Kings can clinch another .500 road trip with win in Big Easy

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Kings can clinch another .500 road trip with win in Big Easy

After long week-and-a-half, the Sacramento Kings finish their season-long six-game road trip in New Orleans Tuesday night. The Kings will face a Pelicans team reeling from the loss of All-Star big man DeMarcus Cousins, who tore his Achilles tendon on Friday evening.

Sacramento is coming off a competitive loss to the San Antonio Spurs. Rookie De’Aaron Fox went off for a career-high 26 points on a perfect 6-of-6 from behind the arc. The Kings need more nights like this from their prized young point guard.

New Orleans had just started to figure things out before Cousins’ injury. They still sit in the middle of the Western Conference playoff race, but they’ll need to make major adjustments if they hope to remain in contention.

BETTING LINE

Pelicans by 8

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Bogdan Bogdanovic vs. Jrue Holiday -- Bogdanovic has become one the Kings' most reliable performers in his first season in the league. He starts at the shooting guard spot, but Dave Joerger uses him in a variety of different ways, including as a primary playmaker in the offense. Holiday has moved to the two this season to make way for newcomer Rajon Rondo. With Cousins going down for the season, Holiday needs to crank up his scoring numbers if the Pelicans are going to remain relevant.

WHERE THEY STAND

Kings: 15-34, fifth place in Pacific

Pelicans: 27-22, third place in Southwest

INJURY REPORT

Kings: De’Aaron Fox (calf) probable, Garrett Temple (ankle) probable, Malachi Richardson (ankle) out, PF Skal Labissiere (shoulder strain) out, C Willie Cauley-Stein (lower back strain) out, PG Frank Mason III (heel) out, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out for the season.

Pelicans: C DeMarcus Cousins (Achilles) out, SG Tony Allen (fibula) out, Alexis Ajinca (knee) out, Solomon Hill (hamstring) out, Frank Jackson (right foot) out.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

The Brow -- Cousins is out, but Anthony Davis is still roaming the paint for New Orleans. With Willie Cauley-Stein on the shelf for at least another game, Kosta Koufos and Zach Randolph will get a look against the All-Star big.

Finish Strong -- Six-game road trips are no joke. The Kings have been away for nearly two weeks, but they have an opportunity to finish 3-3 on the stretch. The young players continue to show new wrinkles as they grow as a unit. Every game is an chance to grow.

Get Healthy -- Labissiere, Cauley-Stein, Garrett Temple and Malachi Richardson all missed the San Antonio game. Labissiere, Cauley-Stein, and Richardson have already been ruled out by the Kings’ medical staff, while Temple is probable. It wouldn’t hurt to have one him back against a strong Pelicans team.

SERIES HISTORY

The season series is all tied up at 1-1 after Sacramento shocked the Pelicans at the Smoothie Kings Center on dec. 8. New Orleans holds a 42-39 lead in the all-time series between these two clubs.  

With free agency looming, former Kings star Cousins suffers serious injury

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AP

With free agency looming, former Kings star Cousins suffers serious injury

A little over a year ago, we were reporting on the new $207 million extension Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins intended to sign with the Sacramento Kings.

That never came to be as the Kings traded Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans during the All-Star break as part of a five-player deal that brought Sacramento Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans and Langston Galloway, along with draft picks. And only 12 months later, the news couldn’t be worse for the former King.

The 27-year-old, four-time All-Star center ruptured his Achilles in the final seconds of a battle with the Houston Rockets, according to multiple national reports. An MRI has been scheduled to confirm the diagnosis, but all indications are pointing towards the worst possible outcome for one of the game’s best bigs.


In his first full season with the New Orleans Pelicans, Cousins is posting huge numbers and has his team smack dab in the Western Conference playoff race. The 6-foot-11 Kentucky product is averaging 25.4 points, 12.9 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 1.6 blocks and 1.6 steals.  

The Pelicans currently sit at 27-21 and hold the sixth best record in the West. In his eighth NBA season, Cousins was in line to make his first playoff appearance after spending the first six-plus seasons of his career in Sacramento.

He, along with fellow All-Star power forward Anthony Davis, have carried the Pelicans all season long. The loss of Cousins is a huge blow for New Orleans.

To compound matters, Cousins is playing out the final year of his contract and was primed to make serious cash in free agency this summer. If his Achilles is in fact torn, he is facing a minimum of a six-month rehabilitation.

Judging by other players with a similar injury, Cousins a solid chance at being ready for training camp for the 2018-19 season. Rudy Gay tore his left Achilles in January of last season while a member of the Kings and returned in time to open the season with the San Antonio Spurs.  

Every player recovers at a different rate, but Cousins has a lot riding on his ability to return to the court sooner, rather than later. It’s an unfortunate turn of events for an incredibly talented young man.


Gameday: Can Kings' kitchen sink guard DeMarcus Cousins?

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USATSI

Gameday: Can Kings' kitchen sink guard DeMarcus Cousins?

The road is a lonely place. After a close loss in Cleveland on Wednesday evening, the Sacramento Kings venture to New Orleans where DeMarcus Cousins and his Pelicans teammates await.

Zach Randolph continues to be the driving force behind the Kings better play of late, but he had plenty of help against the Cavs. The young backcourt tandem of Frank Mason III and Buddy Hield came off the bench to drop in a combined 32 points for Sacramento. 

In addition to the strong bench play, two-way player JaKarr Sampson got a call-up and start against LeBron James and played huge for the Kings. His defense against James was about as good as it gets and he ripped down 16 rebounds in 32 minutes of action.

Cousins has his team sitting just a game over .500, but firmly planted in the playoff race. The former Kings star is stuffing the stat sheet in New Orleans, averaging 25.9 points, 12.6 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.7 blocks per game. He’s become the focal point of the Pelicans attack with All-Star Anthony Davis ailing.

OPENING LINE 

Kings by 8.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

DeMarcus Cousins vs. The Kitchen Sink -- The Kings know Cousins better than any team in the league. They’ll try Zach Randolph and Kosta Koufos on the 6-foot-11 center to start, but don’t be shocked to see Jack Cooley come in the game to try and get under Cousins’ skin. Sampson worked against the Cavs, why not give Cooley a shot. 

WHERE THEY STAND 

Kings: 7-17, fifth place in Pacific

Pelicans: 13-12, third place in Southwest

INJURY REPORT 

Kings: C Willie Cauley-Stein (lower back strain) out, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out until January. Justin Jackson, Malachi Richardson and Skal Labissiere have been assigned to the Reno Bighorns. 

Pelicans: C/PF Anthony Davis (pelvis) game time decision, Alexis Ajinca (knee) out, Solomon Hill (hamstring) out, Frank Jackson (right foot) out. 

SERIES HISTORY 

The Pelicans own a 1-0 lead in the season series after defeating the Kings 114-106 at Golden 1 Center on Oct. 26. New Orleans holds a 43-39 lead in the all-time series between these two clubs.  

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

Who Guards Cousins? -- We asked this same question last time these two teams played and Cousins answered it loudly - no one. Cousins dropped 41 points, 23 rebounds and six assists against his former team in 44 minutes. He’s tough for any team to handle, but he plays angry against the team the traded him.   

Slowing the Supporting Cast -- With Cousins bombing away, the Kings' focus shifted to slowing the All-Star big last time these two teams played. Jrue Holliday and Jameer Nelson exploited the overplay. Nelson has a reduced role with the return of Rajon Rondo, but Sacramento has to find a way to keep the supporting cast quiet.

Continue the Strong Effort on the Road -- The Kings started the road trip with a win over the Chicago Bulls, but they’ve lost the last two against Eastern Conference playoff teams in Milwaukee and Cleveland. Showing improvement, Sacramento was in both contests and lost by a combined 11 points. That’s much better than the three-game trip earlier in the season when they were outscored by a 91 total points.