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

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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.

 

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.

Careless with the ball, Kings still nab victory

by Michael Martinez

picture credit: Associated Press

SACRAMENTO- Flashback Friday took place at Sleep Train Arena with the old school court on display. The Kings took the fans back in time as well by playing a lot more competitive basketball and picking up a victory. The win came in big part to tremendous play from DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo and Rudy Gay. Darren Collison was a huge spark off the bench. After a ton of talks of firings and trades prior and during the All Star break, the Kings pulled out an important win.

In the first quarter of play, the Kings and Nuggets went back and forth for the majority of the quarter. Sacramento played better defensively, but both teams were very careless with the ball. Sacramento’s five first quarter turnovers hurt them as they lead to nine points for Denver.

Luckily, the Kings played some better defense and their All Star center DeMarcus Cousins picked up right where he left off. Cousins got to the line six times in the quarter and nailed all six shots from the charity stripe. Rudy Gay showed some confidence in his game by totaling eight first quarter points, 2-3 from the field, with both coming from beyond the arc.

Rajon Rondo also sunk two three pointers. The Kings shot uncharacteristically well beyond the three-point line, 5-7, in the first quarter.

Rondo and Denver center Jusuf Nurkic each picked up a technical after a little shoving match and trash talk coming off a Ben McLemore offensive foul.

Sacramento capped off the quarter with a three-point buzzer beater from Darren Collison off a Rondo assist. Through one quarter, the Kings led Denver, 31-24. The Kings held the Nuggets to less than 30 points, for the first time in Sacramento’s last ten games.

After a nice first quarter, the Kings scored five points in the first minute of the second quarter to go up, 36-24. But soon after, the Nuggets found some offense of there own for a 10-2 run in a minute and 20 seconds.

 

The Kings took a timeout to slow down the Nuggets. Out of the timeout, the Kings went out scored Denver 17-8 with 5:54, which put them up 55-42 with 5:54 left in the half. The run was capped off by a monstrous slam by Cousins who was fouled. Cousins was fouled on the dunk and made the free throw for a three-point play.

Collison made a technical free throw after Nuggets’ head coach Michael Malone picked up a technical. Malone chirped at the refs and his frustration led to the tech.

The Kings were careless with the ball yet again with eight turnovers leading to 11 Denver points, but they did capitalize off Denver’s six turnovers. The Kings scored 11 points as well and their hot shooting kept them up on the Nuggets. Sacramento shot 59.5% from the field and went 10-13 from behind the arc in the first half. Although they kept shooting well from three-point range, the Kings got back into the paint, adding 20 points in the paint in the second quarter and a total of 26 in the first half. The Kings led the Nuggets 70-57 through the first half of play.

A dominant offensive performance came from Cousins, who scored 24 points, 8-11, and grabbed eight boards in the half. Gay also shot the ball well, 5-9 from the field, 4-4 from beyond the three-point line, for 16 points. Rondo and Collison, who came off the bench, each totaled 12 points, while Rondo added 6 assists. Denver’s Danillo Gallinari had the team high for the Nuggets with 17 points in the half and Joffrey Lauvergne had 13.

After an incredible offensive first half, the Kings slowed down at an incredible rate in the third quarter. The team totaled a measly 18 points with Cousins scoring nine of those 18. Cousins continued to get to the line, 5-5 from the charity stripe in the quarter. The quarter was slow and the Kings managed to turn the ball over five more times. With the score 79-72, the Kings pulled out a 7-0 run to go up 86-72. The Nuggets only totaled 20 points with eight of those from Gallinari.

With a quiet third quarter from both teams, the Kings led 88-77 through three.

The fourth quarter showed more offense especially for the Nuggets who found their stride. Denver was able to keep things close by putting up 33 in the quarter, but Rondo came up big for the Kings. Rondo hustled really hard, added eight points and six assists in the fourth quarter. Rondo was clutch going 4-6 from the free throw line late in the ball game. The Kings were able to come out with a win after the break over the Nuggets. The final score was 116-110.

Cousins finished with 37 points,12-20 from the field and a career high 20 rebounds. Cousins also went 12-15 from the line as he got into the paint a lot and Denver’s bigs played him tough. The Kings totaled 56 points in the paint.

“[Cousins] was flat out amazing.” Collison said “They couldn’t stop him.”

Rondo had a big game and was especially important down the stretch. He finished with 24 points, 8-16 from the field, 10 assists and 9 rebounds.

“Rajon had great control of the game down the stretch” said head coach George Karl. “And understanding who were playing and what we had to do to be successful.”

Gay matched Rondo with 24 points and off the bench Collison totaled 17 points.

The Kings offensive was once again very good, except for the third quarter. The team made no three pointers in the second half, which slowed their scoring down quite a bit. The only real flaw of the game was the team’s 22 turnovers that turned into 34 points for Denver. The defense was much better and the Nugget’s high points total mostly came from carelessness as they scored 26 fast break points.

“We really didn’t go over much offense [during practice]. We basically just [practiced] a lot of defense.” Gay said “Our offense is going to be a little sloppy.”

On Tuesday, the Kings will face the Nuggets in Denver. They will need to stop Lauvergne who scored 22 and Gallinari who scored 27 points. These next stretch of games are incredibly crucial as Sacramento faces playoff caliber opponents. The next few weeks will say a lot about this team and it looks like they are ready to make a statement.

Kings fall short in loss to Bulls

by Michael Martinez

Photo credit (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

SACRAMENTO- A Chicago Bulls team without All Star Jimmy Butler gives opponents a much better chance at winning, or at least competiting. Butler sat out Wednesday night’s ball game with left knee tendinitis. The Kings did do a good job of sticking around with the Bulls, but allowed E’Twaun Moore to tear up the defense as if he was Butler.

Sacramento once again allowed a player who never really impacts games to get a career high in points. The Kings had a lot of sloppy play and their defense was not consistently strong enough to ever allow them to over come the Bulls. Missed free throws cost the Kings as well especially when it counted. Even with another monster game from DeMarcus Cousins, who was honored as an All Star prior to the game, Sacramento could not overcome the Bulls. The Kings (21-27) lost to the Bulls (27-21), 107-102, in a tightly contested match up in Sacramento at Sleep Train Arena.

The Kings lacked urgency to start the game. Sacramento looked slow and the Bulls took advantage, especially Moore. Moore scored ten of Chicago’s first 13 points causing Sacramento to take a timeout at the 7:02 mark. Moore would finish the quarter with 13 points, a point shy of his career high.

Marco Belinelli’s shot started to look better, scoring six points in the quarter, as he got another start. The Kings were able to hang around in the quarter in big part to DeMarcus Cousins, who scored eight points in a row later in the quarter causing the Bulls to call a timeout with Chicago up by eight. The Kings’ defense caused five turnovers, but could not find a way to stop the Bulls from scoring as Chicago shot 57.1% from the field. The Bulls did an excellent job behind the three-point line, going six for eight.

The Bulls took advantage of the Kings’ four turnovers with nine points off those turnovers. Allowing the Bulls to shoot at a high percentage had the Kings down, 35-24, after one quarter of play. For the fifth straight game, the Kings allowed their opponent to score 30 or more points in the first quarter.

“It’s a nightmare,” said Coach George Karl.  “I’ve never had this many games on your home court come out flat.”

Coming off of a sluggish first quarter, Darren Collison helped pick up the pace for Sacramento. Off the bench, Collison finished the half with 13 points, eight of those from the second quarter. The Kings’ defense did a better job against the Bulls’ offense and found some of their own as well.

With 4:35 left in the second quarter, Omri Casspi and Bobby Portis received a technical foul each after the pair were yapping at one another over a prior play.

Down by four, Sacramento looked to keep the game close but the Bulls went on a 6-0 run to go up by ten as Chicago continued their good ball movement with a little under three minutes to play in the half.

Belinelli scored six more points in the second quarter. Belinelli hit two three-pointers for a total of 12 points in the half. Belinelli’s threes helped keep the Kings within reach with one of those threes coming from a Cousins’ screen and put the score at 60-57. Belinelli’s three would be the last field goal of the half with the Bulls leading the Kings, 60-57 after one half of play.

Omri Casspi and Bobby Portis  received a double technical after the pair were yapping at one another over a prior play.

Moore eclipsed his prior career high of 14 points with 15 in the first half for a halftime high. Cousins scored 14 points for a team high. Chicago had ten second chance points in the first half, as they out rebounded the Kings, 26-18. Chicago crashed the boards much harder than the Kings, but with 28 points in the paint Sacramento kept it close.

The Kings started the third quarter off with a 5-0 run, giving them their first lead since early in the first quarter. But the Bulls followed it up with a 5-0 run of their own. The Kings got to 66 points, which was later changed to 64 as a Rudy Gay field goal was changed to a shot clock violation. After that point, Sacramento turned the ball over on five straight possessions, but luckily the Bulls did not do so well either. Throughout the quarter, Sacramento inched closer and closer, but the eight third quarter turnovers never gave them a chance to regain the lead.

Both teams did very little offensively, with Chicago scoring 20 and Sacramento scoring 18. The Kings did a much better job of rebounding the ball with four offensive boards and 14 total in the quarter. Gay scored six points on 3-6 shooting for a total of ten, looking much better in the third quarter after foul trouble in the first half.

Moore continued to play well out of the break with seven points in the third. Cousins also had a big quarter with eight points, as him and Moore tied for a game high with 22 points. After a lot of careless basketball, the Bulls still maintained their lead, 80-75 through three.

The fourth quarter came down to the wire although the Bulls started out the quarter on a 6-0 run. Again, the Kings were able to stay in the game and went up by as many as ten in the quarter. With a little over three and a half minutes to play, Chicago was up 99-90 over the Kings. But Belinelli’s improved shooting came in clutch for Sacramento as they got the lead down to four, 105-101, after he hit a three pointer while getting fouled.

Belinelli missed the free throw, but Cousins grabbed the board and was fouled. Cousins only made one free throw to cut Chicago’s lead to three with 45 seconds in the game. Sacramento kept getting stops and had possession down three with 17.9 seconds.

Out of a timeout, the Kings drew up a play to get Cousins the ball inside for a quick two, but Boogie could not convert on two separate tries. The Kings fouled Moore with 10.4 seconds left and the game seemed basically over. However, Moore missed both free throws and Sacramento got the rebound with nine seconds remaining. Cousins got fouled and missed the first free throw, letting out great frustration afterwards. Boogie missed the second shot on purpose and got called for a lane violation.

Pau Gasol, who finished with 16 points and 13 boards, made two free throws to close out the game and give the Bulls the victory, 107-102. Rudy Gay fouled out by fouling Gasol.

Derrick Rose had a solid fourth quarter with eight points, totaling 21 points and adding nine assists with six boards. Moore finished with a career high 24 points as he filled the shoes of Butler tonight.

Cousins added another double double on the season, 30 points and 11 rebounds, finishing with a game high. Cousins admitted to being banged up after a very physical game, but is still ready to go. Belinelli scored 18 points for Sacramento, 7-14 from the field.

Off the bench, Collison scored 19 points but did not see much playing time in the second half. Rajon Rondo added nine assists for the Kings, who continue to score well in the paint, but have lacked good starts in games.

The defense got better, but Chicago shot 52.4% from the behind the arc, which was a  big difference maker as well as their 19 fast break points. Both teams finished with 17 turnovers in a very sloppy game.

“Starts. Turnovers hurt us tonight, transition defense hurt us tonight,” Cousins said.

The Kings have now lost five of their last six games and are looking for answers with four games left before the All Star break.

“I would probably say our only pattern is our effort coming out early on in games. We’ve got to find a way to improve that,” Cousins said when asked about characteristics in their losses.

The Kings, now 21-28, will need to practice what they preach heading into the last four games to gain momentum as they near the break. On Friday, Sacramento will take on the Brooklyn Nets on the road as they look to get the roller coaster season back in their favor with some much needed road wins.

“We’ve got to get three, we have to,” Cousins said.

Kings defeat Lakers, 118-115, in Kobe’s Sacramento Farewell

by Michael Martinez

picture credit Google Images

SACRAMENTO- Nostalgia was in the air at Sleep Train Arena tonight. The Lakers and Kings played a game that brought everyone back to the memories of what was once the NBA’s best rivalry. Kobe Bryant was vintage, taking us back into a time machine as well in his final game in Sacramento. The crowd got loud, the Beat LA chants surfaced and the game came down to the wire. But that same nostalgia should have never been as the Kings let a 27-point lead dwindle in a matter of minutes. Luckily for the Kings their lead was just enough as the team sent off Bryant with a loss in his final game in Sacramento, 118-115, in a tale of two halves.

The Kings came out of the gate with great ball movement and shot the ball with precision while playing with great tempo. The team was able to get off to a hot start, going on a 19-4 run before the Lakers took a timeout to try and stop the bleeding. The Kings pushed the ball up court well, totaling 11 fast break points. The ball was continuously moved throughout the quarter and the Kings dropped 11 assists while turning the ball over just 2 times. The Kings biggest lead of the quarter was 21 when they went up 25-4 over Los Angeles. The Lakers tried to find some sort of offense, but the Kings looked better on defense only allowing the Lakers to shoot 40% from the field. The Kings shot 60% from the field, 15-25. DeMarcus Cousins continued his recent dominance with 12 points, 3-6 from the field, with 2 of those field goals coming from behind the arc. Cousins also grabbed 5 rebounds while going 4-4 from the charity stripe. Rajon Rondo finished the quarter with 5 dimes and Quincy Acy was a nice spark with 7 points as he started the game for the Kings. Ben McLemore did a nice job of getting to the hoop as he finished with 8 points. Great overall team play put the Kings on top of the Lakers, 38-21, after the first quarter.

The second quarter featured much of the same for Sacramento, although the Lakers played a bit better cutting the Kings lead to 14 early in the quarter. The Kings found a way to answer right back, however, as the team was able to sustain. Cousins was an efficient scorer, adding 10 more points in the second, 3-3 from the field and 4-5 from the free throw line. Cousins totaled 22 points for the game high, adding 6 boards. The Kings shot the ball 59.1% for the half while only turning the ball over 3 times in the quarter, for a total of 5 at the half. Bryant made his presence felt with 18 points in the half on 7-12 shooting. The Kings used their dominance in the paint to keep the lead after 2 quarters, 69-48.

Up by 21 heading into the 3rd, the game was the Kings to lose. The team still found a way to hold a big lead through half of the 3rd quarter, going up by 27 at one point. Rondo still found a way to dish the ball out and Acy benefitted from it.  Rondo also had a break out pass to Rudy Gay for a big hammer dunk in the quarter. But Cousins picked up a 5th with 5:48 remaining and that really hurt the Kings. The Lakers slowly cut down the Kings lead, Bryant totaled 10 points in the quarter, and finished the night with 28 points. Acy scored 11 points in the quarter and finished the 3rd with 18 points. D’Angelo Russell had a good quarter and finished with 16 points through 3. The Kings were still able to keep their shooting percentage up high at 58.6% and held the lead, 102-86.

The 4th quarter went as horrible as the Kings could possibly imagine. The young Lakers team played without Bryant for the 4th and they attacked the Kings defense. D’Angelo Russell scored 11 points and Jordan Clarkson added 12. The two young guards tore up the Kings defense while the Kings could not find a way to score. The Kings watched their lead completely disappear, as the Lakers went on a 24-3 run to take the lead, 109-108. The game soon became back and forth, with Sleep Train getting extremely loud. Gay took an alley oop from Rondo to put the Kings up late, but the Lakers came right back. The Lakers tried to foul rondo, who split a pair of free throws. Then Cousins was fouled and split a pair of free throws, the Lakers were up 115-114. . The Kings took the lead with 21.7 seconds remaining on a tear drop lay-up from Rondo. On the next passion, Cousins caused Clarkson to turn the ball over as the Kings were up by 1 and then drew a foul. Cousins made both free throws. As the Kings were up 118-115, Lou Williams took a 3 pointer in the final seconds and missed it. The crowd breathed a sigh of relief as the Kings were outscored 29-16 in the quarter, but pulled out the victory.

The Lakers shot the ball 55% for the quarter and finished shooting 54.7%. In the 4th, the Kings shot the ball at 40%. Cousins finished with 29 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists. Rondo finished with 9 points and 12 assists. Acy was a great spark for the Kings, finishing the night with 18 points. The Kings finished the game in sloppy fashion and ended the night with 15 turnovers. Their dominance in the paint did prevail, 64 points on the night. The Kings are now 10-3 when shooting over 50% with a 55.3 shooting percentage on the night. Russell scored 27 for the Lakers as he looks to be the new Kings killer and Williams added 20. The Kings barely squeaked out a win and Coach George Karl was not too pleased with his team afterwards.

After answering a few questions, Karl walked out of the media room.

After the game, Bryant reminisced on his time in Sacramento and about the applause from the fans.

“It was great. It’s a sign of respect, even though we’ve been enemies for years…” said Bryant.

Bryant also had high praise for Cousins who finished 1 point shy of 30. Cousins would have finished his fourth consecutive game with 30+ plus points had he made one more free throw or field goal.

Although the Kings won, there was little satisfaction.

Coach Karl said “Dallas was a good loss, tonight was a bad win..”

Boogie agreed.  “I feel the loss against Dallas was better than this win against the Lakers,” said Cousins.

The Kings almost gave away a huge lead and need to find a way to close out games while not playing to the level of opponents who are much worse than them. The Kings will take on the Warriors at home this Saturday and if the team hopes to stand a chance, they will need to play like they did in the first half, while closing out the second half.

Kings defeat Jazz, 114-106, to end 3 game losing streak

by Michael Martinez

picture credits Google Images

SACRAMENTO- Tonight’s game was interesting to say the least. The Kings offense was tremendous, they did many things well and their big man DeMarcus Cousins redeemed himself after criticizing his recent play. The Kings should have blown the Jazz out of the water, but the team allowed Utah to get way too many second chances points and stay in the game. The Kings lucked out that the Jazz struggled to hit the broad side of a barn for a while and Rajon Rondo’s passing ability plus lights out shooting from the team led them to an odd victory. The Kings defeated the Jazz, 114-106, at Sleep Train Arena backed by a supportive and loud home crowd.

As the game got underway, the Kings caused a bit of worry by turning the ball over in sloppy fashion and letting Jazz point guard Raul Neto drive to the hoop right past the whole team. The worry faded instantly as Ben McLemore hit a 3 pointer and started to capitalize on fast break chances. The team scored 9 fast break points, 4/4 from the field due to a solid defensive effort. The King started the quarter with a 12-2 run. Many of the Kings players did a good job attacking the hoop and the team totaled 20 points in the paint. With a good defensive effort, the Jazz seemed rattled and could not hit any shots. McLemore had a good 1st quarter, totaling 7 points on 3/3 shooting. Rudy Gay had a quarter high with 9 points on 4/5 shooting. The Kings shot 66.7% from the field and the 1st quarter was really good until the very end as the defense got a little relaxed. The Kings had the lead at the end of the 1st, 33-22, with 10 team rebounds and 9 assists and a little bit of help from the Jazz poor shooting, 36.4%.

The 2nd quarter began and the Kings seemed to let off the gas on the defensive end again. The end of the 1st spilled into the 2nd with the Kings giving the Jazz way too many open looks. If it weren’t for the Jazz atrocious shooting, the Kings could have easily been down. At the half, the Jazz were shooting only 37% from the field but 12 of the Jazz 26 points came off of second chance points. The Jazz totaled 8 offensive rebounds in the quarter as the Kings could not find a way to box them out. The Kings shot at 47.4% in the 2nd and finished the half shooting 57.4%. The first quarter really helped keep the Kings ahead as their tough time on defense led to poor offense. The Kings had 0 fast break points for the quarter and they did little to try and attack the hoop. By the end of the half, the Kings still led, 54-48, with Gay and Alec Burks having the halftime high in points with 11. Omri Casspi and DeMarcus Cousins each had 10 points, while Rondo finished the half with 6 points and 8 assists.

Coming out of the break, the Kings looked for some answers with their rebounding. The Jazz came out and struck quickly, only down by 1 early in the 3rd. However, the Kings found some life leading to a 7-0 run. But once again, the Kings let themselves get out rebounded and the Jazz were able to scratch and claw their way back into the game. The Jazz continued to jack up 3’s and their shooting of 50% for the 3rd helped keep them alive. Rondo had a highlight play when he faked a behind the back pass into a dribble to then pass to Gay who finished the fast break with a huge slam, which turned into a 3 point play. The Kings savior was their excellent shooting, 64.7% on the quarter and 59.6% in the game. At this point in the game, the Kings were outrebounded 36-25 and they turned the ball over 6 times in the quarter. The Kings only had 5 turnovers in the first half. The Kings got the ball back in the paint and by putting up 16 points in the paint, they were able to hold the lead, 86-80. Every Kings started was in double figures by the end of the 3rd quarter, with Casspi leading the way with 19 points, 7-12 from the field. Gay had 18, Cousins had 15 with 8 rebounds and Rondo had a double double totaling 13 points and 12 assists.

The 4th quarter started and the Jazz came out firing yet again. With the score 86-84, George Karl called a quick timeout to settle his team down. Marco Belinelli hit a 3 pointer out of the timeout and the Kings began to gain some momentum. A little over halfway through the 4th, the Kings found themselves up by 12 with Gay hitting a triple. Utah, however, kept finding a way to stay in the game by collapsing the Kings defense. Once the Kings defense collapsed in the paint, the Jazz found a wide open man on the perimeter. Luckily for the Kings, Cousins showed up big for the team in the fourth. He cleaned up the offensive end by getting much-needed offensive rebounds. The Kings snagged 7 offensive boards in the quarter and 15 total rebounds to Utah’s total of 8. Boogie put up 8 points in the quarter, 2-4 shootng and 4-6 from the charity stripe. The Kings held the lead and the Jazz fouled Rondo out of desperation, but Rondo went 4-4 on his free throws in consecutive possesions. As time began to tick down, the Jazz started getting second chances again and this caused Cousins to foul out. The Kings were once again sloppy towards the end but by shooting 55.8% for the game, they squeaked out a W. The final score, 114-106, with the Kings ending a 3 game skid.

5 Kings player finished the game in double figures, including Casspi, Gay, Cousins, McLemore, Rondo and Belinelli. Casspi, Cousins and Rondo all had double doubles. Casspi 19 points and 10 rebounds, 7-16 on field goals. Cousins 23 points and 12 rebounds, 8-14 shooting, adding 6 assists. Rondo finished with 17 points and 13 assists. Gay tied Cousins with a game high as he finished with 23 points. McLemore and Belinelli both finished with 10 points. The Kings passed the ball well, finishing with 29 assists and their lights out shooting helped them overcome not being able to rebound the ball. Thankfully, the Jazz did not shoot very well all game. The Kings finished the game with 58 points in the paint, which has been their MO this year.

The Kings have won 5 out of their last 6 home games.

“Consistency and enjoying play fast and you know, to play fast like we do, there’s probably more confidence at home,” said Karl.

The Kings will take on the the New York Knicks at home this upcoming Thursday on TNT as they get their first look at Kristaps Porzingis. The Kings will need to do a better job of rebounding the ball, or Porzingis might be some of the Kings players on a poster. The Kings will look to continue their hot shooting and offense from tonight’s game and they will need to close out on the perimeter to help them get a win on national television. Kings fans will be needed to be loud and proud.

 

 

Kings Stop the Magic 105-100

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Photo credit: Fernando Medina

By Charlie O. Mallonee

The Sacramento Kings desperately needed a win on Saturday night in Orlando. The Kings had lost the first three games of the four game road trip and had been blown out in two of those games. The game against the Magic appeared to be the most winnable of the trip. The Kings stepped up, shook off the blowout in Miami and beat the Magic 105-100.

The game did not begin in a manner that would instill confidence that a win was in the cards. The Kings gave up 31 points to the Magic and trailed 31-25 after one quarter. The lack of defense made it appear that is was going to be déjà vu all over again for Sacramento.

The Kings offense stepped up and starting putting points up on the board in the second quarter. Head Coach Michael Malone felt that his team’s 12-4 run to close out the quarter was a key to their victory. The Kings went to the locker room trailing the Magic by just two points, 58-56.

Both teams came out in the third determined to play defense. The Kings and the Magic scored only 19 points each in the quarter. Malone called his team’s defensive efforts in the period, “Terrific!” After three quarters the Magic led the Kings by just two points.

The Kings offense came alive in the fourth quarter as they went on an 18-4 run to kick things off in the final 12 minutes of the game. The Kings outscored the Magic 30-23 in the fourth period and capped off their 105-100 win.

After the game, Michael Malone said, “We battled back tonight.” He also praised guard Marcus Thornton, “Marcus has been a true pro. He was ready tonight.”

Thornton has been the forgotten man on the Sacramento bench. He had gone from being a starter to being completely out of the rotation. Saturday night Thornton got the chance to play and he did the most with his opportunity. Thornton scored 15 points in his 22 minutes of playing time. After the game he said, “I’m happy to have the opportunity.”

Isaiah Thomas had another terrific game for Sacramento. His play in the first half really kept his team in the game. Thomas finished with 23 points, nine assists and five rebounds. He shot eight for 15 from the floor.

Rudy Gay also poured in 23 points for the Kings in his 38 minutes of playing time. Gay grabbed six rebounds and added two assists.

DeMarcus Cousins recorded another double-double. Cousins scored 14 points and pulled down 11 rebounds.

The Kings had a strong night shooting the ball. They shot 49.4% (39-79) overall and 52.2% (12-23) from beyond the 3-point line.

The Kings now head back to Sacramento where they will host the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night at Sleep Train Arena.

Kings fall hard at Golden State

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By Charlie O. Mallonee

Every NBA fan knows that there is nothing harder for a team to do than win game two of a back-to-back schedule. The Kings traveled to Golden State and proved how hard it can be as they lost to the Warriors 98-87 after losing to the Clippers on Friday night. Do not let that score fool you. The game was much uglier than the final score would suggest.

In his post-game comments, Kings Head Coach Michael Malone summed up the game by saying his team did not shoot well and they did not defend well. He went on to say that his team’s effort was less than acceptable.

The game was essentially over after the first half. The Kings shot just 31.7% (13-41) from the field and were outscored by 10-points in the first and second quarters. The Warrior shot 53.7% (22-41) from the field and 46.7% (7/15) from behind the 3-point line. At half-time, the Warriors led the Kings 56-36.

The Kings came out hot in the third quarter by going on an opening 8-0 run to start the period. As the Kings attempted to fight their way back into the game, Golden State kept finding ways to score and keep the Kings at bay. At the 2:28 mark, Klay Thompson hit a 3-pointer followed by a Kings turnover that set up another Thompson 3-pointer. Sacramento never recovered from that sequence.

In the final quarter, both coaches went deep into their rotations to finish up the game. For the Kings, there was the first Jimmer Fredette sighting of the season. The Kings closed up the score but still lost 98-87

The Kings finished the game with a 34.5% (30-87) field goal shooting percentage. No matter what else you do, a team cannot win shooting 34.5%.

On defense, the Kings allowed the Warriors to shoot 51.3% (39-76). Sacramento allowed the Clippers to shoot 50% from the field on Friday night. The Kings cannot allow opponents to shoot that well and expected to win.

The one highlight of the game for the Kings was the play of rookie Ben McLemore. McLemore scored 19-points in 30 minutes of playing time. He also pulled down four rebounds, blocked two shots and added one assist. McLemore may have earned more playing time for himself with his performance against the Warriors.

The Kings will take Sunday off and return to practice on Monday. Their next game will on Tuesday when they host the “new look” Atlanta Hawks at Sleep Train Arena.

Kings Start New Era with Win!

Denver Nuggets v Sacramento Kings

By Tony Renteria
Sacramento CA: The Sacramento Kings (0-0) opened the 2013-2014 NBA season by hosting the Denver Nuggets (0-0) and holding off a tough Denver squad for a 09-88 win.
This was the first regular season game with the new ownership group and new head coach, The Kings may be turning the corner after the train wreck the last owners left
The Kings Led at the half 48-45 behind some strong inside play by DeMarcus Cousins who led the team with 14 points and six rebounds. Cousins has become the team leader with new altitude and passion. Cousins finished with 30 Points and game high 14 rebounds. This may be the start of an all star run of Cousins.
The Nuggets were led by Ty Lawson’s 20 points .
The Kings next play the Los Angles Clippers at Sleep Train Arena on Friday while the Nuggets host the Portland Trailblazers on the same day.

Kings hold off the Clippers in the Preseason Finale

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By Charlie O. Mallonee

The Sacramento Kings closed out the preseason with a 110-100 win over the LA Clippers Friday night in LA. The game was not the most picturesque affair, but it had its moments.

The Clippers came out of the box ready to play. They outscored the Kings 30-20 in the first period.

The Kings came roaring back in the second quarter scoring 37 points to the Clippers 21. Isaiah Thomas led the charge scoring 18-points in just 15 minutes of play.

Sacramento continued to stay hot in the third period outscoring LAC 32-20.

The Clippers made a real run at a comeback in the fourth quarter. They the used the 3-Pointer and Free Throw opportunities in an attempt to cut the Kings commanding 19-point lead down to a manageable size. The Clips topped the Kings 29-21 in the final period but ultimately fell short.

The Kings shot 44.0% (37-84) from the field. They were 7 for 27 (25.9%) from 3-Point land.

Sacramento pulled down 50 rebounds to the Clippers 41. They committed 25 Personal Fouls and 11 Turn Overs.

The Kings defense held the Clippers to just 39.2% (29-74) from the field. Anytime you can hold your opponents under 40.0% shooting, a win is most likely the result.

Isaiah Thomas led all scorers with 27-points. DeMarcus Cousins added 20-points. Jason Thompson was the leading rebounder with eight.

Greivis Vasquez led the Kings with 12 assists. Ironically, he scored no points in his 21:44 of Playing Time.

Notes: Guard Trent Lockett has been waived by the Kings. Lockett made two preseason appearances scoring four points (2-3 FG), gathering in two rebounds and posting one assist in five minutes of playing time. The preseason roster is down to 15 players … The Kings have launched an additional section to their website: www.kings.com/hindi. The site features stories, interviews and player information written entirely in Hindi. Kings Chairperson and majority owner, Vivek Ranadive, who is originally from Mumbai, wants the Kings to establish an international fan base. The new section of the website is the first step in rolling out the global initiative … The Kings will open the 2013-14 regular season next Wednesday night with the Denver Nuggets at Sleep Train Arena. The 7:00 PM tip-off can be seen locally on News 10 and heard on the Sports 1140 – Kings Radio Network.