Kings

Blazers' Leonard doesn't understand why Cousins doesn't like him

Blazers' Leonard doesn't understand why Cousins doesn't like him

Meyers Leonard on Tuesday tried to pour water on the simmering coals that is the complicated and volatile backstory of his matchup against Sacramento big man DeMarcus Cousins.

“I don’t have a history with him,’’ Leonard said before a long pause. “That’s what everybody makes it out to be, but it’s not a thing.’’

Later, after he was reminded that both have pushed each other during a game in a manner that drew technical fouls on each player …. and when reminded that Leonard once accused Cousins of dirty play for stepping under his jump shot, causing Leonard to sprain his ankle … and when reminded of last week’s infamous tirade by Cousins directed at Leonard on the Blazers’ bench …  Leonard changed his tune.

“It’s not a long history, I would say,’’ Leonard said. “Things have happened, clearly. I don’t know what it is about me that he doesn’t like, but honestly, there’s nothing I can do about that. It’s my job to go out there and compete and make it hard on him.’’

Leonard’s next test will come Wednesday at the Moda Center when the resurgent Kings (14-17) play their final game against the slumping Blazers (13-20), in a game that has a different tenor because of the direction both teams are headed and because of what happened in the last meeting eight days prior, a 126-121 Kings’ victory when Cousins had 55 points.

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Harry Giles sends message in Kings return after one-game G League stay

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AP

Harry Giles sends message in Kings return after one-game G League stay

SACRAMENTO -- Harry Giles is full of energy, and when he steps onto an NBA court, the excitement seems to get the better of the Kings rookie.

It’s a young player issue, and the big man is no ordinary young player. He fought through two major knee surgeries and thousands of hours of rehabilitation to get where he is today. After playing just 300 minutes over a three-year period, Giles has every reason to be amped up when he steps on the floor.

Fresh off a trip to the G League's Stockton Kings, Giles picked up some early run in the Kings’ win over the San Antonio Spurs on Monday night. Although he had a successful stint, Giles' opening minute looked very similar to some of his previous games.

Eighteen seconds into his first appearance off the bench, Giles traveled. On the next trip down, he nearly had the ball stolen, and then he seemed to wake up.

After bobbling the ball, Giles attacked his defender, flashed to the rim and missed a layup. He bounced right back up, grabbed the rebound and tipped the ball in.

[RELATED: Gregg Popovich notes Kings' drastic culture change]

It was aggressive. It was physical. It was the Harry Giles that everyone expected when the season opened in mid-October.

“I just need to slow down, man, and just know that you don’t have to be in a rush all the time,” Giles said. “The first time I was in the game, I actually had a turnover when Frank [Mason] threw the ball. After that, I was like OK, I know what I got to do now, and I applied it from there.”

It’s hard to live up to the hype. After Giles redshirted last season in Sacramento, the buzz surrounding the 20-year-old reached a fever pitch before he ever played a minute in the NBA. It only grew after he posted a solid summer league and preseason.

Giles wants to be great. He has worked hard just to be able to step on the court, but like most young players, the mental aspect of the game is getting in the way. He’s playing too fast and compounding his mistakes by forcing the action.

The former top prep prospect played in 10 of the first 14 games for the Kings, averaging 4.4 points and 3.0 rebounds in 10.3 minutes per night. His numbers were limited because of foul and turnover trouble, as well as an abundance of big bodies on the roster in Sacramento.

After seeing very limited time over the last eight games, the Kings sent Giles to the G League on Sunday. He dominated the action, scoring 30 points in just 23 minutes.

Being sent down to the G League usually can go one of two ways with a young player. They either accept the opportunity and try to improve their game, or they sulk and it becomes a negative in their development.

For Giles, it seemed to wake him up and motivate him to find his game quickly at the NBA level when given a chance.

“It gave me a new charge, a new energy, just playing where I was at,” Giles said of his stint in Stockton. “I got some things done, but it just kind of set off a different fire in me to just do what I want to do up here. I’m just trying to be up here.”

The way the Kings currently are playing, everyone has an opportunity to shine during a game. The uptempo style creates an abundance of shots. So far this season, the Kings have shared the wealth, and everyone has had an chance to shine.

Giles can easily fit into this style of play. He’s athletic and strong, and his ability to create for others eventually will help open up the floor.

[RELATED: Two positives, two negatives from Kings' win over the Spurs]

Against the Spurs, Giles finished with a career-best 12 points and added six rebounds in 16 minutes of play. He also played solid defense on All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge.

“It was great,” De’Aaron Fox said of Giles’ performance. “He was real comfortable, real confident. Sometimes that’s really all you need. Sometimes it’s all about confidence.”

The Kings have a three-day break in the schedule to rest up and work out some of the kinks. When the team hits the road for a back-to-back in Memphis and Houston later in the week, don’t be surprised to see Giles in the rotation and building off his strong performance against the Spurs.

Kings team up with American Red Cross to aid victims of the Camp Fire

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USATSI

Kings team up with American Red Cross to aid victims of the Camp Fire

SACRAMENTO -- A little over two years after its opening, Golden 1 Center continues to be the centerpiece of Sacramento. For the last few days, the home of the Kings has been under siege by invading smoke from the Camp Fire that has destroyed most of the city of Paradise, California, some 90 miles north of Sacramento.

During the loss to the Lakers on Saturday evening, LeBron James and other Lakers players commented on the smoke inside the building. But during Monday evening’s victory over the San Antonio Spurs, the air was close to normal in the 17,000 seat arena.

The Kings have been working overtime to process and remove smoke from inside the building. It’s an ongoing challenge that required the team to bring in heavy machinery, including additional HVAC units and carbon filters, to properly control the air quality in the arena. 

During shootaround on Monday, Golden 1 Center looked mostly clear with giant machines humming in the background. Smoke started to roll into Sacramento in the early afternoon, but the team was successful in keeping most of the unhealthy air outside throughout the game. 

According to the Sacramento Bee, the 125,000 acre Camp Fire is 35 percent contained. It has consumed 7,600 structures and the death count is currently at 42, with hundreds still missing and thousands left homeless.

The Kings are accepting donations on behalf of the American Red Cross and will match up to the first $15,000. In addition, the team’s staff is spending time calling Kings fans to help drive the fundraising initiative.

According to the team, Golden 1 Center visitors can donate directly to the Red Cross at Local Eats stands during concerts, games and events. Additionally, at an upcoming Kings game, the Kings Foundation 50/50 Raffle proceeds will directly benefit the American Red Cross.