It’s official: the George Karl era has ended


by Charlie O. Mallonee

SACRAMENTO–In the worst kept personnel move ever, the Sacramento Kings have fired head coach and future Hall of Famer George Karl. Multiple media sources – including this one – had been reporting that Karl would be dismissed since Wednesday morning.

The termination comes as no surprise to anyone who has been following the Kings for the past 18 months. DeMarcus Cousins did not want the team to hire Karl in the first place. Karl was almost fired over the summer for trying initiate a trade for Cousins, and vice president and general manager Vlade Divac wanted to terminate Karl in February when the team was in midst of turmoil. This was a relationship that was doomed from the very beginning.

“After evaluating the team’s performance this season, I determined it was necessary to move forward with a new voice from the head coaching position,” said Divac. “I have a great deal of respect and admiration for George and his accomplishments throughout his nearly 30 years in the NBA. On behalf of everyone in the Kings organization, I thank him for the contributions made during his time in Sacramento and wish him good fortune in the future.”

This will be the first time the  Vivek Ranadive ownership group has a head of basketball operations in place before hiring a head coach. Michael Malone and George Karl were hired before the general manager was in place and the results have been disastrous and resulted in both coaches being fired.

There have been reports that the minority owners have been upset over the handling of the hiring and firing coaches by Ranadive. For instance, Karl walks away with a reported $6.5-million due him for the remainder of his contract. Investors hate to pay “dead money” to anyone knowing they will have to pay out big dollars to the new coach that takes Karl’s place.

The assumption is that Divac will have heavy input into the hiring of the next coach. Not that Ranadive will be left out of process but he will probably allow the experts to do their job in order to avoid another hiring fiasco.

The coaching merry-go-round has become a joke in the national press that covers the NBA. Ryen Rusillo   of ESPN Radio spent almost five minutes decrying the coaching situation in Sacramento as ridiculous during his nationwide show on Wednesday. That is just one example of ridicule that is being flung at the Kings organization’s inability to hire and retain a head coach.

Hiring the right coach for this situation is critical. First, the coach must be able to adapt to the direction of the team as set by Divac who is said to want a more defensive approach on the floor. Secondly, the new head man (or woman) must be able to adapt to the available personnel. Finally, DeMarcus Cousins must buy in on whoever the Kings want to hire. That is not a good thing for management but they have empowered Cousins and will have to obtain his cooperation to make it work for the next coach.

Some of the names that are being floated are coaches with experience. Ex-Houston coach Kevin McHale, ex-Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek, former Bulls and Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro, ex-Cleveland coach David Blatt, former Warriors head man Mark Jackson and Charlotte assistant coach Patrick Ewing have been mentioned as possible candidates for the job. The search will also include top assistant coaches from around the league who are looking for their first job as a head coach.

The names of Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks have come up but both are expected to take higher profile jobs.

The interview process is expected to take some time because the Kings cannot afford to make another major hiring mistake as they move into the new arena.

Reports have Karl being fired by Kings on Thursday


by Charlie O. Mallonee

The Sacramento Bee and other news organizations are reporting that Kings head coach George Karl will be fired on Thursday when the team returns home from Houston. Sports Radio Service’s Kings Podcast predicted that Karl would not be retained as head coach based on his statements in the pregame and post-game news conferences on Saturday.

Karl has been on the “hot seat” since last summer when he sent up some trial balloons about possible trades for All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins. Reports had majority owner Vivek Ranadive wanting to dismiss Karl at that time.

Karl was also rumored to be close to termination in November following a confrontation with Cousins in the locker room after a game. Karl wanted Cousins suspended for two games but was overruled by vice president and general manager Vlade Divac.

Cousins was suspended for one game without pay in early March following a tirade during a timeout aimed at Karl (stop me if you are seeing a pattern here).

That fact is Cousins was against the Karl hiring from the beginning. Reports had Cousins “camp” telling management they thought Karl was not a good fit for the team and Cousins. The chances of a working relationship between coach and player was doomed from the beginning.

Karl is still owed $6.5-million from the 4-year contract he signed in 2015. He will be the fourth head coach to be fired by the Kings under the Vivek Ranadive ownership group.

League sources – speaking under the condition of anonymity – have indicated the Kings are interested in several people to take Karl’s place. The usual suspects of Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks have been named and are reportedly not interested in Sacramento.

Other names that are being floated include  Vinny Del Negro, Boston Celtics  assistant Jay Larranaga, ex-Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt, Atlanta Hawks assistant Kenny Atkinson, ex-Phoenix Suns coach Jeff Hornacek, Charlotte Hornets assistant Patrick Ewing and ex-Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale. Ironically, Del Negro was in Sacramento on Saturday night for the Kings final game in the old arena.

No matter who the Kings settle on as their next head coach, if DeMarcus Cousins does not buy in on the choice then Sacramento had better looking for their fifth head coach. That is a horrible situation to be in but the Kings created the problem when they allowed Cousins to become more important than his coach.

Kings win final game in Sleep Train/ARCO Arena 114-112 over OKC


by Charlie O. Mallonee

SACRAMENTO–On a night that felt more like a Hollywood awards show than a basketball game, the Sacramento Kings pulled off a storybook ending to close out their 2015-16 home schedule and to end their 28-year stay in Sleep Train/ARCO Arena.

The Kings defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 114-112 in front of a raucous, adoring sellout crowd that desperately wanted the team’s final game in the old building to be a victory. The crowd did its part. They were loud and into the game from the opening tip-off right up to the final buzzer.

The Kings did their job. They played the very talented Oklahoma City Thunder in a tough, physical manner that was worthy of a heavyweight boxing match. Every time the Thunder threw a punch, the Kings returned a punch. The Kings kept the game close then took the lead and fought back each time they lost the lead. There were 12 lead changes and the game was tied 12 times.

The game came down to the free throw shooting of Rudy Gay. Gay went to the free throw line three times in the final 17.4-seconds. He made 4-0f-6 chances from the charity stripe. None more important than the final shot with one second left to go in the game that made it a two-point game and gave the win to the Kings.

The game appeared to be headed to overtime when James Anderson fouled Russell Westbrook as he went into the act of shooting from behind the 3-point line. Westbrook stepped to the line and converted all three free throws to tie the game at 112-112 before Gay was fouled and put the game on ice for Sacramento.

This was the 32nd win of the season for the Kings. Their home record for the season will be 18-23. The win also allowed the Kings to finish the season 2-2 versus the Thunder. Sacramento won once in Oklahoma City and once at home.


 The player of the night for the Kings was guard Darren Collison. Collison was the team’s leading scorer with 27 points. He also dished out eight assists and grabbed five rebounds. Collison shot 10-for-16 from floor and was 4-for-6 from 3-point range. He ran the point and found ways to score in his 36-minutes of playing time.

The other standout player for Sacramento was Seth Curry. Curry finished the game with 20 points and three assists. He lit up the night from beyond the 3-point line hitting on 6-of-10 chances. Curry’s shooting kept the Kings in the game early and allowed Sacramento to keep the game close.

George Karl gave the game ball to Collison and Curry.

Rudy Gay finished the game with 24 points. Gay was 9-for-19 shooting and was a dismal 1-for-6 from 3-point range. He was 5-for-7 from the free throw where he ultimately won the game for his team. Gay also led the Kings in playing time with almost 38 minutes.

DeMarcus Cousins scored 15 points and hauled in seven rebounds. Cousins had a frustrating night shooting finishing 7-for-24 from the field. The Kings big man played in foul trouble throughout most of the game. He picked up three personals in the first half and three more in the second half. Cousins fouled out the game with 3:26 left to play.

The Kings had additional scoring from Kosta Koufos (8), Quincy Acy (7), James Anderson (5), Willie Cauley-Stein (4) and Ben McLemore (4).

Sacramento shot 47.9-percent (45-for-94) from the field. They were an impressive 13-for-32 (40.6-percent) from behind the 3-point line. The Kings struggled from the free throw line converting only 11-of-20 (55.0-percent) from the stripe.The Kings took good care of the basketball committing just 11 turnovers while dishing out 22 assists to reach the goal of a 2-to-1 ratio.


 Kevin Durant led the Thunder in scoring putting up 31 points. Durant distributed eight assists and had six rebounds in his game-high 39-minutes of playing time.

Russell Westbrook had a double-double game scoring 24 points and dishing out 10 assists. Westbrook had trouble taking care of the ball as he turned it over a game-high eight times.

Serge Ibaka added 14 points and Enes Kanter scored 11 points for OKC.

The Thunder shot 48.1-percent (39-for-81) from the floor and hit on 13-of-32 (40.6-percent) beyond the 3-point line. Turnovers were a problem for OKC as their committed 21 in the game.

Oklahoma City is now 54-26 on the season. Their road record falls to 23-17.

What they had to say after the game

 “First thing I wrote in my notes is we’re playing a playoff team that will have a playoff atmosphere because of the historical event,” said Kings head coach George Karl. “I don’t think anyone was disappointed with what happened. The building had energy to it from the very beginning. It helped us. We rode the wave of the crowd and the energy.”

“Fans are incredible. Fans are first class, style, loyal, committed and next year they get a fantastic new building that hopefully will have more playoff games, rather than just regular season nice wins. Let’s have some playoff nice wins,” added Karl.

First class night

 As an organization, the Kings have faced a great deal of criticism this season and much of it has been deserved. On Saturday night, the Kings proved they know how to produce a big event and pull it off with class and grace.

The Kings paid tribute to fans and the players of the past 28 years that have filled Sleep Train/ARCO Arena with emotion and excellence.

Reggie Theus, who scored the first two points in the arena, praised the Kings for the way they have reached out and included the players from the past in the celebration of basketball in Sacramento.

The Kings front office made it a night to remember for the fans attending the final game in Sleep Train/ARCO Arena. The team and the way they won made it night to never forget.


Kings play “D” in NYC; beat Knicks 88-80

knicks 3-20=16NBA – Getty Images

by Charlie O. Mallonee

“It (the game) had a lot of ugly to it, but it’s a win,” said Kings head coach George Karl after his team beat the New York Knicks 88-80 in Madison Square Garden on Sunday night.

In full disclosure, the Knicks played without Carmelo Anthony who was sidelined with a migraine that he experienced during the game in Washington on Saturday. The Knicks are 0-8 this season when “Melo” is not in the line up. Much like the Kings without Cousins, NYK is not the same team when their All-Star player is not on the floor.

The Kings used defense to win this game. This may have the best defensive effort by Sacramento all season. The Kings held the Knicks under 20 points in first, third and fourth quarters. Sacramento did have a major defensive lapse in the second quarter when New York scored 35 points, but unlike other games this season, the Kings were able to regain their defensive footing.

The 88 point effort was the Kings lowest scoring total of the season.

Sacramento did an excellent job defending the 3-point arc allowing NYK to hit on just 4-of-19 3-point attempts. The Kings also limited their own turnovers to just 12 that resulted in just nine points for the Knicks.

The stars on offense were the two starting centers. DeMarcus Cousins and Robin Lopez had 20/20, double-double games. Cousins scored 24 points and grabbed 20 rebounds to go with four assists and two blocked shots. Robin Lopez put up 23 points and hauled in 20 rebounds for New York.

For Cousins, this was his 10th 20/20 game of his career.

The Kings are now 27-42 on the season. The loss drops the Knicks record to 28-43.


Rudy Gay turned in a 17-point performance versus the Knicks. Gay did not have a spectacular night shooting going 8-for-21 from the floor and just 1-for-6 from 3-point land.

Darren Collison had an interesting game. Collison scored 13 points. All of those points came in the first half. He played a game-high 40 minutes and dished out six assists.

Rajon Rondo had a very quiet game scoring just two points and distributing six assists. Rondo did not play with his signature headband on in this game.

Omri Casspi led the scoring off the bench for Sacramento. Casspi scored 15 points hitting on 5-of-9 shots from the field.

As a team, the Kings shot just 39.8-percent (35-for-88) for the game. They converted 7-of-25 3-point attempts. Sacramento was out-rebounded 55-49. The Kings allowed New York to grab 19 offensive rebounds.


Kristaps Porzingis – the Knicks rookie sensation – scored 13 points but struggled shooting from the floor. Porzingis hit on just 6-of-17 shooting and was 0-for-4 from beyond the 3-point arc.

The Knicks had two strong performances off their bench as Jerian Grant scored 14 points and former King Derrick Williams added 11 points. The New York bench outscored the Kings second unit 35-29.

NYK shot just 35.2-percent (32-for-91) from the field. The Knicks turned the ball over 15 times resulting in 22 points for the Kings.

Up next

The Chicago Bulls will play a major role for both teams this week.

The Kings traveled to Chicago after the game and will play the Bulls on Monday night.

The Knicks are off until Wednesday when they will play the Bulls in the Windy City.


Kings lose strange game to Jazz 108-99

NBA: Utah Jazz at Sacramento Kings
Photo Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

By Charlie O. Mallonee

Sacramento – The Sacramento Kings fell into one of the dreaded “black holes” that George Karl has talked about all season on Sunday. The problem for the Kings was the “black hole” did not last for five to eight possessions as usual. This “black hole” lasted for 24 minutes or the entire first half of the game.

The Kings – who never had a lead in the game – fell behind by 23 points in the opening half. Sacramento lacked energy and defensive effort and Utah took advantage of the situation. The Jazz shot 59.0-percent from the floor in the first half and went 8-for-14 (57.1-percent) from beyond the 3-point line. Sacramento appeared to be victims of the change to Daylight Savings Time, but the situation was not that simplistic.

Karl even went to a different rotation of Gay, Cauley-Stein, Cousins, Curry and Rondo in order find some defense to start the third quarter, and it worked. In fact, Karl stated it may have been the best second half defensive performance of the season from his team.

The Kings held the Jazz to 47 points in the second half. Sacramento outscored Utah 54-47 for the half, but Kings had dug a hole for themselves in the first half that was ultimately too deep to climb out of in the final 24.

Sacramento cut the Utah lead to just five points with 23.1 seconds left in the game. They just ran out of time to get enough possessions to overcome the Utah lead and the Kings lost the game 108-99.

It was the second consecutive win for the Jazz (31-35) who beat Washington at home on Friday night. Utah came into the game in ninth place in the Western Conference two games behind Houston and Dallas for the eighth and final playoff slot. The victory on Sunday really helped the Jazz to keep their playoff dreams alive.

The Kings (25-40) have lost five games in a row and have lost six straight at home. Mathematically, the Kings still have a chance at the playoffs. Realistically, the Kings have no shot at the playoffs.


The Kings were led by DeMarcus Cousins who scored a game-high 31 points in return from his one-game suspension. It was a double-double game for Cousins who recorded 10 rebounds and five assists. He converted 8-of-11 free throw opportunities.

Omri Casspi provided some real punch off the bench scoring 20 points in just 26 minutes of playing time. Casspi shot 8-for-12 from the floor and went 4-for-4 from beyond the 3-point line.

Darren Collison scored 14 points in a starting role while Cauley-Stein scored 10, Rondo 7, Gay 6, Curry 5, Koufos 4 and Acy 2. Marco Belinelli had a five-game streak of scoring in double figures broken as he scored no points in 11 minutes on floor.

As a team, the Kings shot 46.9-percent from the floor and were a respectable 9-for-21 (42.9-percent) from 3-point land. The team struggled at the free throw line hitting on just 14-of-21 attempts (66.7-percent). Sacramento turned the ball over 12 times giving up 22 points on those miscues.

The Kings were outrebounded 47-36.


Derrick Favors (28) and Gordon Hayward (27) led the Jazz scoring effort. Favors shot 10-for-16 from the floor to go with 14 rebounds. Hayward shot 9-for-19 from the field including four 3-point baskets.

Shelvin Mack had a strong game at point guard scoring 14 points and dishing out eight assists. Mack shot 5-for-11 overall and 4-for-6 from 3-point range.

The Jazz shot 47.6-percent from the floor and hit on 12-of-28 3-point opportunities. Utah really helped themselves at the free throw line going 18-for-22 (81.8-percent). The Jazz turned the ball over 16 times giving up a total of 16 points due to those mistakes.

What they said after the game

DeMarcus Cousins spoke the press after the game and allowed his teammates the opportunity to quietly slip out of the locker room. It was also the first time Cousins faced the press since serving his one-game suspension.

When asked to describe the game, Cousins replied, “Terrible first half and better second half.”

Cousins was asked where he is mentally after the suspension and he said, “I’m here.”

The Kings center responded to being asked to evaluate the last seven weeks for the team by saying, “It is the level of fight. There’s a lot of frustration in this locker room. I believe everyone believes that we should be a lot better than we are. We’re just frustrated that we’re not. We haven’t performed to the level of expectations so it’s a lot of frustration with that.”

Cousins also talked about his suspension. He feels that it was a coach’s suspension not a suspension generated by the organization. Cousins feels there is a big difference between the two.

Up next

The Kings will travel to Los Angeles to face the Lakers on Tuesday night. It will be the last time they face Kobe Bryant as an active player. The Lakers game is the front end of a back-to-back that will be completed on Wednesday night in Sacramento when the New Orleans Pelicans visit Sleep Train Arena.

Utah returned home after the game and will host King James and the Cavaliers on Monday night in Salt Lake City.


Cousins suspended by Kings

demarcus cousins sac kings bing photo

by Charlie O. Mallonee

SACRAMENTO–The Sacramento Kings have suspended center DeMarcus Cousins for one game for conduct detrimental to the team. The announcement was made by Vlade Divac, Vice President of Basket Operations for Sacramento. Cousins will sit out the game against the Orlando Magic on Friday night and forfeit his pay for that game.

The suspension was imposed because Cousins began yelling at head coach George Karl during a timeout in the game versus Cleveland on Wednesday night. In video posted by the Sacramento Bee, Cousins can be seen being very animated while sitting during the timeout. Rudy Gay and assistant coach Corliss Williamson can be seen trying to calm Cousins. Rajon Rondo then stepped in front of Cousins in order to block his view of Karl.

Reports are indicating that Cousins was upset because Karl was not doing enough to defend him with the referees in the game last night. Frankly in this reporter’s opinion, the game was not well officiated. Cousins did take a beating under the basket and did not receive obvious foul calls. However, there was not much Karl could have done to change the situation.

The officiating crew called three technical fouls including one on Cousins – his 15th “T” of the season. Cleveland head coach Tyronn Lue was issued a technical and is still not sure what he did to deserve the call. This reporter could not see where Lue’s actions deserved the call from my position on press row.

This was the second time this season that Cousins reportedly yelled at his head coach. Earlier in the season, he went into a tirade aimed at Karl after a Kings loss. It was reported that Karl wanted to suspend Cousins at the time but was overruled by Divac and the front office.

Kings fall to the Cavs 120-111

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Sacramento Kings
Photo Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

By Charlie O. Mallonee

The Cleveland Cavaliers –  featuring “King” LeBron James – rolled into Sacramento on Wednesday to kick off a four-game West Coast swing. If you are a Cavs fan, you were very pleased with the result as Cleveland (45-18) downed the Kings 120 – 111.

The surprise may have been that James was not the star of the game. Kyrie Irving took that role as he scored 30 points shooting 11-for-22 from the floor including three 3-point baskets. Irving hit on five of six tries from the free throw line. He was literally at the right place at the right time for the Cavs for the entire game.

It was a hard fought contest that featured eight lead changes and eight ties. The Kings led at halftime 60 – 54. Then came the third quarter and one of the Kings dreaded “black holes”.

Cleveland outscored the Kings 35 – 24 in the third period. The Cavs shot 13-for-20 from the floor and hit on five of eight 3-point attempts. They out rebounded the Kings 11 – 7. The quarter ended with Cleveland leading 89 – 84 and they would never look back.

The Kings (25-38) put up a good fight in the fourth quarter and cut the Cleveland lead to three points with 2:37 remaining in the game. The Cavs used their offensive rebounding ability to get second and third chance shots to run away with the game.


The Kings were led by DeMarcus Cousins’ 29 points. The Kings big man had to fight for those points as he shot just 8-for-22 from the floor. He struggled from the free throw line going 12-for-18 from the stripe. Cousins missed the front end of a two shot opportunity from line five times in the second half. It was another double-double game for Cousins as he pulled down 11 rebounds.

Rudy Gay had a good night for Sacramento scoring 19 points, grabbing six rebounds and dishing out three assist in 41-minutes of playing time.

Darren Collison started in the place of the injured Ben McLemore and scored 15 points. Collison alternated with Rondo on the point and distributed eight assists and added two steals.

Rajon Rondo did not have a great night for the Kings. He scored 11 points and had six assists but seemed frustrated all night long by the defense of Irving and JR Smith.

Omri Casspi scored 13 points while Caron Butler added seven, Kosta Koufos five and Willie Cauley-Stein four points.

Sacramento shot 47.6-percent (40-for-84) from the field and hit eight of 22 (36.4-percent) of their 3-point shots. The Kings struggled from the free throw line making just 23 of 32 opportunities (71.9-percent) from the charity line.

The Kings were out rebounded 51 – 38. They gave up 15 offensive rebounds to the Cavs. That is just too many second-chance opportunities to give a team as powerful as Cleveland.

Turnovers were not a problem for Sacramento. The Kings gave up just six points off 10 turnovers in the game.


Kyrie Irving had plenty of help on his way to a 30 – point night. All five of the Cleveland starters finished in double digits.

James scored 25 points. Tristan Thompson – who started for the ill Timofey Mazgov – put up 18 points and added 15 rebounds. Kevin Love scored 17 points despite shooting just 4-for-13 from the floor. JR Smith added 15 points.

The Cavs shot 43.3-percent (39-for-90) for the game. They went 13-for-44 from beyond the 3-point line. Cleveland took advantage of their opportunities from the free throw line converting 29 of 35 opportunities.

The Cavaliers turned the ball over 14 times which resulted in nine points for the Kings.

What they said after the game

“We play good teams. We do a lot of good things for extended periods of time then we hit a black hole or it seems like we run short,” said Kings head coach George Karl. “They didn’t miss a lot of shots, even in the fourth quarter, but it was the offensive rebounds, scramble situations where we didn’t come up for the loose balls. It’s kind of frustrating. We’re playing pretty damn good basketball at times; (we) just don’t have that edge or that finishing way of winning a game against them.”

“Well coming into the game we said we want to play with pace but we know this team plays at a great pace,” said Cleveland head man Tyronn Lue. “Number one in pace. I think second in fast break points so we don’t want to get out there and get wild. I think the team kind of misunderstood what I was saying so in the third quarter we want to play at our pace. We want to attack downhill. We want to get easy open three’s. We want to get to the basket. If we don’t have it, then pull it out and run something. I thought in that third quarter they scored but we were able to score also. We scored fast.”

Up next

The Kings will practice on Thursday and return to action on Friday night when they host the Orlando Magic in Sacramento.

Cleveland travels to Los Angeles where they will face the Lakers on Thursday night. That will be the second game of the doubleheader on TNT.


Kings come up short in San Antonio 104-94

NBA: Sacramento Kings at San Antonio Spurs
Photo Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

by Charlie O. Mallonee

George Karl has talked all season about the tendency of his Sacramento Kings (25-36) to fall into “black holes” and lose games because of it. A black hole to Karl is a loss of momentum that continues for seven to eight possessions allowing the opponents to go on a scoring run that the Kings ultimately cannot overcome.

The Kings played well in the first half against the Spurs (53-9) trailing by just three points at halftime, 57-54. As the third quarter began, Sacramento fell into a proverbial “black hole” and allowed San Antonio to go on a 12-0 run led by Kawhi Leonard’s nine points in the opening minutes of the period. The Spurs would outscore the Kings 29-13 in the third and would go on to win the game 104-94.

As the game began, it appeared the Kings had drawn the lucky straw. Spurs head coach Greg Popovich had decided to rest Tim Duncan and Danny Green. A third San Antonio starter – LaMarcus Aldridge – was unable to answer the bell due to a migraine headache. A situation that should have been advantage Kings was negated by the outstanding play of Leonard and Manu Ginobili who returned to the team after missing 12 games due to surgery.


Sacramento was led by DeMarcus Cousins who scored 31 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Cousins shot 50.0-percent (10-for-20) from the floor and hit on 10 of 15 free throw attempts.

Quincy Acy had a monster game starting at forward for the Kings. Acy – who is known more for his defense that his offense – scored 16 points for his team. Acy was a perfect 7-for-7 including two 3-pointers from the field.

Rajon Rondo had a quiet night scoring nine points, recording just one rebound and dishing out eight assists.

Darren Collison continues play well off the bench adding 12 points, seven assists and three rebounds.

Marco Belinelli – who had two strong outings heading in San Antonio – had a tough night versus his old team. Belinelli scored seven points going just 3-for-11 from floor.

Rudy Gay scored nine points, Ben McLemore (3), Omri Casspi (6) and Willie Cauley-Stein (1). Kosta Koufos was not available due to a case of food poisoning.

Sacramento shot 45.7-percent (37-for-81) and hit on six of 16 (37.5-percent) from 3-point land. The Kings struggled from the free throw line going just 14-for-21 (66.7-percent) at the stripe.

The Spurs out-rebounded the Kings 46-33.


MVP-candidate Kawhi Leonard led the Spurs with 25 points despite going just 9-for-24 from the floor. Leonard made it a double-double game by hauling in 13 rebounds.

Manu Ginobili played just 15 minutes in his return to play but he scored 22 points in that limited playing time. Ginobili shot 8-for-12 from the floor and went a perfect 5-for-5 from the free throw line.

The Spurs shot 49.4-percent (40-for-81) from the field. They were just 8-for-23 (34.8-percent) from beyond the 3-point line. San Antonio shot an impressive 84.2-percent (16-for-19) from the charity stripe.

The victory lifted the Spurs record to 30-0 at home for the season.

Up next

The Kings will wrap up their four-game road trip on Monday night in New Orleans. The Kings are 0-2 versus the Pelicans this season. Sacramento desperately wants to finish 2-2 on this road trip to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. They will have to play better against Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson than they have so far this season if they want to post a win in “the Big Easy”.



Kings Update: No trades and one assistant fired

Former Kings assistant coach Vance Walberg

by Charlie O. Mallonee

The NBA trade deadline was Thursday at 12:00 PM (PST). The deadline came and went without the Kings being able to make a move.

There had been multiple reports that the team had made Rudy Gay, Kosta Koufos, Marco Belinelli and Ben McLemore available on the trade market. Cleveland and Chicago had been rumored to be interested in one or more of those players.

One scenario had the Bulls Pau Gasol and his expiring contract coming to Sacramento in exchange for Koufos and McLemore. The deal would have also altered the draft pick provisions of the selection the Kings owe the Bulls.

There had also been rumors that Cleveland was interested in a trade for Koufos.

Ultimately, the Kings were unable to make any trade so the current roster will stay intact. That does not mean the playoff push is over but it does mean that the current players will have to make the adjustments on defense in order to make the team more competitive.

Walberg terminated

In a surprise move, the Kings fired assistant coach Vance Walberg on Wednesday. The move was reportedly made despite a protest from head coach George Karl. Karl and Walberg have been colleagues and friends for years. Walberg was a member of Karl’s coaching staff in Denver.

Walberg is known as the father of the “dribble-drive motion offense” also known as the “Memphis Attack”. The dribble-drive motion offense has been used successfully in the NBA by Denver and at the college level by Kentucky. Walberg has taught the offense in clinics around the world.

George Karl instituted the offensive scheme in order to meet the expectations of Kings majority owner Vivek Ranadive. Ranadive wanted his team to play uptempo basketball more in the style of the Golden State Warriors.

The Kings offense has not been the problem. The team ranks number three in points scored at 107.1 per game. The defense has been the problem.

Sacramento gives up more points per game than any other team in the association at 109.1. The team has not been able to transition from the uptempo offense to defense all season.

The firing of Walberg would indicate that Vlade Divac feels that the offense needs to change in order for the team to play better defense.

The has reported that former Cavaliers and Lakers head coach Mike Brown is being considered to replace Walberg. Brown is known for his defensive expertise.


In a surprise move Karl will continue to coach the Kings


IMG_2244by Charlie O. Mallonee

The Sacramento Kings made a surprise announcement today that George Karl will remain the coach of the team. Multiple sources had been reporting that Karl would be fired between now and the All-Star Break.

Kings general manager Vlade Divac told CSN California,”George is our coach and we’re collectively working through our issues.”

Yahoo Sports is reporting that Vlade Divac and George Karl had a conversation by telephone and the two agreed to work together especially on improving the defense. The Kings have given up an average of 125 points per game to their last three opponents.

The Kings have lost eight of their last 10 games. Even with the recent losing streak the Kings are just five games behind in the battle for the eighth and final playoff berth in the Western Conference.

Why did the Kings choose to stay with Karl? George Karl is the fifth winningest coach in NBA history. He is a sure Hall of Fame coach. Karl did not just get stupid and forget how to coach a team. He also has a great history of taking poor performing franchises and turning them into winners. Karl also has a history of having “prickly” relationships with star players and still being successful.

A second reason the Kings have chosen to keep Karl may be the need to appear to be a stable organization. Sacramento has fired three coaches in two seasons. If they would have fired Karl, the team and its management would have looked to be totally unstable in the eyes of the league, the fans and the press. No free agent or potential coach wants to join an organization that lacks stability.

The third reason may be money. Karl signed a four year $15-million contract and is still owed approximately $10-million. That is a large amount to be paying out as “dead money” while having to pay a new head coach a substantial amount. Even the deep pockets of Vivek Ranadive have their limits.

No matter what the reason – keeping George Karl is the right move for now. Karl deserves the chance to turn the team around and stay in the playoff hunt. If he is unsuccessful in that quest, then the Kings may look elsewhere for head man or woman to lead them into the “promise land” next year.