Stauskas Debuts But Kings Slip
The Kings rookie reflects on his first Summer League game, as Sacramento’s strong start comes up short.
Despite a solid debut from rookie Nik Stauskas, Sacramento dropped its opening Summer League game to San Antonio, 85-69, on Friday night in Las Vegas.
It didn’t take long for No. 10 to make an impact, as he drained his first bucket in less than 20 seconds.
After Sacramento gained possession of the tip-off, Ray McCallum found his rookie teammate on a curl at the right elbow, and just like that Sacramento was on the board.
“For some reason, [even during] my time at Michigan, it was the same thing – if a play was drawn up for me for the first play of the game, I’d normally knock it down,” admitted Stauskas. “When I saw [the] first one go down, it [gave me] a little bit of confidence, and from there on, I was just playing.”
While first-year players often admit Year 1 ups-and-downs – it didn’t stop the Kings newcomer from having a solid first half.
With 10 points at the break, the Mississauga, Ontario native was second on the squad in scoring, along with three assists, one steal and one turnover in just over 17 minutes of action.
“I think Nik is going to be a (great) player,” said Kings Head Coach Michael Malone. “He has a great feel for the game, he made some good plays for himself tonight and for his teammates, he can shoot the ball, [and] he can get to the rim.”
Equally as impressive in the first two periods was the play of third-year veteran Quincy Acy. No. 5 scored a team-high 12 points in the first half thanks in part to a perfect (2-for-2) clip from beyond the arc.
“That’s a blessing and a curse – it’s great he hit those shots early, but when we’re playing with a small lineup we need Quincy to get inside…” said Malone. “He’s been working hard on that part of his game – to see him knock shots down is great, but it was all in that first quarter. We need consistent effort from all our guys for all 40 minutes.”
The 6-foot-7 forward – who finished the night with 14 points and seven boards – also had an emphatic rejection that sent the ball into the third row of seats.
“[Quincy] was great early – he gave us a huge lift,” said Kings Summer League Head Coach Chris Jent. “He did what he typically does – he gave us a lot of energy and effort. He was one of the bright spots [tonight].”
The play of Stauskas and Acy propelled the Kings to an eight-point halftime lead, 43-35, but the margin faded in the second stanza.
The Spurs went on a 30-11 run in the third led by 10 points from Byrce Cotton and five from Austin Daye. During the stretch, the Kings scored on just 2-of-8 from the field, while also tallying 11 turnovers.
“The first half, we were competing and things were going well, but [in] the second half, things broke down offensively and defensively,” said Stauskas – who finished tied for the team-high with 14 points on 4-of-9 from the field. “We were holding the ball a little too much, we weren’t rebounding and they were getting to the basket whenever they wanted.”
The deficit proved to be insurmountable.
San Antonio sealed the 85-69 victory with another solid performance in the fourth, outscoring Sacramento 20-15.
“We talked about it all week – sharing the basketball and valuing the basketball,” admitted Malone. “[We had] eight assists, 19 turnovers and  points [after halftime], so it was just a very poor second half of basketball.”
The Kings take on Charlotte Sunday at 3 p.m. at Cox Pavilion.