Kings go to school for the season’s final games, Jazz conduct the first lesson, Kings bow to Jazz 112-82



By Morris Phillips

SACRAMENTO–Skal Labissiere, an NBA rookie, raw and unrefined as any, but improving, shows his growth and limitations in spurts, sometimes alternating from one trip to the offensive end of the floor to the next.

Both promising and maddening, his trials mirror the growth of the young Sacramento Kings, now in full rebuild minus DeMarcus Cousins, along with Coach Dave Joerger’s declaration that his remaining veterans will take a back seat to the youngsters in the season’s final eight games.

In the third quarter Wednesday night, with the Kings concluding their 17-minute, mid-game push for respectability after falling behind by 20 to Utah in the first quarter, Labissiere was on display for three straight offensive trips.

First, Labissiere drove from the top of the key and seamlessly dropped his jump hook in the lane, and after Boris Diaw’s answer three, the Kings’ rookie spun baseline and missed a jump hook, a lower percentage play than him turning or driving middle, then the third time Labissiere drove again, deftly shuttling the ball to Willie Cauley-Stein, who was fouled at the rim.

Some good, some bad.  The Kings started Labissiere’s display down seven.  It finished, the Kings were down eight.

“Every game, like I said before, is a learning experience,” he said.

Coach Dave Joerger says he wants to see his team’s basketball I.Q. soar.  But it’s a process, practice, film and games all factor in, and time, if not patience, is short. Sensing blood, Utah pounced, shooting 63 percent after halftime.

“Their size at the wing and their experience–they just moved us around places,” Joerger said. “Like I said, it was a good learning experience for our younger guys.  In the middle of five games in seven nights, you just try to pick yourself up and on to the next one.”

Joerger knows, having coached playoff-caliber Memphis, this isn’t what it supposed to look like.  With Cauley-Stein and Labissiere on the floor extensively, one or both have to get to shooters out to the three-point line, and the Jazz exploited the inexperience with five threes in the first quarter, and 13 for the game.  The nuanced nature of NBA pick and rolls put the Kentucky pair and mountain man Georgios Papagiannis, who played 20 minutes, in tough spots away from the rim which led to baskets in a pair of big runs that ballooned the Utah lead.

Papagiannis had a pair of smooth jump hooks.  The Greek center also left his feet defensively on the baseline away from the basket, and instantly turned Jeff Withey into a swooping dunk artist on par with Tom Chambers.

Ben McLemore came up with 17 points in the Kings’ resurgent second quarter, the highest scoring quarter of his pro career. But with the Kings trying to cut the deficit to single digits that same period, McLemore was stripped by Rodney Hood igniting a Jazz fastbreak.

The Kings made just two threes, intensifying the disparity between the clubs from distance.  The two makes was a season low; Buddy Hield missed all three of his attempts from three, McLemore was 1 of 4.

The Kings knew rebounding would be key against the physical Jazz, but perhaps not this aspect: the Kings managed just two offensive rebounds and often weren’t in position for second chance opportunities when shots were released.

Those finer points come with time and repetition, building blocks that don’t currently favor rebuilding Sacramento.

“By and large we just dribbled the bajeebers out of the basketball for most of the game so it’s hard to find guys who are open when we’re just constantly dribbling it,” Joerger admitted.

The Kings followed consecutive one-point wins over the Grizzlies and Clippers with the 112-82 loss to Utah.  The Kings never led, but after trailing 34-14 after one quarter, sliced Utah’s lead to two, twice in the third.  The Jazz responded by scoring 27 of the next 38 points.

Utah remained a game-and-a-half ahead of the Clippers in the race for the fourth spot in the Western Conference and home court in the first round of the playoffs.




Kings porous defensively, disjointed offensively in glaring loss to the woeful Nets 109-100

Sacramento Kings Brooklyn Nets during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, March 1, 2017. The Nets won 109-100. (AP Photo/Steve Yeater)

By Morris Phillips

SACRAMENTO–Not enough defense early, and far too little offense late would be a fair label for the reconfigured Sacramento Kings on Wednesday.  But a more bottom line analysis had its roots elsewhere on a night in which the NBA’s worst team snapped a 16-game losing streak, leading start to finish in a 109-100 victory at the Golden 1 Center.

Both the Kings and Nets should have been equally energized with their prospects for a rare victory enhanced by facing each other.  But the Nets alone seized that storyline from the game’s opening tip.  Consequently, King’s coach Dave Joerger could decipher his team’s malaise, but not prevent it.

“We didn’t come out with enough force to start the game and they physically manhandled us around the perimeter of the floor,” Joerger explained.

While the Nets made nine of their first 11 shot attempts and led 21-6 at one point, the Kings struggled to run their offense, and get out of each other’s way.   The Nets surprised with accurate three-point shooting–they made six from distance in a 35-point first quarter.  The Kings started slow personified by a pair of turnovers by surprise starter Skal Labissiere.

The Kings’ responded initially with offense; Aaron Afflalo contributed 10 points in the first quarter as the Kings sliced the Nets’ lead to four, 35-31, after one.  But the Kings would score just 69 points over a final three quarters littered with tentative play, over dribbling and stilted ball movement.  Sacramento finished with just 12 assists on 35 made baskets, and seven of the Kings that saw action failed to record a single assist.

“I don’t think we’re necessarily focusing on playing the right way,” said Darren Collison, who had the only two assists credited to the team’s five starters.  “I know we have a lot of guys who are unselfish but when you see a guy like DeMarcus Cousins, your best player out, a lot of guys try to take it upon themselves to score, to make a play, instead of just letting the game come to them.”

Defensively, the inbalance in the Kings’post-trade roster is glaring, with guard Ben McLemore routinely matched with bigger forwards in the Kings’ three-guard starting lineup.  With not enough bodies in the frontcourt, and Brooklyn’s Robin Lopez bullying his way to the hoop, the Kings suffered a huge disparity in points in the paint on Wednesday.   But the interior defense was just a part of it; the hot-shooting Nets finished with 11 made threes, at least one from eight different players.

Brooklyn had dropped 27 of 28 overall since winning at home the day after Christmas, and Wednesday marked only their third win this season on the road.  The Kings have dropped three straight since beating Denver in their impressive debut following the Cousins trade.

And whatever designs the Kings maintain on making the playoffs in Cousins’ absence took another blow.  With the loss, and the Timberwolves’ surprising, 27-point road win at Utah, the two teams are now tied for ninth, with three other teams just a game back.  Of the five teams looking to unseat the Nuggets for the final postseason spot in the West, the Trailblazers have the fewest road games (9) and the most recent–last season–playoff experience.

At least, the Kings do have a leg up in the “moronic” trade competition. The Pelicans registered their first win since trading for Cousins, but ironically did so without the former King, who was suspended for last night’s game against the Pistons for his ongoing accumulation of technical fouls.  So the standings are: Kings, Pelicans 1-3; Cousins 0-3 and still looking for his first victory in the Big Easy.

Kings drop homestand finale to the Pacers, and lose Rudy Gay to injury

Sacramento Kings forward Rudy Gay, center, is carried off the court after suffering what the team reported to be a torn left achilles tendon, during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, in Sacramento, Calif. The Pacers won 106-100. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

By Morris Phillips

SACRAMENTO–For a year, and maybe longer, the Kings have contemplated life without Rudy Gay.  Now that the reality has arrived that the Kings will play the second half of their season without the high risk, high reward forward, the reality that this moment couldn’t have come in a more devastating manner has arrived as well.

With the Kings leading the Pacers by 10 points in the third quarter on Wednesday, Gay put his head down and attempted to attack the rim from the left wing. But in an instant, and immediately following his first step, the 30-year old was felled by what would be diagnosed as a season-ending, leg injury, most likely a torn Achilles, pending a thorough inspection.

Unable to put any weight on his foot, Gay was carried to the locker room by teammates.  That moment was just one of many during a second half collapse that saw the Kings squander a 19-point halftime lead, allowing the Pacers to escape with a 106-100 win.

The loss capped a 1-7 homestand that has Sacramento looking in from the outside of the playoff race, with an eight-game road trip starting Friday in Memphis.  But the playoffs weren’t on the mind of the players after the game.

“That’s a tough thing to watch, man.  I hate it for him,” DeMarcus Cousins said. “I spoke to him and told him I’ll keep you in my prayers.”

Gay missed eight games in December, and the first two games this month, as the Kings struggled to find a rhythm without then with their high-scoring forward.  With him, the Kings dropped five of their last six games–all at Golden 1 Arena–despite Gay scoring in double figures in all six.

But that pattern was familiar with Gay in the lineup.  Despite his solid offensive numbers, the Kings often struggled with him as ball movement and shot making lagged, while the team also struggled defensively.   That prompted the constant trade rumors as the Kings reportedly listened, but never found a suitable deal.  Now, with Gay’s absence, GM Vlade Divac will have to consider another trade chip to shake up his club, and bring valuable shooting and defense to a team that’s dropped eight of ten.

On Wednesday, the Pacers did the Kings no favors with their rollover act in the first half, in which they trailed by as many as 22 points and looked lifeless.  Starting guard Jeff Teague got into early, foul trouble, and the Pacers were embarassed on the glass, getting out-rebounded 24-11 in the first half.

But in the second half, Teague returned, and the Pacers roared, outscoring the Kings 65-40 in the final, two quarters.  When Gay went down late in the third quarter, the Kings were still in control, but the injury was in the midsts of a 9-0 run for Indiana that had things much closer just minutes into the fourth.

Indiana took the lead for good with 1:55 remaining on a pair of made free throws by Teague.  Cousins missed two of his four free throw attempts down the stretch, as the Pacers scored nine of the game’s final 11 points to win it.

The Kings fell 1 1/2 games behind Denver with the loss, with the Nuggets currently occupying the eighth and final playoff spot.  The Kings also trail the Blazers, and are percentage points behind the Pelicans as their skid has tightened the standings. 

On Friday, the Kings open their road trip in Memphis against the Grizzlies at 5pm.











Kings’ big, fourth quarter run goes for naught in narrow, home loss to the Heat


By Morris Phillips

SACRAMENTO–Winning in Denver on Tuesday night was a huge step forward for the playoff-hopeful Kings.

Losing at home to the lowly Heat 24 hours later was a sobering step back.

“We came out and they were more aggressive, and put up 64 points in the first half. That stuff can’t happen,” a disappointed Kings’ coach Dave Joerger admitted following a 107-102 loss in which the Kings’ huge fourth quarter comeback ultimately was too little, and not late enough.

With still more than half the season remaining, the Kings are still a long way off from ending their lengthy, playoff drought.  But a look at the standings doesn’t help temper expectations where the Kings are currently matched with the high-flying Warriors in a first-round series were the season to conveniently end today.

But lengthy NBA seasons are anything but convenient, starting with back-to-back sets with travel in between. Both the Kings and Heat were put in that situation on Wednesday, and when the ball was tipped at 7:35pm at Golden 1 Arena, the Heat were not surprisingly energized, while the Kings appeared burdened.

It didn’t take long for the scoreboard to reflect the collective mindsets of the two clubs, as the Heat responded to an early deficit with a 10-0 run to lead after a quarter, then briefly extend that lead to double-digits in the second.

If the Heat’s energy wasn’t the wake up call the Kings needed, it really showed in the two minutes after halftime when the Heat extended their lead to 13.

“Miami has always been a team and franchise that takes pride in playing great from top to bottom no matter if they have superstar talent or low-level players,” Aaron Afflalo said.

And the Kings?  Prideful as well, but on Wednesday–down 13 at home to a Heat team 15 games below .500 and missing injured center Hassan Whiteside –still eight minutes on the game clock away from fashioning a response.

Down 87-70 late in the third, the Kings 23-2 run gave them a 93-89 lead with 7:35 remaining.  With generous help from the bench trio of Anthony Tolliver, Ty Lawson, Garrett Temple and Afflalo, the Kings crawled back.

Only the final basket of the massive run belonged to Kings’ leading scorer DeMarcus Cousins,  who returned to the game just a minute earlier, rested for the game’s stretch run.  But Wednesday was not Cousins night,  and perhaps a painful counter to all those nights this season where Cousins was the Kings’ only force, the high-scoring center may have held his team back against the Heat.

In the final seven minutes, Cousins missed three of his four shot attempts, and missed one of two free throws that would have given the Kings the lead with 1:15 remaining.

Instead the Heat would score the game’s final five points, Cousins would miss a driving layup with 20 seconds to go, and the Kings failed to win a winnable game.

Cousins stat line said it all: 4 for 15 from the field, 13 points,  and a telling -27 on the plus/minus column.

“Basically half our team was on him.  We limited his catches in his sweet spots,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said, explaining their strategy against the Kings’ star in the absence of Whiteside.

6’8″ James Johnson may have been the most effective of the Heat defenders, using his bulk to battle the taller Cousins.  But the beauty of Cousins’ game is he’s normally too quick for taller defenders, and too stout for shorter defenders, just not on Wednesday.

“This was a winnable game.  No excuses,” Cousins admitted.

NOTES: The Kings fell to 15-20 with the loss, the first of six consecutive home games.  The Kings will face the Clippers on Friday,  get their first look at the Warriors on Sunday, and also see LeBron and the Cavs, Russell Westbrook and the Thunder on the homestand.  Rudy Gay again was not available due to injury.



Kings forget how to box out in loss at home

by Michael Martinez

picture credit Luke Cheng/Getty Images

SACRAMENTO- The Kings were down five players tonight. Omri Casspi and Marco Belinelli were out because of injury while Rudy Gay, Kosta Kofous and Darren Collison sat on the sideline just to rest. This might have played a factor in the loss tonight as Sacramento was out hustled and out rebounded.

The Kings’ biggest fault in tonight’s game was giving up offensive rebounds and way too many second chance opportunities. Portland score 26 second chance points and had 19 offensive rebounds. Somehow, the Kings lost while shooting over 50% in the game.

DeMarcus Cousins started off the game and dominated with 18 first half points. Cousins finished the game with 30 points to tie Mitch Richmond for the most 30 point games in a season with 26.

Rajon Rondo had a huge night himself with his sixth triple double of the season to set the all time Sacramento record. Rondo recorded a season high 27 points, 12 assists and 10 boards. However, the big nights from the Kings top players was just not enough. Even though the Blazers made less field goals than Sacramento, they made nine more free throws. Portland gave themselves way more opportunities than the Kings to score on the offensive end and yet again Sacramento’s defense was below par.

Not to mention, the Kings turned the ball over 19 times, which led to 24 points in Portland’s favor. As the final buzzer sounded, Portland won 115-107.

The Kings gave a pretty good effort against the playoff bound Blazers and even cut the lead down to one with plenty of time left in the fourth quarter. The Kings got themselves in trouble thanks to a Cousins’ technical foul, his 17 of the season, as well as a tech on Quincy Acy.

On an inbounds pass, Acy pointed from the bench and the ball hit his hand causing interference and a technical.

Portland’s Maurice Harkless played a huge role in the Blazers’ win with a great second half. Harkless scored all of his 20 points in the second half. The Kings were up 57-51 at the half, meaning Harkless half was pivotal to the win. Damian Lilliard added 20 for the game.

CJ McCollum, who was once on the Kings draft radar, had a game high 30 points going 11-20 from the field and 5-10 from behind the arc. McCollum continues to improve and solidify him and Lilliard’s case as one of the best starting backcourts.

Sacramento will take on the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday at 7 p.m. Minnesota just defeated the Golden State Warriors tonight. The Kings will played their second to last game ever at Sleep Train Arena and hopefully they can get a couple more wins in the historical arena.

Sacramento Kings Friday night game wrap: Kings second half come back falls short

by Michael Martinez

picture credit USA Today

SACRAMENTO- The Kings had a horrendous defensive first half, giving up 39 first quarter points and 66 in the half. 66 points for the Heat in the first half was their season high and Sacramento looked doomed. The game looked very out of reach for the Kings when they were down by 24 points a little over halfway through the third quarter.

But the Kings found their stride and played tough defense in the second half. The Kings turned things on, especially in the fourth quarter with big offensive production from Darren Collison who had 11 fourth quarter points. Seth Curry was big as well with nine points in the quarter.

Sacramento was able to cut the lead to one with a minute and a half remaining as the crowd got louder. A surprising turn of events made a blow out into an incredible come back. As the Kings played tough defense and worked on double teaming and trapping Heat players, they left Luol Deng wide open for a corner three. Deng sunk the three with 45 second left to go and put the Heat up by six. Ultimately, the three would be the dagger as the Kings were unable to complete their valiant effort of trying to win their third straight at home.

Once again, the Kings lose a game with DeMarcus Cousins not playing in the game as he was suspended by the NBA for his 16 technical of the season. The Kings first half mishap cost them the game as they gave up 20 first half points to Gerald Green who started in place of Dwayne Wade. Green finished the game with a game high 30 points.

Collison scored 26 points for the Kings as he played while Rajon Rondo sat out for most of the second half. Curry matched his career high with 21 points as he continues to play well for Sacramento. The Kings defense forced ten second half turnovers, but the Heat’s first half was too much.

The Kings will head to the Mile High City to take on the Denver Nuggets tomorrow. Sacramento will be without Cousins in tomorrow night’s game as he will not play in road games for the rest of the season. Tip off is set for 6 p.m.

Sacramento Kings Wednesday game wrap up: Turnovers cost Kings in Minnesota

by Michael Martinez

picture credit: NBAE– Minnesota Timberwolves Karl Anthony Towns (32) goes up on the Sacramento Kings Wednesday night

SACRAMENTO- The Kings had to play without DeMarcus Cousins after he injured his right knee in Monday’s contest in Chicago. As the Kings headed into tonight’s game, the team has struggled all season when he hasn’t suited up. Without the All Star center in the lineup, the Timberwolves looked to capitalize on that with their rookie center Karl Anthony Towns.

Towns had a huge game as DMC watched from the sidelines. The missing presence of Cousins in the middle allowed Minnesota to score a total of 64 points in the paint.

Sacramento was able to stay in the game for most of the game thanks to Rajon Rondo. Rondo totaled 14 points in the first quarter alone for his highest total in a quarter all season. The point guard kept the Kings in a good position all through the first half, as the T-Wolves led 50-48.

Minnesota broke it open in the third quarter as the the T-Wolves shot 70% from the field in the quarter. Sacramento was unable to play tough defense and allowed their opponent to out score them by ten in the quarter. Minnesota would lead 84-72 to end the the third.

The Kings did however try to make a come back to start the fourth. They were able to go on a 15-5 run and get the score to within two points at 89-87. But Minnesota was able to hit  A 6-0 run and open their lead back up. After getting back ahead, the T-Wolves never looked back and won by nine, 113-104.

The Kings turned the ball over 17 times, which led to 22 points for Minnesota. Towns totaled 26 points and 11 rebounds. Andrew Wiggins and Zach Lavine both added 23 more as the T-Wolves shot 56.3%. The Kings turnovers cost them the gave as they did get some good production out of other players. Kosta Koufus scored 15 points and grabbed 15 boards for a double double as he started in place of Cousins . Rondo finished with a team high 25 points and added 8 rebounds and 12 assists.

The three young Minnesota players dominated the Kings offensively and Sacramento missed DMC’s presence. With the season winding down, it could be interesting to see if the Kings can win a couple ball games for pride maybe just want to get a better lottery pick.

The Kings will head back to Sacramento after their 4 game road trip. They’ve struggled at home in the past month, but hopefully the team can pull out a couple more wins as the arena’s days come to an end. The Kings take on the Suns at home on Friday, March 25, at 7 p.m.

Pelicans sweep season series vs Kings

by Michael Martinez

picture credit Jacob Gonzalez

SACRAMENTO- The Kings had a great win last night in Los Angeles and things were looking up, but then the team came home. Recently, the Kings have struggled mightily at home and tonight was no different. The defense was flat out bad tonight especially in the first half.

The difference tonight was El Dorado Hills native, Ryan Anderson. Anderson’s huge second quarter change the game completely and the Kings really never had a chance thereafter.

The Oak Ridge high grad put up 21 points in the second quarter on 8-11 shooting, 3-4 from the field. The forward’s huge second quarter put the Kings down 74-53 as he made the defense look silly.  Some of his shots were incredible, but nonetheless giving up 74 points was inexcusable. As a team, the Pelicans shot 83.3% in the quarter.  The Kings offense slowed down in the second quarter, scoring 22 points to New Orleans’ 41. The Pelicans’ had their largest lead of the half in the second when they were up by 24 points.

Fans booed the Kings towards the end of the quarter as the Kings gave up the most points in a half all season. Maybe that sparked some fire under Sacramento’s belt out of the locker room.

Out of the break, the Kings scored 10 straight points and cut the deficit down to 11, looking for some hope. But New Orleans never let the Kings get any closer, going up by 21 points at one point in the third quarter.

The Kings continued to struggle while New Orleans kept pouring it on. The Pelicans’ largest lead of the game came in the fourth as they went up by 27 points at one point. New Orleans absolutely dominated the Kings tonight and there was really no question about if they would get the win. Although the Kings only lost the game by 15, 123-108, the Pelicans out played the Kings in every aspect.

The loss is not all that surprising with the Kings recent struggles, plus they have not been able to defeat New Orleans. This is their sixth straight loss to the Pelicans who won all four games this season. And as the Sleep Train Arena starts to see its last games, the Kings have dropped seven consecutive games on their home floor and the games really haven’t been all that close.

The Pelicans shot 54.4% from the field and an astounding 57.1% from behind the arc, knocking down 12 three-pointers.

Anthony Davis finished with 27 points and 14 rebounds, while Anderson totaled 29 points. New comer Tim Frazier scored 14 points for New Orleans and added nine assists.

Darren Collison was the Kings’ leading scorer with 23 points. DeMarcus Cousins finished with 20 points, 12 rebounds and five assists for another double double. Cousins now has 26 double doubles in his last 32 games he’s played in.

The Kings once again showed struggles in playing back to back games. Heading into the contest, the team was 3-12 when playing consecutive games and now that makes it 3-13. It is difficult to play without three of the team’s guards, including Rajon Rondo, but there’s no excuse for the team’s poor effort tonight.

Sacramento is now 26-41 and will head to Detroit to take on the Pistons on Friday. With the season coming to an end, maybe it’s best for the Kings to hope for the best possible draft pick and regroup next season.


Without Cousins, Kings drop fourth straight

by Michael Martinez

picture credit Rocky Widner/Getty Images

SACRAMENTO- For most teams in the NBA, playing without your only All Star is a difficult task. Tonight, the Kings were without their All Star center DeMarcus Cousins who was suspended by the team for “conduct detrimental to the team.”

This season, Sacramento is 2-7 without Boogie and 13-40 since Cousins first joined the team back in 2010. But, the team did put themselves in a position to win.

At the half the Kings were only down by one, 50-49.

Rajon Rondo came out of the half and had a great third quarter. Rondo hit a three pointer at 6:38 to give the Kings their first lead of the game, 64-61. The Kings struggled to shoot the ball efficiently and Orlando took the lead right back in the quarter. Rondo’s 10 points and four assists in the third alone kept the Kings alive. The Magic led, 80-75, through three quarters.

The Kings fell off defensively in the fourth quarter. While the Kings defense was pretty solid through three quarters, they allowed Orlando to shoot 52.6% in the fourth. The Magic were able to go up by 14 a little less than half through the final quarter, there Kings were never able to get back into after.

The Kings cut the lead to six but with only 18 seconds in the game and no hope of a victory.

The Kings dropped their fourth straight game, 107-100, as their offense struggled, turnovers were in bunches and the team was out rebounded.

Without DeMarcus Cousins the Kings struggled to find offense.

Orlando’s fast start to the game put the Kings at an early disadvantage. The Magic came out with confidence going on a 12-0 run to start the game. The Magic out hustled the Kings throughout. 

The Kings had little ball movement, dribbled way too much and had little presence inside when they struggled. This was true for most of the game with the Kings turning the ball over 17 times leading to 24 points for Orlando.

Aaron Gordon made his return to Northern California with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Victor Oladipo totaled 18 points while Evan Fournier and Jason Smith both added 16.

Marco Belinelli had a solid game as he’s been shooting much better, 4-7 from behind the arc, scoring 17 points. Kosta Koufous also played well in Boogie’s absence with 19 points. Rondo had a good game as well with 16 points, 7-14 from the field, and 14 assists.

Minus Cousins, the Kings were dominated inside. Out rebounded 51-37 and letting the Magic score 50 points in the paint. Unfortunately, the Kings missed shots that typically fall for this team. Sacramento shot at a poor 39.8% from the field.

Right now, the Kings will look to try and finish the season off strong, but some might hope to pile up a few more losses for a better pick.

The Kings will take on Utah on Sunday at 3 p.m. at home. We’ll see how the team fares with their big man back on the court.



Turnovers cost Kings in New Orleans

by Michael Martinez

picture credit USATSI

SACRAMENTO-I’m just as confused as the next person who watched tonight’s game against the Pelicans. The Kings looked dominate early on and played great basketball, however the team could not find a way to close out.

Turnovers and lackluster defense hurt this team especially down the stretch. After leading for the majority of the game, the Kings let a 17 point lead in the third quarter completely vanish. And while the Kings kept holding onto their lead, they let the Pelicans come back late and win the game, 115-112.

Out of the gate, both teams scored very quickly. Offense came in a hurry and the Kings started with a fast paced tempo. This allowed Sacramento to take the lead for most of the quarter, but the Pelicans never quit.

Up 27-20 with 3:35 left in the first quarter, the Kings allowed New Orleans to go for a 10-0 run that ended after Omri Casspi put back a lay up for the Kings’ first field goal in two plus minutes.. The Pelicans held a 30-29 lead, but Casspi knocked a pair of free throws to regain the lead. The Pelicans would finish the quarter with the lead after Alonzo Gee made a layup and was fouled with .3 seconds in the quarter. Gee made the free throw to put the Kings at a disadvantage after one, 33-31.

DeMarcus Cousins and Norris Cole put on a scoring frenzy for their respective teams. Cousins finished with 13 points and Cole scored 14 for team highs. The Pelicans shot 56% from the field, but their seven turnovers allowed the Kings to keep it close. Rajon Rondo added five points and five assists with Rudy Gay scoring seven.

The second consisted of a lot of scoring runs. New Orleans started it off with a 6-0 run, 9-0 continuing from the first quarter. But the Kings were able to hit a 9-0 run of their own. Again, the Pelicans scored 5 straight to take a 44-40 lead.

Sacramento once again answered with an 11-0 run to lead 51-44. Jrue Holiday stopped the run with a lay up but the Kings kept their scoring up. The Pelicans turnovers really cost them. Their 15 first half turnovers led to 18 Kings’ points. The Kings largest lead in the quarter was 15 and Sacramento would hold a 63-50 lead heading into the locker room.

Cousins held a game high with 23 points in the first quarter and tallied nine rebounds. The Kings shot at 54.2% in the half as they dominate the second quarter with their uptempo offense.

The third quarter is where things changed. Pelicans’ head coach Alvin Gentry picked up a technical before the third started. Gay hit the free throw for a 14 point lead before any time came off the clock.

Anthony Davis was dominate and chipped away at the Kings’ early 17 point lead. Davis kept the Pelicans right in the game in the third and the score was 89-83 after three. Cousins was once again phenomenal but Sacramento had seven turnovers in the third, which led to eight Pelicans’ points. The turnovers allowed the Pelicans to hang around even after the Kings had been up by so much.

The Pelicans started the final quarter with a 6-0 run to tie it up at 89. The Kings answered right back with an 8-0 run to go back up, 97-89. Sacramento was unable to figure out a way to close out the resilient Pelicans. The turnovers cost Sacramento again as they gave the ball away seven more times in the fourth quarter.

Holiday was huge for the Pelicans with nine fourth quarter points. With a little under two and a half to play, the Kings had a 108-106 lead. Cousins knocked down a pair of shots at the charity stripe to go up 110-106. Davis had dunk to keep the game within two.

With a under a minute remaining, the Pelicans had the ball. The Kings left Dante Cunningham wide open for a three and the forward nailed the jumper. The Pelicans took the lead 111-110. Holiday came up big as he knocked down a shot after a Sacramento miss to put the lead up to three.

Out of the timeout with 12.8 to go, Gay was able to score a quick two. Cole was then fouled and made both free throws. Darren Collison rushed to bring the ball up court and lost it to Holiday who let time expire.

Cousins was his usual self, scoring 40 points and grabbing 16 boards. Rondo had a nice game with 18 points, 10 assists but the point guard had five turnovers. Gay added a double double as well with 18 points and 10 rebounds.

The Kings shot the ball at a great 49.4 shooting percentage from the field but 24 total turnovers led to 22 points for New Orleans. Davis had 31 points and 10 rebounds. The backcourt duo of Cole and Holiday was key to the Pelicans success. Cole totaled 23 points and Holiday scored 20 while adding 10 assists for the double double.

After looking to have a sure win, the Kings will need to regroup and figure out how to close out games. This is the Kings’ second consecutive loss after losing to San Antonio on Saturday.

The Kings will take on the LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers at 7 p.m. at Arco Arena.