Kings look to snap two-game skid vs. Suns


Kings look to snap two-game skid vs. Suns

The Phoenix Suns have made the most of their longest homestand of the season.With that six-game stretch about to end, the Suns look to match a season high with a third consecutive victory Sunday night against the Sacramento Kings.Phoenix (16-20) was mired in a four-game losing streak when it opened this homestand, which surrounded the All-Star break, with a 102-90 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 19. The Suns have won four of five in a stretch that concludes Sunday."We have got to take advantage of every situation as far as playing at home," coach Alvin Gentry told the Suns' official website.Jared Dudley scored 22 points and Marcin Gortat added 18 with 14 rebounds as the Suns rallied from an early 11-point deficit to beat the Clippers 81-78 on Friday despite shooting 35.0 percent. It was the Suns' lowest field-goal percentage in a win since shooting 33.3 percent during a 78-74 victory over Cleveland on Nov. 1, 2002.While the offense struggled, Phoenix held Los Angeles to 36.8 percent shooting. Channing Frye had just six points and missed all but two of his 18 shots, but he posted 14 rebounds and helped hold Clippers star Blake Griffin to season-worst 6-of-19 shooting."If we are not going to shoot the ball well then the only thing that can keep us in the game is our defense," said Gentry, whose team is 9-9 at home.The Suns have held their last five opponents to 91.4 points per game on 42.0 percent shooting, including 27.6 percent from 3-point range. That is a major improvement for a Phoenix club that had allowed visitors to US Airways Center to make 40.7 percent of their 3s before that.Sacramento (12-24) has shot 29.8 percent from beyond the arc while going 4-18 on the road in 2011-12. The Kings, however, went 6 of 13 on 3s while ending a 10-game skid at Phoenix with a 113-108 win in their most recent visit Feb. 13, 2011.The Suns snapped a three-game losing streak in the series with a 98-84 road win Feb. 11, holding Sacramento to 35.1 percent from the field.Dudley has scored 41 points over his last two games against the Kings - both on the road. He's been limited to 39 versus Sacramento in six home games for the Suns.Gortat has averaged 19.7 points and 12.2 rebounds in his last six overall, and had 20 with 12 boards in the home loss to the Kings last season.Though Sacramento has dropped two in a row and eight of 10, it cut a 20-point, fourth-quarter deficit to five before falling 115-107 to the Lakers on Friday."These guys could have folded," coach Keith Smart said. "That's why this group is going to be OK. This group is going to come around as we continue to get familiar with each other, and they're going to play hard every single night."DeMarcus Cousins had 26 points versus Phoenix last month. The second-year big man has averaged 23.7 in three career home contests against the Suns, but in his only game at Phoenix he was held to nine during a 103-89 loss Nov. 12, 2010.

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.