Kings

Kings limp into Denver looking for an upset

629870.jpg

Kings limp into Denver looking for an upset

KINGS (2-4) vs.
DENVER (4-2)
6 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California (CSN Plus -- blackouts may apply)
(APCSN) -- The Denver Nuggets played well in their back-to-back-to-back stretch. The Sacramento Kings are hoping things start looking up after a rough start to theirs.The Nuggets will try to keep their perfect home record intact when they face the Kings on Wednesday night.Denver (4-2) opened a stretch of three games in three nights with a 92-89 road loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday, but bounced back with a 99-90 win over the Lakers the following night before recording a 91-86 victory over Milwaukee on Monday.The Nuggets, playing without starting forward Nene (bruised heel), showed signs of fatigue, shooting 39.8 percent while committing 16 turnovers, but outscored the Bucks 23-12 in the fourth quarter.Danilo Gallinari finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds while Ty Lawson had 16 points and six assists."They didn't look like they had three games in three nights," Milwaukee's Stephen Jackson said. "That says a lot about how good of shape they're in, and they didn't have Nene, so you've got to credit them for that."
RELATED: NBA Standings
The win was Denver's third in as many home games this season. They shut down the Bucks in the fourth quarter after holding the Lakers to 19 points in the final period on Sunday. Those teams shot a combined 40.9 percent and were 9 of 42 (21.4 percent) from 3-point range."In the fourth quarter it's very easy to find extra energy," Gallinari said of feeding off the crowd. "You have a tight game, you want to win, especially at home."Gallinari has elevated his play of late, collecting 41 points, 14 rebounds and five steals in the last two games. He had 34 points and 14 boards in his three previous contests.The Nuggets may need another big game from him if Nene is sidelined again Wednesday, although Al Harrington has been playing effectively off the bench. He had 17 points and eight boards Monday and is averaging 15.7 points and 6.5 rebounds.Like Denver, Sacramento (2-4) began its back-to-back-to-back series with a 113-96 loss to Memphis on Tuesday, but it could have a tougher time bouncing back.
REWIND: Cousins comes off the bench, Kings lose to Memphis 113-96
The Kings were outscored 31-17 in the first quarter, shooting 5 of 20. Rookie Jimmer Fredette scored a season-high 17 points, shooting 4 of 6 from 3-point range, while J.J. Hickson contributed 12 points and 10 rebounds.DeMarcus Cousins came off the bench and had four points and eight rebounds in 22 minutes. Cousins was told on Sunday to stay away from the team by coach Paul Westphal after demanding a trade.
This is what Westphal told the media on New Years day:
"When a player continually, aggressively, lets it be known that he is unwillingunable to embrace traveling in the same direction as his team, it cannot be ignored indefinitely. DeMarcus Cousins has demanded to be traded. In the best interest of our team as we go forward, he has been directed by me, with the support of management, to stay at home from the New Orleans game."
REWIND: Kings: Cousins demands trade Cousins says he didn't demand trade
So, has the situation been resolved?
"I wouldn't say it's resolved," Westphal said before Tuesday's game. "We will see how it plays out. I think DeMarcus has to continue to show maturity and a desire to go the same direction as his teammates. We're all hoping that happens."Cousins is third on the team with 11.2 points per game and adds 10.6 rebounds.
Sacramento will close this three-game stretch Thursday against Milwaukee. The Kings starters should be rested after Westphal pulled most of them early Tuesday. No starter played more than 27 minutes.The Kings have lost four of five overall against the Nuggets and five straight in Denver since a 118-115 win on April 5, 2008.
The Associated Press contributed to this report

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

2-fox-rockets-blur.jpg
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.