Kings

Small mistakes snowball for Kings in narrow loss to Clippers

Small mistakes snowball for Kings in narrow loss to Clippers

SACRAMENTO -- Sometimes it comes down to just one play. A bad bounce. A skip off the rim. A tipped ball that slips through your fingers.

The Sacramento Kings didn’t play a perfect game Friday night as they fell 106-98 to the Los Angeles Clippers at Golden 1 Center. In fact, the second quarter was one of the worst 12 minutes of basketball they have played all season.

But with 23.9 seconds remaining in the game, Sacramento had a shot. They trailed 100-98 to a very good Clippers team and one play decided the outcome of the game.

DeMarcus Cousins beat his man off the dribble and when help came, he tried to find Gay under the basket. The pass didn’t find its destination. Instead, it found the Clippers Chris Paul.

It’s impossible to fault Cousins for the late turnover. He was being unselfish, like he had been for much of the game. His team-leading seven assists can attest to that.

“The ball’s in his hands, we trust him to make decisions,” Rudy Gay said of DeMarcus Cousins and the deciding play. “There’s a lot of guys in the paint. I would have rather him shoot it to be honest with you, but it is what it is. We trust him to make the right play and usually he does.”

If Cousins had it back, he probably would have gone up for the lay-in. Or maybe not. It wasn’t a bad play, just a bad outcome.

“It was a solid play,” Darren Collison said. “We live with Cuz down the stretch. Whatever plays he decides to make. He’s been winning a lot of games for us down the stretch since I’ve been here. Every once in awhile it may not go too well, but he tried to make a play. That’s all you can ask for.”

Garrett Temple was forced to foul Chris Paul, who knocked down the two free throws. The Kings struggled to get a good shot twice more, fouling Paul on each occasion. He scored six points at the line in the final 22.7 seconds of the game to give the Clippers the eight point win.

It shouldn’t have come down to one play. The Kings had plenty of opportunities to turn the tide earlier in the quarter, but they struggled to hit shots with the game on the line. Sacramento shot just 37.5 percent in the quarter and were outscored 31-25 by Los Angeles in the fourth.

“If we’re trying to make the playoffs, this is something we have to learn from,” Collison said. “If we’re going to be able to make a run, we have to beat teams down the stretch. They’re not going to beat themselves. You’ve got to beat them. You’ve got to beat them by executing.”

This is a growing trend with this Kings team. Small mistakes seem to snowball into much bigger situations. A two point lead finds its way to five or six and then the game is out of control.

With the loss, Sacramento fell to 15-21 on the season. They return to Golden 1 Center Sunday evening to face a Golden State Warriors team that is fresh off a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night at Oracle Arena.

JOERGER GOES SMALL

Dave Joerger loves his big man lineup. More than once this season he’s hinted that he would mix things up, only to revert right back to a starting group that included both Cousins and 7-footer Kosta Koufos. And then he threw a curveball Friday night against the Clippers.

For one of the few times this season, Joerger went small with his first unit, inserting Ty Lawson into the starting point guard spot alongside Collison, Gay, Cousins and Matt Barnes.

“I thought it was effective, it was more spacing on the court,” Collison said following the loss. “I thought me and Ty operated pretty well with one another. We were able to get in the paint and create shots for each other and the rest of our teammates. Anytime we have that much space, it’s so much easier to get into the paint.”

The Kings used the newfound spacing to attack the Clippers, jumping out to an early 29-19 lead after 12 minutes of play. They shot 12-of-24 from the field and posted a 7-to-1 assist to turnover ratio in the quarter.

Collison finished the night with 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting and added five rebounds in 35 minutes. Lawson dropped in 17 points and six assists. The addition of a second ball handler with the starting group helped Sacramento bolster their assist-to-turnover rate to 23-to-7 on the night.

There is no word on whether this was a permanent move or a one off for Joerger and his staff.

NBA fines Pelicans C DeMarcus Cousins for incident with fan

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NBA fines Pelicans C DeMarcus Cousins for incident with fan

Former Kings center DeMarcus Cousins is in trouble with the league office again.

The NBA fined the Pelicans big man $25,000 for "directing inappropriate language towards a fan" during the final minutes of the team's season opener on Wednesday night against the Grizzlies.

The referee's heard the exchange between Cousins and the fan, and assessed a technical foul to Cousins. That technical foul was rescinded as part of the league's announcement Saturday.

After Wednesday's game, Cousins offered this explanation of the incident:

"That was pretty bogus, man. The ref, he sat there and heard (the fan) speaking to me in a very nasty way. I shouldn't have responded to it, but I'm a human being and I'm also a grown man. I'm not going to let another person just disrespect me. I felt (the ref) should have handled it, he decided not to, but he handled my end of it. I look forward to speaking to the league," Cousins told reporters, according to USA Today.

Cousins makes his first trip back to Sacramento since being traded by the Kings on Thursday, Oct. 26.

Gameday: Big underdogs, Kings face Nuggets looking for second straight win

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Gameday: Big underdogs, Kings face Nuggets looking for second straight win

With a win over the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night, the Sacramento Kings are feeling good heading into their first back-to-back on Saturday. They’ll face a Denver Nuggets team that lost their season opener to the Utah Jazz and is looking for their first victory of the season.

The combination of George Hill and De’Aaron Fox at the point guard position was too much for Dallas to handle on Friday. Hill poured in 21 points, including two huge shots down the stretch and Fox came away with his first 10-assist game of his career.

Denver added veteran Paul Millsap in the offseason to match with rising star Nikola Jokic. Jokic struggled in the opener, but still managed to post seven points, eight assists and 12 rebounds. The Kings will have their hands full trying to slow the 7-footer.  

OPENING LINE:
Nuggets by 11

MATCHUP TO WATCH:
Willie Cauley-Stein vs. Nikola Jokic -- Cauley-Stein has posted back-to-back double-doubles to start the season and comes in averaging 15.5 points, 10.5 rebound and two blocks in 29 minutes per game. Jokic is one of the more versatile bigs in the game. He picks and chooses his spots to score, but his passing ability makes him a dangerous player.

WHERE THEY STAND:
Kings: 1-1

Nuggets: 0-1

INJURY REPORT:
Kings: SG Bogdan Bogdanovic (right ankle sprain) out, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out

Nuggets: No injuries to report

SERIES HISTORY:
These two teams split the season series last year and hold an identical 86-86 record against each other all-time. The Kings lead the Nuggets 65-63 during the Sacramento-era.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH:
MORE TIME FOR FOX - The Kings speedy young guard is showing that he’s ready to carry more of the load. In his first game, he posted 14 points and five assists. In Game Two, he set up his teammates for a team-high 10 assists while adding nine points and six rebounds. He’s averaged 25 minutes a game in the first two, but his play is already commanding more.

GIVING BUDDY SOME LOVE - Lost in the shuffle of the team’s first win was an nice all-around performance from Buddy Hield. The second-year guard was one of eight Kings to grab five rebounds or more against the Mavs, but Hield’s late board in traffic was probably the play of the night. If he can post more 13 point, six rebound, three assist games early in the season, he’ll find himself on the court more often than not.

MORE FROM SKAL NEEDED - Skal Labissiere has all the potential in the world, but he’s off to a quiet start through two contests. He needs to be more aggressive calling for the ball and continue to hit the glass hard. He’s averaging 10 points and 7.5 rebounds in 23 minutes per game, but one of those came with Zach Randolph on the shelf. He’ll need to earn minutes like everyone else on this team.

QUOTE:
“My coach has that much confidence in me, a 19-year-old kid to stay on the floor in crunch time, and when he has that confidence in me, my confidence goes up that much more.” -De’Aaron Fox on coach Dave Joerger sticking with him down the stretch in the Kings’ first win.