What we learned as Kings reminded of missing out on Luka

 nbcsports.com  01/16/2020 09:53:08 

BOX SCORE

SACRAMENTO -- Anger. Disappointment. Envy. 

Kings fans got an up-close look at budding superstar Luka Doncic Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center. It was another reminder of what Sacramento missed out on when the team passed on the Slovenian guard in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Led by Doncics tremendous play, the Dallas Mavericks built a big third-quarter lead and then coasted down the stretch for the 127-123 win.

Doncic led the way with a big-time triple-double, but he was one of six Mavericks to score in double-figures.

Here are three takeaways as the Kings fell a season-high 11 games under .500 at 15-26 on the season.  

Star

Doncic and the Kings will be linked throughout the superstars career and likely a lot longer than that. Kings general manager Vlade Divac selected Marvin Bagley III with the No. 2 overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft instead of Doncic.

Bagley has plenty of time to grow into who he is going to be as a player, but Doncic already is an elite star that looks like a generational talent.

The Mavericks star posted a 25-point, 17-assist, 15-rebound triple-double. The Kings threw the kitchen sink at the second-year guard and he picked them apart with his incredible court vision.

Playing angry

DeAaron Fox had enough. He wasnt happy with his teammates. He wasnt happy with Mavericks. He wasnt happy with the officials and he wasnt happy with losing. 

Fox attacked the Mavericks' defense almost every time he had the ball in his hands. He forced the issue on a few occasions, but this is the player the Kings need. He finished the night with 27 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds, although he shot just 3-of-9 from the free-throw line.

In the third quarter, Fox picked up a technical while pleading his own case. Its probably time for head coach Luke Walton and a few of Foxs teammates to start paying out some fines and stand up for their leader. 

[RELATED: Holmes back at practice, but weeks away from Kings return]

Remember me?

Harrison Barnes had a little bit of an edge to him from the opening tip Wednesday evening at Golden 1 Center. On the first possession of the game, Barnes went at Doncic and scored over his former teammate for the first two points of the game.

Barnes continued his assault on the team that traded him to Sacramento last season. He finished with 25 points on 10-of-18 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds in the loss.

In addition to Barnes ties to Dallas, there were a pair of Mavericks that used to play for the Kings. Seth Curry hit 5-of-8 from long range to finish with 21 points and Justin Jackson chipped in seven points.

SACRAMENTO -- There was a surprise guest at Sacramento Kings' shootaround Wednesday morning.

Center Richaun Holmes, who is out of action with a right shoulder joint injury for at least the next 2-3 weeks, came out on the floor and started putting in work with the training staff.

Holmes originally injured his shoulder in the Kings Jan. 6 win over the Golden State Warriors and was diagnosed with a shoulder strain. An MRI later revealed a more serious setback.

Sacramentos starting center began the session using his left hand to flip up shots around the rim. After going through a set with his left, he switched to his injured right side and started knocking down shot after shot.

This is a good early sign for @Rich_Holmes22 pic.twitter.com/rssxdL89m7

— James Ham (@James_HamNBCS) January 15, 2020

The team hasnt released what Holmes exact joint injury is, but he looked fluid with his shot and was able to get out and run up and down the court during the session.

[RELATED: NBA admits officials made incorrect call vs. Magic]

After signing a two-year, $10 million free-agent deal with the Kings over the summer, Holmes has been a revelation for coach Luke Waltons squad. Hes averaging 13.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 29.4 minutes per game, including 33 starts at center.

Sacramento likely wont rush him back into action because of the nature of the injury, but the early signs are good.

SACRAMENTO -- Death by a thousand cuts. That is what the first half of the 2019-20 Kings season feels like.

After another demoralizing loss at the buzzer, the Kings received the leagues hollow excuse of an apology when the NBAs Last Two Minute Report hit the wire one day after falling to the Orlando Magic, 114-112.

Aaron Gordon hit a circus shot with 1.1 seconds remaining to give Orlando a 113-112 lead. On the play, Cory Joseph was called for a personal foul, which sent Gordon to the free throw line. 

Joseph (SAC) has his defensive position established against Gordon (ORL) but he does not deliver contact as he begins his upward shooting motion, the Last Two Minute report states.

With 1.1 seconds remaining the Kings had one more shot to tie the game. DeAaron Fox sent a lob to Harrison Barnes at the rim. The replay clearly shows Markell Fultz bump Barnes on the left arm. Wesley Iwundu then flies in and hits Barnes in the right bicep and chest area as he attempts to get a shot off.

Foul or no? pic.twitter.com/7K5LcOK3SL

— Kings on NBCS (@NBCSKings) January 14, 2020

The league refused to acknowledge the foul on Iwundu, which would have put Barnes at the line with a chance to tie the game and send it to overtime.

During the inbound pass Iwundu (ORL) and Barnes (SAC) both reach for the ball and as Barnes receives the pass and attempts the shot Iwundu makes marginal contact to his front, the Last Two Minute report states.

Without question, Iwundus actions affected Barnes balance and rhythm as he attempted to hit the tying bucket.

This is the 18th time the Kings have shown up on the Last Two Minute report this season. They are 7-11 in those contests, including seven straight losses in games decided in the final two minutes of a game.

In five of the 11 losses, the league acknowledged a mistake in the final minute of play that had a direct impact on the Kings ability to win the game. In two of their wins, the league singled out a missed call that favored Sacramento.

[RELATED: Bagley's best game of season unable to lift Kings to win]

There is no recourse. The leagues replay system is flawed and doesnt allow teams to challenge plays where no foul is called, like the loss Monday night to the Magic.

Every close game is an opportunity for the Kings to gain valuable experience, but the current trend indicates Sacramento might not be learning from mistakes. At 15-25, the Kings are running out of time to turn their season around.

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