SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- In the 35-year love affair between this city and its basketball team, few players have captured the hearts of Kings fans like Harry Giles III, the young big man who has been so warmly embraced by the community.
Giles is expected to make his season home debut when the Kings (3-6) play the Portland Trail Blazers (4-6) on Tuesday at Golden 1 Center after missing most of training camp and the first eight games with left knee soreness. The 21-year-old center said he's eager to play in front of the home crowd for the first time since March after logging eight minutes in a 121-109 road win over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday.
"Oh, man, Tuesday's going to be crazy, man, just to get back out there, hear those roars again, just get it going," Giles said. "I feel like when you play here, it's another speed, another feeling, you know? I feel like there's no place like this place when you're in there. There's nothing like Golden 1, man. Maybe that's just me, but it just feels like one of those special places, so I'm excited and ready to get it going."
The Kings have shown signs of life since going 0-5 to start the season under coach Luke Walton. They have won three of their last four games, including a win over the Utah Jazz at home and road wins over the New York Knicks and Hawks. During that stretch, the Kings were first in the NBA with an offensive rating of 118.4, 19th with a defensive rating of 109.8 and second with a net rating of plus-8.6, despite ranking 30th in pace (99.6).
"We're pleased with the progress we've made so far, but we know we have a lot of work to do still," Walton said.
Walton said he was pleased with Giles' effort against the Hawks. He had four points, one rebound and an emphatic blocked shot on a dunk attempt by De'Andre Hunter.
"I thought he did a very good job," Walton said. "He gives us a physical player that brings a bit of toughness and swagger with him on the court."
Giles also gives the Kings another playmaking big man who can pass from the elbows along with Nemanja Bjelica.
"That's something we've gotten to a little more in the last few games," Walton said. "He's someone we'll look for to play-make out of the high post, him and Belly both."
Kings forward Marvin Bagley, who is expected to miss two to four more weeks with a broken thumb, said he's looking forward to the crowd's response if Giles gets in the game Tuesday.