Kings play the Cavs tough but come up short 120-108

Cleveland Cavaliers v Sacramento Kings
Kings Ty Lawson scored 17 points against the Cavaliers Photo: NBAE

by Charlie O. Mallonee

Sacramento — The Kings had the unenviable task of taking on LeBron James and the defending NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night on their homecourt. The Cavs came into the game losers of two consecutive games and they were not looking to make it a three game losing streak. Cleveland did win the game 120-108 but after making look like they would just runaway with it in the first half, the Cavs found out the Kings have some fight in them this season as they made a battle of it in the second half.

The Kings (16-23) ran into trouble early as DeMarcus Cousins picked up two personal fouls in the first quarter and had to go to the bench with 4:18 remaining the period . The Cavaliers took advantage of the Kings big man being off the floor and ripped off 10 quick points to take a 32-15 lead into the second quarter.

In the second quarter, Kings head coach Dave Joerger took a big chance when he returned Cousins to the floor with 9:52 remaining because the Cavaliers were threatening to run away with the game. The move had the desired affect as Cleveland outscored the Kings just 29-28 in the period behind Cousins’ 11 points. Even more importantly, the Kings center did not pick up another foul in the quarter. At the half, Cleveland led Sacramento 61-43 but there appeared to be a pivot in the game. Frankly, the Cavs seemed to lose focus and possibly interest in the game late in the second quarter.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Sacramento Kings
Cousins had a big night versus Cleveland despite early foul trouble Photo: NBAE

After halftime, the Kings picked up where they left off in the first half. In the third quarter, it was Rudy Gay who picked up the offense scoring 11 points (4-for-6 shooting, 1 3-pointer, 2-of-3 free throws). Cousins had only three points in the quarter but had four assists as the team ran the ball through him on the high-post. Sacramento outscored the Cavaliers 31-23 in the third. The Kings shot 70.6-percent (12-for-17) from the field and hit 4-of-5 (80-percent) 3-pointers in the period. After three quarters, the Cavaliers led the Kings 84-74.

What the Kings needed in the fourth quarter was a run of 10 to 12 unanswered points. It looked like that was going to happen early in the quarter when Sacramento went on a 6-0 run and cut the Cleveland (29-10) lead to just six points. But, that was as close as the Kings would come to regaining the lead. Ty Lawson scored 13 in period for the Kings while Kyle Korver led the Cavs with eight points. When the final buzzer sounded, the Cavaliers had won the game 120-108.

The Kings Dave Joerger was a proud coach

“Good game – proud of our guys. We got off to a slow start. We didn’t make a lot of shots in the first half and we turned the basketball over 14 times, so they were able to get out and run. I had them for 24 fast break points in the first half. They ended up with 24. We cut it down in the second half a little bit. I’m happy about how we battled. We got three stops in a row 11 times which we haven’t done for a long time. And, we fought like crazy. They’re a good team. They present a plethora of problems to solve and that was a good experience for our guys and I was happy that we kept battling.

Stars of the game

  • Kings – While there were others with bigger numbers, no player had any more important stats than guard Ty Lawson. Lawson scored 17 points in the game and shot an impressive 7-for-10 from the floor. But what was really impressive about his scoring was that 13 of those 17 points were scored in the fourth quarter. Lawson shot 5-for-6 in final period. He played like a man possessed. A man who wanted to win the game.
  • Cavaliers – Again there were other players with larger numbers but Kyle Korver and his 18 points really stood out in the game. Korver was playing in just his third game for Cleveland since being traded from Atlanta. He had not even been able to have a full practice with the team before beginning to play for them. Kover did have the opportunity to participate in a shootaround on Friday morning and it looked like it paid off. Korver shot 7-for-10 from the field while hitting 4-of-6 from “downtown”. He also recorded five rebounds (1 offensive), two assists and two steals in the game.
cavs-korver
Kyle Korver had his best game for his new team in Sacramento on Friday night Photo: NBAE

Co-stars

  • Kings – DeMarcus Cousins posted maybe his most impressive double-double of the season. The big man scored 26 points and dished out 11 assists. The Kings made a nice adjustment against the Cleveland defense and started running the ball through Cousins on the high-post. When his teammates were moving to open space, Cousins was finding them and setting them up to score. Former Kings head coach George Karl who we know was not a big Cousins fan on many levels, called the center the best passer on the Kings multiple times last season. It seems Karl got at least one thing right.
  • Cavaliers – Iman Shumpert finished the game with 16 points for Cleveland, but he did his real damage in the first quarter. The talented guard went a perfect 3-for-3 (all 3-pointers) from the floor in the opening period. Those nine points helped to propel the Cavs out to a 32-15 lead that ultimately the Kings would never be able to overcome in the game.
cavs-shumpert
Iman Shumpert’s first quarter scoring influenced the entire game for Cleveland Photo: NBAE

Other key players

  • Kings – Rudy Gay 23 points and 10 rebounds (5 offensive); Darren Collison 13 points and four assists; Matt Barnes eight points and five rebounds in 17-minutes on the floor (his coach said in retrospect he should have probably played Barnes more).
  • Cavaliers – Kyrie Irving 26 points (10-for-22 shooting); LeBron James 16 points and 15 assists ( how’s that for a double-double?); Kevin Love 15 points and 18 rebounds.

The numbers game

  • Both teams shot over 50-percent from the floor: Cleveland 50.6-percent (44-for-87) Sacramento 52.5-percent (42-for-80)
  • There were 24 3-point baskets made in the game. The Kings shot a very nice 9-for-25 (36-percent) from beyond the arc. The Cavs made it rain as they hit 15-of-37 (40.5-percent) from downtown as teams continue to burn the Kings from beyond the 3-point line
  • The Kings out-rebounded the Cavaliers 42-39. They also were slightly better on the offensive glass grabbing 11 to the Cavs 10
  • Turnovers were a big problem for Sacramento in the first half as they committed 14 of their 21 miscues in the first 24 minutes. The Kings turned the ball over 21 times which resulted in 26 points for the Cavaliers. Cleveland took better care of the ball turning itover just 12 times but the TOVs did turn into 20 points for Sacramento.

Up next on the schedule

The Kings will be back on the floor on Sunday when they host Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Golden 1 Center. The Kings beat the Thunder in Sacramento back in November 116-101 behind a 36 point effort from DeMarcus Cousins. Westbrook scored 31 for the Thunder in that contest. The game on Sunday night tips off at 6 p.m.

The Cavaliers are off until Monday when they will play their archrivals the Golden State Warriors in Oakland in a nationally televised game.

Curry takes Three-Point Shootout Crown, Thompson finishes third

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon

BROOKLYN — I guess the fourth time is the charm, just ask Stephen Curry.

Curry nailed 13 consecutive shots to finish with 27 points, outlasting Cleveland guard Kyrie Irving and fellow Warriors’ teammate Klay Thompson in the championship round to take home the Footlocker Three-Point Shootout title during NBA All-Star Saturday night.

The Splash Bros. were definitely on a mission tonight, with Thompson leading all shooters with 24 points in the opening round to advance to the championship round, while Curry and Irving each had 23 points.

Irving, who won the event in 2013, finished the championship round with 17 points. Klay Thompson mustered 14.

Portland’s guard Wesley Matthews scored 22 points.

But the night belonged to Curry, whose 27 points in the championship round is the most in any round in the event’s history, which began in 1986. Jason Kapono (2008) and Craig Hodges (1986), co-held the previous record with 25 points.

Curry’s 13 consecutive shots is second all time, behind 19 in a row by Hodges in 1991.

Atlanta’s All-Star Kyle Korver  (the NBA’s leader in 3-point shooting this season) and San Antonio’s guard Marco Belinelli (2014 champion) each finished with 18 points.

Houston’s All-Star James Harden finished with 15 points.

Neither players finished the first round.

 

Hawks get by Warriors in matchup of NBA heavyweights

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon

ATLANTA — If critics still had their doubts about the Atlanta Hawks being the best team in the NBA.

Doubt no more.

Atlanta finished with seven players score in double figures, led by Jeff Teague’s 23 points on 5-of-15 shooting from the field, but shot 11-of-11 from the charity stripe as the Hawks shot a blistering 70.6 percent in the third quarter to take a 124-116 home victory over the Golden State Warriors Friday night in the battle of the top two teams from each conference.

Paul Milsap scored 21 points, Kyle Korver had 17 points (5-of-9 from 3-point range), and Al Horford finished with 12 points and 14 rebounds for the Hawks, who improved to an NBA-best 42-9 and 14-3 versus the Western Conference with the victory.

The lion share of the credit must got to the Hawks’ bench, that really determine the outcome of the game.

Mike Scott scored 17 points, Kent Bazemore had 11 points, and Dennis Schroder finished with nine points but combined to sink 7-of-8 on 3s. The second-best 3-pointing shooting shot 15-of-27 from 3-point range and outscored the Warrior’s bench, 39-32.

“They were good,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr. “They were better than us. We broke down defensively. They had a lot to do with that because of the way they stretch you out.”

The Hawks have won 21 of their last 22 games following a franchise record 19-game winning streak.

After leading 25-21 at the end of the first quarter, Golden State (39-9) just slowed down against Hawks team that improved to 25-3 at home this season, second to Golden State’s 23-2 record at Oracle Arena.

Klay Thompson had a game-high 29 points and Stephen Curry scored 26 points, to go along with nine assist and one turnover.

Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green had 12 points apiece, but Green had a gigantic night on the glass, finishing with a career-high 20 rebounds.

Golden State did have their way with the Hawks in the paint, outscoring Atlanta 58-36 down low. The Warriors even held the edge in rebounding, outrebouding the Hawks 51-38.

But Golden State committed too many turnovers (14), and never overcame the 14-4 run by Atlanta in the final minute of the second quarter after leading 50-47.

Golden State will have another chance at Atlanta when the Hawks visit Oakland on Mar. 18.

The Warriors continue their road trip Saturday night at Madison Square Garden against the Knicks, their fourth game in five nights.

Extra Buckets:

  • The game showcase three of the eight contenders in the Three-Point Contest before NBA All-Star Weekend in New York Feb. 14 in Warriors’ duo of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, and Atlanta’s Kyle Korver.
  • The entire starting five of the Hawks (Horford, Teague, Korver, Milsap, and Carroll) were named Eastern Conference Players of the Month for January, the first time in NBA history that an entire starting five were given the honor. Atlanta finished 17-0 in January, tops in the NBA.
  • Apparently, Curry does not like Teague defending him at all. According to ESPN Stats and Information, Curry shot 3-of-8 on jump shots with Teague as his primary defender. In the first quarter, Curry shot 1-of-6 from the field, his worst of the season. He was 0-of-4 against Teague.