fun as I possibly can and just be a great teammate along the way.
“I’m always my biggest critic. When I go back and look at certain games, I’m always hard on myself, I would say.”
Losers of four straight games prior to Wednesday’s win, and eight of their previous nine contests, the Kings finally got the monkey off their back, giving Gentry his first win as interim coach.
Sacramento will face another test in the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night at Staples Center as they look to build on their impressive win.
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