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News, observations and reader questions about the Sacramento Kings and the NBA.

January 2, 2012
Kings-Hornets notes: Free-throw shooting improves

The Kings, dreadful from the free-throw line through their first four games, made 18 of their first 19 free-throw attempts against the New Orleans Hornets and finished 18-of-21.

The Kings entered the game making a league-worst 61.4 percent of their free throws.

Guard Tyreke Evans, one of the most troubled players at the line in the previous two games, made 7 of 8 attempts in the Kings' 96-80 win over the Hornets. Evans said after the game he tweaked his form at the line.

"I had one foot on the line at first," Evans said. "I just put both my feet in front of me, just go straight up, follow through, and it was going in the basket."

The Hornets, meanwhile, made just 8-of-16 free throws, a statistic that will probably be overshadowed by their 0-of-15 mark on three-pointers.

* Evans and Chuck Hayes both said after the game that they planned to reach out to DeMarcus Cousins.

Cousins was sent home Sunday after the Kings and coach Paul Westphal said Cousins demanded to be traded following the Kings' loss to the Knicks on Saturday night. Cousins was one of several players who were visibly frustrated after that game. His agent has said a trade was not demanded.

The Kings play the first of two consecutive road games at Memphis on Tuesday. Westphal said that whether Cousins will be with the team "will be pretty much up to (Cousins)."

"I didn't talk to him yet, but I may shoot him a text tonight and just tell him to keep his head," Evans said Sunday night. "He's a good player, we need him. You've just got to go out there and play. You know, you wake up, get paid to play basketball, the game you love. You've got to take care of your job and stay focused. Hopefully he can get it together and be a part of this team."

Hayes said he learned that Cousins would not be with the team against the Hornets when he arrived for the Kings' pre-game shootaround. Hayes said word that Cousins may have asked to be traded caught him off-guard.

"It's surprising because, like I said, it's only game five," Hayes said. "It could be like a spur of the moment, or maybe jumping the gun too quick, his emotions got the best of him. But I don't know if he did, I don't know his reasons. Apparently he feels some kind of way."

* J.J. Hickson started in place of Cousins against the Hornets and finished with 4 points and 9 rebounds in 25 minutes. Hickson set an early defensive tone with an emphatic block of a Carl Landry lay-up attempt on the Hornets' third offensive possession.

Hayes said he thought Hickson, who made his first start of the season, "did a great job."

"J.J. is a high-energy guy," Hayes said. "He was alive and active."

Travis Outlaw, who played behind John Salmons at small forward through the first four games, backed up Hickson at power forward against the Hornets.

The Kings, smaller in the frontcourt without Cousins, were out-rebounded by the Hornets 60-41.

-- Matt Kawahara



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