Rewind: Lawson, bench lift Kings into virtual tie for final playoff spot

Rewind: Lawson, bench lift Kings into virtual tie for final playoff spot

Now trending in Sacramento: #Playoffs

No, the Sacramento Kings haven’t ended their decade long playoff drought, but with Wednesday’s night 94-93 road win over the Utah Jazz, they have moved into a virtual three-way tie with the Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets in the chase for the eighth spot in the Western Conference playoff race.

Down 20 in the second half, it wasn’t DeMarcus Cousins’ broad shoulders that carried the Kings to victory for one of the few times this season. Instead, it was the smallest guy on the floor.

Veteran point guard Ty Lawson has had his struggles this season, but without the 5-foot-11 fire plug, the Kings would be on their way to Minnesota licking their wounds. Instead, they head into Friday night’s game against the Timberwolves riding a modest two-game winning streak and looking for more.

“I thought Ty Lawson was just fantastic,” Dave Joerger told media members following the big win for Sacramento. “He’s been playing well, he gets a lot of guys shots.”

Lawson ran into the heart of Utah’s defense, scoring at the rim or stepping back for short jumpers in the key. The eight-year NBA veteran scored 14 of his season-high 19 points after the intermission as the Kings shocked the Jazz on their home floor.

“We’re just trying to attack, get in the paint and find each other for open shots,” Lawson told CSN’s Kayte Christensen after the game. “When we move the ball like that, it’s hard for teams to stop us - regardless of who’s on the court.”

It was Lawson, Cousins and the second unit that led the Kings back. Garrett Temple continues to anchor the Kings’ perimeter defense, but his 3-pointer at the 7:10 mark of the fourth drew the Kings back to within one.  

“Our bench was tremendous, they won this game for us tonight,” Cousins said. “It wasn’t one of our best wins, but it’s a win.”

Arron Afflalo has been the forgotten man in Sacramento, but he showed up big for coach Joerger’s group in the second half. He finished with a modest eight points in 27 minutes, but he chipped in three assists and four rebounds while playing physical defense on Gordon Hayward for stretches.

Anthony Tolliver scored six points in 30 minutes, but he went into the post and battled amongst the trees. The veteran forward came away with seven rebounds and the highest plus/minus for the Kings at plus-16.

“Without our bench tonight, we probably would have been smacked by 30,” Cousins added.

The Kings All-Star big still managed to lead the Kings in scoring, finishing the night with 21 points and eight rebounds. But he struggled from the field, shooting just 5-of-18 against up and coming big man Rudy Gobert. Cousins didn’t take an official shot in the fourth quarter, but he hit 8-of-10 from the line to help seal the win for Sacramento.

Following the game, the Kings flew out to Minnesota where they face a young, but very talented Timberwolves team that is struggling to find their way early in the season. Getting a win in Utah was unexpected for Sacramento, who now sits at 12-17 on the season.

“It’s huge, coming in here, it’s a tough team to play in this arena,” Lawson said. “For us to come in here and get a win like this being down 20 and just fighting back - I think we can play with any team in the league. As long as we play hard, I think good things will happen.”

Following the game in Minny, Kings take the holiday weekend off before returning home to face the Philadelphia 76ers Monday night at Golden 1 Center.


Kings notes: Sacramento pushes the tempo on first day of training camp


Kings notes: Sacramento pushes the tempo on first day of training camp

SACRAMENTO -- Sneakers squeaking. The thud of the ball bouncing off the hardwood. The clang of iron and the silky sound of a swish. Basketball is back.

The Kings opened training camp Tuesday morning at the team’s practice facility attached to Golden 1 Center. When media was ushered in, the players streaked up and down the court running an advanced version of the three-man weave. 

Sweat poured as they tried to shake off the summer rust. In the middle of it all was head coach Dave Joerger imploring his young group with an already raspy voice. 

The Kings are going to push the tempo. If someone isn’t getting the message, they aren’t going to play -- it’s that simple. Here are some of the highlights from the first day of camp.

  • The focus in Sacramento is on developing the young players this year. There will be nights when the wheels completely fall off the bus, and other times when the Kings run their opponents off the floor.“The fun is in the journey, and this is a year that there’s a lot of heavy lifting,” Joerger said following Day 1. “There’s a lot of development that needs to occur and there are going to be some pains in it, but the fun part of it is we have good guys who work hard and play hard, and they’re fun to be around.”
  • Sprinting up and down the court was no issue for speedster De’Aaron Fox. He was ready for the challenge, although some of his teammates might not have been. “Day 1 is crazy,” Fox said. “A lot of times they try and test you. We ran a lot today. They were just testing a few people and emphasizing that we are going to get up and down the court. We’re going to play fast and guys have to be in shape to do it."
  • Fox is trying to make a huge jump forward in his second NBA season. The team is putting the 20-year-old out front and letting him find his way as both a player and as the face of the franchise. “Rookie season is over,” Fox said. “Guys are actually listening and guys are looking to me. So I’ve got to have those answers and I’ve got to be able to help people.”
  • Buddy Hield is built for the up-tempo style. He loves to shoot the 3-ball and he’s looking forward to taking another step forward in his progression as a player. “Coach says we’re going to play fast and start running, and I like running, so I’m not going to argue with that,” Hield said following practice. “We’ve just got to play fast, play together and play the right way.”
  • Nemanja Bjelica is one of a few new faces on the Kings roster. He came to Sacramento, in part, to play with his close friend and countryman, Bogdan Bogdanovic. The Serbian combo forward will have to fend for himself while Bogdanovic recovers from Monday’s knee surgery, but he likes what he sees so far. “First day is always tough, but we have, like, great chemistry, guys are ready to work,” Bjelica said. 

Sacramento is scheduled to practice in the morning and the evenings throughout the week. They’ll open back up to the media for the morning session on Wednesday, where the coaching staff will likely continue to run the young Kings until they can run no more. 

Kings lead nonpartisan voter registration drive


Kings lead nonpartisan voter registration drive

SACRAMENTO -- Bigger than basketball. It’s a mantra that has played out many times in Sacramento and the Kings are dusting off the message again for National Voter Registration Day with their “Rally the Vote” push.   

The Kings are one of nine professional franchises teaming up for a nonpartisan coalition urging their fans to register to vote before the November primaries.

Joining the Kings in the effort are the Chicago Bulls, Chicago White Sox, L.A. Clippers, L.A. Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks, Oakland Athletics, San Francisco 49ers and San Francisco Giants. 

As of 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 87.9 million Americans eligible to vote who are not registered. Through teams mobile apps, websites and social media channels, a platform for fans has been created to register fans to vote. 

“If we can make buying a ticket to a sporting event accessible in a few clicks, there is no reason why registering to vote shouldn’t be the same,” Vivek Ranadivé, Owner and Chairman of the Sacramento Kings said via a prepared statement. “Voting is one of the most important things we do as Americans and is central to our democracy, yet tens of millions of people are not registered to vote. Sports teams have a responsibility to enact positive change in their communities, and I’m proud to see so many of us coming together to help fans register to vote so that they can have a voice in elections.”

The group of franchises have partnered with Democracy Works, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that uses technology to make voting easier. 

Marvin Bagley III has filmed a PSA for the registration drive which will air in the arena during the Kings’ preseason matchups against Maccabi Haifa on Oct. 8 and the Utah Jazz on Oct. 11 and again during the season opener against the Utah Jazz on Oct. 17.

The deadline to register in the upcoming election in California is Oct. 22. To register to vote through Rally the Vote, visit