NBA Playoffs: New Orleans will be tough in potential second round series with Golden State

Photo credit: @NBAonSP

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
SRS Contributor

The Spurs shouldn’t be returning to Oakland for a Game 5 on Tuesday.

Golden State, leading 3-0 in their first-round series against San Antonio and looking unbeatable in the first three games, now has to play one more game after dropping Game 4 with a 103-90 rout Sunday afternoon in the Alamo City.

The Warriors now lead the best-of-seven Western Conference playoff series, 3-1.

Instead of sweeping the seventh-seeded Spurs, who are dealing with a myriad of issues from the recent death of Erin Popovich, the late wife of San Antonio’s head coach Gregg Popovich, to the ongoing Kawhi Leonard saga, Golden State allowed itself to cut 48 hours off its schedule to prepare for a New Orleans Pelicans team that will give the Warriors all it can handle in the second round.

The sixth-seeded Pelicans showed no remorse against the third-seeded Portland Trail Blazers in their first-round series. Many prognosticators, including myself, thought this could be a series that would go six or seven games with the Trail Blazers likely prevailing.

And why would you not pick Portland over New Orleans?

The Trail Blazers arguably have one of the NBA’s best backcourt duos in point guard Damian Lillard and shooting guard CJ McCollum to carry them over unheralded combination of  point guard Rajon Rondo and Jrue Holiday.

Oh yeah, and the Pelicans were without center Demarcus Cousins, who tore his Achilles tendon and was lost for the season on Jan. 26. Before the injury, Cousins was averaging 25.2 points and 12.9 rebounds per game and along with power forward Anthony Davis (28 ppg and 11 rpg during the regular season), were on pace to become the first set of teammates in NBA history to average at least 25 points and 10 rebounds per game according to ESPN Stats and Information.

Boy were we wrong.

Now, The Pelicans have all of their detractors eating crow with a side of “we told you so.” Portland (49-33) did finished the regular season with one more win than New Orleans (48-34), but it were the Trail Blazers that were over-matched.

New Orleans capped off the franchise’s first sweep of an NBA playoff series with 131-123 victory in Game 4 over Portland on Saturday night in front a rabid and sold out home crowd at the Smoothie King Center. The 131 points scored by New Orleans are a franchise record for a playoff game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

In the clinching game, it was the combination Davis and shooting guard Jrue Holiday that punched the Pelicans’ ticket into the second-round for the first time since 2008 with Davis pouring in 47 points with 11 rebounds. Holiday finished with 41 points and eight assists against the Trail Blazers who had no answer for either guy in this series.

Both Davis and Holiday surpassed current Warriors’ power forward David West’s franchise record 38 points (also occurring in 2008 according to Elias Sports Bureau) with their scoring barrage.

The 6-foot-10, 253-pound Davis imposed his will against Portland bigs, most notably against center Jusuf Nurkic, averaging 33 points and 12 rebounds in four games against the Trail Blazers this postseason. There’s no doubt that Davis will be a force against Golden State’s stable of bigs, centers Zaza Pachulia, JaVale McGee and Kevon Looney.

Throw in the aforementioned Rondo, a 11-year, defensive, pass-first veteran with a championship ring from 2007 as the starting point guard for the Paul Pierce-Ray Allen-Kevin Garnett Boston Celtics, the Pelicans have some pieces in place to make the inevitable second-round matchup with Golden State interesting.

Rondo, or #PlayoffRondo, is the unquestioned floor general for the Pelicans. In the four games against the Trail Blazers, Rondo recorded 17, 9, 11 and 16 assists respectively. For the series, Rondo averaged 11.2 points and 13.2 assists per game and was glued at Lillard’s hip the entire time, helping New Orleans limit Lillard to 35.2 percent shooting in the series.

Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry, who also has a championship ring as an assistant coach with the Warriors in 2015 before leaving for New Orleans, knows some of the offensive and defensive tendencies of shooting guard Klay Thompson and power forward Draymond Green.

Even with two-time MVP Stephan Curry still not ready to play in the playoffs for the Warriors, Golden State is still the better team than the Pelicans by far and can win the series without him since the Warriors still have another former MVP in Kevin Durant.

In the four regular season matchups between New Orleans and Golden State, the Warriors won the first three matchups: 128-120 on Oct. 20 at New Orleans, 110-95 on Nov. 25 in Oakland and 125-115 on Dec. 4, while the Pelicans got the best of the Warriors 126-120 on Apr. 7 in Oakland.

Kings lose a heartbreaker in Chicago 102-99; SAC has now lost five in a row


The victim of Cousins wrath after the loss in Chicago Photo: Sean Highkin TheAthleticChi

by Charlie O. Mallonee

The Sacramento Kings and Chicago Bulls came into the game in Chicago on Saturday night looking to end losing streaks. The Kings had lost four games in a row and the Bulls had lost two consecutive games. Both teams had been beaten soundly on Friday night.

The Kings and Bulls played hard and gave their full 48-minute efforts in a game that ended with a controversial call – if you are a Sacramento fan. When the final buzzer sounded, the Bulls (22-23) had won the game 102-99 and ended their losing streak. The Kings (16-27) went to their locker room frustrated and the owners of a five-game losing streak – their longest of the season.

You call that a foul?

With 15-seconds on the clock and the game tied at 99-99, Dwyane Wade was able to steal the ball from the Kings Garrett Temple and start a fast break for the basket. Wade went up for an uncontested dunk and hit the back of the iron. DeMarcus Cousins was trailing Wade and may (emphasis on may) have brushed Wade on his way down after missing the dunk. The officials blew the whistle and called a foul on Cousins. Basically, the referees could not believe that superstar guard would miss the breakaway slam unless he was fouled.

Multiple video replays showed that there was no foul on the play but the play was not eligible for video review. The call stood. Wade made 1-of-2 free throws and the Bulls took a 100-99 lead.

Dwyane Wade scored 30 points against the Kings Photo: NBAE

The final 14-seconds

The Kings began working a play following a timeout when Taj Gibson was able to reach in and steal the ball from Cousins. The Bulls were able to score when Michael Carter-Williams put the ball through the hoop on an Alley Oop layup with an assist from Wade that gave the Bulls a 102-99 lead.

Garrett Temple brought the ball into the frontcourt quickly for the Kings and put up a 41-foot desperation shot that banged off the rim as the buzzer sounded. The game ended with the Bulls winning 102-99.

DeMarcus Cousins was a one-man wrecking crew

Cousins scored a game-high 42 points and pulled down 14 rebounds to record his 23rd double-double game of the season. Cousins scored those 42 points on just 28 shots. He converted 8-of-9 free throws and hit 2-of-7 shots from 3-point range. He sank those 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions late in the fourth quarter to keep his team in the game. Cousins had three assists and two blocked shots while committing only two turnovers in the contest. The Kings big man was their only player to score in double figures in the game.

Sacramento Kings v Chicago Bulls
Cousins left it all on the court in Chicago Photo: NBAE

To no one’s surprise it was the Wade and Butler show for the Bulls

Dwyane Wade led the Bulls scoring attack with 30 points. Wade did not have a great night shooting as he went 9-for-20 from the field. He did go an impressive 12-for-15 from the free throw line. Wade also added four assists, four blocked shots and three steals in the game. The superstar guard sent out a tweet to Bulls fans apologizing for their poor play in Atlanta on Friday night. Wade has nothing to apologize for after the way he played against the Kings on Saturday night.

Jimmy Butler scored 23 points and dished out seven assists against the Kings. He spent most of the game acting as the playmaker. Butler shot 6-for-14 from the floor and was a perfect 10-for-10 from free throw line. Butler and Wade went a combined 22-for-25 from the charity stripe.

Coach Joerger’s postgame analysis

  • Good game
  • Really proud of our guys
  • Thought we played our tails off for 48-minutes
  • (team) made major progress
  • (We have to) keep working hard; we’re going to figure it out; work it out
  • DeMarcus had a heck of a game
  • (In this game) Too much Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler
  • On the foul call on Cousins as Wade missed the dunk: Live ball – three on one

Kings needed another double figured scorer

If one other Kings player had scored in double figures, the final outcome might have been different. Nine other players participated in the game besides Cousins but none scored in double figures. Afflalo posted nine points and Collison, Temple and Lawson each scored eight points. With Rudy Gay sidelined for the rest of the season, one of the Sacramento players has to step up and become a double-figure scorer. More 3-point production could help that situation.

Where’s Rondo?

Rajon Rondo’s time in the Windy City may be coming to a close. Rondo played just six-minutes against the Kings on Saturday distributing four assists and scoring no points. The point guard who was so productive in Sacramento is finding it rough sledding in Chicago. Do not be surprised if Rondo is wearing a different uniform by the trade deadline in February because his time with the Bulls seems to be over.

Up next on the schedule

The Kings travel to Detroit where they will play the Pistons on Monday night. The Kings last win came over Detroit in Sacramento. The Kings will be looking to pick up their first win on the eight-game road trip versus the Pistons.

The Bulls will return to action on Tuesday in Orlando against the Magic.

Kings continue to add players including Matt Barnes


matt barnes grizzliesBy Charlie O. Mallonee

The Sacramento Kings continued to be busy this weekend filling needs for player personnel that were not addressed in the NBA Draft. The moves being engineered by Vlade Divac and the front office appear to be focused on bringing in experienced players that will allow the rookies to be worked into coach Dave Joerger’s system slowly and deliberately.

Looks like you can come home again

One of biggest moves of the weekend may be the signing of a hometown product Matt Barnes to a reported two-year contact with the second year being a player option. Barnes was a prep star at Del Campo High School in Sacramento and played part one season with the Kings. Barnes played in Memphis for Dave Joerger last season.

Barnes averaged 10.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 28.8 minutes per game for the Grizzlies last year. He is known as being a tough, hardnosed, no nonsense type of player who can be volatile on the floor. Barnes will immediately take some of the pressure off of DeMarcus Cousins because he will be happy to take on the role of enforcer, defender and tough guy on the court.

Barnes is a 13 year NBA veteran who 36 years old.

Kings add some flexibility to the roster


Multiple reports have the Kings signing former Washington Wizards guard Garrett Temple to a reported three-year, $24-million contract. This will actually be Temple’s second stint with the Kings. He was with the Kings for five games in 2009-10 season.

Temple has spent the last four seasons in Washington. He has played mostly small forward for the Wizards, but Temple can play also play at shooting guard and point guard. That versatility will make Temple a very valuable option in the upcoming season. Look for him to be used at point guard at least until Darren Collison returns.

The 6-foot-6 Temple averaged 7.3 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 24.4 minutes of playing time. He made 43 starts for Washington last year.

Temple has six years of NBA experience. He entered the league undrafted after playing his college ball at LSU.

More help on the front line


The Kings have reportedly signed 6-foot-8, 240-pound power/small forward Anthony Tolliver to a two-year contract worth $16 million with $2 million guaranteed for the second season. The reports have second year of the contract being a team option.

This is not a sexy starting five signing. Tolliver is a solid second unit player who can play the three or the four spots and will give you 15-20 minutes per night off the bench.

Tolliver played for the Pistons last year averaging 5.3 points and 3.2 rebounds in 18.6 minutes per game. Tolliver attempts an average of 4.6 field goals per game and 3.8 of those attempts will be from 3-point land.

Tolliver has eight years of experience in the association. He has been well traveled as he has played for eight different teams.

Curry to be an unrestricted free agent

Reports have the Kings rescinding their qualifying offer to restricted free agent guard Seth Curry. With the depth at guard the Kings have added over the weekend the need for Curry has diminished.

Reports also have Curry’s agent asking the Kings to rescind the offer to speed the process up for his client to find a new team. With the qualifying offer in place, the Kings would have had the opportunity to match the offer delaying the process.

So long Rondo

According to reports, Rajon Rondo has signed a 2-year, $28-million contract with the Chicago Bulls. If the reports are true, the Kings had cooled on trying to re-sign Rondo.




Kings to sign free agent shooting guard Arron Afflalo

Afflalo Knicks

by Charlie O. Mallonee

There are multiple reports that the Sacramento Kings have made their first free agent signing by convincing veteran shooting guard Arron Afflalo to sign a two-year contract. The news of the deal was reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of the Vertical and confirmed by Sam Amick of USA Today – both credible sources. The deal is worth a reported $25 million.

Afflalo spent last season with the lowly New York Knicks. He averaged 12.8 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 33.4 minutes per game for the Knicks. Afflalo shot 44.3-percent from floor and 38.3-percent from 3-point range. He shoots 84-percent from the free throw line.

The Kings will be the sixth team that Afflalo has played for in his nine seasons in the NBA. He has also played for Detroit, Denver, Orlando, Portland and New York. Afflalo was a first-round pick (27th overall) of the Detroit Pistons in 2007 NBA Draft out UCLA. He played his high school basketball at Centennial in Compton, California.

What are the Kings getting in Afflalo? He is a solid, mid-range shooting guard that has played in situations where you have to patiently wait for your opportunity to take shots. When you play with Carmelo Anthony and Prozingis, you know that you are going to be at least the third option in the offense.

That is going to be the case in Sacramento as well. The offense runs through DeMarcus Cousins. All other players get involved only as necessary. Afflalo will have to adjust to that reality.

The Kings missed many scoring opportunities last season by not being able to convert mid-range jump shots especially off offensive rebounds. Afflalo with his shooting skills should be able to be of real help with that problem. He has not been a big 3-point shooter averaging just under four attempts and 1.3 conversions per game.

The signing of Afflalo probably ends the pursuit of Dion Waiters, but it does not mean the Kings are done looking for another shooting guard. No one would be surprised to be surprised to see current shooting guard Ben McLemore move via trade before the season begins.

McLemore who has been a starter for the Kings who has never lived up to the expectations the team had placed on him. Frankly, he was probably rushed into a starting role before he was ready. McLemore is also another victim of what has been the coaching chaos that has surrounded the team since he was drafted. Dave Joerger is McLemore’s fourth coach in four years with the Kings. The best thing for McLemore might be a change of scenery.

If McLemore moves on, the Kings need to find a shooting guard who can be a sixth man that can come off the bench and fire up the second unit with some quick scores. A guard who can hit some 3-point baskets would be ideal.

Sacramento does have Malachi Richardson coming from Charlotte in exchange for Marco Belinelli. He is a 6-foot-6 shooting guard, but it would be nice to be able to work him into the offense slowly rather than just toss him into the fire.

Rondo Update: The possibility of Rondo remaining with the Kings is still a reality but rumors are circulating that the Kings have cooled on the idea of keeping the talented point guard. It is now being reported that the Chicago Bulls are showing interest in Rondo. The Kings will probably not participate in a bidding war.

Kings: the search for a starting point guard


Seth Curry runs the offense for the Kings

By Charlie O. Mallonee

Now that the draft is over, the Kings have started the search for their bench players. The real search is for who is going to play point guard and who can help the team at shooting guard.

The point guard situation has become clouded because of the situation with Darren Collison. Unfortunately, Collison has been indicted in a domestic violence case and will almost certainly face a suspension from the NBA related to the situation. When Collison will be available to play for the Kings is a major unknown at this point.

Last season’s starting point guard – Rajon Rondo – is a free agent and had a very productive year for Sacramento. The consensus is that Rondo would be open to signing another short-term contact of one to two years to stay in with the Kings. Sacramento does not have “Bird Rights” on Rondo so his salary would have to come out of this year’s cap money.

The big question is – do you want Rondo at the point again this season? There is no doubt that Rondo can produce assists and is capable of scoring in spurts. There is also no question that he will not provide the team with the type of defense the Kings are looking to establish this season.

Rondo has also become a target of the Brooklyn Nets who are looking to replace Jarrett Jack. There have to be other teams who are looking at what Rondo did last season and are thinking that he would be worth offering a big dollar-short term contract for that type of potential production for a season or two.

Who does that leave for the Kings to target for the point guard position? Ricky Rubio of the Timberwolves appears to have become expendable with Minnesota drafting Kris Dunn. Rubio averages 10.1 points and 8.3 assists per game. A trade would be necessary to bring Rubio to Sacramento. The Kings do have Kosta Koufos and Ben McLemore that could be packaged in a possible exchange. The key worry involving Rubio would be his history of injuries.

Jeremy Lin is an unrestricted free agent who spent last season in Charlotte. He averaged 11.7 points and 3.0 assists per game. Lin made $2-million last season but he will want a raise this year and some security. UPDATE: Lin signed a three-year, $36-million deal with the Brooklyn Nets. That is a $10-million a year raise over his last contract. The Lin signing also potentially affects the Rajon Rondo situation.

Ty Lawson has experience and has been a major disappointment in his last two stops in Houston and Indiana. He also earned over $12-million last season.

Mario Chalmers played for Joerger in Memphis averaging 10.3 points and 3.8 assists per game but then was waived by the club. He made just over $4-million last year.

Ish Smith has become a legitimate starter in the league for the Sixers. He averaged 12.6 points and 6.5 assists per game. Smith will certainly want a raise from his $1.1-million salary. Also is he willing to go from one bad team to another just for the money? UPDATE: Smith signed a three-year,$18-million contract with the Detroit Pistons on Friday.

The best option for the Kings may be to re-sign Seth Curry, the combo point/shooting guard who came on strong for the team in closing days of last season. The team has given Curry – a restricted free agent – a qualifying offer so they have the opportunity to match or exceed any offer Curry would receive from another team.

This would mean the Kings would have to start the season with Curry and rookie Isaiah Cousins while they wait for the Collison situation to play itself out. It would allow the Kings to spend money on shooting guards that they so desperately need plus one of those shooting guards might be able to play some limited time at the point.

The Kings may well need to embrace “positionless” basketball to compensate for the lack of a star point guard. Former head coach George Karl said the best passer on the Kings is DeMarcus Cousins. Maybe the offense will need to flow through the high post until the point guard situation can be firmed up.

The worst thing the Kings could do right now is make a knee-jerk decision and spend too much on a player that they might not need later in the season or in seasons to come.



Curry’s first double double leads to Kings’ win in Phoenix

by Michael Martinez

picture credit Robin Hagy Photography

SACRAMENTO- It all came down to free throws at the end of the game. Fortunately, the end of the game was not constantly fouling the Kings, who gave up a 15 point lead they had early in the fourth quarter.

The Kings even had a seven point lead within a minute to play, but the Suns never quit. Phoenix would cut the lead down to two with 21 seconds left in regulation. Ben McLemore got to the line where he missed both free throws and gave the Suns some hope to tie it up. Luckily, rookie sensation Devin Booker missed a jumper and James Anderson got the rebound and got to the line. Anderson made them both to put the Kings up by four. After a couple of free throws by Quincy Acy to maintain their four point lead with three seconds to go. The Kings picked up win number 33, 105-101.

Without DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo, Seth Curry and Kosta Koufos stepped up in a huge way. Curry got his first career double double in the ball game with 20 points and 15 assists. Curry made some outstanding passes as he drove to the hoop and broke down the defense. On 8-14 from the field and 3-6 from beyond the arc, Curry continues to be an effective scorer. One of those threes he juked his defender, made a spin move and knocked down the shot. Curry is solidifying himself with his recent play and the Kings’ decision to sign him has paid off. Hopefully he will continue to develop and make an impact for this team who might not retain Rondo after this offseason.

As DMC sat out, the Kings lost his 26.9 points per game but Koufos did a good job on the offensive end with 19 points and eight boards. Gay chipped in 15 points and although McLemore missed two late free throws, he added 14 points of his own.

The Kings turned the ball over 19 times, which led to 27 points for the Suns. Phoenix also out rebounded Sacramento, 51-40. Phoenix grabbed 17 offensive rebounds and they scored 17 second chance points. Their turnovers and a bit lack of size almost cost Sacramento the game, but the Kings shooting 49.3% led to their victory.

Sacramento will finish their season on the road in Houston against the Rockets. Cousins will once again not play, so expect Koufos to get playing time once again. And whether or not Rondo plays, Curry must get more minutes in the season finale to to see his development as he continues to set career highs.

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.

No Cousins, no Rondo, no problem! Kings beat Denver 115-106

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Denver Nuggets
Photo Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

by Charlie O. Mallonee

The Kings plan for Saturday night in Denver was simple and straight forward. Leave Cousins and Rondo at home to rest, give the younger players some much needed playing time and put on a good show in the “Mile High City”.

No there was no mention of winning the game. Wins are secondary for Sacramento at this point in the season. In fact, the Kings need to finish in the bottom 10 of the NBA overall standings to avoid losing their 2016 first-round draft pick (listen to this week’s Kings podcast for the details). It is not that the Kings do not want to win but winning might not be that helpful at this moment.

Something strange can happen when you give the second unit a chance to play more minutes. Those second unit guys want to step up and show the world they got game. That is what happened on Saturday in Denver.

The Kings allowed the Nuggets to set the pace in the first half. Denver scored 62 points in the first half and appeared to ready to run the Kings off the court in the second half, but someone from the Nuggets forgot to tell Seth Curry to go along the plan.

Curry carried the Kings on his back in the first half scoring 17 points while connecting on 7-of-8 shots from the floor. The Kings would go on to score 55 first-half points and trailed the Nuggets by just seven points at the half.

The teams played an even third quarter with the Kings outscoring the Nuggets 29-26 in the period. The Nuggets still had an 88-84 after three quarters.

The Kings caught fire in the fourth quarter outscoring the Nuggets 31-18 in final 12 minutes. Darren Collison led the charge for Sacramento scoring 10 of his 14 points in last quarter. Collison shot 2-for-4 from the floor and converted 6-of-7 opportunities from the free throw line. He also dished out four assists. Ben McLemore scored eight points and Rudy Gay added five points in the period.

At the final buzzer, the Kings had beaten the Nuggets 115-106 to record their 31st win of the season.


Rudy Gay led the Kings scoring attack on Saturday with 25 points. Gay also grabbed nine rebounds and had three assists. He shot 7-for-18 from the floor and an impressive 10-for-13 from the charity stripe.

Willie Cauley-Stein, Ben McLemore and Darren Collison scored 14 points each.

Kosta Koufos and James Anderson added 13 points each.

The most impressive stat of the night for the Kings was their assists to turnover ratio of 4-to-1. Sacramento had 27 assists and turned the ball over just seven times. Not bad for a team that has been averaging 16 turnovers per game.

Sacramento was also strong at the free throw line hitting on 25-of-31 attempts for a 80.6- free throw shooting percentage. For the season, the Kings have shot just 72.7-percent from the free throw line.

This was also just third time the Kings have won when DeMarcus Cousins did not play in the game. They have lost 11 games when Cousins was not available.


Gary Harris led the Nuggets in scoring with 19 points. Harris had four rebounds and two assists to go with those 19 points.

Rookie Emmanuel Mudiay had a strong game scoring 15 points and dishing out six assists. Mudiay did foul out of the game.

Joffrey Lauvergne played a strong 24 minutes off the bench for Denver. He scored 15 points, grabbed six rebounds and had two assists in those minutes on the floor.

Alex Toupane scored a career-high 14 points off the bench for the Nuggets.

Up next

The Kings have just three games left to play in Sleep Train (Arco) Arena. Portland visits Sacramento on Tuesday and Minnesota comes calling on Thursday night. The Kings final game ever in the arena they have called home for 28 years will take place next Saturday night when they host Oklahoma City Thunder. This reporter will be filing the story live from the arena that night.

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.

Seth Curry has career night in loss

by Michael Martinez

picture credit NBAE

SACRAMENTO- The Kings rested their three best players. Rajon Rondo, Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins all sat out Monday night in Portland. With that being said, there probably was not a ton of hope to get a win over the Trail Blazers who are battling for a playoff spot. The Kings lost to the Blazers 105-93.

Surprisingly though, the Kings stayed in the game for the first quarter. Sacramento played well, except Portland could not miss a shot even if they tried.

The Blazers broke it open in the second quarter going up by as many as 16 and shooting slightly over 55% from the field. But the third quarter is where things fell apart for the Kings.

While Portland only scored 23 points, the Kings shot a dismal 25% in the third quarter and scored a measly 11 points. The Kings turned the ball over seven times and could not buy a bucket. The Blazers led Sacramento by as many as 28 points and the Kings never really had a chance.

The fourth was the Kings chance to try and come back but the deficit was just too much, even though Portland shot under 30% in the quarter. Seth Curry scored 12 points in the quarter and finished for a career high of 21. Curry was really the only bright spot as the Kings perimeter defense wasn’t very tough. Portland almost shot 50% from beyond the arc, knocking down 14 shots from the perimeter.

Portland’s Allen Crabbe elicited exactly what the Blazers did tonight. He tied Curry for the game high with 21 points on 8-10 shooting, 3-4 from behind the three point line. The most difficult part of this loss is the fact that Damian Lillard only scored 13 points and the Kings still never had a chance.

Nonetheless, when the team’s three best players are resting, nabbing a victory is going to be pretty difficult. Yet again, the Kings’ defensive woes hurt them as Portland shot lights out.

Omri Casspi had a pretty good game with 18 points. Willie Cauley-Stein added 13 points and grabbed 14 boards as the rookie continues to play well. As the season winds down, this game shows just how important Gay, Rondo and Cousins are to the team. The Kings will take on the Washington Wizards at home this Wednesday at 7 p.m. Hopefully the Kings’ big three comes back and helps them get another win at home.