Kings Game Preview: Clippers look for third consecutive win on Friday night

LA Clippers v Sacramento Kings
DeMarcus Cousins scored 38 points against the Clippers in November Photo: NBAE

by Charlie O. Mallonee

Tale of the Tape

Sacramento Kings 15-20

  • 8th place Western Conference – final Playoff slot if the season ended today
  •  15.5 games behind 1st place Golden State
  • one-half game ahead of 9th place Portland
  • Home 7-8 Road 8-12
  • Last 10 games 6-4
  • Current Streak Lost 1

Los Angeles Clippers 24-14

  • 4th place Western Conference
  • 8.0 games behind 1st place Golden State
  • 4.5 games behind 3rd place Houston
  • Home 13-6 Road 11-8
  • Last 10 games 4-6
  • Current streak Won 2

Results of last games played

Miami Heat v Sacramento Kings
Miami’s Tyler Johnson grabs the rebound Photo: NBAE

Sacramento

The Kings suffered an  embarrassing loss on Wednesday night at home to the lowly Miami Heat 107-102. The Heat came into the game with an 10-26 record and team that has been decimated by injury. Miami was without Hassan Whiteside (retinal contusion) and Justise Winslow (right shoulder that requires season-ending surgery). The Kings were without Rudy Gay (hip flexor) and coming off a win on Tuesday night on the road in Denver. The situation certainly seemed to favor Sacramento on their home court despite the back-to-back scenario.

The Heat came out fast and full of energy while the Kings seemed sluggish. Miami scored 64 points in the first half while shooting 63-percent. The Kings fought their way back into the game in the second half by virtue of a 13-0 run at the end of the third quarter. Ultimately, the Kings ran out of gas and lost the game.

With games coming up with the Clippers, Warriors, Cavaliers and Thunder on this homestand, the game with Miami was one the Kings could not afford to lose. Now, they have to try and get healthy against the always tough Los Angeles Clippers.

LA Clippers

The Clippers have been hit hard by injuries. Point guard Chris Paul has been on the sidelines with hamstring problems and forward Blake Griffin is out due to “minor” knee surgery. The Clippers had to host the Memphis Grizzlies who played the Lakers in Staples Center on Tuesday losing 116-102. The Grizzlies were without JaMychal Green (maxilla fracture suffered in the Lakers game) and Mike Conley who was held out for rest after having missed games with a toe injury.

The Clippers were led by Austin Rivers who scored a game-high 28 points in 44-minutes on the floor. His coach and father Doc Rivers said they just could not take him off the floor. DeAndre Jordan posted a double-double putting up 18 points and grabbing 20 rebounds. JJ Redick punished the Grizzlies from outside scoring 19 points. Jamal Crawford came off the bench to add 22 points. LAC shot 50.7-percent from the field for the game and beat the Grizzlies 115-106.

The victory over Memphis was the second consecutive win for the Clippers who broke a six-game losing streak on Monday night with a win over Phoenix. Now, the Clippers will play in Sacramento looking to make in three wins in a row.

Last Meeting

The Clippers beat the Kings 121-115 in the first meeting of the year back in November at the Golden 1 Center. Sacramento was down by as many as 26 points in that game but made a big run at the Clippers in the fourth quarter to close within two points, 117-115, as the game neared the close. The Kings were not be able to score again and lost by six points.

DeMarcus Cousins scored 38 points, pulled down 13 rebounds and had seven assists for the Kings. Blake Griffin put up 29 points for the Clippers while JJ Redick scored 26 hitting 6-of-8 3-point shots.

Injury Update

NBA: Miami Heat at Sacramento Kings
Ty Lawson played against the Heat despite injury Photo: USA Today

The Kings have listed Rudy Gay as doubtful as the hip flexor continues to plague the talented forward. Doubtful means there is a 25-percent chance of Gay playing Friday night. As much as the Kings need him, do not count on see Rudy Gay in this game.

Guard Ty Lawson scored 15 points against the Heat despite having a sub conjunctival hemorrhage right/blurred vision (or as one talk show host called it “a broken face”). As a precaution Lawson is listed as questionable which means he is 50-50 to play on Friday.

The Clippers have Chris Paul listed as doubtful but Doc Rivers said that the decision will be based on the guard’s condition after a full workout on Thursday. Paul and the team have made no secret that they would like to their star return to action on Friday night in Sacramento.

Blake Griffin (knee surgery) and Brice Johnson (herniated disc, lower back) are out and will not play.

What do the teams need to do to win

Kings

  • Sacramento needs to shoot well from midrange and from beyond the arc. The Kings are capable of shooting well from the floor. They shot better than 50-percent in the loss to Miami on Wednesday. Strong shooting performances from Barnes, Collison, Tolliver, Temple, Afflalo and Lawson – if he is able to go – will be necessary to help take the pressure off DeMarcus Cousins.
  • The Kings will also need a big night on the boards from DeMarcus Cousins. DeAndre Jordan will grabbing rebounds without abandon for the Clippers, the Kings will need Cousins to do the same for them.
  • The Kings defense will also need to concentrate on shutting down the 3-point shooting of the Clippers. JJ Redick will take every opportunity given to him to heave up a 3-pointer. This is a weak point for the Kings. They need to work hard on stopping the 3-point shots on Friday night.

Clippers

  • LAC needs to shoot from beyond the arc until it hurts. This has been the Achilles heal of the Kings all season long. JJ Redick is a shooting guard who can destroy a team from 3-point land. He needs to establish that dominance early and often against the Kings on Friday night.
  • The Clippers will need a strong defensive performance from Luc Mbah a Moute and DeAndre Jordan to contain DeMarcus Cousins if they are to beat the Kings. If you stop Cousins, you stop the Kings. The problem is – it may take more than two players to stop Cousins.
  • Los Angeles could really use the presence of point guard of Chris Paul on Friday night. The Kings are going to play angry after losing to Miami on Wednesday night. Having the incredible skills of the all-star point guard to counteract that anger would really benefit the Clippers.

What do the experts predict?

  • FiveThirtyEight.com says this game will go to the Clippers. They give the Clippers a 54-percent chance of winning the game. FiveThirtyEight.com says to take LAC minus one point.
  • The Desert Dwellers either have no idea how to call this game or do not care about the game because as of 7 a.m. PST Friday no odds or over/under had been posted for this contest.

Complete postgame coverage tonight on sportsradioservice.com. Listen to the Kings podcast every Tuesday with Charlie O.

Grizzlies ruin New Year’s Eve for the Kings with a 112-98 win

 

Memphis Grizzlies v Sacramento Kings
Cousins takes the shot Photo: NBAE

by Charlie O. Mallonee

Sacramento — The New Year’s Eve afternoon game between the Memphis Grizzlies and the Sacramento Kings did not become the big holiday celebration the King’s fans were hoping for when they filled the building to capacity. The Kings had defeated the Grizzlies in Memphis earlier in the month, but they could not tame Memphis Saturday afternoon as they lost 112-98.

This was the second consecutive loss for the Kings (14-19) who lost on the road on Wednesday night in Portland. For Memphis (22-14), it was their second win in a row as they were coming off a big victory at home over Oklahoma City on Thursday. The victory also gave the Grizzlies a positive start to their four-game West Coast road trip.

After the game, Kings head coach Dave Joerger called the Grizzlies one of the top four teams in the Western Conference. That is the way the Memphis played and looked in the game against the Kings.

It was all about the “3” for the Grizzlies

Memphis came into the contest shooting 34-percent from 3-point range. In this game, they shot 48.6-percent (17-for-35) from long range literally breaking the backs of the Kings from downtown. Forward JaMychal Green went for 4-for-5 beyond the arc. Zach Randolph came off the bench hitting 4-0f-6 from long range. Mike Conley went 3-for-4 from downtown en route to leading the Memphis scoring attack with 22 points.

The Grizzlies overall shooting was spectacular in the game. They shot an impressive 50.6-percent (44-for-87) from the field. Memphis had five players finish in double figures – Conley 22, Green 18, Randolph 14, Carter 14 and Daniels 11.

The Memphis bench outscored the Sacramento reserves 52-32.

Memphis won this game without much help from Gasol

The Grizzlies are usually very dependent on the center Marc Gasol if they are to have success in a game. The big man was actually very quiet during the first half scoring just two points on free throws while going 0-for-6 from the floor. He also recorded only one rebound in the half.

Gasol disappeared after playing just under three minutes in the third quarter and did return to the game. He rolled his left ankle and went to the training room for treatment. Per a team spokesperson, he could have returned to the game if needed.

We did see Gasol walking under his own power out of the training room after the game. He was not going at full speed, but he did not appear to be in pain.

Tough night for Cousins

DeMarcus Cousins had a tough night with a team that plays tough down low. In the first half, Cousins emphasis seemed to be on distributing the ball. He finished the first half with five of the Kings nine assists.

Cousins picked up his fourth personal foul with 9:16 to play in the third quarter of the game and the Kings trailing 57-49. Joerger chose to keep Cousins in the contest but he really could not be factor on defense for fear of picking up another foul.

Then with 4:08 remaining in the third quarter, Cousins was hit with his eighth technical foul of the season after getting into a shouting confrontation with several Memphis players. At first Cousins and everyone in the building thought he had been ejected from the game because of the hand gestures of the referee, but that turned out not to be the case. Cousins was allowed to remain in the game.

Cousins finished the game with 26 points, 8 assists and four rebounds.

Sacramento struggled with their shooting in the game

The Kings had trouble getting the ball to drop through the basket at times on Saturday. For much of the second half they were shooting under 40-percent from the field. They finished the game with a 43.1-field goal shooting percent (31-for-72).

The 3-point shot was also not the Kings friend versus the Grizzlies. They went 11-for-28 (39.3-percent) from downtown for the game.

The bright spot for the Kings was at the free throw line. Sacramento went 25-for-28 (89.3-percent) from the charity stripe. Memphis went to the free throw line just nine times in the game.

Lawson injured in first half – status is up in the air

Kings guard Ty Lawson was hit in the face late in the second quarter of the game. In order to get to bench and be substituted for, Lawson had to commit a foul to stop the action.

The only update that was given by the team on his status after the game was that Lawson was still under medical evaluation for his injuries.

Up next

The Kings are off until Tuesday when they will travel to Denver to take on the Nuggets for the first time this season. It is always a big deal for some of the Kings players to face Denver because the Nuggets are coached by their former coach Michael Malone.

The Grizzlies travel down the coast to Los Angeles to face the Lakers on Tuesday night.

Kings-76ers Monday night post game wrap: Kings hold on to win 102-100

Philadelphia 76ers v Sacramento Kings
Cousins goes to the rack Photo: NBAE

By Tony Renteria

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The game between the Sixers and Kings came down to free throws on Monday night as Sacramento won their fourth consecutive game 102-100.

Garrett Temple put the Kings up by three points with 14.9-seconds to go when he hit 1-of-2 free throws. Philly’s Sergio Rodriguez answered back with a 25-foot 3-point shot that cut the Kings lead to just one point. Robert Covington fouled Cousins with 5.9-seconds remaining in the game. The Kings big man converted 1-of-2 foul shots allowing the Kings to take a 102-100 lead. The Sixers Joel Embiid missed two 3-point shots in those final seconds and the Kings held on for the victory.

The Kings had to outscore Philadelphia 32-23 in the final period to win the contest. The Sixers held a 77-70 lead after three quarters.

The Sacramento Kings record improved to 14-17 with the victory while Philadelphia dropped to 7-23 after the loss. Sacramento holds on to eighth place in the Western Conference with a one-game lead over ninth place Denver and a two-game lead over 10th place Portland – the Kings next opponent.

With 31 games under their belt this season, the Kings just need three wins to get to .500. First-year head coach Dave Joerger continues to focus on defense and finding the right combination of players to put on the floor.

DeMarcus Cousins again led the team in scoring with 30 points on 10-of-20 shooting, while also adding nine rebounds.  Rudy Gay returned to the Kings lineup after missing six games with a hip flexor. He made his presence known chipping in 17 points himself. Gay’s return did create a significant change in the Kings player rotation.

Ty Lawson was again a major factor off the bench for Sacramento on Monday night. He scored 12 points, grabbed four rebounds (three offensive), dished out four assists and had two steals in 20-minutes of playing time. Willie Cauley-Stein played significant minutes especially in the third quarter when Kosta Koufos experienced foul trouble. Cauley-Stein went into the game to help defend Embiid and wound up scoring nine points and pulled down four rebounds.

The Kings won the battle in the paint outscoring the Sixers 52-46 down low. Sacramento also out-rebounded Philly 42-38. The Kings had 24 assists but they turned the ball over 19 times which resulted in 24 points for Philadelphia.

The 76ers were led by Joel Embiid and his 25 points and eight rebounds. Sergio Rodriguez also added 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting, including 4-of-5 from beyond the arc. Jahlil Okafor played 19-minutes at center scoring six points and posting one rebound. Disgruntled big man Nerlens Noel received just three-minutes on the floor and scored three points for his team.

Former King Nick Stauskas never really got going in the game. He played just 19-minutes scoring four points shooting just 2-for-4 from the floor. Stauskas is actually having his best year in the NBA upping his scoring average to 9.5 points per game which is a 2.6 point improvement over his career average of 6.9 points per game.

The 76ers head to Utah to play the Jazz Thursday, while the Kings will travel to Portland play the Trail Blazers Wednesday. The Kings are 1-1 versus the Trail Blazers this season. Each team has won on their home court. DeMarcus Cousins scored 55 points in Kings 126-121 victory over Portland at the Golden 1 Center. The game on Wednesday night will be the final meeting of the season between the two teams.

Kings win third game in a row defeating the Timberwolves 109-105

Sacramento Kings v Minnesota Timberwolves
Koufos shoots in the paint photo: NBAE

by Charlie O. Mallonee

The Sacramento Kings won their third consecutive game on Friday night in Minnesota 109-105 as they downed the young and very talented Timberwolves ending their two game winning streak. Both teams fought hard in the game as the lead changed hands 20 times in the contest.

The win was the Kings second in a row on the road as they also won in Utah on Wednesday night. Sacramento’s road record improved to 6-11 and they are 5-5 in their last 10 games.

Sacramento’s overall record improved to 13-17 and moved them into sole possession of eighth place in the Western Conference by one-half game over Portland. That means if the season ended today, the Kings would be in the NBA Playoffs.

DeMarcus Cousins leads the way for the Kings

Cousins struggled with the Wolves double-teams in the first half scoring just 11 points. The Timberwolves were unable to hold him down in the second half as he put up 22 points working the paint and shooting from long range.

The Kings forward/center was the team’s assists leader with seven dimes. He was very aware of where his teammates were when the Minnesota defense double-teamed him. Cousins also led the team in steals. It was a Cousins steal from Zach Levine with 36-seconds to go in the game that helped to seal the win for the Kings.

The Kings bench produced big results on Friday night

The Kings bench outscored the Timberwolves bench 45-11. Anthony Tolliver scored 17 points hitting 5-of-7 shots from 3-point range. Tolliver played 30 minutes off the bench for Sacramento.

Ty Lawson has really come into his own in the last few games. He seems to have found how use his speed in the offense. Lawson scored 15 points for the second unit shooting 5-for-11 including two 3-point baskets. He also dished out four assists and had two steals.

The Kings team stats were very impressive

Sacramento shot 42-for-80 (52.5-percent) from the field. They hit 15-of-29 (51.7-percent) from 3-point land. From the free throw line, the Kings went 10-for-14 (71.4-percent).

The Kings assists to turnover ratio was better than the goal of 2:1. They had 27 assists and turned the ball over just 11 times that Minnesota converted into just six points. Sacramento had seven steals in the contest.

The Kings were out-rebounded 42-38.

Sacramento Kings v Minnesota Timberwolves
Barnes handles the ball for the Kings photo: NBAE

Coach Joerger’s views on the game

  • It was a good game, a good win
  • The Kings avoided the “track meet” mentality of trying to run with the young Timberwolves
  • The executed pretty well
  • By winning three in row, the team has earned Christmas Eve and Christmas off

Lavine was a one-man wrecking crew for Minnesota

Guard Zach Lavine tried to win the game single-handedly for the Wolves and he almost succeeded. Lavine scored a career high 40 points. He shot 13-for-21 from the field including seven 3-point buckets. Lavine was also a perfect 7-for-7 from the free throw line. The third-year shooting guard played 39-minutes in the game.

The other Kentucky center had pretty good game as well

Karl-Anthony Towns scored 20 points for Minnesota. He made it a double-double game by grabbing 13 rebounds. Towns shot 7-for-15 from the floor. He also had five assists.

Sacramento Kings v Minnesota Timberwolves
Towns works through traffic photo: NBAE

Minnesota has to work on Christmas Day

The Timberwolves travel to Oklahoma City to take on the Thunder on December 25th. That is a tough task for a 9-20 team that is trying to find its footing. Minnesota has all the talent it needs to become a real force in the NBA. Now, it’s a matter of developing the maturity.

The Kings return to action on Monday night

Sacramento has a real chance to make it four wins in a row when they host the 7-22 Philadelphia 76ers at the Golden 1 Center. The Kings need to be very careful with the Sixers. It can be very easy to look past a team that is doing so poorly and wind up losing to that squad. That is what happened last season when the Sixers beat the Kings in Sacramento.

Kings fail to show up; lose to Mavs 99-79

 

Sacramento Kings v Dallas Mavericks
Cousins was the Kings offense in Dallas on Sunday photo: NBAE

by Charlie O. Mallonee

The Sacramento Kings went into Dallas on Sunday with a chance to finish a three-game road with a winning record and hand the Mavericks their second loss to the Kings in 12 days at the American Airlines Center. Instead, the Kings never had a lead in the game, allowed the Mavericks to dominate from beyond the 3-point arc, did not support a 33-point performance by DeMarcus Cousins and lost the game 99-79.

The Kings (10-17) were coming off a big victory in Memphis on Friday night were they to had grind their way to a 96-92 win against a team that makes it living grinding the opposition down to defeat them. Momentum should have been with them as they faced a team they had destroyed just days earlier.

The Mavericks (7-20) were coming off a devastating loss in Utah on Friday night. Dallas had tied the game up at 100-all with seconds remaining. Deron Williams missed a shot that could have won the game for Dallas and Rodney Hood drove the ball into the frontcourt for the Jazz, pulled up hitting a 26-foot jump shot to give the Utah a 3-point lead with 0.8-seconds remaining. The Jazz won the game 103-100.

It appears the motivation of overcoming a loss was stronger than the motivation of establishing a winning streak on Sunday night.

New season low point total for the Kings

The final total of 79 points was a new season low for Sacramento.  Why did the Kings score so few points? Poor shooting percentage would be the number one problem:

  • The Kings shot 39.5-percent (30-for-76) from the floor. The odds of winning an NBA game really drop when a team shoots under 40-percent
  • Converting just 8-of-31 (25.8-percent) 3-point shot opportunities. It is a 3-point league and a long-range shooting percentage in the 20s is going to make it tough to win
  • Going just 11-for-17 (64.7-percent) from the free throw line. They call it the “charity stripe” for a reason. A team has to take advantage of those uncontested shots. The small total of 17 attempts tells you that the Kings did not drive it to the basket enough in the game

Lack of scorers in double figures for Sacramento

The Kings had only two players post totals in double figures on Sunday night. DeMarcus Cousins put up 33 points while shooting 50-percent from the field. He also recorded nine rebounds. Ty Lawson was the only other Kings player to score in double figures in support of Cousins big effort. Lawson scored 10 points off the bench.

Sacramento had only two players who had scored more than three points at the half.

By contrast, the Mavericks had six players post scoring totals in double figures. Four of the five Dallas starters scored in double digits. Former King Seth Curry scored 13 points coming off the bench for the Mavs.

Sacramento Kings v Dallas Mavericks
Ben McLemore handles the ball for the Kings photo: NBAE

The Mavericks guards dominated the backcourt play

Dallas guards outscored the Sacramento guards 57-17 in the game. The Mavericks guards helped lead a 44.2-percent (34-for-77) shooting barrage that included hitting 13-of-33 shots from 3-point land.

A major loss of momentum for the Kings

A win in Dallas would have given the Kings a winning record on the three-game road trip. Now the Kings come home on Tuesday to face a Portland team that they have already lost to once this season before heading back out on the road for two more games before Christmas.

The Kings then have to go to Utah on Wednesday night for second game of a back-to-back set. They lost 104-84 on their last visit to Salt Lake City.

After facing Utah, the Kings have to travel to Minnesota to face the Timberwolves on Friday night. The T-Wolves have won just seven games this season but so has Dallas. Plus, we know that the road is a very fickle place in the NBA.

Sacramento Kings v Dallas Mavericks
Cousins drives to the basket in Dallas photo: NBAE

The Kings will need Gay and Casspi back

Sacramento was without Rudy Gay (right hip flexor strain) and Omri Casspi (illness) for the second consecutive game on Sunday night. The Kings could use the firepower of both players back in their lineup on Tuesday when they face the Trail Blazers.

Knicks sneak past the Kings 103-100

by Charlie O. Mallonee

New York Knicks v Sacramento Kings
Cousins shoots against the Knicks photo: NBA.com

Sacramento – The Kings trailed the New York Knicks 103-100 with 2.6-seconds remaining in the game. New York had to inbound the ball in the frontcourt after calling a timeout. The inbound pass came to Carmelo Anthony who was immediately fouled by Rudy Gay before any time could come off the clock. The only problem with the plan was the fact that Anthony was a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line in game up to that point.

Incredibly, Anthony stepped up to the line and promptly missed the first first free throw and the sellout crowd began to buzz. Anthony shot the second free throw and unbelievably missed again.

DeMarcus Cousins grabbed the rebound and ran as close to midcourt as he dared. The giant of a man then heaved a what was estimated to be a 52-foot desperation shot at his basket that hit the rim and then rolled out. For a few micro-seconds the thousands of Kings fans in attendance thought they were going to witness a miracle, then reality hit and the big crowd began to exit the Golden 1 Center knowing their team had lost the game.

Each team was missing a key player in the game

The Kings played the game without Matt Barnes who was held out of the game for what was called “rest”. Barnes of course has been at the center of a controversial story about a fight that allegedly took place in a New York City night club early last Monday morning. Rumors have been swirling that Barnes would be arrested by NYPD for his involvement in the incident. Barnes has also been named in a lawsuit that has been filed by two of the alleged victims of the brawl.

In his postgame press conference, Kings head coach Dave Joerger indicated that he believed Barnes would be available to play against the Jazz in Utah on Saturday night. Barnes was on the bench in street clothes for the game Friday night.

The Knicks were without Derrick Rose who is suffering from lower back pain. Rose had to miss the game on Wednesday night in New York City versus the Cavaliers due to the same problem.

NYK head coach Jeff Hornacek said before the game he was hopeful Rose would be available for the game on Sunday when his team faces the Lakers in Los Angeles.

Sacramento struggles shooting again against the Knicks

The Kings (8-13) shot much better in the first half against the Knicks on Friday night than did last Sunday in the Garden when they shot under 30-percent. However, the Kings shot under 40-percent in both the third and fourth quarters of this game which helped lead to their demise.

Sacramento shot 40.2-percent (35-for-87) from the floor and were a dismal 7-of-28 (25-percent) from 3-point range. The Kings went 23-for-27 (85.2-percent) from the free throw line.

Cousins led the way for the Kings

  • Cousins scored 28 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to post the double-double. He also struggled shooting going 9-for-25 from the field and 0-for-6 for 3-point opportunities. Cousins did dish out six assists in the contest
  • Darren Collison had a strong game against the Knicks. He scored 14 points shooting 5-for-11 in the game. He also had three assists and two steals
  • Rudy Gay recorded 15 points, five rebounds and a steal. He also had a tough night shooting going 4-for-15 from the floor and 0-for-5 from beyond the 3-point line
  • Omri Casspi keeps taking advantage of every playing opportunity he is given by Dave Joerger. Casspi put 12 points up on the board hitting 4-of-5 shots from the floor including one 3-pointer. He was a perfect 3-for-3 from the charity stripe and he had two steals in the game
  • Ben McLemore started his second consecutive game and scored 10 points. He hit 2-of-2 from long range
  • Other Kings scorers: Anthony Tolliver 10, Garrett Temple 5, Kosta Koufos 4, Ty Lawson 4
New York Knicks v Sacramento Kings
Rudy Gay drives on the basket against the Knicks photo: NBA.com

Kings Dave Joerger on problems at the end of quarters in the game

“That was definitely a good basketball game. A couple of things came back and bit us. We gave up eight points at the end of the first, second and third quarter on last possession plays. In a close game, those things add up. We struggled to struggled to score the basketball tonight. We turned them over 17 times and scored 25 points off of that but outside of that we just didn’t make a lot of shots. Especially from the perimeter, we did not gain a lot of shots from the perimeter so it may jam up the paint on us. Good basketball game.”

joerger-nyk
Dave Joerger faces the press photo: SRS.com

Surprising stat of the night

The Kings are not a team that is outrebounded by their opponents on a regular basis. If the other team does record more rebounds, the difference is usually not dramatic.

On Friday night, the Knicks outrebounded the Kings 54-39. Kings head Dave Joerger felt their length and the fact the Kings played “small” much of the game is what allowed New York to establish such a margin.

NYK did not have a great shooting night but lived in “Melo’s” world

The Knicks shot just 42.9-percent (36-for-84) on Friday against the Kings. They shot slightly better from long range hitting on 10-of-29 (34.5-percent) of their 3-point shots.

New York (13-10) rode the hot hand of Carmelo Anthony in the first half and then relied on efforts of Kristaps Porzingis and their bench in the second half.

  • Melo put 33 points in the book on Friday night. He shot 9-for-22 from field, 3-for-10 from long distance and was an impressive 10-of-12 from the free throw line. Anthony scored 23 points in the first half
  • Porzingis scored 17 after shooting a pitiful 1-for-9 in the first half. He did wind up with a double-double by hauling in 10 rebounds
  • Brandon Jennings did a nice job filling in for Rose on the point scoring 13 points and distributing seven assists
  • Kyle O’Quinn had a nice game off the bench for the Knicks scoring eight points, pulling down 11 rebounds, dishing five assists and blocking two shots in 20-minutes of playing time
carmelo-kings
Melo fires away versus the Kings photo: NBA.com

Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek had nothing but praise but praise for Carmelo

“He had a great game. When he’s scoring, he’s getting the ball in a good position from our guys where he can drive it. We put him in some trouble later on in the game, giving him the with like four seconds to go, not a good thing to do. We talked about having to get to the offense a little bit quicker. Late in the game, we kind of walked to our spots. Carmelo, when we go to him, he can pump fake, he can drive, he’s making passes. He’s playing an all-around game, like a star does.”

Up next for the teams

The Kings go right back into action on Saturday night as they play the back end of a back-to-back set on the road in Utah against the Jazz.

The Knicks are off until Sunday when they will play game two of their five-game road trip in Los Angeles versus the Lakers.

Kings Countdown: “Small ball” arrives for the Raptors on Sunday in Sac

by Charlie O. Mallonee

1118joeger

Kings head coach Dave Joerger has seen enough

“I’ve seen enough.We’re going to play small. DeMarcus is going to play center. I don’t know who else will play with him. It just gives us more zip, more life, more experience. That’s not any detriment to anyone else or what they’ve done.” That quote is from Dave Joerger’s postgame press conference on Friday night after the Kings lost to the Clippers 121-115.

After watching his team being blown off the court in the first half by the Clippers, Joerger shook up his lineup in the second half by going small with Cousins at the five, Gay at forward and three guards – Lawson, Afflalo and Collison. The result was improved shooting percentage, higher point production and better defense.

Kings had lost four in a row the last time they played Toronto

Sacramento faced the Raptors in Toronto at the end of a five-game/seven-day road trip that had seen the Kings lose four consecutive games. Expectations were very low for the Kings chances after they had been dominated by the Bucks in Milwaukee the night before.

To everyone’s surprise – especially the Raptors – the Kings played a strong game led by Rudy Gay’s 23 points and DeMarcus Cousins double-double (22 points, 14 rebounds) to defeat Toronto 96-91.

The Sacramento defense was as intense as it had been all season in that game in Toronto. The Kings held DeMar DeRozan under 30 points for the first time in the season. He had scored 30-plus points in the five consecutive games to start the season.

Kings can sweep the series for the second consecutive year

Sacramento swept the season series in 2015-16. Now, the Kings have the opportunity to do that again after winning the first game in Toronto.

The Raptors are a Tier-1 team which means they are definitely a playoff team that has chance to make it to the NBA Finals. They made it to the Eastern Conference Finals last season where they lost to the eventual NBA Champions – the Cleveland Cavaliers.

FiveThirtyEight.com projects the Raptors as being the number two seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs this season with a 20-percent chance of being the top seed.

The Kings are still a Tier-3 team which means they basically have no chance of making the playoffs and will be a lottery team again. FiveThirtyEight currently projects the Kings have a 12-percent chance of becoming a playoff team.

Toronto beat the Nuggets 113-111 in OT on Friday night on the road in Denver

The Raptors Terrance Ross hit a 3-pointer with 37.6 seconds to go in the game and Emmanuel Mudiay missed from halfcourt as time ran out and Toronto won in overtime 113-111. DeMar DeRozan scored 30 points for the 10th time in 12 games this season for the Raptors. Kyle Lowry posted a double-double by scoring 18 points and dishing out 13 assists for Toronto in the contest.

Toronto Raptors v Denver Nuggets

The Raptors aren’t afraid of the road

Toronto (8-4) is 4-1 on the this season. The Raptors will not be intimidated just because they are coming into a new arena in Sacramento. Evidently, the Raptors don’t understand that they are supposed to have a 60-percent chance of losing because they are the visitors.

The key to winning is to stop DeRozan

DeRozan is currently the leading scorer in the NBA at 33.0 points per game. He is shooting 50.3-percent from field and leads all players with 145 field goals.

The Kings will also have to neutralize Jonas Valanciunas

Valanciunas did not play in the game in Toronto due to injury. He scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the Denver game Friday night. Valanciunas ranks seventh with a field goal percentage of 57.8-percentage.

Toronto Raptors v Denver Nuggets

For entertainment purposes only

FiveThirtyEight.com predicts the Raptors have a 63-percent of winning the game on the Sunday night in Sacramento. They also say take Toronto minus 3.5 points.

The sports books show the game going to Toronto minus 1 to 3.5 points. The over/under is a consistent 209.5 points.

Kings put up a fight but the Clippers win 121-115

by Charlie O. Mallonee

LA Clippers v Sacramento Kings
J.J. Redick fires away Photo: Rocky Widner NBAE

The Clippers are now 6-0 on the road but they almost blew this win

The Los Angeles Clippers improved their record to 11-2 on the season with a 121-115 win over the Kings in Sacramento on Friday night. At one point in the first half, Los Angeles had a 26-point lead. They held a 19-point lead after three quarters were in the books.

The Kings outscored the Clippers 30-17 in fourth quarter led by Matt Barnes and his 10 points that came from his perfect 3-for-3 shooting from beyond the 3-point line. DeMarcus Cousins added seven points, Ty Lawson put up five, Garrett Temple four, Anthony Tolliver three and Rudy Gay one point.

Sacramento cut the Clippers lead to two points with 2:04 to go in the game, but that was as close as they would come to retaking the lead. Los Angeles scored the final four points of the game on a dunk by DeAndre Jordan and two free throws from Chris Paul.

The Kings changed the the lineup in the third quarter which changed the game

Dave Joerger went “small” to start the second half moving Cousins to center, keeping Gay at forward and starting three guards – Lawson, Afflalo and Collison. Joerger felt the lineup change had a profound affect on his team’s pick and roll execution. He also felt the defense improved.

The Kings team shooting percentage improved to 52.9-percent (9-for-17) in the third period as they scored 31 points.

The Clippers scored 31 points as well but their shooting percentage fell to 42.9-percent as the Kings tightened up their defense.

Los Angeles still had a 19 point lead – 104 to 85 – at the end of three quarters.

LA Clippers v Sacramento Kings
Ty Lawson Photo: Rocky Widner NBAE

The Clippers started the game on fire

Los Angeles started the game aggressively with Blake Griffin scoring 15 points and J.J. Redick adding 14 of his own. Griffin went to the free throw line eight times and converted seven times. Redick was a perfect 4-for-4 from 3-point land. The Clippers shot 70-percent as a team in the first quarter.

The Clippers put up 33 points in the second quarter paced by the 20 points scored by the second unit coming off the bench. Paul Pierce – who has been used sparingly – even made an appearance scoring six points. As a team, they shot 70.6-percent from the floor and 85.7-percent (6-for-7) from 3-point range.

The Kings improved their lot in the second period by scoring 30 points. DeMarcus Cousins scored 15 points in seven minutes on the floor to keep the game relatively close.

The Clippers held a 19 point lead – 73 to 54 – over the Kings at the half.

To no one’s surprise Cousins had another monster game

The Kings superstar scored 38 points in 36 minutes of playing time on Friday night. He also posted another double-double as he pulled down 13 rebounds in the game. The amazing big man also had seven assists and three steals.

LA Clippers v Sacramento Kings
DeMarcus Cousins Photo: Rocky Widner NBAE

Lawson, Collison and Barnes also came up big

Ty Lawson played 36-minutes against the Clippers and scored 18 points, dished out eight assists and hauled in seven rebounds. His point guard counterpart – Darren Collison – played 32-minutes putting up 16 points shooting 7-for-11 (one 3-pointer) from the floor.

Matt Barnes came off the bench and played 30-minutes for the Kings scoring 15 points and recording seven rebounds. He shot 5-for-10 from the field and 4-for-6 from beyond the 3-point arc.

Coach Dave Joerger on the Kings performance

“I was proud of our guys. We came out and battled and got after it and we competed. I thought we had a lot of open shots – didn’t knock some down that could’ve really put it over the edge there late in the third quarter and then into the fourth quarter. But we didn’t put out heads down. We competed and I’m really proud of guys tonight.”

The Kings are going to go small

“I’m going to play small,” declared Kings head coach Dave Joerger after the game. “DeMarcus (Cousins) is going to play center. I don’t know who else is going to play with him. It just gives us more zip, more life, more experience. That’s not any detriment to anyone else for what they’ve done. Of course in four or five games, I’ll probably go back.”

It was the usual suspects doing the job for the Clippers on Friday night

Blake Griffin was the Clippers leading scorer with 29 points. He shot 7-for-15 from floor and was an impressive 15-of-16 from the free throw line.

J.J. Redick made rain like usual. 18 of his 26 points came off 3-point baskets. He was 6-for-8 from long range.

DeAndre Jordan posted a double-double scoring 16 points and hauling in 12 rebounds. His free throw shooting did not come into play as the big man did not go to the foul line once in the game.

Chris Paul also had a double-double for the Clippers. The star point guard put up 11 points and handed out 12 assists.

Austin Rivers was the key man off the bench for LAC adding 12 points and four assists.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers on how the Kings got back into the game

“Us! I thought that was more us. I give them credit. Coach (Joerger) went small and they got more patient in the game. They scored every time down it felt like and then we stopped offensively. We (started) going in North Carolina four corner stall, I felt like. You’re always happy to win the game, but we want to be better that … First half was beautiful basketball. It was a clinic; you couldn’t have played any better. Defensively is where it started and then in the second half we decided we were going to trade baskets with them.”

LA Clippers v Sacramento Kings
DeAndre Jordan dunks the ball Photo: Rocky Widner NBAE

What’s coming up

The Clippers flew back to Los Angeles where they will host the Chicago Bulls (8-4) on Saturday night at the Staples Center.

The Kings will host the Toronto Raptors (8-4) on Sunday night at 6:00 PM at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento.

 

A battle royal in Portland:Kings lose to Trail Blazers 122-120 in OT

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Photo credit: Craig Mitchelldyer, AP Photo

by Charlie O. Mallonee

We spit on your statistics about back-to-back games in the NBA

The statisticians, experts, journalists and oddsmakers all had written off the Sacramento Kings as having any chance to defeat the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night in the Rose City:

  • The Kings had suffered a devastating loss to the Lakers 101-91 on Thursday night in Sacramento
  •  The game in Portland was the back end of a back-to-back home/road set with the average chances to win the game at 37.3-percent historically
  • The Trail Blazers are seen as a more talented team than the Kings and are expected to make the playoffs and possibly go on to the second round while Sacramento is expected to be in the Draft Lottery … again
  • The game in Portland would be the Kings 11th contest in 17 days and the team needs a break to rest and recoup
  • Sacramento entered the game a 6.5 to 9-point underdog

What no counted on was the Kings forgot to read the script before the game and they came to play. Somehow they survived a first half that ended with the Blazers leading 62-57 and came out ready to to battle in the second half despite all of the odds being against them.

The Kings rode the play of Cousins, Gay, Koufos, Afflalo and Collison in the second half to outscore the Blazers 49-44 to force the game into overtime.

The teams tied the game up five times in the five-minute overtime session. With the Blazers up by two points with 14.3 seconds to play, Cousins missed a 26-foot jump and Rudy Gay missed a 16-foot desperation turnaround fadeaway shot with one-tenth of a second left on the clock. When the horn sounded, Portland had won the game 122-120 but they knew they had been in a battle royal.

Cousins was a different player on Friday night

Cousins put his inconsistent Thursday night performance behind him to lead the Kings in scoring with 33 points to go with nine rebounds, three assists, two blocked shots and one steal. Cousins did all of this after being assessed a technical foul in the first quarter for exchanging shoves with Meyers Leonard. Cousins knew his limitations and worked with them of Friday night.

Rudy Gay is proving to everyone that he is worth the new NBA pay scale

Gay may have given notice that he plans to opt out of the last year of his contract with the Kings but he is not playing like a man who does not care. In fact, it is just the opposite. Rudy Gay is giving it his all on the court every night and not in a selfish way.

Against Portland, he posted a double-double scoring 29 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. Gay also added three assists, two steals and one block. He shot 50-percent from the floor (9-for-18) including going 2-for-4 from 3-point range. Gay went 9-for-10 from the free throw line.

If Vivek Ranadive and Vlade Divac are serious about building a contender, they need to get out the checkbook and get ready to start participating in the bidding war for one Rudy Gay.

Has there been a changing of the guard?

The man on the point who made it happen on Friday night for the Kings was Darren Collison. Collison played almost 40 minutes scoring 20 points while dishing out four assists and hauling in five rebounds.

The Kings starting point guard Ty Lawson played just 15 minutes and had four assists. That is not to imply Lawson has become obsolete but most observers felt that Collison would establish himself as the number one point guard at sometime after his return. It appears Collison decided he would declare himself number one a little sooner than anyone expected.

Ty Lawson will not be going anywhere. He still has a very vital role to play for this Kings team. Look to see more sets with Lawson and Collison on the floor together in a “small ball line up”.

Head Coach Dave Joerger’s thoughts on the game

  • Our team played hard
  • We were playing on fumes – 11 games in 17 days
  • Turnovers were catastrophic – 15 that resulted in 25 Trail Blazer points
  • Portland’s guards were fantastic – starters Lillard and McCollum combined for 67 points
  • Rudy (Gay) and Cuz (Cousins) gave their all on the court at all times in the game
  • It was a fun basketball game
  • Our group is resilient – they can take a punch – they don’t go away
  • He’s (Cousins) engaged – he’s all in

What’s coming up for the Kings

Thankfully for the Kings after the brutal 11 games in 17 days schedule they have four days off. There will be some practice/shoot-arounds, but they will also be lots of rest on the agenda.

The Kings next game will be on Wednesday night at the Golden 1 Center when the San Antonio Spurs come back to town. The Kings will have four more home games before heading back out on the road.

Hello Biggest Little City in the World

Three of the Kings rookie players have been assigned to the Reno Bighorns of the NBA D-League. Skal Labissiere, Georgios Papagiannis and Malachi Richardson will be playing with the Bighorns.

The fact is these young players would not be seeing any significant playing time in Sacramento. The second fact is they need significant playing time to prepare for the NBA. The solution is to play significant minutes in the D-League.

Do not expect to see the players move from Reno to Sacramento often unless they are needed to cover a roster spot because of an injury to an active player.

We will keep you up to date on their progress in the D-League on a weekly basis.

 

Kings triumph in Toronto 96-91

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Toronto Raptors
Photo credit:Tom Szczerbowski USA Today

by Charlie O. Mallonee

Kings victorious in final game of road trip 

The Sacramento Kings bounced back from playing one of their worst games of the season on Saturday in Milwaukee to playing one of their best games of the year on Sunday in Toronto to defeat the Raptors 96-91. Toronto (4-2) had won three consecutive games. The Kings (3-5) had lost four games in a row.

The Kings have played what has been rated the toughest schedule so far this season in the NBA. Five games in seven nights on the road in the Eastern Conference traveling from Miami to Toronto is brutal. It is also the reality of playing in the NBA. Every team has stretches in their schedules like this and to be successful a team has to deal with the difficulties.

The Kings found a way to deal with best team they had to face on this road trip by stepping up their defense and shortening the rotation off the bench. Head coach Dave Joerger used just nine players off his bench on Sunday night and his veteran players came through for him with the extended playing time – especially on defense.

The Kings held the hot shooting Raptors to just 35.7-percent (30-for-84) from the floor. The Toronto guard tandem of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry entered the contest averaging 53 points combined per game. The Sacramento defense held them to just 38 combined points on Sunday night.

DeRozan had scored at least 30 points in each of Toronto’s five games this year. The Kings held him to just 23 points.

The Sacramento Kings won on Sunday because of their defense. It has been awhile since you have read those words.

It’s deja vu all over again

The Kings swept the two -game series with the Raptors last season. The Kings won 107-101 in Sacramento behind DeMarcus Cousins 36 points and 10 rebounds. The Kings downed the Raptors in Toronto 104-94 when they had six players score in double figures.

The Kings will have a chance to complete the sweep this season on Sunday November 20 when the Raptors will visit the Golden 1 Center.

Kings dominate the paint

Toronto was without starting center Jonas Valanciunas who sat out because of a left knee contusion. That meant the Raptors 2016 first-round draft pick Jakob Poeltl and Lucas Nogueira who the Raptors have been developing overseas and in the D-League since 2011 had to play the five spot. Poeltl looked like a rookie and eventually fouled out of the game. Nogueria who was seeing his first action of the season after being out because of a sprained ankle looked very good. It is easy to see why Toronto has invested in his development.

The Kings dominated the paint outscoring the Raptors 52-30. Sacramento also out-rebounded Toronto 47-43.

Top performers

Rudy Gay led the Kings scoring attack with 23 points. Gay missed the game in Milwaukee with sore ribs. He played the game in Toronto with his ribs wrapped which did affect his shooting as he went 9-for-19 from the floor.

DeMarcus Cousins posted another double-double game with 22 points and 14 rebounds to go with four assists. Cousins was much more effective from out on the high post than down low under the basket. When he would drive the lane, Cousins was virtually unstoppable.

Ty Lawson was very good on the point dishing out 11 assists and adding five points. Shooting guard Arron Afflalo scored 12 points off just eight shots.

Matt Barnes was a force on defense and scored eight points plus grabbed 10 rebounds. Garrett Temple impacted the game with presence scoring eight points to go with a steal and a blocked shot.

DeRozan led the Raptors in scoring with 23 points but went 7-for-20 shooting. Lowry had 10 assists. Nogueia was the Raptors leading rebounder with five.

Dave Joerger was a happy man after the game

In the postgame press conference Joerger said:

  • He was really proud of his guys and how they responded in a back-to-back game
  • They (the Kings) get after people defensively
  • We had seven guys with two or more rebounds
  • We kept the turnovers down (the Kings had 11 turnovers and gave up just two points off those turnovers)
  • We had seven stops in a row with under 2:30 to play
  • A win like this gives you confidence
  • Rudy (Gay) gave us a big boost

What’s coming up

The Kings have a long flight home and then must get ready to face the New Orleans Pelicans (0-6) on Tuesday night at the Golden 1 Center. Sacramento then has the Lakers (3-3) at home on Thursday night before heading back out on the road.

The Raptors hit the road and will face the Thunder in Oklahoma City on Wednesday. They then travel to Charlotte to face the Hornets on Friday night.