Kings

Can Kings get a win on the road?

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Can Kings get a win on the road?

Blake Griffin has dominated DeMarcus Cousins in their matchups, powering a season sweep by the Los Angeles Clippers last season.The power forwards meet for the first time this season Saturday night when Griffin and the Clippers try to drop Cousins' Kings to 0-6 on the road.Los Angeles (9-6) is 6-1 against Sacramento (4-11) over the last two seasons since Cousins came into the league. Griffin is averaging 20.6 points on 60.2 percent shooting to go with 12.0 rebounds per game in those meetings while Cousins is averaging 11.0 points, 9.0 boards and shooting 35.7 percent.Cousins' scoring average against the Clippers is his worst against any Western Conference foe. He grew so frustrated after fouling out in 18 minutes in a 93-85 home loss to Los Angeles on April 5 that he called Griffin an "actor." Two days later, Griffin had 27 points and 14 rebounds in a 109-94 home win over Sacramento.The Clippers went 3-0 against the Kings in 2011-12.While the duel inside could prove decisive, Los Angeles figures to have an advantage on the perimeter if Sacramento guard Tyreke Evans misses a second straight game.Evans sat out Friday due to a bruised left knee in a 97-92 home defeat to Indiana. He is averaging a career-low 14.9 points, but had netted 21.0 per game over his last five outings.His absence could make it easier for Chris Paul, who had 23 points and 11 assists in Wednesday's 101-95 home win over Minnesota. The Clippers ended a season-high four-game losing streak.The game marked the season debut for Chauncey Billups, who started and had seven points and three assists in 19 minutes in his first action since Feb. 6 after recovering from a torn left Achilles tendon."Now that I'm back, I look forward to regaining my old form," he told the Clippers' official website. "And I'm going to be very patient with that. Just me being back is a success and a blessing, so I'm going to be happy with that until everything else kind of comes around."Clippers leading scorer Jamal Crawford is only averaging 11.5 points on 32.5 percent shooting in his last four games."I find myself in the corner just waiting on the action, when I have to go make the action happen," Crawford said. "That's who I am and that's what I'll get back to doing.Griffin had 18 points and six boards Wednesday as he bounced back from a season-low, four-point effort two nights earlier against New Orleans.Cousins, meanwhile, had 19 points and 16 rebounds Friday for his first double-double in six games. The big man, however, struggled to make 5 of 17 shots, and is shooting 42.0 percent on the season."Yes, he forced too many shots tonight," Kings coach Keith Smart said of Cousins. "He needs to start taking those shots that are available."The Kings are one game worse than their record after 15 games last season and enduring their worst road start since going 0-9 to begin 2007-08."I just knew our team could be better and much further along than where we are right now," Smart said. "I am very disappointed."

Kings' second unit steals show from Fox-Ball, fuels victory over Lakers

Kings' second unit steals show from Fox-Ball, fuels victory over Lakers

SACRAMENTO -- The fans came to watch De’Aaron Fox and Lonzo Ball square off for the first times as professionals Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center. They ended up being treated to a breakout performance by Sacramento’s second team.

“It’s not all about Fox and Ball, it’s about Kings and Lakers,” Frank Mason said after another solid performance. “I’m just happy we got the win as a team.”

Coming into Wednesday night, the Sacramento Kings ranked first in the league in bench scoring at 48.1 points per game. The Los Angeles Lakers weren’t far behind, posting 40.6 a contest, good enough for fourth in the NBA.

Sacramento received solid contributions from almost every player that stepped on the floor, including 22 points, seven rebounds and seven assists from starter Zach Randolph. But the group that came off the bench put on a show, outscoring Los Angeles 67-38.

In his fourth game in a reserve role, Willie Cauley-Stein scored a game-high 26 points in 28 minutes, including 13 in the fourth quarter as the Kings pulled away. He drew a crowd around his locker during post game, but he was the direct beneficiary of some stellar play by others.

Mason and fellow rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic broke down the Lakers defense countless times and found Cauley-Stein for the poster dunk. According to the official scoresheet, nine of Cauley-Stein’s 10 made baskets were assisted, including five alley-oops from Bogdanovic.

“We talked about it yesterday when we were icing,” Cauley-Stein said of his Serbian guard. “We were both sitting in the cold tub and exactly what happened is what we were talking about.”

Cauley-Stein is gifted athletically and he’s extremely long. He was a star receiver in high school and he knows how to go up and get a ball.

“I think he realizes, (he’s) just got to get it up there and I’m going to go get it,” Cauley-Stein said of Bogdanovic.

Bogdanovic hit his first two 3-point attempts and it seemed to open the floor up for Sacramento. With defenders going over screens to defend the long ball, Bogdanovic used his dribble to get free.

When the Laker’s bigs stepped in to stop his dribble, Bogdanovic tossed the ball near the rim and Cauley-Stein finished with authority.

“It’s easy to play with Willie, because he can catch,” Bogdanovic said. “I didn’t pass perfectly those alley-oops, but he likes to be a little higher than usual.”

Both Bogdanovic and Mason set new career-highs in assists, finishing with seven dimes apiece off Dave Joerger’s bench. Bogdanovic dropped in 14 points and picked up two steals. Mason added 11 points and five rebounds.

The smallest player to step on the floor, Mason brings a physicality the Kings have lacked early in the season. Since earning rotational minutes four games ago, the 23-year-old is posting 9.8 points and 4.3 assists in 22 minutes a game.

“That’s who I am, that’s who I’ve always been,” Mason said when asked about his toughness. “I take a lot of pride in someone scoring on me and I play every possession like it’s game point.”

With the win, the Kings improved to 4-4 on their home floor and 5-13 overall this season. They’ll take Thanksgiving off, but return to practice Friday in preparation for the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday evening. They’ll need another big evening from the bench unit if they hope to build momentum going forward.

Gameday: Bring on Lonzo Ball vs De'Aaron Fox in the NBA

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Gameday: Bring on Lonzo Ball vs De'Aaron Fox in the NBA

SACRAMENTO -- The Kings were treated rudely by the Denver Nuggets to open their three-game homestand on Monday. They’ll get another shot to pick up a win Wednesday when the upstart Los Angeles Lakers swing into Golden 1 Center.

Sacramento has struggled to find consistency this season on the road, but they’ve been able to ride their home crowd to impressive wins over Oklahoma City, Philadelphia and Portland. If they can knock off the Lakers, they improve to .500 at home on the season. 

The Lakers are coming off a come-from-behind win over the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday and have to play Sacramento on the second night of a back-to-back. They are a young and exciting team, that present plenty of matchup issues for the Kings.

BETTING LINE 

Lakers by 1

MATCHUP TO WATCH

De’Aaron Fox vs. Lonzo Ball -- Let the games begin! The drama surrounding these two dates back to college. Fox ran over Ball at the NCAA level, outscoring the former UCLA Bruin in both games last season, including a 39-point outburst during a tournament game. Ball missed the summer league matchup between the two, causing a bit of a stir on social media. Wednesday night is nothing more that a pair of 19-year-olds playing hoops against one another while hundreds of thousands of people watch intently. No pressure, kids.

WHERE THEY STAND 

Kings: 4-13, fifth place in Pacific

Lakers: 8-10, second place in Pacific

INJURY REPORT 

Kings: SG Buddy Hield (sprained ankle) probable, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out until January.

Lakers: PF Larry Nance Jr. (hand) out.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

BRIGHT LIGHTS -- The world is watching. Sacramento doesn’t draw the attention of the national media all that often, but plenty of eyes will be on the Kings/Lakers matchup on Wednesday. Will the Kings bring the defensive intensity that helped them knock off the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday or will they fade like they did against Denver last time out?   

REBOUND -- The Kings are one of the worst rebounding teams in the NBA and they’ll face a team that knows how to hit the glass. Dave Joerger needs his guards to get involved if they hope to avoid another lopsided rebounding deficit. 

CONTAIN KUZMA -- Ball gets all the pub, but it’s the late first rounder out of Utah that is turning heads. Fresh off a 22-point performance Tuesday against the Bulls, Kyle Kuzma is posting nearly 17 points per game while starting at power forward for the Lakers. He’s a player that plenty of teams are now regretting passing on in the 2017 NBA Draft. 

SERIES HISTORY 

These two teams split the season series 2-2 last season, with each team winning one at home and one on the road. Los Angeles owns a huge 270-153 lead in the all-time series and a 92-44 advantage during the Sacramento-era 88-47. 

QUOTE

“It’s fun. Sometimes there’s too many haters out there. It is what it is. Smile and enjoy it. I think it will be a great opportunity for those two guys to begin their careers.” Dave Joerger on the Fox/Ball matchup