Golden State Warriors podcast with David Zizmor: Curry to take on Lilliard and brother Seth in Semifinals; Can Warriors get by Blazers without Durant?

Photo credit: @NBCSWarriors

On the Warriors podcast with David:

#1 What does it mean for Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors to be battling the Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lilliard and his brother Seth in the Western Conference Finals?

#2 The Warriors are without Kevin Durant, whose situation is game to game during this series. What is the extent of his pain and injury to his calf?

David does the Warriors podcasts each Tuesday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

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

temple

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

tolliver

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: the search for a starting point guard

 

ronnie-price-seth-curry
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.

 

 

Report: Seth Curry to turn down option with Kings

StR-4_1-SethCurry3-vs-Heat.0.0

by Charlie O. Mallonee

The Vertical from Yahoo Sports is reporting that Seth Curry is planning to decline his player-controlled option with the Sacramento Kings for the 2016-17 season. Curry has until Saturday to finalize his decision.

If Curry does not exercise his $1-million option, it does not automatically mean he will not be with the Kings next season. By declining the option, Curry would become a restricted free agent. Curry would be free to negotiate a contract with another team but the Kings would have the right to match any offer.

Curry’s stock rose late in the season as his playing time increased. He proved his value as a 3-point shooter and a back-up point guard. Curry’s late season success had some asking why the Kings had not used him more earlier in the campaign.

Curry appeared in 44 games for the Kings averaging 6.8 points and 1.5 assists per game. He averaged 15.2 points per game over the team’s final 11 games.

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 win final game in Sleep Train/ARCO Arena 114-112 over OKC

IMG_2789

by Charlie O. Mallonee

SACRAMENTO–On a night that felt more like a Hollywood awards show than a basketball game, the Sacramento Kings pulled off a storybook ending to close out their 2015-16 home schedule and to end their 28-year stay in Sleep Train/ARCO Arena.

The Kings defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 114-112 in front of a raucous, adoring sellout crowd that desperately wanted the team’s final game in the old building to be a victory. The crowd did its part. They were loud and into the game from the opening tip-off right up to the final buzzer.

The Kings did their job. They played the very talented Oklahoma City Thunder in a tough, physical manner that was worthy of a heavyweight boxing match. Every time the Thunder threw a punch, the Kings returned a punch. The Kings kept the game close then took the lead and fought back each time they lost the lead. There were 12 lead changes and the game was tied 12 times.

The game came down to the free throw shooting of Rudy Gay. Gay went to the free throw line three times in the final 17.4-seconds. He made 4-0f-6 chances from the charity stripe. None more important than the final shot with one second left to go in the game that made it a two-point game and gave the win to the Kings.

The game appeared to be headed to overtime when James Anderson fouled Russell Westbrook as he went into the act of shooting from behind the 3-point line. Westbrook stepped to the line and converted all three free throws to tie the game at 112-112 before Gay was fouled and put the game on ice for Sacramento.

This was the 32nd win of the season for the Kings. Their home record for the season will be 18-23. The win also allowed the Kings to finish the season 2-2 versus the Thunder. Sacramento won once in Oklahoma City and once at home.

Kings

 The player of the night for the Kings was guard Darren Collison. Collison was the team’s leading scorer with 27 points. He also dished out eight assists and grabbed five rebounds. Collison shot 10-for-16 from floor and was 4-for-6 from 3-point range. He ran the point and found ways to score in his 36-minutes of playing time.

The other standout player for Sacramento was Seth Curry. Curry finished the game with 20 points and three assists. He lit up the night from beyond the 3-point line hitting on 6-of-10 chances. Curry’s shooting kept the Kings in the game early and allowed Sacramento to keep the game close.

George Karl gave the game ball to Collison and Curry.

Rudy Gay finished the game with 24 points. Gay was 9-for-19 shooting and was a dismal 1-for-6 from 3-point range. He was 5-for-7 from the free throw where he ultimately won the game for his team. Gay also led the Kings in playing time with almost 38 minutes.

DeMarcus Cousins scored 15 points and hauled in seven rebounds. Cousins had a frustrating night shooting finishing 7-for-24 from the field. The Kings big man played in foul trouble throughout most of the game. He picked up three personals in the first half and three more in the second half. Cousins fouled out the game with 3:26 left to play.

The Kings had additional scoring from Kosta Koufos (8), Quincy Acy (7), James Anderson (5), Willie Cauley-Stein (4) and Ben McLemore (4).

Sacramento shot 47.9-percent (45-for-94) from the field. They were an impressive 13-for-32 (40.6-percent) from behind the 3-point line. The Kings struggled from the free throw line converting only 11-of-20 (55.0-percent) from the stripe.The Kings took good care of the basketball committing just 11 turnovers while dishing out 22 assists to reach the goal of a 2-to-1 ratio.

Thunder

 Kevin Durant led the Thunder in scoring putting up 31 points. Durant distributed eight assists and had six rebounds in his game-high 39-minutes of playing time.

Russell Westbrook had a double-double game scoring 24 points and dishing out 10 assists. Westbrook had trouble taking care of the ball as he turned it over a game-high eight times.

Serge Ibaka added 14 points and Enes Kanter scored 11 points for OKC.

The Thunder shot 48.1-percent (39-for-81) from the floor and hit on 13-of-32 (40.6-percent) beyond the 3-point line. Turnovers were a problem for OKC as their committed 21 in the game.

Oklahoma City is now 54-26 on the season. Their road record falls to 23-17.

What they had to say after the game

 “First thing I wrote in my notes is we’re playing a playoff team that will have a playoff atmosphere because of the historical event,” said Kings head coach George Karl. “I don’t think anyone was disappointed with what happened. The building had energy to it from the very beginning. It helped us. We rode the wave of the crowd and the energy.”

“Fans are incredible. Fans are first class, style, loyal, committed and next year they get a fantastic new building that hopefully will have more playoff games, rather than just regular season nice wins. Let’s have some playoff nice wins,” added Karl.

First class night

 As an organization, the Kings have faced a great deal of criticism this season and much of it has been deserved. On Saturday night, the Kings proved they know how to produce a big event and pull it off with class and grace.

The Kings paid tribute to fans and the players of the past 28 years that have filled Sleep Train/ARCO Arena with emotion and excellence.

Reggie Theus, who scored the first two points in the arena, praised the Kings for the way they have reached out and included the players from the past in the celebration of basketball in Sacramento.

The Kings front office made it a night to remember for the fans attending the final game in Sleep Train/ARCO Arena. The team and the way they won made it night to never forget.

 

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.

Kings

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.

Nuggets

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.

 

 

 

Santa comes early: Kings hold on to defeat Pacers, 108-106.

by Michael Martinez

picture credit Google Images

After breaking down in the 4th quarter against the Washington Wizards this past Monday, the Kings looked to go .500 on their 4 game road trip. The Kings looked solid in the first half, but a dismal 3rd quarter performance by the team pushed momentum into the Indiana Pacers favor. The 4th quarter turned out to be a doozy and the Kings were able to close out the game, proving they are slowly figuring out how to finish albeit in ugly fashion. Although the Kings were a bit careless with the ball, the Kings picked up the win over the Pacers, 108-106. The Kings passed the ball well, out rebounded the Pacers and scored in the paint at will to pick up the victory.

With the 1st quarter underway, The Kings started the scoring with Rajon Rondo getting the ball inside to DeMarcus Cousins for a nice catch and finish. The team was a bit sloppy early on and that led to the Pacers going on a 10-4 run to start the game. The Kings regained the momentum, coming out of the time out and Rondo had a terrific quarter passing the ball. Rondo totaled 8 assists in the quarter and scored 9 points on 4-6 shooting. Rondo highlighted the quarter as he through a smooth bounce pass between 3 Pacers defenders to Ben McLemore for a lay up.  There was a scary moment in the quarter when Cousins fell on top of McLemore on the defensive end after contesting a shot, but both players continued to play. Rondo also had a sweet assist to Collison on a fast break opportunity. Rondo was the high scorer for the team who went 14-25 from the field, shooting 56%. The high percentage came off of 28 points in the paint to the Pacers 6. The Pacers stayed in the game thanks to George Hill who shot 4-6 from the field, 3-4 from 3 point range and totaled 11 points for the quarter high. The Kings did outscored the Pacers, 30-27, in the first quarter with Rondo filling up the stat sheet early on.

The 2nd quarter got underway with Marco Belinelli hitting a jumper. Darren Collison followed it up with a jumper of his own and Omri Casspi nailed a 3 pointer as the Kings went up by 8 early in the quarter. The Kings started doing a much better job on the defensive end by holding the Pacers to a shooting percentage of 34.8% and Collison had a terrific quarter off the bench. The Kings guard put up 13 points on 6-7 shooting. The guard finished the half with 15 points, 7-9 from the field, adding 2 assists. The Kings continued crashing the boards hard, with 18 rebounds in the quarter and 31 in the half. Big Cous attacked the hoop hard and went 5-6 from the charity strip, 3-6 from the field and had 11 points in the 2nd, 18 for the half with 12 rebounds. Rondo also had a double-double at the half, 11 points and 10 assists. After Cousins was called for a blocking foul which appeared to be a charge, Coach George Karl was visibly frustrated. Karl did not blow his top off until he saw Rudy Gay get sandwiched between two Pacers and not get a foul call. Karl picked up a technical foul but the tech was justifiable. The officiating was poor in the quarter and for most of the game. With great passing and ball movement, 16 assists in the half, the Kings were able to score with ease on the offensive end. With the first half over, the Kings led the Pacers by 15, 64-49.

After an awesome 2nd quarter and good first half, the Kings wanted to keep their offense flowing; however the Pacers seemed to find the Kings juju. The Kings played very poorly and only scored 20 points in the quarter. The Pacers got off to a 7-0 run to start the quarter. The Kings played very sloppy, turning the ball over 7 times and the Pacers took advantage. The Pacers scored 14 points off those turnovers. The team defense was being broken down and the Pacers got plenty of good looks leading to a 16-5 run in less than 4 minutes of play. After scoring in the paint with ease, the Kings lost control of the ball and only scored 12 points in the paint. Their defense suffered from their poor offense and the 3rd was incredibly forgettable for the team, although they shot 50%. The Pacers scored 33 in the quarter on 13-22 shooting. Rudy Gay had a team high in the quarter with 7 points, 15 in all 3. Rondo added 4 assists in the quarter, 13 points and 14 assists in the first 3 quarters but also 7 turnovers. Cousins had 23 points with 14 rebounds and Collison totaled 19. Luckily for the Kings, they out rebounded the Pacers, 40-29, and that helped them hold a 2 point lead to end the quarter. Monte Ellis and Hill helped cut the score in the quarter, with 17 and 18 points respectively through the 3 quarters. After 36 minutes the Kings stayed up, 84-82, over the Pacers after leading by 15 at the half.

After letting the Pacers get back into a game that the Kings thought they could easily win, the 4th quarter would be extremely important. Seth Curry started the quarter for Rondo and he gave a great defensive spark. On one defensive possession, Curry knocked the ball loose but came up short and swiped it away the second time. The steal led to Casspi picking it up, tossing it to Collison up ahead who got it back to Casspi for an alley-oop after Casspi filled the middle lane really well. The Kings started to get a little sloppy with the ball again and their turnovers helped the Pacers keep it close. CJ Miles hit a 3 in the quarter to cut the lead to 1, but Collison answered with a 3 of his own. The Kings left a lot of Pacers players open on defensive possessions including Ellis who hit a 3 pointer to give the Pacers their first lead since the 1st quarter. The Pacers went up by 2 but Gay came down the floor to hit a jumper of his own. Cousins then got to the line to give the Kings a 2 point lead with a minute left. The game really came down to the wire, but Paul George’s struggles helped the Kings close it out. George missed a shot that gave the Kings a chance to go up by 2 possessions, however the team could not capitalize. With 8 seconds left to play, the Pacers drew up a play to get the ball in George’s hands. George got a decent look, contested by Gay, that did not fall. The Kings prevailed over the Pacers, 108-106.  Casspi had a good 4th with 9 points in the quarter and the Kings shot well once again, 55.6%, 10-18 from the field. The team continued assisting the ball and finding a way to crash the boards as well to pull out a much needed victory.

The Kings 3 point shooting was non-existent in the game, 4-23 behind the arc, but the team found a way to win in big part to their passing and attacking of the rim. The team finished with 64 points in the paint, 49 rebounds and 28 assists. Collision was a huge boost off the bench with 24 points and 5 assists as he used his explosiveness to get good looks. Cousins had a tremendous game, 25 points and 16 rebounds as he helped the Kings on the glass. Gay finished with 17 points and Casspi added a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Rondo did not score in the 4th, finishing with 13 points but totaled 16 assists. Cousins and Rondo’s double-doubles were both their 14th of the season. The Kings finished with a 51.7% shooting percentage which is pretty impressive given they missed 19 three point attempts. The team closed out a game that should not have been close but the turnovers kept the Pacers in it.

As the night concluded, Rondo was the fastest player in the Sacramento era to reach 300 assists. Cousins is looking more like his early season self as he keeps his season scoring around 24-25 points per game. Big Cous has been dominant in the paint and the Kings are doing a great job of exploiting that on other teams. The Kings have dominated the paint against their opponents all season and Rondo’s elite passing ability has made them a huge offensive threat. The Kings need to take care of the ball more and close out on defenders as they have continuously given wide open shots to their opponents. The Kings gave fans an early Christmas present with the victory, even though they also almost gave everyone a heart attack as well. The Kings are now 12-17 and will take on the 11-20 Portland Trailblazers at home. For Christmas, all Kings fans want is for the team to continue winning and find their way into a playoff spot. Happy Holidays!