Fri, 20 May 2022

Kings' Marvin Bagley III looks to stay hot vs. Rockets

Field Level Media
16 Jan 2022, 08:40 GMT+10

One game after setting a season-high in scoring in a game against the Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento forward Marvin Bagley III did it again Friday against the Houston Rockets, producing his fourth double-double with 26 points and 13 rebounds in a 126-114 win at home.

Bagley was instrumental in the Kings' victory and if Sacramento is to complete a sweep of its back-to-back against the Rockets, with the second game slated for Sunday at Scaframento, the Kings will need more of the production he has delivered of late.

Bagley joined the starting lineup against Oklahoma City on Dec. 28, and has averaged 10.8 points and 8.4 rebounds since.

For Sacramento, determining how to best utilize Bagley was a longstanding problem. It remains to be seen if the Kings have finally unlocked the mystery, but the recent results offer promise.

"We all know he can run -- he's athletic," Kings guard De'Aaron Fox said. "As a team, you know when a big is getting an early-post seal, you want to be able to get him touches. So we were able to do that, and he's finished, gotten to the free-throw line (and) made free throws. He was good for us all around."

One positive for the Rockets on Friday was the return of rookie center Alperen Sengun, who missed seven games with an ankle injury. Sengun had emerged as a pleasant surprise, and fan favorite, for Houston, with the time away a road block to his rapid development.

Sengun posted nine points, four rebounds, two assists and a blocked shot over 14 minutes, showcasing some of the verve that made him a viable cog while seeming impervious to fatigue.

"I felt really good," Sengun said. "I didn't feel like I was missing condition(ing) because I worked very good with (Rockets assistant John) Lucas in that period, so I didn't feel like I was tired."

Sengun acknowledged he focused more on his shot as opposed to facilitating, with the intent to get himself back up to speed.

"Alpy seemed a little out of game rhythm," Rockets coach Stephen Silas said. "He got his post ups and he was fine in there. As far as the game part of it, he seemed a little bit out of rhythm. But he'll get there, and we'll get there as a group."

The Rockets continued their recent run of defensive struggles, allowing the Kings to shoot 50 percent while corralling 13 offensive rebounds. Fox (27 points, eight assists) and Bagley were particularly troublesome, but the Rockets also labored executing their pick-and-roll defense.

"Our protection behind our pick-and-rolls has to be better," Silas said. "There's on the ball and there's protection behind the ball and on the ball we were OK but the protection behind the ball has to be better and that's all about recognition and anticipating that the pick-and-roll is coming and now I have to be in this spot, and that's where we are learning."

--Field Level Media

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