Kings look to upset West's-best OKC


Kings look to upset West's-best OKC

Kevin Durant has scored 33 points in each of Oklahoma City's last two games in helping the Thunder rally for a pair of victories.The three-time All-Star could be poised for another big outing.Durant looks to lead the Western Conference-best Thunder to a seventh straight win over the Kings on Thursday night at Power Balance Pavilion, one of the two-time scoring champion's favorite arenas.After scoring 13 of his points in the fourth quarter and overtime in Monday's 111-107 victory over Portland, Durant scored 12 in the final period of Tuesday's 119-116 win over Golden State. He made the go-ahead bank shot with 14.2 seconds remaining against the Warriors after putting the finishing touches on Monday's victory with a dunk with 2.9 seconds left.

"It's fun," said Durant, who has reached the 30-point mark five times in the last seven contests after having one 30-point game in his previous 14. "This is what you dream about as a kid. Guys want to take those shots and play in those minutes."The Thunder (20-5) haven't needed any late-game heroics from Durant against the Kings.Oklahoma City has won six straight in the series since a 101-98 loss Nov. 10, 2009, with the four meetings last season being decided by an average of 13.8 points. Not surprisingly, Durant - third in the league with 27.3 points per game - has played a big role in the Thunder's success, especially in Sacramento.In five games at Power Balance Pavilion since 2008-09, Durant is averaging 32.8 points, his best at any arena.Durant, however, isn't the only player the Kings need to worry about on the Thunder, one of the league's highest-scoring teams at 101.2 points per game.Russell Westbrook is averaging 27.1 points in his last seven games, while James Harden is averaging 20.3 on 52.1 percent shooting in his last four. Westbrook had 31 points and seven assists Tuesday to help give the Thunder their fourth win in five games.Oklahoma City's high-powered offense will likely be a big test for Sacramento, which is playing much better defensively.The Kings (9-16) are allowing an average of 94.2 points on 42.7 percent shooting in splitting their last six games after allowing an average of 117.0 points on 52.0 percent shooting in losing their previous three.Sacramento did a good job of shutting down a Minnesota team playing without the suspended Kevin Love on Tuesday, but the offense struggled in an 86-84 defeat.Tyreke Evans, who averages 17.2 points, scored 11 on 5-of-13 shooting, while DeMarcus Cousins shot 3 for 13 and finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds after combining for 49 points and 39 boards in his previous two games.Rookie Jimmer Fredette, benched for two straight games last week, helped pick up the slack, scoring all 13 of his points in the fourth quarter as the Kings nearly erased a nine-point deficit. Sacramento had a chance to win, but Donte Greene's 3-pointer from the corner missed at the buzzer."It would have been a perfect, happy ending to our comeback for that to go in," Greene said. "But it didn't fall."A game against Oklahoma City, which has allowed at least 107 points in each of its last three games, could help Evans and Cousins bounce back from Tuesday's subpar showings.Evans scored 52 points in his two games against the Thunder last season, while Cousins averaged 21.0 points in four - his second-highest average against any team during his rookie season.

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


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.


Lakers by 1


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.


Kings: 4-13, fifth place in Pacific

Lakers: 8-10, second place in Pacific


Kings: SG Buddy Hield (sprained ankle) probable, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out until January.

Lakers: PF Larry Nance Jr. (hand) out.


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. 


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. 


“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