Turnovers put Kings in too big of hole to dig out of against Cavs

Turnovers put Kings in too big of hole to dig out of against Cavs

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings know how to dig a hole. Through the first five games of their season-long seven-game homestand, they have trailed by at least 14 in each contest. They rally late to make it close, but they have fallen short in all but one game. 

Friday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers was no exception. The Kings fumbled the ball away nine times in the first quarter, while shooting just 26 percent from the field. It’s hard to compete when you trail by 17 after the first 12 minutes of plays.

“I thought we got wide open shots,” coach Dave Joerger said following the 120-108 loss. “I thought we shot too quickly and then with the turnovers that were maybe a little antsy or what - but we fumbled it all over the place.” 

Sacramento began to find their shooting stroke in the second quarter, but they continued to struggle with turnovers. They handed the ball over 14 total times in the first half and trailed by as many as 24 before the break. 

“It was tough,” Ty Lawson said. “We were forcing the ball and making turnovers that we normally don’t make. They were coming at us knocking down threes. It’s kind of hard to beat them when they’re playing a game like that.”

There’s no rhyme or reason for the Kings’ struggles. The Cavs are a good defensive team, but plenty of the team’s 21 total turnovers were unforced mistakes. Demarcus Cousins led the way with six miscues, but all nine Kings that played rotational minutes handed the ball over at least once. 

“Turnovers killed us,” Cousins said. “When you play a team of this caliber, you just can’t spot them points like we did tonight. We have to be as disciplined and fundamental as we can be when you play a team this good.”

The Kings rallied coming out of halftime. For much of the third and fourth quarters they looked like a different team. Gay shook off a slow start to pour in 18 of his 23 points after the intermission. Lawson added 15 after the break as the Kings shot 66.7 percent as a team in the final 24 minutes of the game.

Sacramento cut Cleveland’s lead all the way down to six points with 9:36 remaining in the fourth. But massive comebacks take their toll on the team and like so many other nights this season, the Kings ran out of gas. 

“It’s a concern that we get a lack of focus in any game, not just because we’re playing the champs,” Garrett Temple said. “Whether we’re playing the Philadelphia 76ers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Cleveland or Golden State - we’ve got to come out and know what the gameplan is and execute no matter who we’re playing.”

To the Cavaliers' credit, they turned the ball over just 12 times and shot an impressive 50.6 percent from the field. LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love each made huge contributions and both Kyle Korver and Iman Shumpert opened up the spacing by hitting their perimeter shots. 

The Kings wasted an opportunity to pick up a game on the Portland Trail Blazers, who lost to the Orlando Magic Friday evening. Sacramento continues to sit just a half game out of the eight seed in the Western Conference playoff chase, but the Denver Nuggets and New Orleans Pelicans are right on their heels. 

Sacramento will get another shot to get a win on their home floor Sunday when the Oklahoma City Thunder roll through town. They’ll finish off their homestand on Wednesday against the Indiana Pacers before venturing out on a brutal eight-game road trip that includes three sets of back-to-back games. 

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.