NBA Gameday: Kings kick off five-game road trip in Atlanta

NBA Gameday: Kings kick off five-game road trip in Atlanta

The Sacramento Kings begin their early season five-game road trip on Monday in Atlanta. They face a retooled Hawks team that looks dramatically different than the 48-win team Mike Budenholzer ran out on the floor a season ago. 

Gone are Jeff Teague and Al Horford, but Atlanta has replaced the duo with Dennis Schroeder, a home-grown product, and eight-time All-Star Dwight Howard. 

Sacramento is coming off an exciting 106-103 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night. After trailing by as many as 18 in the first half, the Kings jumped all over the T'Wolves in the second half and held on for their first win in the newly opened Golden 1 Center. 

DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay have led the way for coach Dave Joerger early in the 2016-17 campaign, but 36-year-old veteran Matt Barnes has brought a toughness and tenacity to the team that was much needed. 


Hawks by 7


Kings: 2-1, second place in the Pacific

Hawks: 2-0, first place in the Southeast


Matt Barnes vs. Paul Millsap -- Barnes won’t start the game and he’s dealing with rib issues, but expect Joerger to turn to his swiss army knife forward early and often to combat Millsap. The 31-year-old Millsap is posting a career-high 22.5 points per game in the Hawks’ first two contests. 


Kings: G Darren Collison (league suspension) out.

Hawks: F Mike Scott (knee) out, C Tiago Splitter (hamstring) out.


The Kings have lost nine straight at Philips Arena, but they split the season series with the Hawks last year with a 91-88 win at Sleep Train Arena. Atlanta holds a 157-153 advantage over the Kings all-time and a 41-18 lead during the Sacramento-era. 


“You find yourself. You don’t have the crowd to lean on, you’ve only got these guys in this locker room. You grow closer. You learn your teammates better. You learn who’s in the fight with you and who’s not. You learn a lot on the road, so I’m looking forward to it.” -DeMarcus Cousins on heading out on the Kings’ first road trip

Response to adversity opens Kings, Golden 1 Center to national conversation

Response to adversity opens Kings, Golden 1 Center to national conversation

SACRAMENTO -- Gavin Maloof once described a potential downtown Sacramento arena as “a beacon of light, shining bright.” Vivek Ranadivé likened the idea of Golden 1 Center as the modern town square, cathedral or communal hearth.

On Friday, Ranadivé might have finally found the best way to describe his $500-plus million arena in the center of Sacramento’s downtown core. Speaking to the Sacramento Bee, Ranadivé said, "you can't always dictate what the stories are that are being told around the fireplace."

Thousands of protesters surrounded Ranadivé’s fireplace on Thursday evening. They locked arms and barred fans from coming in the building as the Kings faced the Atlanta Hawks.

In one night, Golden 1 Center was transformed from the home of the Kings, to something much more. It became the meeting place for the protesters to vent their frustrations after the officer-involved shooting death of Stephon Clark, a 22-year-old African American from South Sacramento.

The Kings’ first reaction was to protect the fans that had entered the building. They locked down the arena and cleared everyone from the massive windows that highlight the grand entrance. The limited number of fans allowed in the building were treated to seat upgrades and unlimited free food.

After securing the safety of the fans inside, the team chose a specific course of action. Instead of pointing fingers at protesters who likely cost the franchise hundreds of thousands of dollars, they allowed Golden 1 Center to become the heart of Sacramento.

It’s not always going to be about basketball or concerts or Disney on Ice. For Golden 1 Center to become what Ranadivé envisions, it has to be a place for everyone.

Instead of shunning the protest and turning their ire towards the thousands outside, Ranadivé had his defining moment, not just as an owner, but as a leader in the Sacramento community.

“The Kings recognize your people’s ability to protest peacefully and we respect that,” Ranadivé said from center court. “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.”

His postgame speech was humble and showed a different side of the Kings’ Chairman. It was also a moment for the franchise to become part of a larger conversation that is facing nearly every community in America.

To turn a blind eye to social injustice and civil unrest would violate the spirit of what Golden 1 Center was created for. If it is truly the fireplace of Sacramento, then there has to be an open invitation - not just for basketball, and not just for protests, but for all that a community has to give.

The Kings aren’t asking for games to be interrupted on a regular basis. But the team’s handling of the situation has opened the door for Golden 1 Center to become the communal meeting place they hoped it would be when they broke ground.

Report: Former Kings star offers to pay for Stephon Clark's funeral

Report: Former Kings star offers to pay for Stephon Clark's funeral

Former Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins reportedly reached out to Stephon Clark's family and offered to cover the cost of his a funeral, according to The Sacramento Bee's Jason Jones

Sacramento police shot and killed Clark, a 22-year-old African-American father of two, on Sunday while he was holding a cellphone in the backyard of his grandmother's home. Clark was unarmed. 

During his six-and-a-half year tenure in Sacramento, Cousins was not only the face of the Kings on the court, but the face of outreach efforts off of it. He paid for the funeral of Sacramento-area high school football player Jaulon "JJ" Clavo, who was shot in 2015, and ran free children's basketball camps for the city's children during the summer.

He continued to run a camp last summer following a midseason trade to the New Orleans Pelicans, and has spoken at length about how much he treasures maintaining strong ties to Sacramento. He told The Sacramento Bee last February that he "still consider[s Sacramento] a home."

“It’s very important to me,” Cousins told The New Orleans Advocate in October. “I’ve built relationships in a lot of the different places I’ve been. My biggest thing is helping those kids and helping families in need. I was once in their position, and it would’ve done wonders if I could’ve had a little bit of help coming up. I’m just doing my part.”

Bodycam footage from the officer-involved shooting was released on Wednesday, setting off protests on Thursday. Protestors blocked traffic on Interstate 5 both ways, according to NPR, before locking arms and surrounding the Golden 1 Center ahead of Hawks-Kings that night. Those protests delayed the start of the game by 15 minutes, and an estimated 15,000 fans were unable to enter the arena.