Zach Randolph

Randolph makes statement to Cousins as Kings' leader: 'Bullies get bullied'

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USATSI

Randolph makes statement to Cousins as Kings' leader: 'Bullies get bullied'

It’s a new day in Sacramento. With five rookies, four second-year players and a lone third-year guy, the Kings are going the route of building through the draft on nitro. 

Despite hitting a hard reset button at the trade deadline last season, the Kings are only one game off their pace from a season ago. An 8-17 record is nothing to brag about, but it’s a better start than anyone should have expected.

Friday night’s win over the New Orleans Pelicans shows growth in a youthful team. The Kings competed well in their previous two games against the Milwaukee Bucks and Cleveland Cavaliers, only to come up short in crunch time. 

First compete, then learn how to win. That is the mantra for any young team. Sacramento is slowly grasping the concept.

The victory over the Pelicans was a stark reminder of the world the Kings once lived in. DeMarcus Cousins, the team’s former All-Star big, put on a show. He punished Sacramento’s depleted front line for 38 points and 11 rebounds, but like so many nights with the Kings, he came up short. 

Where the Kings were and where they are heading was captured in one moment in the fourth quarter. With 3:19 remaining and Sacramento trailing 100-91, Frank Mason III went to the rack and was fouled. When his teammates went to pick him up off the floor, Cousins started chirping.

Always ready to talk, Cousins said something to Buddy Hield and tempers started to flair. 

During his last few seasons in Sacramento, Cousins was Sacramento’s de facto leader. On more than one occasion, this exact scene played out and it rarely worked out for the Kings.

But the climate has changed in Kingsland. Hield didn’t even need to say a word. Veteran Zach Randolph stepped in and handled the situation. No one in the league wants a piece of Z-Bo, including DeMarcus Cousins. 

Randolph fielded questions following the game, but the real meat was hidden in the NBC Sports California television broadcast.

Following the dust up in the fourth quarter, Randolph and Cousins lined up while Mason shot free throws. With cameras rolling, Z-Bo defined the new direction of the Sacramento Kings franchise. 

“Where we’re from, bullies get bullied,” Randolph said to the official. Then looking directly at Cousins, Randolph continued, “In my hood, bullies get bullied.”

Sacramento outscored the Pelicans 11-2 in the final minutes of the fourth. Hield scored eight of those 11 points, including a 3-pointer to tie the game with 36.3 seconds remaining. 

On a team filled with players under the age of 24, the 36-year-old Randolph has quickly become the Kings’ rock. On the court, he’s strung together an incredible run of games, including a 35-point, 13-rebound performance against New Orleans. 

Over his last four games, Randolph is averaging 25 points and just under 11 rebounds per game. More importantly, the Kings are 2-2 over the stretch and they’ve competed with NBA heavyweights. 

“We just came out and played hard, it was a team win,” Randolph told NBC Sports California’s Kayte Christensen following the game. “My young fellas, hey, they’re amazing.” 

The 17-year NBA vet hit two huge 3-pointers in overtime and the young guys finished off the win. Randolph’s output on the floor carried the Kings, but his handling of Cousins made a statement to everyone on the team. When he’s on the floor, he is big brother and the team’s enforcer. 

Gameday: First of many battles between De'Aaron Fox, Dennis Smith Jr

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Gameday: First of many battles between De'Aaron Fox, Dennis Smith Jr

After falling to the Houston Rockets in the home opener, the Sacramento Kings hit the road for a three game trip beginning Friday night in Dallas. They’ll face a Mavericks team that is also looking for their first win of the season following a loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday evening.

Dave Joerger’s Kings gave the Rockets all they could handle at Golden 1 Center before an error by the officiating crew cost them a valuable possession late. The effort and intensity was present, but Sacramento’s lack of experience makes late game situations an adventure.

Coach Rick Carlisle is trying to balance the old with the new in Dallas, starting veterans Dirk Nowitzki and Wes Matthews alongside Yogi Ferrell, Dennis Smith Jr. and Harrison Barnes. Seven players scored in double-figures in the Mavs opener as they enter the season without a true number one scoring option.

BETTING LINE

Mavs by 5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

De’Aaron Fox vs. Dennis Smith Jr. -- Fox worked his way up the draft board, hearing his name called with the fifth overall selection by Sacramento. He’s the future and maybe even the present for a Kings team looking to rebuild. Smith had to wait a little longer for his moment on draft night. Taken with the ninth pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, the former NC State guard is an incredible athlete and may have found the perfect landing spot for his skill set. Smith sports a 48-inch vertical leap and he plays with a chip on his shoulder. This is the first of many battles between these two top-tier talents.

WHERE THEY STAND

Kings: 0-1

Mavs: 0-1

INJURY REPORT

Kings: SG Bogdan Bogdanovic (right ankle sprain) is out, PF Zach Randolph (oral surgery) is probable, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out

Mavs: G Seth Curry (leg) out, F Josh McRoberts (lower extremity injury) out

SERIES HISTORY

The Kings took the season series over the Mavs last year 2-1. Dallas hold a 92-66 advantage over the Kings all-time, and a 75-54 lead during the Sacramento-era.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

ALL HANDS ON DECK? - Zach Randolph and Bogdan Bogdanovic missed the opener due to injury. Randolph has had a few days to recover from oral surgery and might be ready in time to retake his starting power forward spot. Bogdanovic is nursing an ankle injury, but is getting close to a return. If Bogdanovic is healthy, he’ll play and possibly even start for Joerger.

WILLIE FIND CONSISTENCY? - Willie Cauley-Stein put up 21 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks in the opener. If Randolph returns, Cauley-Stein’s role will change slightly, but the Kings need the same effort and energy every night from their third-year big.

TEMPLE TIME - Garrett Temple struggled with his shot, hitting just 1-of-7 from the field off Joerger’s bench on Wednesday. That didn’t stop the veteran wing from putting on a defensive show. He finished the night with four steals and countless deflections as he faced off with James Harden and Eric Gordon. The young players could learn a lot from the eight-year vet.

QUOTE

“These young guys play hard, they want to be good, they want to win and they want to learn.” -Vince Carter on the Kings’ young core

Five takeaways as Kings' comeback effort falls short in loss to Lakers

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Five takeaways as Kings' comeback effort falls short in loss to Lakers

BOX SCORE

The build up to De’Aaron Fox vs. Lonzo Ball fell flat Sunday when the Lakers rookie sat out game three of the Kings’ preseason schedule with an ankle issue. Despite the rookie’s absence, the game tipped off as scheduled. Los Angeles jumped all over Sacramento early, as the Kings missed one shot after another. The Kings found a way to slow the Lakers attack, but couldn’t get over the hump down the stretch, falling 75-69 to drop to 1-2 on the preseason.

1- Dave Joerger shook up his starting lineup, inserting Bogdan Bogdanovic and Willie Cauley-Stein to go with veterans George Hill, Garrett Temple and Zach Randolph. The group looked like they had never met, going over four minutes before hitting their first bucket. The spacing was bad, the movement was bad and most of their shots came as the 24 second shot clock was sounding. It’s going to be a process as the Kings try to mix and match rotations. 

2- Zach Randolph is the Kings offense. Okay, maybe not, but he thinks he is. The 36-year-old is fending off father time, one half-hook at a time. He can also shoot the 3-ball, kill you from the mid-range and rebound. You’ll take 16 points on 7-of-15 shooting and six rebounds from a player entering his 17th NBA season. 

3- Have we seen the 10-man rotation? Joerger turned to a tight group in the third game of preseason. Hill and Fox shared the minutes at the point. Bogdanovic and Hield saw the majority of the time at the two. Garrett Temple started at the three and Vince Carter came off the bench. Z-Bo and Skal Labissiere ate up the minutes and the four and Willie Cauley-Stein and Kosta Koufos played the five. No Justin Jackson, Malachi Richardson or Frank Mason III. 

4- Vince Carter still has it. Vincanity isn’t the athlete he used to be, but he knows how to play the game and he knows when his team needs a hoop. The veteran wing dropped nine points on 3-of-4 shooting from 3-point range in 20 minutes of action. It doesn’t sound like much, but his presence might result in four or five additional wins on the season. 

5- De’Aaron Fox is going to be fun. The rookie played just nine minutes before being shut down with a bruised back, but he still managed to make the highlight reel. Fox used his crazy speed late in the second quarter to slice right through the Lakers defense and finish over two players, including one trying to block the shot through the rim.