Kings lose a heartbreaker to T-wolves 104-102

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Photo credit: NBAE/Getty Images

By Charlie O. Mallonee

Kevin Martin scored 31 points and Kevin Love hit for 26 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and distributed five assists as the Minnesota Timberwolves defeated the Sacramento Kings 104-102 on Sunday night in Minneapolis.

Isaiah Thomas led the Kings with 27 points and Derrick Williams put up 26 points off the bench to take the game down to the wire with Timberwolves. Rudy Gay added 14 points, but it would not be enough to get a win in the seventh and final game of the 13-day road trip.

The Kings started the game with a major disadvantage having to play without DeMarcus Cousins in the lineup. Cousins was suffering from knee tenderness. Cousins is almost a guaranteed double-double in every game he starts which means a significant  of number of points and rebounds must be covered by the other starters and the bench.

Nikola Pekovic was unable to go for the Timberwolves due to an ankle problem.

The Timberwolves jumped out to an early 13-6 lead as the Kings looked out of sync on both offense and defense which forced an early timeout call. The Kings looked better for short period after the timeout but then began to give up fastbreaks and easy points to Minnesota.

Derrick Williams – the former Timberwolf – came in with the second unit for the Kings and immediately provided a spark by scoring 10 points on just three shots. The Kings were able to close the gap and trailed the Timberwolves by just three points – 32-29 – after one quarter of play.

The Kings did not start the second quarter well as it took them 2:29 to put up their first points which was another bucket by Derrick Williams. The Kings closed the Minnesota lead to just two and took the lead 39-38 on a Derrick Williams three-point play. After a timeout, Rick Adelman put his first unit back on the floor to face the Kings. Michael Malone chose to keep his second unit out versus the Timberwolves’ first unit.

The Kings and Wolves then began trading baskets and fouls staying within three points of the other team. The game also switched to a half-court offensive contest. The Kings’ defense prevented the Timberwolves from setting up for the fastbreak. The Kings using some inspired play from Rudy Gay and Williams were able to go to the locker room with a 54-53 lead.

Derrick Williams scored 16 points in just 11 minutes of play for the Kings in the first-half. Reggie Evans scored eight points and Rudy Gay added seven points. Isaiah Thomas put up five points and dished out six assists. The Kings had 12 assists versus seven turnovers. The Sacramento bench outscored the Minnesota bench 30-4.

 The third quarter began with Kevin Martin and Kevin Love shooting the ball well and allowing the Timberwolves to retake the lead. Gorgui Dieng was very active on defense plugging up the middle and swatting away shots. The Kings then turned it on with Isaiah Thomas tying the game at 69 all.

Isaiah Thomas really turned up the effort scoring 13 points in the third, but the Love, Martin and Dieng combination was very strong allowing the Timberwolves to take the lead 77-74 after three quarters.

The Kings came out in the final period with Williams and McCallum hitting buckets and giving the Kings the lead 78-77. When the Timberwolves had not scored after two minutes, Rick Adelman took a timeout.

The teams proceeded to trade buckets and the game remained tied or within two points of the other team for the next few minutes. Derrick Williams showed the Minnesota fans what they gave up when he was traded to Sacramento by scoring nine quick points.

Kevin Love scored four quick points to give the Wolves the lead, but Thomas and Williams kept the Kings in the game and within one point with 1:26 left to play. The Kings took the lead on two free throw shots by Williams. Love gave Minnesota the lead back with a 3-point shot. Ricky Rubio opened up a three point – 98-95 – lead for the Wolves hitting one of two free throws with 41 seconds left to play. The Kings missed on three opportunities and Minnesota went to the free throw line with 16 seconds left to go. Kevin Martin hit the two free throws and it was 100-95 with 16 seconds to play. Isaiah Thomas hit a 3-point shot to bring the Kings within two points of the lead. Kevin Martin was fouled and hit two free throws. Thomas hit another 3-pointer to make it 102-101 Timberwolves. Martin hit two more free throws and Thomas hit from the charity stripe to make it 104-102 Minnesota. Dieng was fouled and missed both shots with 1 second to go. Rudy Gay took a full court shot that missed and the Timberwolves won the game 104-102.

The long and arduous road trip is finally over. The Kings headed back to Sacramento and will host the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night.

Kings fight off the Celtics 105-98

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Photo credit: Rocky Widner NBAE/Getty Images

By Charlie O. Mallonee

The Sacramento Kings defeated the Boston Celtics 105-98 Saturday night before a sellout crowd of 17,137 at Sleep Train Arena. There were no lead changes in the game and the contest was tied only once. That is not to say it was an easy win for the Kings.

The Celtics came in and played a very physical game and cut the Kings lead to just one point twice in the fourth quarter. After a slow start in the first quarter, Boston did not look like a team who had lost to the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday. Even after shooting a horrible 34% in the first half, the Celtics would not give up.

The battle of the night was the match up of Kris Humphries and DeMarcus Cousins. Humphries just draped himself over Cousins, and the officials allowed him to do so until late in the game. Cousins scored just 13 points and grabbed just seven rebounds. The Kings center played the entire game in a state of controlled frustration with the lack of calls against Humphries.

Rudy Gay and Isaiah Thomas led the way for the Kings. Gay scored 22 points in the game after being held scoreless in the first quarter. Isaiah Thomas recorded a double-double scoring 21 points and dishing out 12 assists. But, the two Kings’ stars did not win the game on their own. Seven Kings scored in double figures versus Boston.

Jeff Green and Kris Humphries led the charge for the Celtics. Green led all scorers in the game with his 29 points. Humphries scored 19 shooting 9 for 15 from the field. Jerryd Bayless added 16 points for Boston off the bench.

The Kings shot very well versus the Celtics. Sacramento shot 52.1% (38 for 73) from the field. They shot 55.6% (5 for 9) from beyond the 3-point line. The Kings also helped themselves from the free throw line hitting 85.7% (24 for 28) of their opportunites. They were out rebounded 42-38 and turned the ball over 18 times to just 14 times for Boston.

The Kings played tough on defense as well. The Celtics shot just 39.1% (34 for 87) from the field. They shot just 28.6% (6 for 21) from 3-point land. Boston was a dismal 66.7% (24 for 36) from the free throw line.

“It was a weird game,” said Kings Head Coach Michael Malone. “We were trying to keep our composure out there. Obviously, we benefitted from Gerald Wallace and their coach thrown out at the end. It gave us a couple of extra free throws. It’s a physical game, and we can’t let people get under our skin and get in the way of what we’re trying to do. We defended at a fairly high level for most of the night, but we put them on the foul line way too many times. Once again, there were 18 turnovers for 19 points – that continues to be a problem for us. It was a great game for Isaiah Thomas – he tied his career high assists and only had four turnovers. We’ll take the win but we have to get a lot better.”

It was the new look Kings that won the game on Saturday night. Ben McLemore played 27 minutes and scored 11 points while shooting 44.4% from the field. Derrick Williams and Carl Landry each scored 10 points in their 24 minutes of playing time. Ray McCallum played 11 minutes as the second unit point guard. Expect to see more of the same over the next 27 games.

Newcomer Reggie Evans was on the bench but did not see any action.

Rajon Rondo was not with the Celtics in Sacramento. The team reported Rondo needed rest.

The Kings have no time to savor their victory. The have to play the second game of a back-to-back on Sunday afternoon in Denver  the against the Nuggets.

Kings stop the Magic 103-83

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Photo credit: Rocky Widner NBAE/Getty Images

By Charlie O. Mallonee

There are games on the NBA schedule that are must win games. On Friday night, the Kings had one of those games as they hosted the 10 and 25 Orlando Magic. The Magic came into the game tired from a long road trip and with a terrible record against the Western Conference. The Kings did what they needed to do and won the game 103-83 for their second consecutive win at home.

The Kings were led by DeMarcus Cousins with another double-double. Cousins put up 24 points, grabbed 14 rebounds, had six assists, three steals and one blocked shot. Rudy Gay scored 22 points and pulled down 10 rebounds for his own double-double. Jason Thompson had a very productive night recording 14 points. Derrick Williams added 14 points off the bench while Jimmer Fredette scored 11 in a reserve role for Sacramento.

The Magic’s leading scorer was Tobias Harris with 16 points. Arron Afflalo had 15 points. Victor Oladipo added 13 while Glen Davis scored 12 and posted 12 rebounds.

The story was really in the numbers for this game. The Kings shot 51.3% (41-80) from the field and 94.7% (18-19) from the free throw line. Orlando’s field goal percentage was 33.3 while they shot 29.6% from beyond the 3-point line. The Kings out rebounded the Magic 54-37.

The game did not start off looking like a Kings victory. Orlando outscored the Kings 24-18 in the first quarter. The Magic shot 50.0% (5-10) from behind the 3-point arc. The Kings did not go to the free throw line one time. It was not a great beginning for Sacramento.

The Kings came alive in the second quarter scoring 28 points to just 16 for the Magic. Sacramento shot 47.6% for field goals while finally getting to the free throw line four times and hitting on all four opportunities. Orlando came back down to earth shooting just 33.3%, but the Magic still hit six of 15 tries from 3-point land. The teams went to halftime with the Kings leading 46-40.

The Kings needed to come out after halftime putting together some point runs, getting physical under basket and creating opportunities from the free throw line. That is exactly what Sacramento did.

The Kings started the third quarter by getting physical. Sacramento had 14 attempts from the charity stripe and made good on 13 of those tries. They also established a solid lead. The Kings led by 17 with 1:37 to go in the period. The Magic put on a five point mini-run to end the quarter but still trailed the Kings 76-64.

The Magic kept trying to comeback in the fourth quarter and cut the Sacramento lead to 10 with 7:22 to go in the game. The Kings then bore down and went on a 12-0 run to open a 22 point lead. Both coaches emptied their benches and Sacramento cruised to a 103-83 victory.

After the game Coach Michael Malone said, “It was unchartered territory for us. It felt good, obviously, to come out here and have the most complete defensive effort that we’ve had. We held them to 83 points and 33% from the field. To get out and score 21 fastbreak points, to play defense, to dominate the glass and the paint was great. I thought our starting lineup was terrific tonight. The 60 points and 30 something rebounds between Rudy Gay, Jason Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins really set the tone for us. I was very impressed with Derrick Williams. That’s two games in a row where he has played very aggressively and with great confidence. I need him to continue doing that.”

Per DeMarcus Cousins the win validated the win over Portland, “We did take steps forward. I still think we kind of started out slow; we could’ve had a better start. The second unit came in and did a great job, really got the game going and we finished the game off strong I believe. We did have a little stretch where we let them make a run but overall I think we did a pretty good job defensively. Offensively we came along during the game but I think we did a great job tonight defensively.”

The Kings record improves to 12-22 overall and 8-13 at home.

Sacramento returns to action on Sunday afternoon when they host the Cleveland Cavaliers at Sleep Train Arena.

Kings Lose to Clippers 104-98 in OT

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By Charlie O. Mallonee

Round three of the 4-game season series between the Clippers and the Kings was just as exciting as last Saturday’s 103-102 Los Angeles win. This time it took overtime to decide who the victors would be in Sacramento. When the final buzzer sounded, the Clippers had won the game 104-98 to take a commanding 3-0 lead in series.

The Clippers have not lost a game this season in which they have scored at least 100 points. On Friday, they started a new streak of winning a game with Chris Paul on the bench for the entire contest. The league’s best point guard could not play on Friday due to the strained hamstring that he experienced against the Knicks on Wednesday.

Darren Collison started at the point for LA and handled the team very well. He had 15-points, 2 assists and 1 steal in his 40 minutes of playing time. Collison quietly kept the ball moving into the hands of his teammates who did the most with their opportunities.

Jamal Crawford came off the bench for the Clippers and showed us that it is his world and we are just allowed to live in it. Crawford poured in 31-points (12/22 FG, 3/7 3-pt, 4/4 FT) with 11 assists and seven rebounds in 37 minutes of playing time. No matter where you looked, it seemed like Crawford was there. His 31-points led all scorers in the game.

DeMarcus Cousins played tough and at times moved Griffin and Jordan around underneath the basket at will. Cousins played 41 minutes posting 25-points, nine rebounds, six assists and three blocked shots. He played with fire and determination which was required especially against DeAndre Jordan who played a take no prisoners’ type of game all night.

The Kings may have had their best first quarter of basketball of the season. They played a high energy type of game on both offense and defense. The Kings were 11/20 (55.0%) from the field and held the Clippers to just a 38.1 (8/21) field goal percentage. The Kings led 24-23 after one quarter.

The game settled down in the second quarter and Jamal Crawford began his domination of the game. Crawford scored nine-points and had five assists in period. The pace of the game was also affected by the referees calling offensive and loose ball fouls. It was like the league office called and ordered them to call more of those type of fouls. That did not continue in the second half. The Clippers outscored the Kings 27-21 in the quarter and led at half-time 50-45.

The third quarter saw a change in the style of play. Rather than running the fast break or taking outside shots, both teams began playing tough under the basket and looking for high percentage shots which was reflected in the shooting stats. The Clippers shot 7/12 (58.3%) while the Kings shot 11/21 (52.4%) from the field. The Kings outscored LA 27-23 and trailed the Clippers 73-72 at the end of three quarters.

The fourth quarter was tough and gritty. Points came hard for both teams. The crowd became more involved as the teams battled for supremacy. The Kings won the quarter 22-21 and after 48 minutes of play the game was tied at 94-all.

In the overtime period, the depth of the Clippers came to bear on the Kings. The Clippers outscored the Kings 10-4 in the extra five minutes. Jamal Crawford and Blake Griffin led LA with four-points each. Patrick Patterson scored all four of the Kings overtime points. When the buzzer sounded, the final score was Los Angeles 104 – Sacramento 98.

After the game, Kings Head Coach Michael Malone said, “It was another tough loss against a team that we’ve played against three times already. We can’t get over the hump. I loved how hard our guys played tonight and there were a lot of great things that came out of the game. We don’t play them again until the last week of the season and maybe by then we’ll figure out a way to get a win against them.”

One of the major stories of the night for the Kings was the play of their newest acquisition Derrick Williams. Williams was traded to the Kings from Minnesota earlier in the week. He played 32 minutes, scored 12-points, had four assists and pulled down 6 rebounds.

Per Coach Malone, “I thought he was terrific. Right away I said that he’s a guy that brings great athleticism and versatility. We had great plays and transitions, we got out and ran. We had some plays at the rim and he was a big part of that. He’s only going to get better as he gets his feet set and gets more comfortable.”

UP NEXT: The Golden State Warriors will be the next opponents for the Sacramento Kings on Sunday at 3:00 PM in Sleep Train Arena. It will be the second meeting of the season between the two teams. GSW won the first game on November 2 in Oakland 98-87. The game will be the second contest in a four-game home stand that includes the OKC Thunder next Tuesday and the LA Lakers on Friday December 6. Per Kobe Bryant, Friday could be his first game of the 2013-14 season.

GAME NOTES: The Kings and Clippers next and last meeting of the season will be on April 12, 2014 at the Staples Center. It will be game 80 of the season for the Kings. The schedule was designed to create some early excitement for the new season, but four months between games in the division is bit much. There must be a better way to make divisional play more exciting spread out over the entire season.

Kings vs Clippers Preview

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By Charlie O. Mallonee

The Sacramento Kings have not played a game since their loss last Sunday to the LA Lakers 100-86. The team looked tired in the second half of the Lakers game after losing a heartbreaker to the Cippers 103-102 on Saturday night.

The Clippers defeated the Knicks 93-80 on Wednesday night even with Chris Paul having to leave the game with a strained hamstring.

After the Knicks game, the Clippers seemed very pleased with their defense that held NYK to just 80 points. The Clippers have primarily been defeating teams with their offense. They have not lost a game this season when the team has scored 100 points or more in the contest.

The Kings will need to concentrate on controlling the defensive boards tonight. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan can dominate the rebounding situation and kill a team with easy put back shots off the rebound. The Kings will need more than just Cousins to battle under the bucket to keep the Clippers from having multiple opportunities on offense.

The Kings must also play better defense on Friday. The Clippers are shooting 47.9% as a team. The Kings need to bring that percentage down into the low 40’s in order to post a victory.

The Kings will also need to show improved shooting versus the Clippers. Sacramento is averaging just 42.7% shooting from the field. That shooting percentage will not get it done against the Clippers.

The Clippers must contain DeMarcus Cousins if they are to win. Cousins scored 23 points and pulled down 19 rebounds versus LAC last Saturday. Cousins may have some help on the front line tonight with Derrick Williams starting at small forward. This will be Williams’ first game as a King.

The Clippers have two players with health issues coming into the game. Paul’s hamstring is questionable, but he has said he will be ready to play Friday night. Blake Griffin is nursing a tender elbow that had to have fluid drained off it earlier this week.

Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 PST. The game can be seen on CSNCA and heard on the Kings Radio Network.

 Ray McCallum Returns from Reno

 The Kings have recalled rookie guard Ray McCallum from the Reno Bighorns of the NBA D-League. McCallum joined the Bighorns on November 21.

McCallum averaged a team high 22 points (45.5 FG%, 30.8 3pt%, 66.7 FT%), 5.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.33 steals and a team high 38.0 minutes of playing time in three games with Reno.

McCallum should probably buy some tire chains as he may well be making the trip between Sacramento and Reno several times this season. The Kings want him to get playing time. If the PT does not come in Sacramento, he will be sent to Reno to get some game experience.

Kings Trade for Power Forward Derrick Williams

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By Charlie O. Mallonee

If you thought the Sacramento Kings new ownership and management were just going to struggle through the season until the draft, you were wrong. The Kings have sent Luc Mbah a Moute to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for Power Forward Derrick Williams.

“We’re excited to acquire a player with Derrick’s skillset,” said D’Alessandro. “He will add size, length and serve as a scoring threat in our frontcourt. We also want to thank Luc for his contributions during the short time he was a King. We wish him the best.”

Williams was the second overall draft pick in the 2011 NBA draft. Much had been expected of Williams, but he was never able to settle in at one spot long enough to thrive. The Timberwolves tried him at Small Forward, but that did not pan out. He was moved back to Power Forward, but that put Williams up against Kevin Love for playing time.

Williams did show he can be a force at the four spot when Love was out due to injury. His point production and rebound totals went up exponentially with his increased playing time. Williams wanted out of Minnesota in order to go to a team that would up his time on the floor.

Williams is 6-8, 240 pound forward. He is averaging 4.9 points (35.2 FG%, 13.3 3PT%, 87.5 FT%), 2.4 rebounds and 14.7 minutes of playing time per game. His playing time should increase rapidly as the Kings look for answers at the Power Forward position.

Mbah a Moute was a real key in executing this trade. The Timberwolves are looking for a greater defensive presence on the floor. Mbah a Moute is capable of defending the small forward and the guards. He was making an impact on defense for the Kings, but Sacramento needs additional scoring up front to take some of the pressure off of DeMarcus Cousins.

Kings fans should get their first look at Williams on Friday night when the LA Clippers come to Sleep Train Arena.