Twelve losses that Kings regret most in chase for elusive playoff berth

Twelve losses that Kings regret most in chase for elusive playoff berth

SACRAMENTO -- Shoulda, coulda, woulda. While the Sacramento Kings have taken leaps and bounds forward this season, they are on the outside looking in on the postseason picture for a 13th straight season.

With 12 games remaining, the Kings trail the Clippers and Jazz by seven games in the standings for the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference playoffs. Sacramento isn’t where they want to be and there are a grouping of games they let slip through their fingers that they wish they had back.

Here is a look at the 12 toughest losses of the season for the Kings. A bounce here and there and any one of these could have gone a different direction. Even a split of these games would have this team in the hunt for a postseason berth.

Kings vs. Warriors - Nov. 24 - Oracle Arena  

The NFL is known as a game of inches, but that’s often the case in the NBA as well. The Kings came into their first matchup of the season with the reigning Champs at a surprising 10-8. They gave Golden State all they could handle for a full 48 minutes.

After a Willie Cauley-Stein block, Klay Thompson secured his own rebound and scored the go-ahead basket with five seconds remaining in the game. On the ensuing possession, Buddy Hield missed an 8-footer for the win, but rookie Marvin Bagley flew in for the board. With only a few ticks on the clock, Bagley wedged the ball between the rim and the backboard and the Kings failed to get another shot off, dropping the game by a final 117-116.

Kings vs. Warriors - Dec. 14 - Golden 1 Center

In another epic battle with the Champs, the Kings took a one-point lead on a jumper from De’Aaron Fox with 46 seconds remaining. After a 5-0 run from the Warriors, Hield missed a 25-footer with five seconds remaining that would have tied the game.

Sacramento fouled Stephen Curry with two seconds remaining to give Golden State the 130-125 victory. The Kings led by 10 points in the fourth quarter, but were outscored 17-2 over the final 4:23.

Kings vs. Lakers - Dec. 30 - Staples Center

With LeBron James on the shelf, the Lakers were very beatable in December. Sacramento took a lead into the fourth quarter and held the lead until Los Angeles tied the game with 2:55 remaining.

The shots stopped falling for Sacramento down the stretch. Hield even missed a free throw off of a technical foul. Los Angeles finished the game on an 11-4 run to come away with a 121-114 victory.

Kings vs. Trail Blazers - Jan. 1 - Golden 1 Center

Sacramento opened the new year with an overtime loss at home to the Blazers, but it never should have gone to an extra frame. Leading 101-92 at the 3:10 mark of the fourth, the Kings’ offense went dormant again.

Portland hit the Kings with an 11-2 run to tie the game. Fox missed a 20-footer that would have ended the game in regulation and the Blazers took control in the extra session for a 113-108 victory.

Kings vs. Warriors - Jan. 5 - Golden 1 Center

Leading by seven to open the fourth quarter, the Kings didn’t wait until the final seconds to go cold. On their home floor, they scored just two points in the first 5:31 of the fourth. Sacramento didn’t quit. They took a lead with 2:24 remaining, but then went cold again.

The Kings missed five out of six shots down the stretch, losing a close game to the Warriors for the third time on the season, this time by a final of 127-123.

Kings vs. Suns - Jan. 8 - Talking Stick Resort Arena

The Kings walked into Phoenix at 20-20 with an opportunity to move back over the .500 mark against a 9-32 Suns team. They punished the home team early, taking a 72-53 lead into the half. And then things went sideways.

Phoenix outscored the Kings 33-14 in the third quarter to tie the game going to the fourth. Cauley-Stein hammered home a dunk with 1:03 remaining to give the Kings a 111-110 lead, but Sacramento never scored again, falling to a bad Suns team by the final of 115-111.

Kings vs. Nuggets - Feb. 13 - Pepsi Center

In the start of a string of brutal losses, the Kings finished their pre-All-Star break schedule with a stop in Denver against a very good Nuggets team. Sacramento opened the game with a huge first quarter, outscoring the home team 41-30 in the opening 12 minutes. The Nuggets erased the deficit in the third quarter and took a two-point lead into the fourth.

After going back and forth the entire quarter, the Kings hit Denver with a 6-0 run in the final 1:02 to tie the game at 118-118. Nikola Jokic missed a four-footer in the final seconds, but tipped the ball back in with barely any time remaining on the clock. Hield got off a 3-pointer as time expired, but it missed and the Nuggets escaped with a 120-118 victory.

Kings vs. Warriors - Feb. 21 - Oracle Arena

Coming out of the break, the Kings faced the Warriors for the fourth and final time. Like every other contest between these two teams, it came down to the wire. In a wild fourth quarter that saw five lead changes and four ties, the Warriors went up by six with just over a minute remaining.

Riding the hot hand of Hield, the Kings trailed by just two points with 10 seconds remaining. After a pair of missed free throws from Andre Iguodala, Hield came up short on a 12-foot jumper and the Warriors escaped with a 125-123 victory. Golden State swept the season series 4-0, but by a total of 10 points over the neighbors to the north.

Kings vs. Bucks - Feb. 27 - Golden 1 Center

Playing out a string of games against the best the league has to offer, the Kings took the Bucks to the brink in both regulation and overtime before falling by a final of 141-140. The Kings rallied from an eight-point deficit with just over three minutes remaining. They took a lead with 26 seconds left, but the Bucks tied it up on an Eric Bledsoe bucket. With 11 seconds remaining, the Kings had the ball and a chance to win it in regulation, but Fox couldn’t get a shot off.

In the overtime session, the Kings had plenty of chances, but a series of small mistakes added up to disaster. Cauley-Stein turned the ball over with 40 seconds remaining. Bogdan Bogdanovic followed that with a missed free throw, which proved to be the difference in the final score.

Kings vs. Celtics - March 6 - Golden 1 Center

The Kings trailed by five going to the fourth quarter, but they didn’t cash it in against Boston. With seven seconds remaining, Gordon Hayward fouled Hield shooting a 3-pointer. Hield knocked down all three from the line to tie the game at 109-109.

With two seconds remaining on the clock, Hayward got his revenge, knocking down a nine-foot jump shot to give Boston a two-point lead. Harrison Barnes had a look from 30-feet out to win the game as time expired, but he was offline and the Celtics handed the Kings a tough loss.

Kings vs. Wizards - March 11 - Golden 1 Center

In a must-win game on the road, the Kings came out flat in the third quarter and the Wizards took advantage, taking a nine-point lead into the fourth quarter. But the Kings battled back, as they have in plenty of games this season.  

With 3:41 remaining, Sacramento retook the lead at 112-111 on a Hield layup, but then they disappeared. The Kings couldn’t buy a bucket down the stretch and were outscored 10-3 to fall by a final of 121-115.

Kings vs. Nets - March 19 - Golden 1 Center

This one takes the cake. Rarely have the Kings stomped on a team like they did during the third quarter of this game. They hit Brooklyn with a 20-0 run to start the second half and looked like a team poised for a second straight victory.

[RELATED: Kings learn harsh lesson and squander huge lead vs. Nets]

Sacramento led by 25 points to start the fourth, but they allowed D’Angelo Russell to score 27 of his 44 points in a wild final 12 minutes. The Nets silenced the home crowd and with 0.8 remaining on the clock, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson converted a layup over the outstretched arms of Marvin Bagley to give Brooklyn the win. The visiting team outscored the Kings 45-18 in the final period to pull out the improbable 123-121 victory.

Luke Walton's lawyer responds to assault allegations from Kelli Tennant


Luke Walton's lawyer responds to assault allegations from Kelli Tennant

Sports broadcaster Kelli Tennant and her attorney, Garo Mardirossian, laid out sexual assault allegations against Kings coach Luke Walton on Tuesday afternoon.

Now, in a statement obtained by NBC Sports California, Walton’s attorney, Mark Baute, has responded with a strongly worded statement of his own.

“These claims are false and Luke’s innocence will be proven in court," Baute said Wednesday. "Yesterday's press conference was a poorly staged attempt to portray the accuser as a viable spokesperson for an important movement. Her lawyers want to create a public circus to distract from their complete lack of evidence to support their outrageous claims. We will not try this case in the media or pay them a dime.”

The Kings have been quiet on the subject of Tennant's accusations against Walton since releasing a short statement Monday after the initial news broke.

“We are aware of the report and are gathering additional information. We have no further comment at this time,” the Kings said in an official statement.

The NBA released a similar statement on Wednesday: “We are coordinating with the Kings organization and are in the process of gathering more information.”

Kelli Tennant, lawyer publicly allege Luke Walton sexually assaulted her


Kelli Tennant, lawyer publicly allege Luke Walton sexually assaulted her

Sports broadcaster Kelli Tennant, one day after filing a lawsuit alleging Luke Walton sexually assaulted her in 2014, sat alongside attorney Garo Mardirossian on Tuesday afternoon and held a press conference to further state her allegations against the Sacramento Kings coach.

“I am no longer comfortable being silent about the things that have happened to me," Tennant told an assembly of reporters in Los Angeles, "and although this may come as a shock to many of you in this community, this is a reality that I have been living in for years, and I can no longer stand to not tell the story of what has profoundly affected my life in all of the events that we have alleged in our complaint."

According to Tennant, she has known Walton and his wife, Bre Ladd, for many years through ties with volleyball. In 2013, Tennant and Walton became colleagues at Spectrum SportsNet and developed a friendship. She also looked to him as a mentor.

Tennant was writing a book and asked Walton to write the foreword for her, which he agreed to do. They met and worked together on the book, and when she eventually published it, she wanted to give him a copy of the finished work. 

Tennant alleges the two agreed to meet up at his hotel in 2014, when Walton was in town to face the Lakers as part of the Warriors' coaching staff. But when she arrived at the hotel to give him a copy of the book, Walton told her that he didn’t want to hang out in the lobby because the players were around.

He then brought her up to his room, where Tennant claims an aggressive attack occurred.

“Out of nowhere, he got on top of me and pinned me down to the bed and held my arms down with all of his weight,” Tennant said. “He kissed my neck and my face and my chest. As I kept asking him to please stop and get off, he laughed at me.”

After the initial encounter, Walton allegedly grabbed her a second time from behind and started kissing Tennant’s neck. 

“I thought he was going to rape me,” Tennant said.

During the press conference, Tennant explained how she eventually was able to leave the hotel room, but that wasn’t the last encounter she had with Walton. 

Walton joined the Lakers as head coach in 2016, which resulted in Tennant working with him on a daily basis. According to Tennant, Walton was inappropriate with her on multiple occasions, including unwanted hugs and kisses.

“Every interaction with him that I had over that time made me incredibly uncomfortable and feel unsafe,” Tennant said.

Their last encounter was at a charity event in 2017, when Walton allegedly made a comment about her dress, followed by an uncomfortable hug. 

“Every feeling I had from that first experience of feeling disgusted and betrayed, came back,” Tennant said.

According to Tennant, she had been working for Spectrum SportsNet for just under one year when the initial incident occurred with Walton at his hotel. She was 25 years old at the time and feared for her job.

“I was scared,” Tennant said. “When someone assaults you and you think you’re going to be raped, coming forward is a scary thing. I have spent years now dealing with this. Trying to forget about it. Hoping I could push it to the side and bury it, and hoping that time would heal. That was not the case.”

According to Mardirossian, they haven’t taken the case to law enforcement, and outside of Tennant’s account, they have no other further evidence to support the claim. Tennant told family members of the event but did not discuss it with anyone in human resources at Spectrum or with either the Warriors or the Lakers.

The Kings, who hired Walton as their coach last week, have not released anything other than their initial statement, “We are aware of the report and are gathering additional information. We have no further comment at this time.”

The NBA added this statement, per multiple reports: “We are coordinating with the Kings organization and are in the process of gathering more information.”

According to league sources, Kings general manager Vlade Divac did not know of pending allegations when he signed the 39-year-old coach to a four-year contract.