Rewind: Cousins, Joerger take responsibility for Kings' loss to Spurs

Rewind: Cousins, Joerger take responsibility for Kings' loss to Spurs

SACRAMENTO -- Changes are coming to the starting lineup in Sacramento. After falling 110-105 to the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night, the writing is not only on the wall, it’s a topic of conversation with head coach Dave Joerger.

“Possibly,” Joerger said when asked if he was considering mixing up his first unit. “We can’t come out... that was not acceptable.”

Sacramento trailed by as many as 12 in the first quarter of the game, which has become a trend of late. Their second unit gave them big minutes early, cutting the deficit to 27-22 going to quarter number two, but the Kings continue to play catch up, which takes it’s toll.

“The starters have to do a better job, no excuse,” DeMarcus Cousins said, echoing his coach’s sentiments. “We set the tone of the game nightly.”

The game wasn’t nearly as close as the final score would have you believe. Sacramento trailed by double-digits for most of the night. They used a 16-3 run in the final three minutes without the Spurs starters on the floor to pull the final score to within five.

According to Joerger, the issues with his team began earlier in the day. An unfocused shootaround carried over into the action once the ball was tipped for real.

“It’s on me, because I allowed a very loose shootaround today,” Joerger said. “After four days of practice, I know they were kind of tired of being at practice and hearing my voice.”

Sacramento’s head coach wasn’t the only to shoulder the blame. Slow start by the starters? Coach and star player raise their hands. Poor shootaround? Once again, coach and star player raise their hands.

“I take the blame for that, as the leader of this team, I have to do better,” Cousins said. “I’ve got to get my guys together. I’ve got to have more focused shootarounds and that falls back on me. He’s absolutely right.”

New coaches, new schemes and new players are taking longer than expected to gel. Joerger has stuck with the same starting lineup in all but two of the first 12 games, but after dropping another contest, all options are on the table.

Sacramento’s second team outscored the Spurs 57-22, including solid nights by Ben McLemore, Matt Barnes, Darren Collison and Willie Cauley-Stein. At least one of these players might move into the starting lineup when the Kings take on the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday evening.

Cousins put up big numbers in the loss, finishing the night with 26 points, 17 rebounds and six assists. But his two fouls in the first four minutes of the game contributed greatly to the team’s slow start.

For one of the few nights this season, Rudy Gay was mostly ineffective, scoring 11 points on 3-of-11 shooting against defensive star Kawhi Leonard.

Lawson’s struggles continue...

Veteran point guard Ty Lawson has struggled all season long to get his offensive game started, but over the last six games, he’s shooting just 5-of-27 from the field (18.5 percent). He finished Wednesday night’s game with three points and failed to register an assist in 20 minutes of action.

With the return of Darren Collison, Lawson’s starting job at the point might be one of the fixes Joerger tries as he tinkers. Collison was Sacramento’s third leading scorer a season ago and his ability to knock down open shots from the perimeter

“I think he’s playing hard, he’s playing in a system that does not help him,” Joerger said of Lawson. “He’s playing with guys who just have no pace to get up and down the floor. It’s very difficult for him to try and take it and go against a set defense that’s got three of four guys back.”

It’s possible that Lawson would fit better with the second unit that includes players that can get up and down the floor like McLemore, Barnes and Cauley-Stein.

“I’m trying to push the ball but the big men are just clogging the paint on the other team, just sitting back,” Lawson explained. “Even when I do get a drive or something like that, their big men are sitting right there and I’ve got to kick it out.

“I’ll just keep working at it, keep playing hard, just play hard on the defensive end and try to get steals or just make it hard for other teams. Just got to find my niche.”

Lawson isn’t the only one struggling with the Kings offensive system, but his numbers jump off the page.

Vince Carter 'very humbled' to pass Patrick Ewing on all-time scoring list

Vince Carter 'very humbled' to pass Patrick Ewing on all-time scoring list

SACRAMENTO -- Half man, half amazing. Vincanity. Air-Canada. V.C.

Vince Carter has plenty of nicknames on his bio. He also has plenty of achievements over his long NBA career. On Monday night in Sacramento, he added a new one.  

With his seven point performance in the Kings’ 106-90 loss to the Detroit Pistons, the 41-year-old forward surpassed a former teammate on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.

“It means a lot, because in my days in Orlando, I played with Pat Ewing and know him very well,” Carter said following the game.

Carter came into the night needing five points to tie Ewing’s 24,815 mark for 22nd place on the all-time scoring list.

In the early second quarter, Carter stole a pass from Andre Drummond at the top of the key  and flew down for a breakaway jam to move within three points of Ewing.

“It’s fun for everyone, just to show I can still do it,” Carter said of the dunk. “I think I’ve proven I can, but it’s still fun. I told James Ennis on the way, I said, ‘stay back, don’t foul me.’”

Ennis likely couldn’t have caught Carter either way, but the slam got the Kings crowd going.

At the 4:12 mark of the second, Carter drilled a 12-footer to move within one point of Ewing and with 29.5 seconds remaining in the third, Carter knocked down a 26-foot 3-pointer that rattled around and tried to spin out.

That was the last bucket of the evening for Carter, giving him 24,817 for his 20-year career. He now sits alone in 22nd place, two points ahead of the former New York Knicks star center.

“That’s crazy,” 20-year-old De’Aaron Fox said. “That’s a lot of buckets. Top-25, that’s huge - a lot of guys won’t get close to that.”

Carter now sits just 375 points behind legendary Laker, Jerry West for 21st place and 462 shy of Reggie Miller for a spot in the top 20.

“When you talk about (being) in the top 25 in scoring all-time, you just look at the list of the greats and elite players and the best of the best that still play, and to be in that group, I’m very humbled and thankful for it,” Carter told the media scrum surrounding his locker.

Carter was away from the team over the weekend dealing with a death in the family. He returned to Sacramento to play on Monday, but did so with a heavy heart.

For most of his life, the basketball court has been his place to escape. After two decades as a pro, it still has that effect.

“I just still love it, it’s been great to me, it gives me an opportunity to be around the younger generation and still be around the game I love and accomplish things like this,” Carter said.

He’s played sparingly for Sacramento this season, but his impact on the bench, in practice and behind the scenes as a leader and mentor to the young Kings has been immeasurable.

Carter hasn’t committed to retiring following the season. He will weigh his options, but there is a possibly he will look for one last run at an NBA championship.

Carter passes Ewing on all-time scoring list


Carter passes Ewing on all-time scoring list

SACRAMENTO -- Moving on up. Vince Carter came into Monday evening’s matchup against the Detroit Pistons needing just five points to surpass Patrick Ewing for 22nd place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. He got that and a little more.

Carter, 41, picked off a Pistons pass in the second quarter and hammered down a breakaway dunk to score his first two points of the evening. He knocked down a jumper in the lane before halftime to get within one point of Ewing and then moved ahead of the 7-footer with a 3-pointer in the third quarter.

The 20-year NBA veteran now sits at 24,817 points. He is 375 points behind the great Jerry West’s 25,192, who currently sits in 21st place on the all-time list.