Kings' more forceful mindset propels them to win, successful homestand

Kings' more forceful mindset propels them to win, successful homestand

SACRAMENTO -- The race for eighth is heating up. In front of another sold out Golden 1 Center crowd, the Sacramento Kings shook off first half drama to come away with a huge 105-99 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Sacramento got off to another slow start, falling behind by as many as nine in the first quarter. When DeMarcus Cousins picked up his 17th technical of the season with just over a minute remaining in the period, the Kings looked out of sorts.

“We know that he’s trying his best to keep his cool and he’s done a good job,” Darren Collison said. “He’s done a good job of keeping his poise for the most part.”

Cousins looked stunned by the technical call. He got tangled up with Donatas Motiejunas on a rebound and upon review was assessed a tech for what the officials called a “physical taunt.”

“I’ve accepted it, [explicit], they’re after me,” Cousins said. “Just play. Whatever happens, happens.”

The All-Star big left the court and headed to the Kings locker room to take a deep breath.

“I just tried to gather my thoughts, get myself together,” Cousins said following the game. “The last couple of days have been very frustrating for me. I’m looking for it to ease up at some point and it just doesn’t seem like it wants to or is going to happen.”

Cousins returned to the floor and the Pelicans turned up the physical play. Dante Cunningham picked up a call for trying to shove Cousins off the blocks and then rookie Buddy Hield found himself out of the game after hitting the Kings’ star big below the waist fighting through a screen.

After Hield’s ejection, Sacramento responded with a 14-6 run to end the half. They opened the third quarter up with a 13-0 run and put New Orleans on their heels.

“That was a good win for us -- stayed with it,” Joerger said. “[We] didn’t have a great first half, but came out in the second half with a more forceful mindset defensively.”

Sacramento’s defense held New Orleans to just 39 percent shooting after the intermission and they forced the Pelicans into 12 second half turnovers.

Cousins once again put up huge numbers, finishing the night with 28 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists. He turned the ball over seven times, but it didn’t affect the outcome of the game. He is trying to reinvent himself on the fly to fit into the standards of the league.

“It’s obvious, I can’t be myself,” Cousins said. “Me playing the way I play is what makes me the player that I am. Obviously it’s not acceptable, so I’m trying to find a way to do what these guys are asking me to do. It’s not easy, but I’m trying to find a way.”

Sacramento’s star big wasn’t the only one to contribute. Collison scored 20 points, handed out eight assists, grabbed six rebounds and picked up three steals in 41 minutes of action. With the injury to Ty Lawson, the veteran point guard has been forced to play huge minutes for coach Dave Joerger.

Ben McLemore dropped in a pair of 3-pointers during the third quarter surge and finished the night with 11 point.s Matt Barnes chipped in 12 points and five rebounds, while Arron Afflalo nine of his 10 points after halftime.

“It gives us confidence,” Collison said of the win. “We’re playing some good basketball right now. We do have some lapses where we can get better at.”

Anthony Davis had a big night for New Orleans, but Sacramento made adjustments at the half to slow the All-Star center. After posting 21 points on 7-of-13 shooting in the first 24 minutes of the game, Davis finished the night with 32 points, 10 rebounds and six turnovers.

Jrue Holiday added 16 points, 11 assists, six assists and five steals, but it wasn’t enough for the Pelicans who fell to 21-34 on the season with the loss.

With the victory, Sacramento has rattled off three straight wins and they finished the homestand at 4-2. They moved to within a game and a half of the Denver Nuggets for the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoff race, but they still have two games on the road before getting a much needed rest at the All-Star break.

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.