Kings defeat Celtics, 'can run with anybody and lose to anybody'

Kings defeat Celtics, 'can run with anybody and lose to anybody'

SACRAMENTO -- The loss was already penciled in. Maybe even scribed with pen. No DeMarcus Cousins. No Rudy Gay, Garrett Temple or even Omri Casspi. And when Ty Lawson went down in the second quarter, some folks probably thought about heading home early from the Kings matchup with the Boston Celtics Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center.

But this is the 2016-17 Sacramento Kings. They have the ability to beat any team in the league on one night and then lose a day later to someone they should handle with ease.

“I think that’s just the high-point of us,” Willie Cauley-Stein said following the Kings 108-92 win. “When we’re all locked in and we’re all playing for each other and playing at the best of everybody’s ability, it’s proven we can run with anybody and lose to anybody.”

The Boston Celtics were the Kings’ latest victims. Winners of seven straight and trailing the Cleveland Cavaliers by just 2.5 games for the best record in the Eastern Conference, the Celtics looked stunned as the Kings stayed close for most of the night.

When Sacramento dropped a 12-0 run on Boston in the mid-fourth quarter to push their lead to 17 points, the game was over.

The star of the game was not former Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas, who came into the night second in the NBA in scoring at 29.9 points per game. It was Sacramento’s Darren Collison who outdueled the All-Star Thomas and helped his team come away with the win.

Collison matched Thomas’ 26 point performance, but did so on 12-of-21 shooting. He started the game at the shooting guard spot, when Lawson went to the locker room, Collison did a nice job of keeping the shifty Thomas in front of him. He ran the offense, set up his teammates and when the game tightened up, Collison hit big shots when the Kings needed it most.

“We know Isaiah is the head of the snake, he’s an All-Star player, he’s been playing a very very high level,” Collison said. “I thought we did a good job defensively of trying to contain him the best way we can.”

With Collison matching Thomas’ output, the rest of the squad found ways to contribute. Ben McLemore continued his strong play of late, scoring 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting. His 10 point outburst in the second quarter helped Sacramento erase an early 10-point lead by the Celtics.

Matt Barnes did the dirty work for Sacramento. The veteran forward scored 14 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and handed out four assists in 31 minutes of action.

Willie Cauley-Stein scored 10 of his 14 points in the second half. Anthony Tolliver chipped in 11 points and grabbed three steals, while big man Kosta Koufos added six points and 11 rebounds while playing with a mangled ring finger on his right hand.

“It’s a good win,” Dave Joerger said. “I think we need to look at (how) every guy contributed something and the energy – everybody gave 100 percent, which we expect, but it’s almost like you’ve got to give a little extra more to try to compensate for the hole that we had with DeMarcus being out.”

With the victory, the Kings have now beat the top three teams in the Eastern Conference at least once. They improved to 21-32 on the season and moved back to within 2.5 games of the Denver Nuggets for the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoff chase. They head into Friday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks with Cousins back in action and a bit of momentum.  

Oh Willie…

Cauley-Stein had a moment. With 5:01 remaining in the fourth quarter, the second-year big caught a pass from Collison for a huge one-handed alley-oop dunk in traffic to give the Kings a 96-79 lead. The Kings’ bench exploded along with the sellout crowd of 17,608.

“I was just trying to go get it, I didn’t want to get a turnover,” Cauley-Stein said.

Cauley-Stein rated the dunk as his best ever after watching it from multiple angles from his locker stall. He was grinning from ear to ear as he explained the reaction from his bench.

“It’s cool, it’s fun, it’s an energy boost,” Cauley-Stein said. “And then seeing all of your teammates celebrate you, that’s what it’s all about.”

The 7-footer has found his niche with the Kings over the last few weeks as an energy guy off the bench and disruptive force on the defensive end.

Kings find themselves in middle of protest as sports, politics collide: 'It has to stop'

Kings find themselves in middle of protest as sports, politics collide: 'It has to stop'

SACRAMENTO -- Basketball took a backseat Thursday evening at Golden 1 Center. Protesters surrounded the Sacramento Kings’ facility, locking arms and blocking the entrance to an estimated 15,000 fans. The game was delayed by nearly 15 minutes and the limited number of ticket holders that made it into the building were basically put on lock down and supplied with free food for the evening.

This issue at hand was the officer involved shooting death of Stephon Clark, a local South Sacramento man that was killed Sunday evening.

Video of the shooting was released by the Sacramento Police Department Wednesday afternoon, setting off community outcry in Sacramento.

In perhaps his finest moment as owner and chairman of the Sacramento Kings, Vivek Ranadivé took center court surrounded by his players to address the undersized crowd.

“On Sunday, we had a horrific, horrific tragedy in our community and on behalf of the players, the executives, ownership and the entire Kings family, I first of all want to express our deepest sympathies to the family. What happened was absolutely horrific and we are so very sorry for your loss.

I also want to say that we at the Kings recognize your people’s ability to protest peacefully and we respect that. We here at the Kings recognize that we have a big platform. It’s a privilege, but it’s also a responsibility. It’s a responsibility that we take very seriously and we stand before you; old, young, black, white, brown and we are all united in our commitment.

We recognize that it’s not just business as usual and we are going to work really hard to bring everybody together to make the world a better place, starting in our own community. We are going to work hard to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening again.”

Protests continued throughout the night in the courtyard adjacent to Golden 1 Center. Security and police stood guard at each entrance, trying to keep the events outside the building from spilling into the team’s two-year-old facility.

The locker room was quiet. Despite the 105-90 victory by the Kings, basketball was the last thing on anyone’s mind.

"I just want to say I 100 percent agree with the protest outside,” Garrett Temple said following the game. “If I didn't have a job to do, I probably would have been out there with them peacefully protesting, because what's going on has to stop. It has to stop.”

Sacramento’s leader behind the scenes, Temple has been active in reaching out in the community and fostering conversation with local youth. He wasn’t able to play in Thursday evening’s game due to a left ankle sprain, but that didn’t stop him from waiting around to field questions.

“I think the protest did what it was supposed to do, it brought a light to what’s going on, I think that’s what protests are for,” Temple added. “After that, something has to change. Us not playing a basketball game isn’t going to change the fact that police unfortunately view black and brown men as a threat, when they are certainly not.”

Temple said that he had viewed the video and admitted that it was dark. A split second decision by a police officer cost Clark, a 22-year-old African American, his life. According to published reports, Clark was holding his mobile phone and not a weapon as officers believed.

The tragic events played out in seconds, but it’s storyline that many communities around the country have had to face on countless occasions.

Temple isn’t one to sit by idly by and bite his tongue. He may have addressed the shooting on his own with or without the protest going on outside the arena. But with the events of the night, politics and sports intersected at 500 David J. Stern Walk, opening a door for Temple to express himself.

“To those that say politics and sports don’t intertwine, this is a democracy, people have a voice and we’re people at the end of the day,” Temple said. “Obviously, sports and politics definitely intertwined tonight. The protesters did what they wanted to do in terms of bring light to the situation.”

In addition to Ranadivé’s comments following then contest, the Kings put out two separate press releases. The first came out around 7 pm to update fans of the current status of the game.

"Tonight's game began with a delay. Due to law enforcement being unable to ensure ticketed fans could safely enter the arena, the arena remains closed and we ask fans outside to travel home. We will issue further information soon regarding a refund."

The second press release came later to insure fans that they would receive a refund.

“Due to law enforcement being unable to ensure ticketed fans could safely enter the arena, the arena remained closed as tonight’s game proceeded with a delay. In the coming days, guests who purchased tickets for tonight’s game directly through the Sacramento Kings or Ticketmaster will receive detailed instructions to facilitate a full refund.”

The Kings return to the court Sunday afternoon for a 3pm matinee game.

Start of Hawks-Kings game delayed due to protests outside arena

Start of Hawks-Kings game delayed due to protests outside arena

SACRAMENTO -- Giving new meaning to playing under protest, the Sacramento Kings and Atlanta Hawks game at Golden 1 Center was delayed 13 minutes Thursday evening due to an actual protest outside the building.

Protesters locked arms in front of the entrance to the building, blocking ticket holders from entering the arena.

The Kings released the following prepared statement.

“Tonight’s game began with a delay. Due to law enforcement being unable to ensure ticketed fans could safely enter the arena, the arena remains closed and we ask fans outside to travel home. We will issue further information soon regarding a refund.”

Minutes before the 7:10 game start time, the Kings invited what few fans made their way into the building to sit in the lower bowl. A couple of thousand fans moved as close to the court as possible, while the doors remained closed to the outside.

The protest stems from the release of police body cam footage of the officer involved shooting death of South Sacramento resident, Stephon Clark, on Sunday evening. The video was released on Wednesday.

As of 8pm PST, the Golden 1 Center remains surrounded by protesters with security and police officers stationed insider every entrance and exit door.