Kings

Late steal lifts Kings over Hornets 99-98

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Late steal lifts Kings over Hornets 99-98

Box Score

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) John Salmons made the go-ahead layup with 6.8 seconds left, Marcus Thornton scored 25 points, and the Sacramento Kings snapped a four-game losing streak by beating the New Orleans Hornets 99-98 on Wednesday night.The Hornets led by one and inbounded with 8.9 seconds left, but Isaiah Thomas stole Trevor Ariza's pass and quickly spotted Salmons cutting to the basket for a left-handed layup.Jarrett Jack had 25 points and Ariza 20 for the Hornets, who lost their third straight and fifth in six games. Chris Kaman had 18 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.Tyreke Evans had 13 points for the Kings, who had dropped 10 of their previous 12 games. Jason Thompson, Salmons and Thomas all had 12 points, and Jimmer Fredette scored 11.The Kings played without second-year center DeMarcus Cousins, their third-leading scorer and top rebounder. The team said he was suffering from food poisoning. The Kings are 2-0 in games Cousins has missed this season, both coming against the Hornets.This was the first of a franchise-record nine straight home games for the Kings. It came one day after the City Council and Mayor Kevin Johnson took care of the financial details of a new arena that will keep the team in Sacramento indefinitely, ending rumors that the team might move to Anaheim or Seattle.The City Council approved the measure Tuesday night to build a new downtown arena that is expected to break ground next spring and be ready for the 2015-16 season.It was yet another evening of playing short-handed for the Hornets, who have been decimated by injuries this season and only dressed nine players against the Kings.Thornton made a basket to pull the Kings to within 98-97. A shot clock violation by New Orleans gave Sacramento the ball back with 19 seconds left and trailing by one point. Thornton missed a jumper, but the Kings got a final chance after the turnover.Ariza missed a jumper as time expired.Trailing by six points early in the fourth quarter, the Kings ran off seven straight points to assume the lead. Fredette's 3-pointer ended the run, giving Sacramento an 85-84 advantage.The Hornets continued to shoot well in the third quarter, when they outscored the Kings 26-20. Jack scored eight points and Ariza had seven in the quarter. Vasquez made the Hornets' first 3-pointer of the game with 21 seconds remaining in the period, putting New Orleans ahead 80-78 heading into the fourth.Thomas scored 12 points and Thornton had 10, helping the Kings take a 58-54 lead into halftime. Jack and Kaman both scored 12 points in the opening half for the Hornets, who shot 57 percent.Notes: The latest Hornet with an injury was starting power forward Gustavo Ayon, who missed the game due to a sore left foot. . The Hornets are expected to sign Solomon Jones for the remainder of the season on Wednesday. Jones, who started against the Kings, is on the final day of his second 10-day contract. . The Kings attempted 14 3-point shots in the opening half while the Hornets shot just one.

Gameday: Kings go for home-and-home sweep of Blazers sans sharpshooter

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AP

Gameday: Kings go for home-and-home sweep of Blazers sans sharpshooter

Rinse and repeat. After shocking the Portland Trail Blazers Friday evening at Golden 1 Center, the Sacramento Kings hopped on a plane where they’ll face the same team on the second night of a home-and-home back-to-back.

Dave Joerger shook up his lineup on Friday, installing De’Aaron Fox and Skal Labissiere for Bogdan Bogdanovic and Willie Cauley-Stein. The Kings responded with their best defensive effort of the season. Cauley-Stein went off for 22 points and 10 rebounds with the second unit and his defensive effort was next level.

The Blazers have become a two-man wrecking crew. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum score the bulk of the team’s points on a nightly basis, but coach Terry Stotts is still searching someone who is ready to step up and help. Jusuf Nurkic is part of the puzzle, but the Blazers need more consistency from the other 12 players on the roster.

BETTING LINE:
Blazers by 12

MATCHUP TO WATCH:
De’Aaron Fox vs. Damian Lillard -- Fox put on a defensive show against Portland at Golden 1 Center. The rookie came into the league with high-end potential as a two-way player and he showed it against Lillard, holding the All-Star point guard to 29 points, but on 9-of-25 shooting. Lillard loves to hoist up shots. If Fox can't provide the same pressure, the Kings will struggle to keep up with the Blazers.

WHERE THEY STAND
Kings: 4-11, fifth place in Pacific

Trail Blazers: 8-7, third place in Northwest

INJURY REPORT:
Kings: SG Buddy Hield (sprained ankle) out, F Vince Carter (kidney stones) out, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out until January.

Trail Blazers: F Al Farouq Aminu (ankle) out, G C.J. Wilcox (knee) out, PG Wade Baldwin (thumb) out.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH:
CONSISTENCY -- You can’t show flashes of brilliance and then take a step back. The Kings defensive effort and overall intensity won the game on Friday night. It’s a place to build from.

FINDING A ROLE -- Joerger shook up everything when he turned to Fox and Labissiere. Offensively, both players struggled, as did Bogdanovic off the bench. This group of young players needs to find a role and figure out a way to help the team, even when the shots aren’t falling.

GET DEFENSIVE -- Portland didn’t know what hit them Friday evening, but they’ll have a few hours to make adjustments. Sacramento’s bigs showed on every high screen and roll. The guard and wing play was aggressive and spot on. The Kings are young and energetic. If they can focus that energy on the defensive end night in and night out, they might have a chance to build something.

SERIES HISTORY:
Sacramento leads the season series 1-0 after Friday night’s win. The Blazers lead the all-time series 129-78 and they own the Kings during the Sacramento-era 88-47.

QUOTE:
"Whether you think the sky is falling or not, we are 3-3 in our last 6 games." - Dave Joerger

Joerger shakes things up, Cauley-Stein responds with big game

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USATSI

Joerger shakes things up, Cauley-Stein responds with big game

SACRAMENTO -- Faced with demotion, you have two options, sulk or come out swinging. Willie Cauley-Stein chose option two Friday evening at Golden 1 Center.

After starting all 14 games to begin the season, Cauley-Stein found himself relegated to the second unit against the Portland Trail Blazers. The 7-footer looked energized by the move and made one play after another as the Kings came away with the 86-82 victory.

“I felt free - period,” Cauley-Stein said following the win. “Both offensively, defensively. I’m quarterbacking on defense. I’m getting to make plays on offense. I just feel liberated. I feel like it’s unlocking.”

The third-year big began the 2017-18 campaign with back-to-back double-doubles, but hadn’t notched double-figures in rebounds since. Over his previous eight games, the Kings’ starting center was averaging just 4.3 boards per game.

Against Portland, Cauley-Stein played sparkling defense, hit 9-of-17 from the floor for a team-high 22 points and hit the glass for 10 boards. He skied above the Blazers bigs for a rebound with 3.4 seconds remaining and his second free throw attempt sealed the win for a Kings team in desperate need of a win.

“Willie’s a hell of a player, obviously,” veteran big Kosta Koufos said. “He’s really athletic, he’s a special talent.”

Koufos and Cauley-Stein made a devastating defensive duo for Sacramento. Both bigs showed on the high pick-and-roll and avoided fouling the Blazers high-powered guards.

“That’s a crazy defensive lineup right there, me and Kosta play really well together,” Cauley-Stein said. “I’ve been waiting for that lineup since we started.”

Damian Lillard scored 29 points, but he shot just 9-of-25 from the field and 5-for-14 from long range. C.J. McCollum knocked down 8-of-15 from the floor, but he missed all four of his 3-point attempts as Sacramento closed out and pressured the shooter all night long.

Cauley-Stein wasn’t the only starter to find himself on the bench to start the game. Dave Joerger turned to a dual point guard backcourt, using De’Aaron Fox and George Hill side-by-side, while bringing rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic in with the second unit.

Playing off the ball for long stretches, Hill responded to the move with 14 points and five assists in 27 minutes. Fox had a quiet offensive night, but his defense on both Lillard and McCollum was inspired.

“We can both attack and he’s a great shooter so that really helps me,” Fox said of Hill. “He’s a mentor on the court. It’s a lot easier to play with him then to watch him play.”

Sacramento held Portland to just 37 percent shooting overall and 28 percent from behind the arc. They pressured the Blazers in the backcourt and slowed the game to screeching halt.

With the win, the Kings snapped their three-game losing streak and improved to 4-11 on the season. They jumped a plane for Portland following the game where they’ll face the same Trail Blazer team Saturday in a rare back-to-back against the same team.

The Kings likely be without the services of shooting guard Buddy Hield, who left the game in the fourth quarter with a sprained right ankle. Hield limped into the locker room on crutches following the victory and the initial indications point to him missing the rematch.