Kings win 104-101 in Memphis to stay alive in the playoff race

Kings win in Memphis @NBC CA

by Charlie O. Mallonee @Espn1320

The Sacramento Kings were written off for dead just weeks ago. Marvin Bagley III has been sidelined with a midfoot sprain, and there is no timetable for his return. Richaun Holmes – who had been playing at a high level filling in for Bagley – has been out due to a shoulder injury, and there is no estimate for his return to the lineup.

Luke Walton felt he had to shake up his starting lineup in order to generate more offense. Buddy Hield was sent to the bench to become the sixth man and Bogdan Bogdanovic became a starter. To everyone’s amazement, that move worked and has paid big dividends.

The Kings also unloaded two expensive players that were not producing the way they had hoped. Trevor Ariza plus two other players were sent to Portland in exchange for Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver. Bazemore had played for Luke Walton in Los Angeles and the coach had high hopes for him. Bazemore has been a productive addition coming off the bench for Sacramento.

Dewayne Dedmon – who had requested a trade – was shipped out to Atlanta for Jabri Parker and Alex Len. Parker is still working his way back from injury, but Len is starting to have an impact in the middle for SAC.

Just when it looked like the Kings had gone into a “wait until next year mode” – the team has surprised everyone by becoming a contender for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

A Big Win on Friday night

Nine days ago, the Kings beat the Memphis Grizzlies 129-125 in Sacramento. That win made everyone who covers the Kings feel like there was a glimmer of hope for Sacramento in the playoff picture. Everyone was afraid to say anything because the Kings have let the fans down so many times in the past.

Sacramento began a four-game road trip after that victory over the Grizzlies. The Kings won games in LA against the Clippers. They beat the Warriors in San Francisco. SAC came close to beating OKC on their homecourt.

The game on Friday night was the back end of a back-to-back set on the road – the toughest game for a road team to win. Memphis is desperately trying to hold on to the eighth and final playoff slot in the West. The odds were definitely against the Kings.

Game flow

The Grizzlies came out of the chute strong, and it looked like the Kings were in real trouble as they trailed 30-21 at the end of the first quarter.

Sacramento was able to shake off the cobwebs in the second period and began to dominate the game. They outscored Memphis 29-17 in the second. As the teams went to the locker rooms at halftime, the Kings held a 50-47 lead over the Grizzlies.

The Kings played well in the third quarter outscoring the Grizzlies 31-28 to take an 81-75 lead into the final 12 minutes.

Luke Walton always talks about how NBA games get close in the final six minutes of the game. Friday night was no different. The Grizzlies cut the Kings lead to just one point with 10.9 seconds to go in the game. Buddy Hield hit two key free throws to give Sacramento a three-point lead and the 104-101 win.

The Playoff Race get tighter

The Grizzlies have now lost five consecutive games and now have four teams breathing down their necks for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

The Kings record is now 25-34, and they are just three games out of the eighth and final playoff slot.

Kings top performers

De’Aaron Fox – who sat out the game in OKC with an abdominal strain – led the Kings scoring attack with 25 points and he added five assists.

Nemanja Bjelica was Sacramento’s top rebounder with 11 and made it a double-double game by scoring 13 points.

Harry Giles III had a huge game putting up 16 points and grabbing five rebounds.

Up next

The Kings return home to host the Detroit Pistons on Sunday at 3 PM.


Warriors End 2013 With Sixth-Straight Win, Longest Streak in Six Years

By Matthew Harrington

The Golden State Warriors gave fans one last victory in 2013, beating the Magic 94-81 Tuesday night at the Amway Center in Orlando for their sixth-straight win. David Lee had a game-high 22 points, coming a rebound shy of a double-double and the Warriors defense limited the Magic (10-21) to an abysmal 38.2 shooting percentage. Golden State (20-13) also dominated the battle of the boards 56-37 to keep their longest winning streak since December of 2007 alive into the new year.

Lee’s 22 points on 11 of 15 from the field came in 27:49 of play, with a large Warriors lead throughout the game allowing the stars some rest to end the year. Klay Thompson had 15 points, while Mareese Speights (10) and Kent Bazemore (12) broke double-digit scoring off the bench. Magic guard Arron Aflalo led his team with 15 points on seven baskets while Tobias Harris topped the hosts in rebounds with nine. Andrew Bogut’s 11 boards were a game-best.

The lead only changed hands once, and it came early. The Warriors pulled even at 8-8 then Thompson hoisted a three-pointer to move Golden State ahead 11-8 3:50 in. The Warriors continued outscored the Magic 15-7 to wrap up the opening 12 minutes for a 26-15 lead. The Magic once again found themselves on the wrong end of the scoring differential, being outscored 32-20 in the second quarter for a 56-35 Warriors halftime edge. Orlando outscored the Warriors 46-36 in the second half, but a hefty first-half lead proved enough for the Warriors to win it comfortably with the star players on the bench.

The Warriors will take off January 1st before putting their winning ways on the line against the defending NBA champions. Golden State travels to South Beach to take on the Miami Heat Thursday for their third of seven-straight road games.

Mark Jackson: “we’re not satisfied with last year”

By Gabe Schapiro

With just a few days until official practices start Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson took some time to answer questions for the media.

Following an exciting playoff run and an eventful offseason, Jackson’s overall tone was calm, cool, and collected. He was confident but not brash, and early on established that “we’re not satisfied with last year.”

The number that is, or was, written in the locker room as the team’s wins goal this season has gotten some attention recently, but it is no longer there. “Yeah, I erased it,” Jackson said with a chuckle, continuing more seriously, “if you put that up there it’s a target. I don’t want any limits. That could be a great number or it could be a number where you’re putting a ceiling on us.” Predictably, Jackson refused to discuss any numbers, but more abstractly set his goal that if they “end our season with the tank on empty, we’ll be extremely satisfied by what takes place.”

Jackson was asked about last years team flying under the radar, a concept he took some offense to, reasoning, “I think it’s doing a disservice to our players to say that at some point we caught people by surprise. No, we’re a very good basketball team.” Adding that even if that may have happened in the past, that given last years success and the splashes they made over the offseason, now “we’re not going to sneak up on anybody that’s for sure.”

He offered some updates on how some players are recovering and how others have progressed since last year. Early reports from the voluntarily workouts that have been taking place over the past few weeks were that center Andrew Bogut has looked impressive, and Jackson confirmed. “It’s accurate that he’s looking very good, you can tell by the smile on my face.” Last season Bogut missed a lot of time early in the year, and even when in the lineup was frequently on minutes restrictions and just didn’t look like the player that many fans had been accustomed to seeing. Jackson was happy to report “for the first time in a long time, there are no restrictions on him.” It can’t be understated just how valuable a fully healthy Bogut could mean to this Warriors squad.

Stephen Curry and his at times worrisome ankles are also holding up well. He has had no setbacks thus far, and Jackson went so far as to offer up an entertaining anecdote about Curry matching up against Kent Bazemore during workouts. “He’s making moves and making plays where I want to pull Kent Bazemore aside and have prayer with him for a moment. Steph is that good right now.”

During last years playoffs, following David Lee’s injury, Golden State tried and had a lot of success playing Harrison Barnes at power forward. Jackson touched on the immense amount of versatility this roster offers him, and while he wouldn’t specify on how often he intends to use what combinations, he did report that Barnes has bulked up over the summer. “Barnes has gotten bigger, stronger, he plays with an edge. Today he has a body where he can play against power forwards. Physically he can handle it.” Given his athletic ability and how well he handled his rookie season, a bulked up Barnes could present even more headaches for opposing teams.

Towards the end of the 30 or so minutes he spent talking, he was asked about his contract. A couple of months ago the Warriors picked up the team option on Jackson’s contract, giving him two more guaranteed years, rather than discussing a long-term, more lucrative deal. Jackson quickly dismissed the situation as “not a concern.” “At the end of the day that’s going to take care of itself.” Adding at the end, “I look forward to being here for quite a while.”

Over the past few months there has been almost nothing but good news coming out of Golden State’s headquarters, and today was much of the same.