Kings

Kings, Heat headed in opposite directions

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Kings, Heat headed in opposite directions

Programming note: Kings fans can catch all the action beginning today at 4:30 p.m. when the Kings meet the Heat in Miami, only on Comcast SportsNet California!KINGS (10-21) vs
MIAMI (25-7)
MIAMI (AP) - Dwyane Wade finished his workout Monday and approached about a dozen reporters, one of the smallest media turnouts at a Miami Heat practice this season.These days, the team with the NBA's best record almost seems like an afterthought."If it was packed in here right now, it would mean we were losing," Wade said. "When we look over and see a lot of people in here, we're not playing well."And that certainly isn't the case.Winners of six straight, all by at least 12 points, the Heat are in their best stretch of the season. The midpoint of the regular-season schedule awaits Tuesday when Miami (25-7) hosts Sacramento (10-21), losers of five straight. Here's one example of how wildly different things have gone for those clubs: Miami has led by at least 20 points in each of its last six games, while the Kings have only enjoyed that margin once this season - for all of 37 seconds.
RELATED: Kings schedule & results
If the spotlight is going to shine elsewhere these days, the Heat are fine with that arrangement."It's quiet as hell around here and we're doing pretty good," forward Chris Bosh said. "But that's to be expected. And we wouldn't have it any other way. That's just the name of the game. That's the business. That's how it's always going to be. You're more of a story when you have controversy."Or a phenomenon.Already in Miami - and to the team's chagrin, given that Sacramento is next on the schedule and therefore supposed to be the focus - there's no shortage of talk about Thursday night's home game against the New York Knicks, and none of that buzz is surrounding the years-old rivalry between the teams.No, the Jeremy Lin craze is going strong, with ticket demand for Thursday rivaling what was going on during last season's NBA finals against Dallas.So as Linsanity reigns, other NBA story lines like the Heat passing Chicago for the NBA's best record, San Antonio taking a 10-game winning streak into its game Monday night, even the looming All-Star weekend seem almost forgotten."We don't know if people get bored (with Miami winning) or not," forward LeBron James said. "We just know there's a lot more going on. I guess there's other, better story lines right now going on in the league, so we can go out and just play the game and just try to do it at a high level. Let everybody else get the headlines right now and just play Miami Heat basketball."Miami's numbers of late, including this six-game winning streak, are flirting with absurd.Wade has connected on at least half his shots in 10 straight games, his longest run since doing that 11 straight times as a rookie. The Heat are shooting 49.2 percent over their last six games - the second-best mark in the league since Feb. 10, 0.1 percent off Oklahoma City's pace - while holding teams to an NBA-best 39.3 percent mark from the floor over that span.Things are going so well for Miami, neither Wade nor James have been asked to play much in fourth quarters lately."Getting tired of sitting down in the fourth quarter, personally," James said Monday, the look on his face making it clear that he wasn't being entirely serious. "It's messing up my averages."James and Wade might not have to play much in the fourth Tuesday, either. Sacramento is 3-16 on the road - 0-4 thus far on a six-game trip - and has lost its last three against the Heat by at least 20 points.The Kings have lost six in a row and 14 of 15 in the series, and their nine consecutive losses in South Beach have been by an average of 17.8 points.James scored 31 points in 30 minutes in the Heat's 117-97 home win over Sacramento last Feb. 22.James has been talked about as an MVP frontrunner for weeks already and was at the center of a huge story last week when he said he would not rule out one day maybe returning to Cleveland as a player. The Heat are sending six representatives to All-Star weekend, where the second half of the season, the chase for the 2012 championship - and the loss in the 2011 finals - are sure to be popular topics.So when the all-about-Miami craze returns, the Heat say they'll be ready."We're comfortable in our world now," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Monday. "There can be a lot of noise. It can be relatively minimal noise. I think we're able now to compartmentalize and focus on what's real, our team and trying to improve and trying to get ourselves ready to play at our optimal level during the playoffs. That's the only thing that matters."Wade almost said he's welcoming the break, both in terms of getting some late-game minutes off, and without the levels of all-the-time scrutiny that has seemed to follow the Heat since he, Bosh and James teamed up in 2010."It's great," Wade said. "We're focusing on what we need to do. The only attention we're thinking about is giving each other the attention that we need as a team and making sure that everyone in here knows how they important they are to our success and what our goal is. Our goal is to be the best team in the NBA at the end of the year and not right now."

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