Kings

In midst of skid, young Kings learning how to win games all over again

In midst of skid, young Kings learning how to win games all over again

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings spent a good part of the season learning how to win games. That process started all over again with the trade that sent DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans.

After falling to the Washington Wizards 130-122 in overtime Friday night, the Kings have lost seven in a row. They are competitive, but for the second straight game, they blew a monster lead late.

“It doesn’t feel good when you miss shots down the stretch, it doesn’t feel good when you’re up 25 or 15 or whatever, but we’re maturing,” Arron Afflalo said. “We’ve got a lot of young guys and we’re still trying to learn how to win.”

Sacramento opened the fourth quarter with a 15-point lead over Washington, but John Wall and Bradley Beal kept playing. With Wall breaking down the Kings defense, Beal got fat on the perimeter, scoring 16 of his 38 points in the fourth and another five in the extra frame.  

“We’ve just got to find a way to hold our leads, we’ve been giving up these big leads,” Darren Collison said. “You figure we close these teams out early, they may just throw in the towel.”

The Wizards outscored the Kings 34-19 in the fourth to force an overtime session. Collison and Willie Cauley-Stein kept the Kings in the game with a series of pick-and-roll dunks. But the defensive stops never came.

“We’re not getting blown out,” Afflalo said. “We’ve lost six or seven in a row now, but we’re coming in here every game thinking we should have won. It doesn’t mean much in the standings, but we are getting better and trying to do the right thing.”

Since the Cousins trade, the Kings are 1-7. They’ve lost twice in overtime over that stretch and they have held leads in plenty of those games.

“It’s really tough, it’s really tough,” rookie Buddy Hield said. “We’ve just got to keep working, keep learning. In this league, you’ve got to learn how to win. It doesn’t come easy.”

You have to have a short memory in the NBA. The Kings return to the court looking to snap their skid on Saturday evening against the Denver Nuggets. It’s a work in progress, but at least they are competing while they transition to a young group of players.

 

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.

Gameday: Can Kings slow down Rockets from beyond the arc?

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AP

Gameday: Can Kings slow down Rockets from beyond the arc?

Sacramento rebooted the franchise at the trade deadline last season and begin anew this season with veteran additions Vince Carter, George Hill and Zach Randolph to compliment a bevy of young players. 

Houston reloaded in the offseason, adding nine-time All-Star Chris Paul and a veteran defenders P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute. They put on a show against the Warriors and look like one of the best the Western Conference has to offer once again. 

BETTING LINE 

Rockets by 8

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Kings defense vs. The 3-pointer -- Houston launched an incredible 180 3-point attempts versus Sacramento last season, hitting a robust 75 (41.7 percent) of those shots. It’s a new-look roster for the Kings, but they’ve had very little time to develop defensive chemistry. Dave Joerger and his staff will game plan to slow the Rockets perimeter game, but Mike D’Antoni has a deep group that comes at you in waves.

WHERE THEY STAND 

Kings: 0-0

Rockets: 1-0

INJURY REPORT 

Kings: SG Bogdan Bogdanovic (right ankle sprain) out, PF Zach Randolph (tooth) out

Rockets: PG Chris Paul (bruised right knee) questionable

SERIES HISTORY 

The Rockets swept the Kings last season 4-0, including a 135-128 victory in the final week of the season. Houston leads the all-time series 124-88 and they hold an 83-42 advantage during the Sacramento-era. 

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

THE ROOKIES - The Kings walk into the 2017-18 campaign with five rookies on the roster, four of which should see time early in the season. De’Aaron Fox is the headliner, but don’t be shocked if Justin Jackson, Frank Mason and Bogdan Bogdanovic play important roles on this team.

ROTATIONS - With 10 new faces on the roster, Joerger needed more than an abbreviated training camp and six preseason contests. Expect the coaching staff to try different looks throughout the first 20 games of the season as they search for answers.

BALANCING THE ROSTER - Joerger has five veterans and 10 players with two years of experience or less. If he goes with the vets, fans will call for the rookies. If he plays the rookies and the losses stack up, fans will call for his head. It’s an unenviable position that will require patience and a little faith.

QUOTE

“I’m expecting a high-paced game. I feel like our fans are going to come out, they’re going to give us a lot of energy, playing a team as good as Houston is.” -De’Aaron Fox