Kings

Kings drop season opener to Bulls 93-87

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Kings drop season opener to Bulls 93-87

BOX SCORE
CHICAGO -- Joakim Noah scored 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and the Chicago Bulls got off to a good start without Derrick Rose, beating the Sacramento Kings 93-87 Wednesday in the season opener.Richard Hamilton added 19 points, while Carlos Boozer chipped in with 18 points and eight rebounds.The Bulls are out to show they can get by while their superstar recovers from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, and this was promising even if it was a struggle.Chicago led by 14 after a 10-0 run in the third quarter and hung on in the fourth after the Kings closed within three several times.A basket by Sacramento's Tyreke Evans (21 points) cut it to 86-83 with 41.2 seconds left, but Luol Deng hit 1 of 2 free throws.Evans couldn't get the ball in bounds, resulting in a five-second violation. That led to two free throws for Hamilton to make it 89-83 with 32.9 seconds left, and the Bulls hung on from there.Along with the points and rebounds, Noah set a career high with five steals. He also blocked three shotsHamilton was relentless after being sidelined for much of last season by injuries, and Boozer was effective down the stretch scoring seven points in the fourth.That included a neat three-point play off a miss by Noah in which he crashed to the court and then hit the free throw, making it 86-78 with 2:45 remaining.The Kings, who are trying to make a jump after six straight losing seasons, got 15 points from Marcus Thornton and 14 from DeMarcus Cousins.This time last year, the Bulls were eyeing a championship run. Now, with their superstar sidelined, there's a different vibe around Chicago.The mood changed when Rose crashed to the court late in the Bulls' playoff-opening win over Philadelphia, sending the Bulls spiraling toward a first-round exit and casting a huge cloud over a team that many saw as the biggest threat to Miami in the Eastern Conference.To many, they're treading water until Rose returns. The Bulls, of course, don't see it that way.Notes: Bulls F Taj Gibson did not expect to agree to a contract extension before the deadline late Wednesday night. Asked before the game if he's turning down the Bulls' offer, Gibson said that's "the way I see it." Without an extension, he becomes a restricted free agent. The Bulls would have the right to match any offer he receives from another team. ... The Bulls appointed Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen senior adviser to president and chief operating officer Michael Reinsdorf. Pippen has been serving as a team ambassador. In a statement issued Wednesday, Reinsdorf said the new title will "better reflect his role with the Bulls."

Gameday: Kings visit imploding Suns

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USATI

Gameday: Kings visit imploding Suns

The Sacramento Kings finish their three game road trip Monday in Phoenix. Waiting for them is a team in complete disarray. After dropping the first three games of the season, Phoenix dumped head coach Earl Watson Sunday afternoon and are reportedly in trade talks to deal starting point guard Eric Bledsoe. Jay Triano will act as the interim head coach, but he’s taking over a runaway train.

Sacramento lost to the Denver Nuggets on Saturday evening to drop to 1-2 on the season. De’Aaron Fox and Skal Labissiere came to play, but the rest of the roster struggled with their shot as the Kings finished with just 79 points on 36.5 percent shooting.

The Suns have been outscored by more than 30 points per game in their three contests this season. They have lost games by 48 and 42 points already and almost every player on the roster has underperformed.

BETTING LINE

Kings by 2

WHERE THEY STAND

Kings: 1-2

Suns: 0-3

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Skal Labissiere vs. Marquese Chriss -- Labissiere has been a breath of fresh air early in the season, posting solid numbers across the board as Zach Randolph’s backup. He posted a career-high 32-point, 11-rebound game against Chriss last season, which left a lasting impression. Chriss is off to a slow start, but he has plenty of potential. The Sacramento-native gets up and down the floor and loves the over the top block.

INJURY REPORT

Kings:  SG Bogdan Bogdanovic (right ankle sprain) probable, PF Harry Giles (bi-lateral knee rehab) out.

Suns:  PG Eric Bledsoe (team decision) 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, including a 129-104 win over the Suns in the finale. Phoenix leads the all-time series 131-90 and they hold an 84-51 advantage during the Sacramento-era.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

BOGDAN’S DEBUT -- The Kings have used the cautious approach to Bogdan Bogdanovic’s ankle injury. He’s played a ton of basketball between league play and EuroBasket overseas and there is no reason to rush him into action. He’ll likely suit up to play Monday against the team that drafted him in the 2014 NBA Draft. Expect to see lots of the 25-year-old Serbian over the next few months. Word around the team is that he is one of the best players on the squad.

MORE FOX -- Sacramento hit a homerun with the addition of De’Aaron Fox on draft night. The rookie has put on a show in his first three games and is pushing coach Dave Joerger for more playing time. The Kings have plenty of guards and wings, but there hasn’t been a player that can stay in front of Fox.

REBOUND FROM A STINKER -- The Kings couldn’t hit water if they fell out of a boat against the Nuggets. Playing at elevation is tough, but scoring 79 points is unacceptable. Sacramento has a chance to improve to 2-2 on the season in Phoenix before returning home to face DeMarcus Cousins. A 2-1 road trip would go a long ways towards building the confidence of a young squad.

QUOTABLE

“Whatever coach wants me to do, that’s what I’m going to do out there. I’m just going to go out there and play hard and help this team get a win.” --Skal Labissiere

Report: After starting 0-3, Suns fire head coach Watson on eve of Kings game

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USATSI

Report: After starting 0-3, Suns fire head coach Watson on eve of Kings game

Drama. The Sacramento Kings have done their best to avoid the non-basketball related issues that often come with the NBA game, but they’ll walk into someone else’s firestorm Monday night in Phoenix.

The Suns have fired head coach Earl Watson just three games into the 2017-18 season, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Phoenix has dropped all three contests, including a 48-point loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on opening night and a 42-point defeat at the hands of the Clippers on Saturday.

Before the firing, veteran point guard tweeted out a message that has since gone viral.

Whether Bledsoe was referring to Watson or his impending release is unknown at this time. 

Watson leaves with a 33-85 record in parts of three seasons with the Suns. He took over for Jeff Hornacek midway through the 2015-16 season. According to Wojnarowski, Suns ownership and management is currently meeting with the team’s assistant coaches and Jay Triano is likely to be named interim head coach.