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.

Kings come up short in San Antonio 104-94

NBA: Sacramento Kings at San Antonio Spurs
Photo Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

by Charlie O. Mallonee

George Karl has talked all season about the tendency of his Sacramento Kings (25-36) to fall into “black holes” and lose games because of it. A black hole to Karl is a loss of momentum that continues for seven to eight possessions allowing the opponents to go on a scoring run that the Kings ultimately cannot overcome.

The Kings played well in the first half against the Spurs (53-9) trailing by just three points at halftime, 57-54. As the third quarter began, Sacramento fell into a proverbial “black hole” and allowed San Antonio to go on a 12-0 run led by Kawhi Leonard’s nine points in the opening minutes of the period. The Spurs would outscore the Kings 29-13 in the third and would go on to win the game 104-94.

As the game began, it appeared the Kings had drawn the lucky straw. Spurs head coach Greg Popovich had decided to rest Tim Duncan and Danny Green. A third San Antonio starter – LaMarcus Aldridge – was unable to answer the bell due to a migraine headache. A situation that should have been advantage Kings was negated by the outstanding play of Leonard and Manu Ginobili who returned to the team after missing 12 games due to surgery.

Kings

Sacramento was led by DeMarcus Cousins who scored 31 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Cousins shot 50.0-percent (10-for-20) from the floor and hit on 10 of 15 free throw attempts.

Quincy Acy had a monster game starting at forward for the Kings. Acy – who is known more for his defense that his offense – scored 16 points for his team. Acy was a perfect 7-for-7 including two 3-pointers from the field.

Rajon Rondo had a quiet night scoring nine points, recording just one rebound and dishing out eight assists.

Darren Collison continues play well off the bench adding 12 points, seven assists and three rebounds.

Marco Belinelli – who had two strong outings heading in San Antonio – had a tough night versus his old team. Belinelli scored seven points going just 3-for-11 from floor.

Rudy Gay scored nine points, Ben McLemore (3), Omri Casspi (6) and Willie Cauley-Stein (1). Kosta Koufos was not available due to a case of food poisoning.

Sacramento shot 45.7-percent (37-for-81) and hit on six of 16 (37.5-percent) from 3-point land. The Kings struggled from the free throw line going just 14-for-21 (66.7-percent) at the stripe.

The Spurs out-rebounded the Kings 46-33.

Spurs

MVP-candidate Kawhi Leonard led the Spurs with 25 points despite going just 9-for-24 from the floor. Leonard made it a double-double game by hauling in 13 rebounds.

Manu Ginobili played just 15 minutes in his return to play but he scored 22 points in that limited playing time. Ginobili shot 8-for-12 from the floor and went a perfect 5-for-5 from the free throw line.

The Spurs shot 49.4-percent (40-for-81) from the field. They were just 8-for-23 (34.8-percent) from beyond the 3-point line. San Antonio shot an impressive 84.2-percent (16-for-19) from the charity stripe.

The victory lifted the Spurs record to 30-0 at home for the season.

Up next

The Kings will wrap up their four-game road trip on Monday night in New Orleans. The Kings are 0-2 versus the Pelicans this season. Sacramento desperately wants to finish 2-2 on this road trip to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. They will have to play better against Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson than they have so far this season if they want to post a win in “the Big Easy”.

 

 

Kings Handle Houston 106-91

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By Charlie O. Mallonee

The Sacramento Kings took the floor on Sunday against the Houston Rockets and looked like an entirely different team than the one that lost to Phoenix on Friday. They moved the ball on offense, blocked shots, made steals and played solid defense. The Kings beat the Rockets 106-91 because they played like a different team.

The game came down to the fact that Sacramento’s big three – Cousins, Gay and Thomas outplayed Houston’s big three of Howard, Harden and Parsons. The Kings big three outscored the Rockets big three 66-57.

Rudy Gay had a big game in his Sacramento home court debut. He scored 26 points (14 in the first quarter), shot 50.0% (10-20) from the floor, pulled down 5 rebounds, added four assists, made four steals and had one blocked shot. Yes, Rudy Gay is a difference maker for this Kings team.

DeMarcus Cousins posted a double-double, 21 points and 10 rebounds, despite not scoring his first points until 6:01 in the second quarter. Isaiah Thomas scored 19 points, had eight assists and made two steals in his 41 minutes on the floor.

Dwight Howard scored 13 points for the Rockets. He really hurt his team at the free throw line where shot 5 for 13. “Hack-a-Howard” looks like a solid defensive plan.

Harden put up 25 points and was 3 for 9 from 3-point land. Chandler Parsons recorded 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists in 40 minutes of playing time.

The Rockets jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead in the first quarter. It looked like Houston might make it an early runaway. Then, Rudy Gay made a steal and a score that led the Kings on a 6-0 run. Gay, in his home debut, kept the Kings in the game with 14 first quarter points. Sacramento needed that from Gay as Cousins was held scoreless in the first period. At the end of one, the game was tied at 28 all.

The second quarter started off with the teams trading easy baskets. Derrick Williams led the Kings early in period and ended the first half with nine points. Isaiah Thomas hit a 3-pointer and was fouled. He hit the free throw for the rare 4-point play. Cousins scored his first points with 6:01 left in the half on a breakaway dunk. Sacramento opened up a 48-38 lead. The Kings also helped themselves from the free throw line. The Kings shot 16 for 19 (84.2%) from the line while Houston went just 10 for 20 (50.0%) from the stripe. Dwight Howard went 3 for 8 for free throws.

At the half, the Kings led the Rockets 57-49. Sacramento held Houston to just 21 points in the second quarter.

James Harden opened up the third quarter with a long 3-pointer. The Kings answered with an “alley oop” from Isaiah Thomas to Rudy Gay. At 10:54, Harden rolled his ankle while driving the lane. He shot two free throws one footed and left the game. The Rockets responded by stepping up their game and cut the Kings lead to one, 61-60. The Kings woke up and started scoring. Dwight Howard continued to kill his team from the charity stripe. Sacramento made steals, blocked shots and make baskets that allowed them to open up a 10 point lead. Harden returned at 5:26 but was obviously not at 100%. The third quarter ended with the Kings leading 81-71.

The Rockets made a mini run to open the fourth quarter cutting the Kings lead to 81-75. Howard continued to shoot poorly from the free throw line. The Kings settled down and opened up a 91-78 lead. Cousins, Thompson and Gay continued to break down the Houston defense and score baskets down low. The Rockets started looking tired, Harden was quiet and the Kings opened up a lead that they would never relinquish. Sacramento won the game 106-91.

After the game, Kings Head Coach Michael Malone said, “I felt better about the defense. We must have had a great film session.” Malone felt his team was ready to play.

Malone also stated, “I want DeMarcus (Cousins) or Rudy (Gay) on the floor at all times. Rudy makes us tougher to guard.”

With his team facing four games in five days on the road, Malone is hoping that the tough road trip will help his team build chemistry.

Note: Quincy Acy saw his first playing time as King versus the Rockets. He played 12 minutes, scored four points, had three rebounds and blocked one shot. Aaron Gray did not play on Sunday, but Malone indicated that Gray would see action on the road trip.