Kings

Kings defeat Celtics, 'can run with anybody and lose to anybody'

Kings defeat Celtics, 'can run with anybody and lose to anybody'

SACRAMENTO -- The loss was already penciled in. Maybe even scribed with pen. No DeMarcus Cousins. No Rudy Gay, Garrett Temple or even Omri Casspi. And when Ty Lawson went down in the second quarter, some folks probably thought about heading home early from the Kings matchup with the Boston Celtics Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center.

But this is the 2016-17 Sacramento Kings. They have the ability to beat any team in the league on one night and then lose a day later to someone they should handle with ease.

“I think that’s just the high-point of us,” Willie Cauley-Stein said following the Kings 108-92 win. “When we’re all locked in and we’re all playing for each other and playing at the best of everybody’s ability, it’s proven we can run with anybody and lose to anybody.”

The Boston Celtics were the Kings’ latest victims. Winners of seven straight and trailing the Cleveland Cavaliers by just 2.5 games for the best record in the Eastern Conference, the Celtics looked stunned as the Kings stayed close for most of the night.

When Sacramento dropped a 12-0 run on Boston in the mid-fourth quarter to push their lead to 17 points, the game was over.

The star of the game was not former Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas, who came into the night second in the NBA in scoring at 29.9 points per game. It was Sacramento’s Darren Collison who outdueled the All-Star Thomas and helped his team come away with the win.

Collison matched Thomas’ 26 point performance, but did so on 12-of-21 shooting. He started the game at the shooting guard spot, when Lawson went to the locker room, Collison did a nice job of keeping the shifty Thomas in front of him. He ran the offense, set up his teammates and when the game tightened up, Collison hit big shots when the Kings needed it most.

“We know Isaiah is the head of the snake, he’s an All-Star player, he’s been playing a very very high level,” Collison said. “I thought we did a good job defensively of trying to contain him the best way we can.”

With Collison matching Thomas’ output, the rest of the squad found ways to contribute. Ben McLemore continued his strong play of late, scoring 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting. His 10 point outburst in the second quarter helped Sacramento erase an early 10-point lead by the Celtics.

Matt Barnes did the dirty work for Sacramento. The veteran forward scored 14 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and handed out four assists in 31 minutes of action.

Willie Cauley-Stein scored 10 of his 14 points in the second half. Anthony Tolliver chipped in 11 points and grabbed three steals, while big man Kosta Koufos added six points and 11 rebounds while playing with a mangled ring finger on his right hand.

“It’s a good win,” Dave Joerger said. “I think we need to look at (how) every guy contributed something and the energy – everybody gave 100 percent, which we expect, but it’s almost like you’ve got to give a little extra more to try to compensate for the hole that we had with DeMarcus being out.”

With the victory, the Kings have now beat the top three teams in the Eastern Conference at least once. They improved to 21-32 on the season and moved back to within 2.5 games of the Denver Nuggets for the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoff chase. They head into Friday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks with Cousins back in action and a bit of momentum.  

Oh Willie…

Cauley-Stein had a moment. With 5:01 remaining in the fourth quarter, the second-year big caught a pass from Collison for a huge one-handed alley-oop dunk in traffic to give the Kings a 96-79 lead. The Kings’ bench exploded along with the sellout crowd of 17,608.

“I was just trying to go get it, I didn’t want to get a turnover,” Cauley-Stein said.

Cauley-Stein rated the dunk as his best ever after watching it from multiple angles from his locker stall. He was grinning from ear to ear as he explained the reaction from his bench.

“It’s cool, it’s fun, it’s an energy boost,” Cauley-Stein said. “And then seeing all of your teammates celebrate you, that’s what it’s all about.”

The 7-footer has found his niche with the Kings over the last few weeks as an energy guy off the bench and disruptive force on the defensive end.

Kings Under Review: Sacramento gets defensive in win over Blazers

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USATI

Kings Under Review: Sacramento gets defensive in win over Blazers

SACRAMENTO -- The Kings took care of business on their home court Monday evening, posting a quality 115-107 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers. The win was the third straight and fourth in the last five games for Sacramento, who now head out on the road for a brutal 12 day trip across the country.

It wasn't a wire-to-wire success like Saturday's game against the Hornets, but the Kings took control in the first half and fended off a late charge by Portland. After a rough patch to start January, the Kings are showing a new found ability to close out games.

The win pushed Sacramento two games over the .500 mark at 23-21. Here are the positives and the negatives from the win.

POSITIVE

De-Fense

With time off between games all week, the Kings focused on shoring up their defense. The work paid dividends against a tough Trail Blazers team.

Sacramento held Portland to 40.2 percent shooting from the field and 33.3 percent from behind the arc to come away with the win.

The Kings made a concerted effort to slow both Jusuf Nurkic and C.J. McCollum and it paid off. After crushing Sacramento in the previous matchup, Nurkic finished with a modest six points and 11 rebounds. McCollum was limited to 2-of-14 from the field for six points.

POSITIVE

Second Unit

In a continuing trend, the Kings are getting productivity up and down the lineup. Against Portland, it was a group of reserves that made a tremendous impact on the outcome of the game.

Bogdan Bogdanovic led the way with 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting off the bench, but he wasn't the only one to produce off the bench.

The young bigs went to work. Marvin Bagley posted a 13-point, 11-rebound double-double before fouling out late. Harry Giles scored 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting and added four rebounds, two assists and a block in 19 minutes.

Justin Jackson hit three 3-pointers, including a pair in the fourth quarter while the game was undecided. Yogi Ferrell chipped in six points to round out the production from the reserves.

Sacramento's second unit totaled 58 of the team's 115 points on the evening.

NEGATIVE/POSITIVE

Lillard Goes Off

Damian Lillard is one of the better scoring guards in the league. He's a tough cover for any team, especially when he goes into attack mode late in a game.

Lillard finished with 35 points on 11-of-27 shooting from the field and 4-for-12 from behind the arc. He was a perfect 9-of-9 from the free throw line and dished out five assists.

He attempted to take over the game in the fourth quarter, scoring 10 points for Portland, but the Kings made life difficult, holding him to 2-of-7 shooting in the final 12 minutes of play.

While Lillard led the Blazers in scoring, he had an inefficient scoring output and turned the ball over six times.

POSITIVE

The Homestand

Needing a solid showing at home before heading out for a season long six-game trip, the Kings looked focused on the task at hand.

The Pistons, Hornets and Trail Blazers were all playing on the second night of back-to-backs, but they are all quality veteran teams in the playoff hunt.

With the sweep at home, the Kings improved to 14-10 at Golden 1 Center this season. They'll take some momentum out on the road where they are 9-11 through 20 games.

NBA rumors: Kings express interest in trade for Hawks guard Jeremy Lin

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USATSI

NBA rumors: Kings express interest in trade for Hawks guard Jeremy Lin

The NBA trade deadline isn't until Feb. 7, but the rumor mill already has begun.

Marc Stein of the New York Times reported Tuesday that the Kings have expressed interest in trading for Atlanta Hawks veteran point guard Jeremy Lin.

Sources also have told NBC Sports California's James Ham that Sacramento has been kicking the tires on bringing in a conventional backup point guard to help stabilize the second unit. Lin surely would fit that mold.

As Lin is an impending free agent and has a contract worth over $12 million this season, Stein indicates the Hawks likely would be looking for expiring contracts such as Zach Randolph or Kosta Koufos to complete the deal.

Lin, 30, is a Palo Alto native who's currently averaging 10.8 points and 3.6 assists in 19.5 minutes per game with the lowly Hawks (13-30). Given Atlanta's desire to rebuild around rookie point guard Trae Young, it isn't surprising that the team would be looking to move Lin to a contender.

Lin took over the sports world in 2012 with "Linsanity," when he initially burst on the scene with the New York Knicks. Although the highs of Linsanity were impossible to sustain, the veteran has established himself as a solid backup point guard across his eight-year NBA career.

[RELATED: Shumpert denies he tried to enter Blazers locker room]

If a trade to the Kings were to occur, Lin would join a crowded backcourt with De'Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Iman Shumpert, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Frank Mason III, Ben McLemore and Yogi Ferrell.