Knicks sneak past the Kings 103-100

by Charlie O. Mallonee

New York Knicks v Sacramento Kings
Cousins shoots against the Knicks photo: NBA.com

Sacramento – The Kings trailed the New York Knicks 103-100 with 2.6-seconds remaining in the game. New York had to inbound the ball in the frontcourt after calling a timeout. The inbound pass came to Carmelo Anthony who was immediately fouled by Rudy Gay before any time could come off the clock. The only problem with the plan was the fact that Anthony was a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line in game up to that point.

Incredibly, Anthony stepped up to the line and promptly missed the first first free throw and the sellout crowd began to buzz. Anthony shot the second free throw and unbelievably missed again.

DeMarcus Cousins grabbed the rebound and ran as close to midcourt as he dared. The giant of a man then heaved a what was estimated to be a 52-foot desperation shot at his basket that hit the rim and then rolled out. For a few micro-seconds the thousands of Kings fans in attendance thought they were going to witness a miracle, then reality hit and the big crowd began to exit the Golden 1 Center knowing their team had lost the game.

Each team was missing a key player in the game

The Kings played the game without Matt Barnes who was held out of the game for what was called “rest”. Barnes of course has been at the center of a controversial story about a fight that allegedly took place in a New York City night club early last Monday morning. Rumors have been swirling that Barnes would be arrested by NYPD for his involvement in the incident. Barnes has also been named in a lawsuit that has been filed by two of the alleged victims of the brawl.

In his postgame press conference, Kings head coach Dave Joerger indicated that he believed Barnes would be available to play against the Jazz in Utah on Saturday night. Barnes was on the bench in street clothes for the game Friday night.

The Knicks were without Derrick Rose who is suffering from lower back pain. Rose had to miss the game on Wednesday night in New York City versus the Cavaliers due to the same problem.

NYK head coach Jeff Hornacek said before the game he was hopeful Rose would be available for the game on Sunday when his team faces the Lakers in Los Angeles.

Sacramento struggles shooting again against the Knicks

The Kings (8-13) shot much better in the first half against the Knicks on Friday night than did last Sunday in the Garden when they shot under 30-percent. However, the Kings shot under 40-percent in both the third and fourth quarters of this game which helped lead to their demise.

Sacramento shot 40.2-percent (35-for-87) from the floor and were a dismal 7-of-28 (25-percent) from 3-point range. The Kings went 23-for-27 (85.2-percent) from the free throw line.

Cousins led the way for the Kings

  • Cousins scored 28 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to post the double-double. He also struggled shooting going 9-for-25 from the field and 0-for-6 for 3-point opportunities. Cousins did dish out six assists in the contest
  • Darren Collison had a strong game against the Knicks. He scored 14 points shooting 5-for-11 in the game. He also had three assists and two steals
  • Rudy Gay recorded 15 points, five rebounds and a steal. He also had a tough night shooting going 4-for-15 from the floor and 0-for-5 from beyond the 3-point line
  • Omri Casspi keeps taking advantage of every playing opportunity he is given by Dave Joerger. Casspi put 12 points up on the board hitting 4-of-5 shots from the floor including one 3-pointer. He was a perfect 3-for-3 from the charity stripe and he had two steals in the game
  • Ben McLemore started his second consecutive game and scored 10 points. He hit 2-of-2 from long range
  • Other Kings scorers: Anthony Tolliver 10, Garrett Temple 5, Kosta Koufos 4, Ty Lawson 4
New York Knicks v Sacramento Kings
Rudy Gay drives on the basket against the Knicks photo: NBA.com

Kings Dave Joerger on problems at the end of quarters in the game

“That was definitely a good basketball game. A couple of things came back and bit us. We gave up eight points at the end of the first, second and third quarter on last possession plays. In a close game, those things add up. We struggled to struggled to score the basketball tonight. We turned them over 17 times and scored 25 points off of that but outside of that we just didn’t make a lot of shots. Especially from the perimeter, we did not gain a lot of shots from the perimeter so it may jam up the paint on us. Good basketball game.”

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Dave Joerger faces the press photo: SRS.com

Surprising stat of the night

The Kings are not a team that is outrebounded by their opponents on a regular basis. If the other team does record more rebounds, the difference is usually not dramatic.

On Friday night, the Knicks outrebounded the Kings 54-39. Kings head Dave Joerger felt their length and the fact the Kings played “small” much of the game is what allowed New York to establish such a margin.

NYK did not have a great shooting night but lived in “Melo’s” world

The Knicks shot just 42.9-percent (36-for-84) on Friday against the Kings. They shot slightly better from long range hitting on 10-of-29 (34.5-percent) of their 3-point shots.

New York (13-10) rode the hot hand of Carmelo Anthony in the first half and then relied on efforts of Kristaps Porzingis and their bench in the second half.

  • Melo put 33 points in the book on Friday night. He shot 9-for-22 from field, 3-for-10 from long distance and was an impressive 10-of-12 from the free throw line. Anthony scored 23 points in the first half
  • Porzingis scored 17 after shooting a pitiful 1-for-9 in the first half. He did wind up with a double-double by hauling in 10 rebounds
  • Brandon Jennings did a nice job filling in for Rose on the point scoring 13 points and distributing seven assists
  • Kyle O’Quinn had a nice game off the bench for the Knicks scoring eight points, pulling down 11 rebounds, dishing five assists and blocking two shots in 20-minutes of playing time
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Melo fires away versus the Kings photo: NBA.com

Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek had nothing but praise but praise for Carmelo

“He had a great game. When he’s scoring, he’s getting the ball in a good position from our guys where he can drive it. We put him in some trouble later on in the game, giving him the with like four seconds to go, not a good thing to do. We talked about having to get to the offense a little bit quicker. Late in the game, we kind of walked to our spots. Carmelo, when we go to him, he can pump fake, he can drive, he’s making passes. He’s playing an all-around game, like a star does.”

Up next for the teams

The Kings go right back into action on Saturday night as they play the back end of a back-to-back set on the road in Utah against the Jazz.

The Knicks are off until Sunday when they will play game two of their five-game road trip in Los Angeles versus the Lakers.

It’s official: the George Karl era has ended

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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

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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 end losing streak by crushing the Suns 142-119

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Sacramento Kings
Darren Collison drives to the basket versus the Suns. Photo Credit: Godofredo Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

By Charlie O. Mallonee

Sacramento – Here are words you have not heard often this season – the Sacramento Kings waltzed their way to a win on Saturday afternoon destroying the Phoenix Suns 142-119.

The win ended a 3-game losing streak for the Kings. It was the eighth consecutive loss for the Suns (12-24) who have to play the Lakers in Los Angeles on Sunday.

The Kings (13-20) led by as many as 17 points in the first half but the Suns would not go down for the count. Phoenix outscored the Kings 35-28 in the second quarter and looked like they were ready to make a game of it.

At the half, the Kings led the Suns 59-53.

Sacramento came out in the third quarter looking like a team that was ready to put away their opponent. The Suns kept fighting and took the lead with 8:16 to go in the period. The Kings took the lead back off a Rudy Gay dunk with an assist from Casspi and they never looked back.

By the end of the third quarter, the Kings led the Suns 103-87 and every one in the building knew the fourth quarter would be a formality.

The Kings kept the hammer down in the fourth quarter outscoring the Suns 39-32. There was even a Willie Cauley-Stein sighting late in the game. Cauley-Stein played for the first time in almost a month due to a dislocated finger. The big rookie scored the first time he had the ball in his hands.

On Saturday, the Kings did what they should have done to Philadelphia on Wednesday night. They beat an inferior team and protected their home court. Sacramento is now 9-9 at home this season.

Kings

George Karl pointed to the play of Darren Collison as one of the main reasons the Kings beat the Suns. Collison came of the bench and scored 21 points hitting on 7-of-10 shooting attempts (2-for-4 3-pointers). He dished out six assists and went 5-for-6 from the free throw line in his 28 minutes of playing time.

DeMarcus Cousins had a positive outing scoring 32 points and grabbing nine rebounds. The big man shot 11-for-15 from the floor and 9-for-11 from the free throw line. Cousins spent a great deal of time in the paint and it payed off for the Kings as the Suns could not stop him.

Rajon Rondo posted another double-double game. He scored 15 points and distributed 15 assists in just 30 minutes on the floor. Rondo continues to amaze with his rebounding ability. He had six rebounds in the game with many coming at crucial moments for the Kings.

Marco Belinelli followed up his 28-point performance against the Sixers with 19 points versus the Suns. Belinelli shot 7-for-11 from the floor (2-for-5 long range) and was a perfect 3-for-3 from the foul line.

Omri Casspi had another solid game as a starter for Sacramento. He put up 13 points and hauled in seven rebounds in his 29 minutes on the floor. It is hard to see Casspi not staying in the starting lineup for the foreseeable future.

As a team, the Kings shot 60.9-percent from the field. They hit on 9-of-23 3-point attempts (39.1-percent). Sacramento outscored the Suns 60-32 in the paint.

Sacramento out-rebounded Phoenix 46-25. The Kings scored 14 second chance points to just nine for the Suns.

The Kings also took good care of the basketball. They turned the ball over 15 times while recording 30 assists for the desired 2-to-1 ratio.

Suns

No statistic of the game may be more important than the eighth consecutive loss for the Suns. If the Suns lose to the Lakers on Sunday, it is very conceivable that Jeff Hornacek will not be the Phoenix coach on Monday. The Suns have already replaced two of their assistant coaches.

Brandon Knight led the Suns scoring attack with 23 points. Rookie Devin Booker had an impressive game putting up 21 points for Phoenix.

The Suns had six players score in double figures.

Phoenix just could not match the Kings play in the paint and it cost them the game.

George Karl

Karl 1-2-16

The win over the Suns gave Kings head coach George Karl his 1115th NBA regular season victory. That ties him for fifth all-time with Phil Jackson.

When asked how it felt to tie Jackson on the all-time wins list Karl said, “Its a good, fun thing with my family. My son, my daughter, my son-in-law and my staff, we joke about it all the time. As I said to you before, he’s a great coach, he’s maybe the best. I don’t know what our record is against him, but I’m pretty sure it not very good. I know its not very good in the playoffs, but it might be decent in the regular season.”

What they said after the game

“One thing I just said after the game was we had two really good days of practice,” said Karl. “The effort in the second half, DC (Darren Collison) was incredible. It was effort. I’m not sure it was pretty. I’m not sure it was conceptually excellent. It was just effort. I’m just an old school guy that believes that effort magnifies talent.”

‘Oh it’s huge, it’s huge,” said Darren Collison on the victory. “We were embarrassed by the losses we had previously. We were able to get a win. It always feels good to get a win especially when you (have to) go on the road.”

Rajon Rondo made it clear that only the press is making his return to Dallas a big deal. He said it is just another road game.

He’s been coaching a long, long time,” said Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek about George Karl. “I played against him so he’s been there a long time. He’s always done a great job with his teams. They’ve always been high-scoring, high-flying teams and with the talent they have on the this team, they got them playing that way tonight. He’s one of those great coaches of all time with the amount of wins he’s racked up.”

Up next

The Kings will face the Thunder in Oklahoma City on Monday and the Mavericks in Dallas on Tuesday.

The Suns play the Lakers in Los Angeles on Sunday.