Kings

Rose-less Bulls hand Kings 121-115 loss

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Rose-less Bulls hand Kings 121-115 loss

BOX SCORE
CHICAGO -- Luol Deng figures the Chicago Bulls will have to find creative ways to win as long as Derrick Rose is sidelined.This wasn't what he had in mind. The Bulls will take it, though.Deng came through with 23 points and a career-high 11 assists, and the Bulls escaped with a 121-115 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night after a 19-point, fourth-quarter lead dwindled to two."Missing Derrick, even though we're winning games, it's huge," Deng said. "He makes the game so much easier. When he's not there, you've got to work extra."Joakim Noah added 22 points and 11 rebounds. Kyle Korver scored 18, hitting four free throws in the final 17.6 seconds. Carlos Boozer scored 16, Taj Gibson added 15 points, and the Bulls came away with the win - barely - even though Rose missed his third straight game with lower back spasms.The victory clinched the Eastern Conference coaching spot at the All-Star game for the Bulls' Tom Thibodeau.DeMarcus Cousins led Sacramento with 28 points and 17 rebounds. Tyreke Evans scored 27, and Marcus Thornton added 23 points for the Kings, who made things extremely interesting down the stretch.Two free throws by Evans with 19 seconds left made it 115-112. Korver answered with two of his own, but the drama wasn't over.Thornton nailed a 3 to make it a two-point game with 14.8 seconds left, but Korver immediately hit two more foul shots to boost the lead to 119-115. Deng then hit two free throws with 8.8 seconds left to seal the win."I've yet to fear this team being down," Kings coach Keith Smart said. "This team has shown throughout the year that they have the ability to get back in games."Winning them is a different story. Sacramento is last in the Pacific Division at 10-18 and is just 3-13 on the road.This seemed like a mismatch despite Rose's absence, but the Kings hung with the Eastern Conference leaders even when it looked like Chicago had put this one away.Sacramento was within eight in late in the third when Deng buried a corner 3 with just under a minute left. That started a 12-1 run that bumped Chicago's lead to 97-78, but the Bulls couldn't breathe too easily.They did, however, let out a big sigh of relief in the end."They're a tough team," Evans said. "They play together. They run that high pick-and-roll good with the bigs. They ran it all night on us and got a lot of fouls. That's what killed us."The dramatic win came on the heels of a 6-3 trip that matched their longest since the 1992-93 season, and they did it without their superstar point guard."I think our team has gotten used to guys being out," Thibodeau said. "It happened last year with our big guys and this year, it is more perimeter guys, so we have that all covered. We feel very good about our depth, and when we are down a man, the next guy steps up and does the job."The question is: Will the injuries take a toll eventually?Rose didn't have a target date for his return. Boston visits Thursday, and he wasn't sure if he'd be ready to play against Rajon Rondo and the Celtics. One thing was clear, though. Rose was certainly breathing a little easier.A specialist confirmed Monday that there was no structural damage, and that was a big relief for him and a team eyeing a championship. This hasn't been an easy season for Rose even though he's averaging 22.0 points and 7.8 assists. Between the bad back and a problem with his left big toe, he's missed eight games this season after sitting out six over his first three years."I think the best thing you can do is try to get better from it," Deng said. "If we had a choice, we wouldn't want him to be hurt, but that's the situation. We really think that it will help us. Guys are stepping up. Guys are getting playing time. We'd rather have this problem now than later in the year."Notes: Veteran G Richard Hamilton, who remains sidelined by a right thigh injury, rejoined the Bulls after tending to a family issue. He posted on Twitter that his grandmother died. ... G Mike James signed a 10-day contract. He appeared in three games for Chicago before being waived on Jan. 28. ... Kings rookie Jimmer Fredette, nursing an upset stomach, did not play.

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