Kings get winded at 5280 feet and lose to Denver 96-79

by Charlie O. Mallonee

Den-ZBo
Zach Randolph scored 11 points and grabbed 9 rebounds on Saturday night Photo: USA Today

NBA teams have only a 33-percent chance of winning the second game of a back-to-back set on the road. Sacramento won in Dallas on Friday night. The odds were against them going into Denver on Saturday which is why they entered the game as a -12.5 point underdog.

When the final buzzer sounded, the Kings had lost their second game of the season as the Nuggets outscored them 96-79. Denver   did not play that spectacular. They just played less sloppy than the Kings did in the game.

For all of the Sacramento rookies, this was their first back-to-back set of games on the road. Add in the fact that the game was played at “mile high” altitude” in Denver and it becomes a real learning situation. This is not an effort to make excuses for the Kings but rather an opportunity to explain the literal uphill battle they faced on Saturday night.

Rebound stats may explain the entire game

The Nuggets out-rebounded the Kings 58-39 in the game. There are very few games where a team can give up 19 more rebounds to their opponents and walk away with a victory.

When the rebounding stats are broken down even further, the impact of Denver’s efforts becomes even greater. The Nuggets pulled down 18 rebounds on offense which created 13 second chance point opportunities. Denver converted eight of the second chance situations which turned into 19 points.

The Kings had only 12 offensive rebounds that turned into 10 points. Eight of those rebounds on offense came in the second half when the Kings had a significant scoring deficit to make up so they did not have the impact they might have had earlier in the game.

The problem — tired legs. You could see that the Kings did not have the spring in their legs like they had in Dallas on Friday night. Fatigue and altitude can be brutal. Yes, the young players will to learn how to deal with these adversities, but that is why fans have been cautioned to remember this is going to be a season of learning.

Top Performances

Den-Skal
Labissiere came off the bench to score 13 points for SAC Photo: USA Today Sports

Kings

  • De’Aaron Fox continued to amaze on Saturday night as he scored a team-high (tied for game-high) 18 points shooting 8-for-13 from the floor. He sank one 3-pointer, grabbed five rebounds and had one assist. He did all of that while being double-teamed by the defense much of the game.
  • Skal Labissiere came off the bench and brought some offense to the game for the Kings. He finished with 13 points in 25-minutes on the floor. He shot 6-for-12 including one 3-pointer. Labissiere also pulled down four rebounds and dished out four assists.
  • Z-Bo showed the young kids how an “O.G” plays in a back-to-back on the road. He put up 11 points in 20-minutes. He also grabbed nine rebounds (four offensive). Randolph spent much of the game being very frustrated with the officials and the lack of foul calls.
  • Rookie Frank Mason III played in his first NBA game and scored seven points.
  • Malachi Richardson saw some playing time most of which came in the fourth quarter and scored eight points.
  • Coach Dave Joerger used all 13 of his active players in the game on Saturday night.

Nuggets

Den-Farid
Faried came off the bench to score 18 points for the Nuggets Photo USA Today Sports
  • Denver had two players who tied for team-high in scoring and game-high in scoring with De’Aaron Fox. Paul Millsap put up 18 points to go with nine rebounds. The hyperactive Kenneth Faried came off the bench to score 18 shooting 7-for-10.
  • Guard Gary Harris scored 17 points going 7-for-11 from the field including three 3-pointers. Early in the game, he just broke loose and worked the backdoor for easy buckets under the basket.
  • Will Barton quietly scored 15 points for the Nuggets. He shot 6-for-13 overall and went 3-for-8 from 3-point land.

Team Performances

It was not a beautiful game for either team.

Sacramento (1-2)

  • The Kings shot just 36.6-percent (31-for-85) for the game. They went just 8-for-23 (34.8-percent) from beyond the 3-point arc.
  • Free throw opportunities were in short supply again on Saturday night. SAC went to the line just 13 times in the game and hit nine of those opportunities. They have to increase the number of free throw attempts per game.
  • They dished out 15 assists but turned it over 14 times which resulted in 19 Denver points. That ratio is not acceptable.
  • Rebounding — that has already been discussed.

Denver (1-1)

  • The Nuggets shot an acceptable 43.5-percent (37-for-85) from field. They hit 10-of-30 3-point opportunities (33.3-percent).
  • Denver went 12-for-20 from the charity stripe.
  • Their 58-39 rebound advantage really made the difference in the game for the Nuggets.
  • The Nuggets distributed 25 assists and turned the ball over 16 times. Those TOVs resulted in 13 points for the Kings.

Up next

Sacramento

The Kings will have Sunday off in the Valley of the Sun and then will face the 0-3 Phoenix Suns on Monday night. The Suns lost to the Clippers in Los Angeles on Saturday night 130-88. FiveThirtyEight.com gives the Suns a 66-percent chance to win the game. They make Phoenix -4-point favorite.

Denver

The Nuggets will return to action on Wednesday in Charlotte versus the Hornets. Denver is a 2.5-point underdog according FiveThirtyEight.

Final Note

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Denver head coach Michael Malone Photo USA Today Sports

The rivalry between Denver and Sacramento because they are facing former Kings coach Michael Malone is officially over. No player on the Kings roster was ever coached by Malone. Wow! How quickly things can change in the NBA.

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.

Kings Fire Head Coach Michael Malone

fired Michael Malone

by Charlie O. Mallonee

The Sacramento Kings have fired their head coach Michael Malone. The team has not made an official announcement, but multiple news agencies are reporting the dismissal while the Sacramento Bee states it has confirmed the firing.

The Kings have been playing through a very difficult stretch as their All-star caliber center DeMarcus Cousins as been out due to viral meningitis. Sacramento is just 2-7 with Cousins out of the lineup. The loss of Cousins’ 23.5 points and 12.6 rebounds per game has been devastating for the team. The Kings do not have the team depth to win consistently without Cousins on the floor.

Malone may have been a victim of his own success. His team won nine of its first 14 games bringing hope and energy to the fan base. The Kings have posted just a 2-8 record over the last 10 games and the excitement about the team has waned.

David Aldridge of NBA.com reports,“Sources indicated management was not happy with the team’s style of play or the direction of the team under Malone, who was hired in 2013 and went 28-54 in his first season.”

Malone’s point of emphasis was defense. He analyzed his team’s defensive play after every game. Kings ownership and management were known to be placing a greater emphasis on playing a more uptempo offense which the team has been inconsistent at executing.

Malone’s record as coach was 30-67.

Reports have Kings assistant Tyrone Corbin taking over the team as the interim coach. Corbin is the former head coach of the Utah Jazz.

The Kings next game is Tuesday versus the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Parker leads Spurs past Kings 112-104

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by Charlie O. Mallonee

There were too many 3-Pointers, too much dribble penetration and too much Tony Parker for the Kings on Friday night in San Antonio as the Spurs downed the Kings 112-104.

The Kings entered the game at a great disadvantage with DeMarcus Cousins out due to a virus and with Rudy Gay and Darren Collison playing at less than 100-percent. Gay (Right Achilles Tendinitis) and Collison (Left Quadriceps Contusion/Strain)  had missed the games in Houston and New Orleans.

The lack of Cousins and the lack of defense was the story of why the Kings lost. Without Cousins to fill the lane on defense, the Spurs controlled the paint scoring 56 points in high percentage territory. The Kings allowed San Antonio to shoot 51.2-percent (42 for 82) from the field and 50.0-percent (12 for 24) from beyond the 3-Point arc. Sacramento gave up 35 points to the Spurs in the second quarter.

The Kings tried to make up for their lack of defense by playing offense with reckless abandon. Sacramento shot a 50.7- field goal percentage (38 for 75). They shot a season-high 60.0-percent (6 for 10) from 3-Point land. The Kings were very productive from the free throw line hitting on 22 of 26 (84.6-percent) attempts. Even with those incredible stats, the Kings could not overtake the Spurs.

Rudy Gay lead the Kings with 28 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and one steal. Ryan Hollins scored 15 points and grabbed six rebounds as he filled in for Cousins at center. Darren Collison posted 15 points but had just two assists and turned the ball over three times in his 34 minutes on the floor. It was apparent that Collison was not playing at 100-percent.

Ben McLemore came alive for the Kings in the third quarter and finished with 14 points. Carl Landry recorded a double-double coming off the bench with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

“Turnovers and no defense is the reason we lost,” said Kings Head Coach Michael Malone. Malone pointed out that the Spurs connected on 12 3-Pointers mostly off relentless dribble penetration. He also was concerned about the 20 points San Antonio scored off of the Kings’ 15 turnovers. Referring to his team’s lack of defense Malone said, “(I) never know which team is going to show up.”

Malone did mention Ryan Hollins and said he was proud of Hollins’ effort in the game.

Tony Parker lead the attack for San Antonio with 27 points and eight assists. He shot 10 for 17 from the field in his 38 minutes on the floor. Tim Duncan dropped in 18 points along with eight rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots. Kawhi Leonard put up 19 points and was four for six from downtown.

The Kings finished the four game road trip with a record of 2-2. Sacramento now comes home and will play 10 of their next 11 games on their home floor. They have just four games on the road in the month of December.

The Kings will play the Memphis Grizzlies at home in Sacramento on Sunday afternoon. The Kings will be seeking revenge for the stinging 111-110 loss to the Grizzlies back on November 13.

Kings down the T-Wolves 113-101 on the road.

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by Charlie O. Mallonee

The Sacramento Kings opened a four game road trip with a 113-101 victory over the Timberwolves in the Twin Cities on Saturday night. It was a game that featured two distinctively different Kings teams on the court.

The pregame hype had this slated as a relatively easy road game for the Kings. The T-Wolves have been decimated by injuries early in the season. The only problem for Sacramento was there are no easy games on the road in “the Association”. The Timberwolves proved that by their play in the game.

The Kings came out in the first half playing as if it was going to be an easy game that would not require them to play with intensity. The Wolves played with determination on offense and used a tough zone defense down low to tie up Cousins and to dare the Kings to take outside shots. The Kings hit on just two of 12 3-Point opportunities in the first half. Sacramento turned the ball over 10 times. The lack of defense allowed Minnesota to take a 52-48 lead into the locker room at halftime.

After the game, Ben McLemore said, “We came out not ready to play basketball”. Kings Head Coach Michael Malone indicated he was worried about his team’s attitude before the game started.

“I challenged our guards at halftime,” said Malone. The guards responded. The entire Kings team responded.

Sacramento came out in third quarter ready to play. The Kings outscored the T-Wolves 36-25 in the quarter. The guards stepped up and started hitting outside shots. The defense kept the T-Wolves off balance. Sacramento led 84-77 at the end of three quarters.

The Timberwolves cut the Kings lead to just four points early in the fourth quarter led by some inspired play from rookie forward Andrew Wiggins. Sacramento continued to play tough defense and scored 29 points in the quarter to walkaway with their eighth victory of the season.

DeMarcus Cousins posted another double-double putting up 31 points and pulling down 18 rebounds while being double and triple teamed all game. Ben McLemore put up 22 points and grabbed 9 rebounds in 40 minutes of playing time . McLemore hit on four of nine 3-Point attempts.

Darren Collison scored 19 points to with seven assists and two rebounds. Derrick Williams put up 12 points including a key 3-Point bucket late in the fourth quarter to help preserve the win. Rudy Gay had 14 points, six rebounds and six assists for the Kings.

Sacramento shot 49.4-percent (40 for 81) from the floor. They shot eight for 26 (30.8-percent) from 3-Point land. The Kings hit 25 of 30 (83.3-percent) from the free throw line. They outrebounded the Wolves 50-37. Turnovers were too high with 18 charged to the Kings.

Minnesota was led by rookie Andrew Wiggins who put up a career high 29 points to go with five rebounds, four steals, two assists and one blocked shot. The T-Wolves’ starting five all scored in double figures. The Timberwolves shot just 41.1-percent (37 for 90) from the field.

The Kings will return to action Tuesday night versus the Pelicans in New Orleans.

Kings beat the Spurs 94-91

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by Charlie O. Mallonee

The Sacramento Kings returned home on Saturday night looking to get back into win column after losing two heartbreakers on the road in Dallas and Memphis. The problem for the Kings was their first opponent on this short three game homestand was the defending NBA Champions – the San Antonio Spurs.

The Kings came out and played 48 minutes of tough defense and played four quarters of consistent offense en route to defeating the Spurs 94-91 before a sellout crowd.

The Kings were led on offense by DeMarcus Cousins with 25 points and 10 rebounds. That is not really a surprise. What was surprising was the fact that Cousins played just nine minutes in the first half. He came out of the game with three minutes to play in the first quarter, and he sat the entire second quarter.

After the game, Kings Head Coach Michael said he did not plan to keep Cousins out for the entire quarter but the unit on the floor was playing well and it gave his center a chance to rest. Cousins would need that energy going down the stretch against the Spurs.

Darren Collison took the lead multiple times in the flow of the game. The point guard scored 19 points, dished out five assists, had two steals and grabbed two rebounds in his 39 minutes of playing time, Colllison consistently pushed the pace of the game to keep the Kings playing at a high tempo.

Rudy Gay had a productive night for Sacramento. Gay scored 18 points, had six assists, pulled down three rebounds and added a steal and a blocked shot to his box score. Gay and Collison combined to lead the Kings when Cousins was on the bench.

Omri Casspi had a very productive night for Sacramento. In his 22 minutes on the floor, Casspi scored nine points, recorded five rebounds, a steal and one blocked shot. Casspi’s rebounds seemed to come at just the right moments for the Kings.

Carl Landry played some key minutes with Cousins on the bench. He finished with eight points, six rebounds, two assists, two blocked shots and one steal. Landry’s solid play off the bench helped the Kings stay in the game.

In his postgame comments, Michael Malone emphasized his teams outstanding defensive effort. The Kings held the Spurs to just 42.5-percent shooting (34 for 80) and just 29.2-percent (7 for 24) from beyond the 3-point line. Sacramento allowed the Spurs to score just 34 points in the paint.

Manu Ginobili led the Spurs in scoring with 21 points but Sacramento held him to just one 3-pointer (1 for 7) in the game. Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green scored 16 points each. Future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan added 15 points. The Kings held Tony Parker to just 11 points.

On holding Parker to just 11 points Coach Michael Malone said, “Darren Collison and Ramon Sessions – all the guys who were out there did a great job. We had discipline.”

The Kings as a team shot 43.0-percent (37 for 86) from the field. Ironically, the Kings went 0 for 12 from 3-point range. They went to the free throw line just 24 times but hit on 20 of those opportunities (83.3-percent).

On offense, the key for the Kings was their play in the paint. Sacramento scored 58 points in the paint. It is safe to say they dominated the paint.

The Kings also took care of the ball against the Spurs. They committed just nine turnovers in the game; well below their goal of 13 turnovers per game.

In summing up the game Michael Malone said,”It feels great anytime that you can beat the defending champions and protect your homecourt. More importantly for me tonight was the defense. We only shot 43-percent from the field, but the key was that we defended at a high level. We held that team to 91 points and 42-percent from the field. We dominated the paint and only had nine turnovers. If we defend like that, like we did earlier in the year, then I really feel we can beat anyone in the NBA.”

The Kings will back in action on Tuesday night versus the New Orleans Pelicans at Sleep Train Arena.

Kings beat the T-Wolves 106-103

Photo credit: Rocky Widner
Photo credit: Rocky Widner

By Charlie O. Mallonee

The Sacramento Kings and the Minnesota Timberwolves met in Sacramento on Sunday night in a game that meant nothing in the standings. Both clubs are out of the playoff picture. The only thing that was on the line was pride. The Kings and T-Wolves brought plenty of pride to the game and put on a hard-fought show for the big crowd which went home happy because the Kings won the game 106-103.

The Kings were led by the outstanding play of DeMarcus Cousins who scored 35 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and handed out six assists. It was Cousins’ 53rd double-double of the season. He shot 13 of 21 from the field and was 9 of 13 from the free throw line.

Cousins’ brilliant play was not the biggest story of the night for the Kings’ center. With one-minute and 13-seconds left in the game, Cousins picked up his 16th technical foul of the season which means he will be suspended for the Kings’ final game of the season versus Phoenix. Cousins had played with the 15 technical fouls hanging over his head since February 25th.

The Kings can and will appeal to the league office who can overturn the call. Head Coach Michael Malone said, “I feel for him. (We will) try to get it rescinded.

Rookie Ben McLemore played with abandon on offense and defense. McLemore scored 19 points and shot 3 for 6 from beyond the 3-point arc. On defense, McLemore held Kevin Martin and Robbie Hummel to just five points combined.

To the delight of the fans, Isaiah Thomas returned to the floor after missing 10 consecutive games with a right quad contusion. Thomas was very productive in his 30-minutes of playing time. He scored 14 points and dished out four assist.

The Timberwolves were led by Kevin Love’s 43 points and 11 rebounds. Love was 15 of 17 from the free throw line. Love had a relatively quiet first-half scoring just 13 points. He really came alive in the second-half and was the leader on the floor for Minnesota.

Rookie Center Gorgui Dieng had a spectacular game through three quarters. He picked up his fourth foul and was quiet after that. Dieng scored 21 points, pulled down 14 rebounds and had four assists.

After the game Kings Head Coach Michael Malone said, “(It was a) hell of an effort for our guys. (We) played better in the second half. Happy to get this win after losing five in a row.”

The Kings will play their final game of the season on Wednesday night in Sacramento against the Phoenix Suns who battling for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Kings come up short versus Dallas 93-91

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Photo credit: Garrett Ellwood

By Charlie O. Mallonee

Heading into Sunday’s game with the Dallas Mavericks, the Kings had to answer two big questions. First, how would they bounce back after being humiliated by the Warriors 102-69 on Friday night? Second, how would play versus Dallas – a team in a three-way fight for the final two spots in the Western Conference Playoff race?

The Kings did bounce back from Friday night in a big way. Sacramento took Dallas down to the wire but ultimately came up short losing to the Mavericks 93-91.

After the game, Kings Head Coach Michael said, “It’s real simple. We’ve been in a lot of close games this year and we have to find a way to stop beating ourselves.” Malone was frustrated with his team’s rebounding and lack of second-chance points.

The Kings defense held Dallas to just 40.4-percent (36 for 89) shooting for the game but allowed the Mavs to shoot 41.9-percent (13 for 31) from beyond the 3-point line. Dallas hit five of those 3-pointers coming down the stretch in the fourth quarter which propelled them to the win.

The Kings were much improved on the ball handling side. They committed just 13 turnovers and recorded 21 assists. The problem for Sacramento was the 13 turnovers resulted in 21 points for the Mavericks. Dallas scored more than one-half of their points on turnovers and 3-point conversions.

The Kings were led by Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins. Gay was the leading scorer in the game with 32 points, and he added eight assists. Cousins recorded his 49th double-double putting up 28 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Gay and Cousins put the team on their backs and tried to carry them to victory.

Ray McCallum led the Kings on the point for the seventh straight game as Isaiah Thomas was still unavailable on Sunday. McCallum played all but 19-seconds of the game. He scored eight points and added nine assists. McCallum also had four rebounds, three steals and one blocked shot. He turned the ball over just three times.

Travis Outlaw was active all game and hit two key 3-point baskets in the final period to keep the Kings in contention for the win.

As a team the Kings shot 47.4-percent (36 for 76) from the field. They shot just 27.8-percent for 3-pointers. Sacramento shot 70.0-percent (14 for 20) from the free throw line. It was a game where literally one 3-point basket or three additional free throw conversions wins the game for the Kings.

The Mavericks were led by former Warrior Monta Ellis. Ellis scored 23 points off 19 shots, hit two 3-pointers, grabbed four rebounds and recorded four assists. Vince Carter had a productive game scoring 17 points in just 24-minutes of play. Carter was four of nine from 3-point land. Dirk Nowitzki put up 15 points on 17 shots in the game. Jose Calderon added 14 points that included four 3-pointers.

The Mavericks turned the ball over 10 times and allowed just eight points off those turnovers. Dallas out-rebounded the Kings 45-40.

The Mavericks record improves to 47-31 with the victory and has them in seventh place in Western Conference Playoff standings. Dallas now has a two game lead over eighth place Phoenix.

Dallas Head Coach Rick Carlisle said after the game,” We knew it was going to be a dog fight but the good thing is that we stayed together.  Dirk Nowitzki came in and made some big free throws at the end, but they came down and got a returned shot at one point. We’re happy with the win but we need to do much better.”

The Kings have five games remaining in the 2013-14 season and three of them are home games. Up next for the Kings is the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday in Sacramento. The Kings will be trying to avoid the season series sweep as the Thunder have won the previous three meetings. Sacramento will then go on the road to take on the Trail Blazers in Portland on Thursday. The Kings are 1-2 on the season versus the Blazers. Sacramento will then head to Los Angeles to face the Clippers on Saturday before heading home to host the Minnesota Timberwolves next Sunday.

Peja Stojakovic was in the house on Sunday afternoon as the Kings continue to reconnect with the star players from the past.

Kings beat up on Bucks 124-107

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Photo credit: NBAE/Getty Images

By Charlie O. Mallonee

The Sacramento Kings had the unenviable task of going from playing the best team in “the Association”- the Spurs – to having to face the worst team in the league – the Milwaukee Bucks – on Sunday at home. The Kings could have easily come out flat, but they came out ready to play looking for a victory. Sacramento beat Milwaukee 124-107.

The Kings were led by DeMarcus Cousins who posted a double-double scoring 32 points and grabbing 12 rebounds while playing just 29 minutes in the game. Cousins spent the entire fourth quarter on the bench. Isaiah Thomas scored 30 points on just 15 shots that included going three for four from “3-point land”. Thomas also dished out eight assists. Rudy Gay put up 24 points while pulling down eight rebounds and serving up four assists. Ben McLemore scored 15 points including three 3-pointers.

Sacramento shot 51.2-percent from the field and shot 35.0-percent (7 for 20) from beyond the 3-point line. As a team, the Kings recorded 19 assists against just 12 turnovers. The Kings outrebounded the Bucks 44-40.

With a big win and numbers like they posted, you would think Kings Head Coach Michael Malone would have been very happy after the game. You would only be partially right. Coach stated that he is happy with any win in the NBA, but he was unhappy with the 63 points his team gave up in the second half. Up by 40 at one point, Malone was not pleased that he had to consider putting Cousins back in the game if things had continued to get out of hand.

The Kings came out in the first half ready to dominate the lowly Milwaukee Bucks. The Kings took a 70-44 lead into the locker room after 24-minutes of play. DeMarcus Cousins put up 21 points; Rudy Gay added 17 while Ben McLemore posted 11 going four for eight from the field.

The Kings were able to dominate due to their play in the paint. Sacramento scored 28 points down low while allowing the Bucks just 16 in the paint. The Kings also ruled the boards outrebounding Milwaukee 27-20.

The Kings were looking to run the fastbreak in the first half. They added nine points off the break while the Sacramento defense gave up no fastbreak points to the Bucks. The Kings defense held the Bucks to just 34.9-percent (15 for 42) shooting. Sacramento shot 58.1-percent (24 for 43) from the field. The Kings shot 40.0-percent (4 for 10) from beyond the 3-point arc.

Coach Malone was also able to give some extended rest to Cousins, Gay and Thomas. That also meant valuable playing time for Ray McCallum and Travis Outlaw.

The first half also featured two flagrant fouls committed by the Bucks.

Milwaukee started off the third quarter with an 8-0 run. That caused Malone to take a quick timeout. The Bucks started working the paint and scoring on the Kings. The Kings appeared to be flat and distracted. Cousins then scored on a coast to coast bucket and Thomas hit two 3-pointers allowing the Kings to maintain the lead. The Kings hit the century mark with 2:17 left to play in the third quarter. The quarter ended with the Kings leading the Bucks 104-70.

The fourth quarter should have been pure garbage time for the Kings. Instead the Bucks were able to begin to make Malone and the crowd a bit nervous. Sacramento suffered a series of defensive breakdowns that caused Malone to call timeouts to preach defense to his team.

The Kings allowed Milwaukee to shoot 75.0-percent (15 for 20) from the field in the fourth quarter. The Bucks scored 14 of those points in the paint and 10 points on fastbreaks. Milwaukee outscored the Kings 37-20 in the final period. Garbage time or not, that cannot happen when you start the quarter with a 34-point lead. It is part of the process of having to learn how to handle a large lead.

The Kings are off until Wednesday when they will host the New York Knicks in the final game of the four-game home-stand. Sacramento will then head out on a three-game road trip to Oklahoma City, Dallas and New Orleans.

Kings fall in Chicago 94-87

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Photo credit: NBAE/Getty Images

By Charlie O. Mallonee

The Chicago Bulls defeated the Sacramento Kings 94-87 on Saturday night in Chicago. It was a game that featured daunting defense and lacked on solid offense from the opening tip to the final buzzer.

Both teams shot under 40 percent from the field. The Kings hit on 31 of 85 (.365) shots. They converted just 2 of 14 3-point opportunities. The Bulls shot .397 (31 of 78) and were 6 of 20 from beyond the 3-point line. Defense ruled the game.

The Kings out-rebounded the Bulls 55-40. Sacramento swept 19 balls off the glass to just 7 for Chicago. Even though they controlled the rebounding, it was not enough to give the Kings a win.

Sacramento really fell short in the assists category. They had just 12 assists for the game and had only 4 in the first half. Chicago recorded 21 assists.

Once again the Kings committed more turnovers than they had assists. They turned the ball over 16 times versus the Bulls.

Even with those less than spectacular statistics, the Kings were just 3 points down with 29 seconds left in the game. It was a battle of the defenses.

After the game, Kings’ coach Michael Malone said he was proud of how hard his team played and for keeping the game so competitive. He acknowledged there things that could have been down better, but Malone was happy with the way his team battled versus the Bulls.

Isaiah Thomas led all scorers in the game with 26 points. He also 5 assists. DeMarcus Cousins posted another double-double with 25 points and 14 rebounds despite being double-teamed by the Bulls all game.

Rudy Gay had a quiet game with 13 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists. Gay is drawing the attention of opposing defenses and is having a tough time putting up the kind of numbers he was posting earlier in the season. The Kings need to make some adjustments to allow Gay to be productive on offense.

The Bulls were led by Joakim Noah with 23 points, 11 rebounds and 8 assists. He also had 5 blocked shots and 3 steals.

Taj Gibson scored 19 points on just 9 shots. Mike Dunleavy put up 16 points and was 3 of 6 for 3-pointers.

The loss dropped the Kings record to 23-43 for the season. Chicago is now 37-29 and playoff bound in the Eastern Division.

The Kings wrap up the 7 game road trip on Sunday in Minnesota versus the Timberwolves.