Kings

Evans helps Kings beat Hornets 96-80

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Evans helps Kings beat Hornets 96-80

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) Tyreke Evans had 27 points and Marcus Thornton scored 25 for the Sacramento Kings in a 96-80 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Sunday night.Playing without DeMarcus Cousins, who demanded a trade prior to the game and was told by coach Paul Westphal to stay home, the Kings ended a three game skid. Cousins was among several players who expressed frustration with the team's poor play after a 114-92 loss to the New York Knicks on Saturday.Asked during halftime Sunday if Cousins would be traded, Kings vice president of basketball operations said he would talk to the brooding center on Monday."He has to grow up," Petrie said.

Trevor Ariza had 17 points for the Hornets, who have dropped two straight after opening the season with a pair of victories. Chris Kaman contributed 14 points and 15 rebounds, Emeka Okafor had 13 points and 12 rebounds, and Carl Landry had 12 points.Evans shot 9 of 18 from the field, made 7-of-8 free throws and added four rebounds and three assists. John Salmons added 13 points for the Kings, who outscored the Hornets 58-40 in the second half.Evans provided a huge lift in the third quarter to help put the Kings ahead and also delivered in the fourth. With the shot clock running down, Evans made a 28-foot 3-pointer then followed with a dunk off a fast-break, putting Sacramento ahead 90-72 with 3:42 remaining.Hornets standout guard Eric Gordon missed his third straight game. Gordon bruised his knee in the season opener and is still listed as day to day while the Hornets try to be cautious with him.Struggling on offense in the opening half when they shot 30 percent, the Kings got going in the third quarter behind Evans. The Kings point guard was penetrating inside for baskets and also made several perimeter shots in scoring 13 points.Evans received plenty of help from Salmons, who made a pair of 3-pointers and scored eight points as the Kings outscored New Orleans 30-18 to assume a 68-58 lead heading into the fourth.NOTES: Kings veteran Francisco Garcia made his first appearance of the season, starting the second quarter. He also opened the fourth quarter and hit a pair of 3-pointers to extend the Kings lead. Ariza scored 10 points to help the Hornets take a 40-38 lead into halftime. Thornton scored 11 points for the Kings. Thornton was acquired by the Kings from New Orleans last year in February for forward Carl Landry. The Hornets outrebounded the Kings 60-41.

De'Aaron Fox lives up to billing, looks ready for primetime after solid debut

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USATSI

De'Aaron Fox lives up to billing, looks ready for primetime after solid debut

SACRAMENTO -- Watching tape of De’Aaron Fox looks like a video stuck on fast forward. The comparisons to John Wall don’t do him justice. Teams deliberately sag off the rookie and dare him to shoot and he still manages to race by them in a blur.

If his opening night performance against the Houston Rockets was any indication, the Kings have landed a special player. From barking orders on the court to his teammates to going at NBA veteran defenders, Fox looked ready for primetime just 24 minutes into his professional career.

“I got to get my first NBA game out the way, I think it went well,” Fox told a huge crowd surrounding his locker. “We played hard. It didn’t go the way we wanted it to, we wanted to get the W, but there’s a lot of things we learned out of today.”

Dressed in a burgundy suit and shoes that would have made Omri Casspi blush, the rookie hung around for way too long after the game, giving every camera and microphone a good talking to. He’ll learn quickly that the media is drawn to him like a moth to a flame.

His numbers look modest - 14 points on 7-of-15 shooting and five assists. But he was facing a title contender in the Houston Rockets and the moment wasn’t too big for the 19-year-old point guard. Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni even showed the rookie respect when he shifted one of his better defenders in Trevor Ariza over to cover the speedster.

“This is game 1, we’re not expecting him to be a Hall of Famer right now,” George Hill said. “It takes steps to do it and baby crawls. But I think he took a huge step today in proving what he can do. He looked good out there.”

Hill started in front of Fox, but the two guards played alongside each other for plenty of minutes. That is the plan this season, although there are plenty of other players vying for minutes in the backcourt.

Everyone in the building seemed impressed by the youngster. He has an ability to drop the pedal down on an opponent and then downshift on the fly to stay under control.

“He’s pretty fast, you know,” Dave Joerger said of his star rookie. “He has a terrific charisma about him and I think he’ll be fun to play with.”

His teammates appeared to have no problems keeping up. They ran the floor and pushed the tempo when Fox was in the game and the team seems to feed off his energy.

“They play hard, man,” Vince Carter said of Fox and team’s other young players players. “They just go for it and that’s all you can ask. It’s just great and it’s going to get better. You can show them all the film you want, but they’re not going to learn until they get thrown into the fire. That’s the best lesson.”

Game 1 is in the books and Fox is already earning a longer look. The team embarks on their first road trip of the season beginning Friday night against the Mavericks. Waiting for them in Dallas is another young point guard in Dennis Smith Jr., setting up the first of many battles between the star-studded draft class of 2017.

Kings adamantly disagree with perplexing foul call at end of loss to Rockets

Kings adamantly disagree with perplexing foul call at end of loss to Rockets

SACRAMENTO -- Every time the Houston Rockets tried to pull away, the Sacramento Kings answered Wednesday night in the team’s home opener. It was a heavyweight contender throwing body blows at a 100-to-1 underdog riding a huge home crowd advantage.

And then the ref called the fight.

With the Kings trailing 98-95 with 26 seconds remaining, the Rockets attempted to inbounds the ball and George Hill made a play. From the video replay, it appeared that the ball tipped off the fingertips of Houston's Eric Gordon and the nearest official called Kings ball.

Hill and teammate Garrett Temple celebrated the turnover and the sold out crowd went crazy.

The play went under review and not only was the call overturned, but Hill was assessed a personal foul. Gordon went to the line and hit two freebies to give the Rockets a 100-95 lead and effectively ended Sacramento’s chances.

In the confusion of the moment, it turns out that an official on the opposite side of the court called a personal foul and the replay wasn’t to check on possession, but to determine which Kings player would be assessed a personal foul.  

The Kings can’t call shenanigans on the officials, the league has stiff penalties for that. But they seemed just as confused as everyone else in the building when asked about the call during postgame interviews.

“I could have swore that the refs pointed out of bounds, our ball, but they said they called a foul, so it is, what it is,” Hill said following the game.

Hill avoided digging himself a hole with the league and a potential fine as reporters tried to dig deeper. 

Head coach Dave Joerger gave an account of what the officials said following the call, but he too seemed perplexed by the play.

“That was a foul,” Joerger said of what the officials told him on the sidelines. “I adamantly disagreed. They said they called it at the time, which I didn’t see. So that was more my argument than whether it was a foul or not.”

Sacramento continued to compete in the final seconds, but they were forced to foul intentionally down the stretch and the Rockets were able to hold them at bay to come away with the 105-100 victory.