Suns snap Kings' home winning streak


Suns snap Kings' home winning streak

SACRAMENTO -- No longer are the Phoenix Suns a fast-paced team that wins games solely with its run-and-gun style.They can play a little defense now, too.The Suns were effective in slowing down Sacramento, and Jared Dudley had 20 points and 10 rebounds for Phoenix, which never trailed in defeating the Kings 98-84 on Saturday night.The victory was the fourth in five games for the Suns, who have won their last three on the road. Phoenix took a double-digit lead in the second quarter and maintained a comfortable margin for the remainder of the game.Phoenix shot 50 percent and hit eight 3-pointers, which are numbers that seem typical of Suns teams in the past. What wasn't typical in previous seasons was holding a team to 35 percent shooting and blocking 11 shots, including four by center Marcin Gotat and three by reserve forward Markieff Morris."We did a good job of keeping a man in front of them and made the Kings take bad shots," Dudley said. "We've been playing a lot better lately, especially on the road."One emphasis entering the game was controlling Kings guard Tyreke Evans, who leads Sacramento in both scoring and assists. That job was handed to Grant Hill, the oldest player on the court at age 39, and a veteran of 17 NBA seasons. Hill made it difficult on the Kings' explosive guard, who shot 1 of 9 and finished with four points and five assists."He's a great player," Hill said. "I tried to use my size and length against him, and make him take tough shots. I'm sure the next time we play them it might be different."Morris had 18 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter. Channing Frye had 17 points and Gortat had 15 points and seven rebounds.DeMarcus Cousins had 26 points and nine rebounds, and Marcus Thornton made four 3-pointers and had 21 points for the Kings.Sacramento, which had won four of its previous five games, hardly resembled the team that two nights earlier defeated the Western Division-leading Oklahoma City Thunder 106-101."We were going up against a team that was pretty solid and highly trained to guard," Kings coach Keith Smart said. "I thought Grant Hill did a great job of trying to create space and keep us out of the paint. We couldn't finish some plays in the paint."The Suns made three 3-pointers over a three-minute span, and the final one by Michael Redd put them ahead 86-69 midway through the fourth quarter.Suns point guard Steve Nash, who turned 38 earlier this week, took a shot in the mouth on the final possession of the first quarter and spent much of the second quarter getting four stitches to sew up a wound in his lower lip.The sensitive lip didn't slow down Nash. He shot sparingly all game and scored four points, but handed out 15 assists in 29 minutes."He can dominate a game and not have a basket," Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. "He came back in the third quarter and helped us get separation. We never let them back in the game."Phoenix controlled the tempo in the third quarter, scoring inside frequently and making the cold-shooting Kings take contested shots. Gortat scored six points and the Suns shot 61 percent in outscoring the Kings 22-16 and taking a 75-60 lead into the final quarter."Our offense was kind of stagnant. We broke down defensively on some plays and we didn't get the stops when they were needed," Kings reserve forward Chuck Hayes said. "But you've got to give the Suns credit. They had a great game. They moved the ball very well. They know how they want to play and they do it."With Nash leading the way with his pinpoint passing, the Suns scored numerous baskets in transition in the third quarter when the Kings committed six turnovers. Nash was scoreless until tossing in a short floater with 39 seconds remaining in the third quarter.Dudley scored 13 points and Frye had 10 to help give the Suns a 53-44 halftime lead. Both Thornton and Cousins had 11 points for Sacramento, which shot 38 percent but committed only three turnovers.With the injured Nash in the locker room getting stitches and missing the entire second quarter, the Suns were still able to maintain its lead. The Suns' much-maligned bench combined for 12 points in the quarter when Phoenix outscored the Kings 22-20.Notes: The Kings won't play another home again until Feb. 28. On Tuesday, they start a six-game road trip, playing exclusively Eastern Conference teams, followed by the All-Star break. ... Nash had six assists in the game's first eight minutes, helping the Suns take a 31-24 lead after one quarter. ... Cousins had 11 points in the opening quarter, but picked up three quick fouls in the second period and only played two minutes.

Kings look to get healthy with opener just days away


Kings look to get healthy with opener just days away

SACRAMENTO - All hands on deck. The Sacramento Kings open the 2017-18 schedule Wednesday night against the Houston Rockets at Golden 1 Center and it looks like they might do so with a full arsenal of players at their disposal.

Point guard De’Aaron Fox returned to practice on Sunday and then participated in the team’s annual Fanfest. If his dance moves are any indication, the 19-year-old’s back is feeling just fine.

Veteran George Hill tweaked his groin Friday against the Golden State Warriors, leaving his availability for opening night in question. Hill, 31, who has a history of groin injuries, was on the court Monday practicing and said he is ready to play.

“Everything is feeling good right now,” Hill said Monday following practice.

The only player who didn’t practice on Monday is rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic, who sprained his right ankle against the Warriors. According to head coach Dave Joerger,  the team is hopeful that the Serbian sharpshooter will return in time for Game 1.

“We’re still shooting for Wednesday for both of them,” Joerger said of Hill and Bogdanovic.

New look Rockets

The Rockets went 55-27 last season under head coach Mike D’Antoni, but that didn’t stop them from going all in during the offseason. With MVP runner-up James Harden already manning the backcourt, Houston added nine-time All-Star Chris Paul as their new starting point guard.

“Leadership, he’s a floor general,” Hill said about Paul. “Anywhere he goes, he’ll make a team better. We know they were already a good team without him, coming in with him is going to be a bigger task.”

It’s a new look roster and the expectations are huge for the Rockets. Houston averaged 115.3 points per game last season and led the league in both 3-point attempts and makes. This season, they also added two strong perimeter defenders in P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute.

It’s a huge test coming out of the gate for Sacramento. Following the contest against the Rockets, the Kings hit the road for three straight before returning to Golden 1 next Thursday to face DeMarcus Cousins and the New Orleans Pelicans.

Camp notes

With the season just around the corner, the Sacramento Kings made their final roster cuts on Sunday afternoon. David Stockton, Matt Jones and Reggie Hearn were waived, leaving the Kings with 15 rostered players and two two-way players in Jack Cooley and JaKarr Sampson.

Stockton, Jones and Hearn are all expected to join the Reno Bighorns of the NBA’s G-League.

Kings waive three players days before season opener


Kings waive three players days before season opener

SACRAMENTO The Sacramento Kings announced Sunday that the team has requested waivers on guards David Stockton, Matt Jones and Reggie Hearn.  

Stockton appeared in two contests for Sacramento during the preseason, averaging 11.5 points (9-13 FG, 3-4 3pt, 2-4 FT) and 5.0 assists in 16.3 minutes per game, including a game-high 23 points to accompany three rebounds, eight assists and two steals off the bench at Golden State (10/13).

Jones played in five exhibition games, posting 2.0 points, 1.0 rebounds and 11.7 minutes per contest. 

Hearn appeared in one preseason game. 

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