Kings

DeMarcus Cousins feeding on rest of NBA during win streak

DeMarcus Cousins feeding on rest of NBA during win streak

Give the ball to the big man and get out of the way. 

With the Los Angeles Lakers refusing to double-team DeMarcus Cousins all night long, the Kings’ All-Star big man put on a show. His inability to knock down free throws kept the Lakers alive late, but in the end, it was too much Boogie as Sacramento came away with the 97-96 victory at the Staples Center.

“I thought DeMarcus really delivered the mail, especially on the blocks,” Dave Joerger told reporters following the win. “It was like running the football and we just gave them different looks.”

The offense went through Cousins on almost every possession down the stretch. He scored 16 points in the final quarter on just four made field goals and 7-of-11 shooting from the line. Any time the Lakers sent an extra man at Cousins, he sent it around the horn, but that only happened once or twice in the final few minutes of the game.

“Feed me...Feed me,” Cousins told reporters during post with a huge grin on his face.

Cousins finished the night with 40 points on 13-of-24 shooting from the field and 12-for-19 from the line. He added 12 rebounds and eight assists in a near triple-double performance.

“He was able to take advantage on the one-on-one cover and he either got fouled or he got the bucket,” Darren Collison told reporters.

With back-up Ty Lawson out, Collison was forced into playing 40 minutes or more for the third straight game and he posted solid numbers. The veteran point guard scored 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting and tied Cousins for the team lead in assists with eight.

“DC’s stepped up to the challenge,” Cousins said of his starting point guard. “He’s been logging in a lot of minutes as of lately. He’s playing. He’s pushing no matter what the results are. You’ve got to appreciate guys like that.”

Collison has logged big minutes in career, but the Kings’ impacted schedule has allowed very little time for rest and recovery. With the All-Star break just around the corner, the UCLA product is looking forward to the time off.

“I’m alright, I’m trying,” Collison said. “We’ve got one more game before the break. I’ll be alright. We win, it helps me out a lot.”

Cousins and Collison continue to drive the Kings forward as they picked up their fourth straight win and fifth in the last six attempts. It’s a shocking turn of events for a team that is down Lawson, Omri Casspi, Garrett Temple and Rudy Gay due to injury.

“We’ve lost some big pieces to our team, but at the same time it’s given opportunities to come and step in and fill those roles,” Cousins said. “I think guys have accepted the challenge and doing even more than expected. Credit to them for being professionals.”

Ben McLemore is one of those players to rise to the challenge. The fourth-year guard continues to show flashes as his minutes increase. He scored 13 points Tuesday night on 4-of-9 shooting and his defense has improved by leaps and bounds.

Arron Afflalo put up 10 points in 37 minutes of action and 36-year-old Matt Barnes may have made the play of the game when he picked up a late rebound off a Cousins missed free throw that led to a basket.

It wasn’t pretty. The Kings gave up a 13 point fourth quarter lead and Lou Williams missed a shot at the buzzer that would have sent the Kings home losers. But Sacramento is developing a grittiness to them that has been missing in past renditions of this team.

“We’re never going to give up, we’re never going to give in, we’re always going to be there in the end,” Joerger said.

With the win, Sacramento improved to 24-32 on the season and they trail the Nuggets by just a game and a half for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. They’ll put their win streak on the line Wednesday night when they face the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena.

Gameday: Kings wrap up brief homestand against Suns

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Gameday: Kings wrap up brief homestand against Suns

SACRAMENTO -- With another road trip starting on Thursday in Minnesota, the Sacramento Kings hit their home floor looking for a win Tuesday evening against the Phoenix Suns. They’ll face a young team missing their best player and riding a three game losing streak.

The Kings have been hit and miss throughout the season, but an outline for success is beginning to form. The starting unit is still struggling on most nights, but the reserves are playing out of their mind. Zach Randolph has turned back the clock, and young players like Buddy Hield, Frank Mason III and Bogdan Bogdanovic are carving out niches for Sacramento.

Phoenix can score with the best of them, but they have the NBA’s worst defense, allowing an incredible 115 points per game. They’re without sharpshooter Devin Booker for the next few weeks, but they have plenty of firepower to work with.

LINE

Kings by 4.5

WHERE THEY STAND

Kings: 8-18

Suns: 9-19

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Skal Labissiere vs. Marquese Chriss... part II -- Labissiere is fresh off a trip to the G-League to jump start his season. He hasn’t had the breakout campaign that many expected, but he showed signs of coming around against the Raptors. Chriss has struggled all season, both as a starter and off the bench. The Sacramento native will have plenty of fans in the stands as he tries to convert potential to production at Golden 1 Center.

INJURY REPORT

Kings: C/PF Willie Cauley-Stein (lower back strain) game-time decision, but he participated in shoot around and is expects to suit up, PF Harry Giles (bi-lateral knee rehab) is out until January at the earliest.

Suns: SG Devin Booker (adductor strain) out, SF Jared Dudley (toe) questionable, PG Brandon Knight (ACL tear) out for the season, G Davon Reed (knee) out, PF Alan Williams (knee) out.

SERIES HISTORY

Sacramento dominated the season-series 3-1 last season, but the Suns snuck out a 117-115 win over the Kings early in the 2017-18 campaign. Phoenix leads the all-time series 132-90 and they hold an 85-51 advantage during the Sacramento-era.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

Willie Play? -- Willie Cauley-Stein has made a huge impact off the Kings bench. The third-year big is posting 16.3 points and 7.3 rebounds in 28.5 minutes over seven games with the second unit. He’s missed three straight with a lower back strain, but he was confident following Monday’s practice that he would return to action against the Suns.  

Aggressive Fox -- The Kings have been patient with the fifth overall selection in the 2017 NBA Draft. The 19-year-old point guard turned the ball over seven times and looked lost against veteran Kyle Lowry on Sunday. He attacked late in the game, showing a side that the Kings’ coaching staff has been begging to see. Tyler Ulis and Mike James are both young and inexperienced, which might give Fox an opportunity to shine.   

Feed the Beast -- Zach Randolph is on a roll. The 36-year-old big man continues to anchor the Kings offense. He’ll get a test against veterans Tyson Chandler and Greg Monroe, but he’s handled himself well against bigger names. The Kings need him to continue his strong play if they hope to start leapfrogging teams in the standings.

QUOTE

“I pretty much released myself today. I wasn’t trying to baby it. I just wanted to get out and blow the air out of lungs and try to get back into playing shape.” -Willie Cauley-Stein on returning to practice on Monday.

 

 

Fatigue a factor as Kings fall to Raptors

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Fatigue a factor as Kings fall to Raptors

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings are young and energetic, but they are still learning how to play a full 48 minutes. Against a veteran team like the Raptors, that’s not going to work.

The Kings came out of the gate slow, allowing the Raptors to score the first 13 points of the afternoon. After the second unit fought their way back into the game to take a 29-28 lead, Sacramento once again let up, falling behind 54-48 at the half.

Sacramento made runs at Toronto, but they never got closer that seven points in the fourth quarter as the Raptors pulled away for the 102-87 victory.

There are plenty of reasons for the team’s inconsistent effort. It doesn’t matter who Dave Joerger drops into the starting lineup, they tend to flounder.

De’Aaron Fox started alongside Bogdan Bogdanovic in the backcourt and struggled against veteran Kyle Lowry. The rookie began the game 0-for-4 before hitting 3-of-4 in the fourth quarter. In addition to the shooting woes, Fox turned the ball over a career-high seven times, including six in the first half.

“It’s frustrating - we all have those games, but (we) just have to get back into practice, focus on taking care of the ball and just look forward to playing Phoenix the next game,” Fox said.

Joerger pointed to the Kings’ heavy travel schedule early as a possible culprit for the sloppy ball handling.

“Sometimes that can be general fatigue,” Joerger said. “You know, traveling around, flying around, playing a bunch of games and you’re only [a] 19-year-old.”

Fellow rookie point guard Frank Mason III struggled as well. Mason didn’t turn the ball over, but he shot just 1-of-10 from the field to finish the afternoon with six points and three assists.

Buddy Hield has been electric for Sacramento since moving to the second unit. He started the game hot, hitting his first six shots. But when the Raptors tightened up the defense, Hield not only missed shots, but he made mistakes.

Hield finished the night 7-of-13 from the field, but he turned the ball over six times as he forced the action.

It was a learning experience for the young Kings. The Raptors have posted 48 wins or more four straight seasons. They currently sit in third place in the Eastern Conference and there is little doubt that they’ll make a fifth straight playoff appearance.

Lowry, along with fellow veterans DeMar DeRozan and Serge Ibaka combined to score 60 of the Raptors 102 points. When they needed a shot to put the Kings away, they got it.

With the loss, Sacramento dropped to 8-18 on the season. They’ll return to Golden 1 Center Tuesday to face the Phoenix Suns and it sounds like they should have Willie Cauley-Stein back after the big man missed the previous three games with a lower back strain.