Kings Blog and Q&A

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

February 29, 2012
Video: Keith Smart post-practice

Kings head coach Keith Smart talks about getting the Kings to run at a faster pace and trying to develop a winning mentality.

February 29, 2012
Chat live: What Sacramento arena deal means for sports fans

February 29, 2012
The Morning After: Smart just wants Jimmer to shoot

Win or lose, my Twitter account at some point is usually flooded at some point with Jimmer Fredette questions.

They usually are about why isn't Kings coach Keith Smart playing Fredette more? Or does Smart not like Fredette or why is the coach holding Fredette back?
Fredette has had his struggles as a rookie. Fredette gets into trouble when teams force him to dribble into trouble and has struggled defensively (which I touched on here.).

When the Kings drafted Fredette he was touted as a point guard but Smart doesn't want Fredette to worry so much about running the offense. Instead he wants Fredette to do what he does best.

"I'm encouraging him to be a shooter," Smart said. "That's a skill you have, be a shooter right now."

Fredette's playing time has decreased with the return of Marcus Thornton (who has scored 20 or more in nine of his last 10 games).

Fredette had some good moments while Marcus Thornton was out. Fredette averaged 9.8 points and made 50 percent of his threes in six starts.

But in the last two games, Fredette has played just 20 minutes, none of the time coming in the second half.

Overall Fredette averages 7.9 points and is shooting 37.7 percent on threes. Fredette is shooting 37.8 percent from the field this season.

Smart would rather Fredette shoot than dribble into trouble and have a shot blocked or commit a turnover.
Smart, however, isn't going to be Fredette's ear every moment of every practice or when he's in the game.

"I think for me as a coach and a player you have to leave him alone," Smart said. "I think everyone is in his ear about everything and so I try to stay away from him and let him play because if I'm in his ear he'll be a robot on the floor."

"My job is to keep encouraging him and not get caught up in making him into something that he's not yet."

"For me I've said what I need to say to him. He knows where everything stands. So I've got make sure I leave him alone and let him grow as a pro but again keep encouraging hm. I want him to focus on shooting the ball."

February 29, 2012
Kings vs. Jazz: Assists are up again, and other notes

Guard Isaiah Thomas addresses the media following the Kings' 103-96 win over the Utah Jazz.

Isaiah Thomas careened up-court and threaded a bounce pass to a cutting Marcus Thornton under the basket. Thornton converted the lay-up with 0.8 seconds left in the third quarter, and Thomas had his sixth assist of the quarter.

Thomas finished with eight assists in the Kings' 103-96 win over the Utah Jazz, and the Kings as a team had 23, making this the fourth time in the last five games they have recorded 21 or more assists.

February 28, 2012
Kings, Maloofs, KJ ... and the fullcourt press is on


The scene at Power Balance Pavilion earlier tonight was pretty crazy for obvious reasons: The Kings were hosting the Utah Jazz less about 36 hours after a tentative private-public agreement was reached on a new downtown sports arena. The proposal will be submitted to the City Council for approval next Tuesday. Mayor Kevin Johnson, who is a lock as one of the five affirmative votes needed, arrived after the weekly council meeting ended, and then worked the oversized room (arena) like a politician.

He walked down the sidelines from his courtside seat and hugged Kings co-owners Joe and Gavin Maloof. He walked back to the Maloofs again a few minutes later, accompanied by council members Angelique Ashby and Jay Schenirer. He also brought former vice-mayor Jimmie Yee over to the Maloofs - the same Yee who cast the deciding vote that secured the loan to former Kings owner Jim Thomas in 1997 - and then spent time in one of the suites, mingling with other business and city leaders who have been involved in the arena effort.

And, at least twice that I counted, KJ jumped to his feet and applauded spectacular plays by rookie point guard Isaiah Thomas.

A few other notes:
* I caught up with Joe and Gavin Maloof up in their suite before the game, and they were both visibly exhausted, but elated. Joe Maloof said he spent so much time in the negotiations in Orlando that he never even got to the Amway Center for any of the All-Star Weekend events. "Gavin has been there, and he says it's incredible," said Joe. If the deal is approved next week, he plans a return trip to Orlando to tour the arena widely regarded as the standard for modern arenas.
* Gavin Maloof said he received hundreds of congratulatory texts when the agreement was brokered on Monday, including from unlikely sources. "I even got some from Anaheim," he said, laughing. He also has been asked about choking up when he addressed the media in Orlando shortly after the deal was announced. "I was so happy," he said, "and I just lost it. I felt like the weight of the world was off my shoulders. We loved this place. We never wanted to go anyplace else, we really didn't."
Asked how the deal was finalized, Gavin said, "(David) Stern wanted it. We wanted it. Everybody stretched. AEG gave more. We gave more. I'm still (laugh) in a state of shock, though. Hopefully I can sleep in tomorrow."
* Once again, DeMarcus Cousins showed off his phenomenal hands. He repeatedly beat everyone to loose balls and long rebounds, including one particularly impressive one-handed, off-balance grab in the closing minutes. His conditioning also seemed surprisingly decent considering he stayed to enjoy the festivities in Orlando (he was in the Rising Stars game on Friday) and didn't return to Sacramento until early Monday
* The diminutive Thomas, who has quickly emerged as a fan favorite, said he hopes his hometown Seattle gets another NBA franchise, but was pulling for the Kings to remain in Sacramento. "Seattle deserves another team," he said, "but the Kings belong here. I'm so happy it looks like it's working out."
* I will be discussing the Kings, the arena situation, the local sports landscape, etc., on our live chat Wednesday at noon.

February 28, 2012
Kings defeat Jazz, 103-96

Head coach Keith Smart addresses the media following the Kings' win over the Utah Jazz.

DeMarcus Cousins had 22 points and 18 rebounds, and Isaiah Thomas added 18 points and eight assists as the Kings defeated the Utah Jazz, 103-96, at Power Balance Pavilion on Tuesday night.

Thomas and Cousins keyed a strong third quarter for the Kings, who had trailed by three at halftime. Thomas had six of his assists in the quarter, while Cousins scored eight points and grabbed five rebounds.

After a slow start from the floor, the Kings shot 52.4 percent as a team in the second half.

February 28, 2012
In-game blog: Kings vs. Jazz

FINAL
Kings 103, Jazz 96

DeMarcus Cousins had a game-high 22 points and 18 rebounds and Isaiah Thomas added 18 points and eight assists as the Kings held off the Utah Jazz at Power Balance Pavilion on Tuesday night.

The Kings overcame a slow start and 17 turnovers to shoot 44 percent from the field, above their season average, as they improved to 12-22.

Marcus Thornton added 21 points and Jason Thompson had 10 points and eight rebounds.

Devin Harris had a team-high 18 points for the Jazz, who had six players in double figures. Josh Howard added 15 points and seven rebounds, while Al Jefferson had 12 points and eight rebounds.

The Kings made free throws down the stretch, converting 24 of 29 foul shots. The Jazz struggled from the line, shooting 11-of-22.


THIRD QUARTER
Kings 74, Jazz 71

Isaiah Thomas found a cutting Marcus Thornton for a layup with 0.8 seconds remaining, and Thornton hit a free throw to give the Kings a three-point lead going into the fourth quarter.

The Kings shot better from the floor in the third quarter and are now shooting 42 percent for the game. DeMarcus Cousins leads all players with 18 points and 15 rebounds but picked up his fourth foul and went to the bench late in the quarter.

Thornton has 16 points and Tyreke Evans 13 for the Kings. Thomas has nine points and seven assists.

The Jazz are shooting 47 percent. Josh Howard leads Utah with 13 points, while Al Jefferson has 12 points and Gordon Hayward 10. Devin Harris has nine points and seven assists.

The Jazz have hurt themselves at the free-throw line, making just 10-of-20 shots.

February 28, 2012
Relieved Sacramento Kings fans celebrate arena deal

By Matt Kawahara
mkawahara@sacbee.com

Juan Vargas wore an orange vest over his Chris Webber jersey as he ascended a ramp toward the entrance of Power Balance Pavilion tonight. Written on the back of his vest were the words, "Sac Town, Ready to Build."

"I had this planned a long time ago," said Vargas, 25, of Sacramento, who also carried a sign proclaiming himself a member of Ironworkers Local Union No. 118. "Our mayor did his job. We're ready to build this arena."

Tonight's game against the Utah Jazz is the Kings' first since the announcement Monday that the city of Sacramento and the Sacramento Kings had reached a tentative deal to build a new downtown arena, which would keep the team in Sacramento beyond this season.

February 28, 2012
Kings vs. Jazz: Five things to watch

The Kings (11-22) play at home tonight for the first time in nearly three weeks, hosting the Utah Jazz (15-17) to begin the second half of the season. Here are a few things to keep an eye on during the game:

1. Is home where the defense is? The Kings scored 100 or more points four times on their six-game road trip before the break, but gave up 100 or more points five times and went 1-5. Coach Keith Smart wants to see players do a better job of staying in front of their man on defense, since the Kings have been susceptible to teams that penetrate to get shots or draw help.

Smart still wants the Kings to focus on defending the paint first and make teams beat them with long-range shooting -- a strategy that would seem designed with an opponent like the Jazz in mind. The Jazz don't take a lot of three-pointers (12.53 a game, third-lowest in the NBA) and when they do, they don't make many (29.7 percent, worst in the league). Instead, they are the only team in the NBA scoring more than 50 percent of their points in the paint.

February 28, 2012
Kings vs. Jazz: Salmons available tonight

Forward John Salmons, who missed the Kings' last two games with a sore right hip, is expected to be available tonight against the Utah Jazz, said head coach Keith Smart.

Salmons came off the bench in the two games prior to the injury as Isaiah Thomas started at point guard and Tyreke Evans at small forward.

Smart said Salmons "wants to do what is necessary" for the team.

February 27, 2012
Smart, Thomas on arena news

Kings coach Keith Smart was asked after the team's practice tonight for his reaction to news of the city of Sacramento and the Kings announcing a tentative deal to build a new downtown arena.

"It's good news for everyone, I think, the fact that we have that opportunity," Smart said. "But my focus for me, the players, as always, has been to focus on the floor, what we can do on the floor -- let our management team, the ownership, the NBA, the city of Sacramento do their jobs to bring that to fruition. And now my job is to focus on, as always, continuing to develop the team, get the players much better than what they were, and then eventually we'll see where it goes from there."

Guard Isaiah Thomas said the announcement was a topic of discussion as the Kings reconvened Monday evening for their first practice after the All-Star break.

"I just know that we're staying here in Sacramento," Thomas said. "I'm very happy. The community, the fans, the organization's brought me in like a warm feeling, like a family feeling, and I'm just happy to be able to be here for years to come."

February 27, 2012
Live chat replay: A new arena for Sacramento Kings

The Bee's arena team hosted a live chat to answer questions and provide updates after today's announcement that the city of Sacramento, the NBA and the Maloofs have reached a tentative deal to build an arena in the Sacramento railyards.

Replay the full chat on the City Beat blog.

February 26, 2012
The Maloofs still divided ....


ORLANDO, Fla. - Based on his body language and a few terse words he uttered while walking into a gift shop for snacks, George Maloof is the obstacle in the room. Joe and Gavin's little brother appeared grumpy and out of sorts before returning to the meeting that is threatening to become a marathon. Also, George said he expected the talks to last only another 1 1/2 hours - contrasting sharply with Commissioner David Stern's projections. Stern, who directed one of his staffers to book rooms for the brothers tonight, left for the Amway Center and the All-Star Game about an hour ago, but said he would return and rejoin the meetings ... after the game.

Interesting. After grabbing bags of potato chips and Tollhouse cookies, Joe spoke briefly with media members, reiterated his desire to keep the Kings in Sacramento, and said he would have more to say later. He added, however, that he has been texting with his mother, Colleen, throughout the discussions.

February 26, 2012
Stern leaves hotel, Kings, NBA keep meeting

ORLANDO, Fla. - NBA Commissioner David Stern, accompanied by Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver and four members of the relocation committee, emerged from behind closed doors at 4:46 local time. Stern and the four owners - Glen Taylor (Minnesota Timberwolves), Clay Bennett (Oklahoma City), Mickey Arison (Miami) and Greg Miller (Utah Jazz) - were off to a board of governors meeting at the Amway Center. Stern said he planned to attend tonight's All-Star Game and then return to the hotel and rejoin the meeting. He said the good news is "we're still talking."

February 26, 2012
Warriors owner wants Kings in Sacramento

ORLANDO, Fla. -- I am here in the hotel lobby with several other media members from Sacramento staking out the meetings with David Stern, Joe, Gavin, George Maloof, Kevin Johnson and other arena officials. The Commissioner is expected to participate until approximately 4:30. He has another function scheduled before tonight's 7:30 All-Star Game. But we'll see.

Golden State Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob walked over to chat, and when his perspective on his neighbor's arena situation, offered strong support for keeping the Kings in Sacramento. "We want the team in Sac because that market supported that team very in the past," he said, "and should be able to do so again in the future. For us, having them there is a rivalry. We don't see it as competition even though both teams are in Northern California. I really hope it works out."

February 25, 2012
Awaiting David Stern presser, word on Kings arena


ORLANDO, Fla. - David Stern should be arriving at the Anway Center momentarily for his annual All-Star Weekend press conference. He and his media people expect the session to be dominated by questions about Sacramento's arena situation, the prospects for franchises in Anaheim, Seattle and Vancouver, as well as other inquiries post-lockout and the 66-game shortened season. Earlier in the day, NBA executives Joel LItvin, Harvey Benjamin met with Kevin Johnson and other members of the contingent from Sacramento. The big meetings take place tomorrow.

Meantime, here a few other thoughts:
* My favorite amenity in the Amway Center has to be the Budweiser Baseline Bar at the top of the loge section. Anyone who buys a ticket has access. When I was here last year, I met a young couple who bought season tickets for $5 per game and spend every game at the baseline bar, eating and drinking, and enjoying the closer view of the court.
* Security has been more stringent outside the building than I can ever recall for an All-Star Weekend.
* The only downer about the weekend is the distances traveled between events. The arena is downtown, but the Orange County Convention Center, and the hotels housing NBA executives, players and media members are spread all over the place, many on the Disney property.
* Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer, who has visited with KJ at various national mayoral conferences, said he would tell his Sacramento counterpart, "to keep at it" regarding the arena proposal.

February 25, 2012
Power Rankings: Heat on top at the break

ORLANDO, Fla. -- With three All-Stars here, it shouldn't be a surprise the Miami Heat have been the NBA's best team and look to be the favorites to win the NBA Championship.

LeBron James is playing at an MVP level, and the same could be said for Dwyane Wade. The Heat are aggressive on defense and James appears to have taken his game to another level -- scary for a two-time MVP.

What the second half holds is anyone's guess, but for now, I expect James to bring a championship along to South Beach.

February 24, 2012
Cousins scores 18 with 11 rebounds in Team Chuck's win

ORLANDO, Fla. - Kings center DeMarcus Cousins had 18 points, 10 rebounds and three assists as Team Chuck defeated Team Shaq, 146-133 in the Rising Stars Challenge Friday night at All-Star Weekend.

The game consisted of rosters comprised of 20 first and second-year players that with Charles Barkley and Shaquille then drafted rosters from both groups.

Cleveland rookie guard Kyrie Irving won MVP with 34 points on 12-of-13 shooting and nine assists.

San Antonio rookie Kawhi Leonard (right calf strain) did not play.


February 24, 2012
Bynum thinks it's terrible Cousins plays in Sac, could help another team

ORLANDO, Fla. - Lakers All-Star center Andrew Bynum was asked for his opinion of Kings center DeMarcus Cousins.

I guess he feels bad for Cousins.

"He's a good player, definitely coming up," Bynum said. "It's terrible that he has to play in Sacramento. He could take his take his talents somewhere and really help a team."

Terrible?

"Yeah," Bynum said. "It's not working out."

Not exactly sure what's not working out, though the Kings are 11-22, which is the second-worst record in the Western Conference and seventh worst in the NBA.

Cousins had taken a shot at Bynum in the past via Twitter. After the Lakers won the NBA Championship in 2010 Cousins tweeted "Bynum doesn't deserve to touch the trophy!"

Bynum was actually complimentary of Cousins, but Sacramento fans are easily riled up when anyone or anything associated with Southern California, Los Angeles, Anaheim, etc., says anything about the Kings or Sacramento.

February 24, 2012
Stern pressing hard for Sacramento arena

ORLANDO, Fla. - These are very eventful days, with the the Kings arena situation being dumped right into the middle of the All-Star Game festivities.

As I write in a column in today's Bee, Orlando is a hive of activity. The airport has been jammed these past few days into the wee hours. The rental car agencies are slammed (trust me). And the people who facilitated the city/county/Magic partnership that led to construction of the $380 million Amway Center - the downtown arena that is the gold standard for all new buildings - are everywhere. I was at Jam Session Thursday at the Orange County Convention Center, mainly to harass David Stern about Sacramento's latest arena developments, and Orlando city mayor Buddy Byer and Orange County mayor Teresa Jacobs were nearby, and they could not stop grinning.

By the way: The sentiment among the national media here is very pro-Sacramento, despite reports about persistent overtures from folks in Anaheim and potential threats from Seattle and darkhorse candidate Vancouver. The Canadian city's failure to support the Grizzlies led to the team's relocation to Memphis, but potential owners and investors continue to pester the league, and the large Asian population appeals to Stern's desire to expand its brand. Plus - and this is a big plus - Vancouver has a modern arena, unlike Seattle or Sacramento. These days, when the revenue streams from club suites, sponsorships, and amenities/concessions allay operating costs and account for a large percentage of income, it's all about the buildings.

Here are a few other observations, notes, etc., as the weekend approaches:

• Magic official Alex Martins, who rose from the ranks of assistant publicist when the city was granted an expansion team in 1988 to team president and CEO (and the guy who oversaw the resurrection of arena negotiations), is heading the team's feasibility study into a $100 million development project near the downtown Amway Center. Except for the Church Street entertainment corridor, the neighborhing area is economically depressed. The project would include restaurants, retail and housing, and attempt to revitalize this portion of the urban core. If the development would occur, it would enable the Magic to relocate the majority of its employees to its downtown facility.

• Allen Johnson, executive director of the city's Venues Department, had some interesting things to say about Amway Center's parking and the impact on traffic flow. There are 2,100 parking spots in the Geico Garage located adjacent to the arena, but most of the available slots are located within a 10-minute or so walking distance. While some people argue that a lack of surface parking is a major negative of downtown arenas, Johnson is convinced the dispersed parking has major advantages in terms of traffice flow.

"I would never, ever be involved with building another venue that has surface parking in a downtown core because it's a terrible use of land," he said. "What we always understood is that people leave an event at the same time, but we didn't count on the fact that because they were walking two, three blocks, it would actually be helping traffic flow. It also helps that people are walking by the businesses on Church Street."

• Martins is among those who believe the quality of Amway Center enables the arena managers to lure top touring groups and artists. "There is absolutely no chance that Andrea Bocelli would have played at the old building," said Martins. "It just did not have the acoustical advantages of the new building. Everybody was just amazed at at his performance (Feb. 12)."

• The Amway Center is owned and operated by the city of Orlando, but Magic owner Rich DeVos - a billionaire, by the way - was pressured into making a substantial contribution for construction of the $380 million facility. After low-balling the city and county, which secured a one cent increase in tourism taxes, he agreed to a provide $50 million toward construction, another $25 million toward the financing of area gyms, assumed the risk of cost overrides, and backed the public bonds.

• So, on a final note, Jeremy Lin is a local sensation here, too. He arrives Friday and is scheduled for several appearances.

February 24, 2012
Stern pressing hard for Sac arena


ORLANDO, Fla. - These are very eventful days, with the the Kings arena situation being dumped right into the middle of the All-Star Game festivities. The city is a hive of activity. The airport has been jammed these past few days into the wee hours. The rental car agencies are slammed (trust me). And the people who facilitated the city/county/Magic partnership that led to construction of the $380 million Amway Center - the downtown arena that is the gold standard for all new buildings - are everywhere. I was at Jam Session Thursday at the Orange County Convention Center, mainly to harass David Stern about Sacramento's latest arena developments, and Orlando city mayor Buddy Byer and Orange County mayor Teresa Jacobs were nearby, and they could not stop grinning.

By the way: The sentiment among the national media here is very pro-Sacramento, despite reports about persistent overtures from folks in Anaheim and potential threats from Seattle and darkhorse candidate Vancouver. The Canadian city's failure to support the Grizzlies led to the team's relocation to Memphis, but potential owners and investors continue to pester the league, and the large Asian population appeals to Stern's desire to expand its brand. Plus - and this is a big plus - Vancouver has a modern arena, unlike Seattle or Sacramento. These days, when the revenue streams from club suites, sponsorships, and amenities/concessions allay operating costs and account for a large percentage of income, it's all about the buildings.

Here are a few other observations, notes, etc., as the weekend approaches:

* Magic official Alex Martins, who rose from the ranks of assistant publicist when the city was granted an expansion team in 1988 to team president and CEO (and the guy who oversaw the resurrection of arena negotiations), is heading the team's feasibility study into a $100 million development project near the downtown Amway Center. Except for the Church Street entertainment corridor, the neighborhing area is economically depressed. The project would include restaurants, retail and housing, and attempt to revitalize this portion of the urban core. If the development would occur, it would enable the Magic to relocate the majority of its employees to its downtown facility.

* Allen Johnson, executive director of the city's Venues Department, had some interesting things to say about Amway Center's parking and the impact on traffic flow. There are 2,100 parking spots in the Geico Garage located adjacent to the arena, but most of the available slots are located within a 10-minute or so walking distance. While some people argue that a lack of surface parking is a major negative of downtown arenas, Johnson is convinced the dispersed parking has major advantages in terms of traffice flow.
"I would never, ever be involved with building another venue that has surface parking in a downtown core because it's a terrible use of land," he said. "What we always understood is that people leave an event at the same time, but we didn't count on the fact that because they were walking two, three blocks, it would actually be helping traffic flow. It also helps that people are walking by the businesses on Church Street."

* Martins is among those who believe the quality of Amway Center enables the arena managers to lure top touring groups and artists. "There is absolutely no chance that Andrea Bocelli would have played at the old building," said Martins. "It just did not have the acoustical advantages of the new building. Everybody was just amazed at at his performance (Feb. 12)."

* The Amway Center is owned and operated by the city of Orlando, but Magic owner Rich DeVos - a billionaire, by the way - was pressured into making a substantial contribution for construction of the $380 million facility. After low-balling the city and county, which secured a one cent increase in tourism taxes, he agreed to a provide $50 million toward construction, another $25 million toward the financing of area gyms, assumed the risk of cost overrides, and backed the public bonds.

* So, on a final note, Jeremy Lin is a local sensation here, too. He arrives Friday and is scheduled for several appearances.

February 23, 2012
The Morning After: Lessons from the road trip

WASHINGTON - The Kings finished their six-game road trip 1-5. Hardly a record to brag about, there was a lot learned on the trip.

A few of them were:

February 22, 2012
Kings, Stern, Maloofs ... crazy in Orlando


ORLANDO - This was going to be a crazy, active weekend anyway - All-Star Weekend always is - but David Stern apparently will have less time than usual to schmooze with his stars, cultivate his important visitors from China, Europe, and other global markets, along with his domestic partners, because of his plans to meet with Mayor Kevin Johnson, Joe and Gavin Maloof and try to pin down the specifics of a potential arena deal. Jason Jones and Ryan Lillis are traveling here Thursday, and I arrived a few hours ago after a lengthy delay and diversion to Tampa because of thunderstorms.

I have been speaking with officials from the city and county of Orlando, along with Magic team president Alex Martins, and will be writing about the Amway Center (opened in October, 2010) and its financial impact on the area. Folks here say the All-Star Weekend will contribute $100 million to the local economy, with an estimated 50,000 visitors filling hotels, attending events, renting cars, and dining at restaurants. A major traffic snafu is expected Sunday when some folks head back to Orlando after the Daytona 500, about an hour's drive from here.

As for anything new on the arena talks? I am hearing the same consistent theme: the threat to Sacramento comes from Anaheim, and not Seattle, which (a) still needs someone willing to sell a team (which the Maloofs are not) and (b) is years away from opening doors on a new building.

Much more to come in the coming days.

February 22, 2012
In-game blog: Kings at Wizards

FINAL
Kings 115, Wizards 107

WASHINGTON - Using a lineup without its two best players, the Kings rallied in the fourth quarter for a 115-107 win to end their season-long six-game losing streak.

Marcus Thornton and DeMarcus Cousins didn't play in the fourth quarter as Keith Smart stuck with Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Thornton, Francisco Garcia, Jason Thompson and Chuck Hayes to close the game after the group gave the Kings (11-22) the lead.

Thornton finished with 22 points, 18 coming after Evans was called for his fourth foul with 10:18 left in the third quarter. Evans didn't come back into the game after that.

Cousins finished with 16 points and 16 rebounds. Evans had 22 points, six rebounds and four assists.

Jordan Crawford led the Wizards (7-26) with 32 points off the bench. John Wall had 21 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds.

The Kings matched their season-high in scoring in the win.

THIRD QUARTER
Wizards 89, Kings 88

WASHINGTON - The Kings played a little defense in the third, holding the Wizards to 35 percent shooting to get back in the game.

Tyreke Evans picked up two quick fouls to give him four with 10:18 left in the quarter. So Marcus Thornton picked up the scoring slack with10 points in the quarter.

Evans still leads the Kings with 22 points, but Thornton is up to 14. DeMarcus Cousins has 16 points and 16 rebounds.

Jordan Crawford leads the Wizards with 24 points. John Wall has 19 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.

HALFTIME
Wizards 68, Kings 60

WASHINGTON - The Kings still leave much to be desired defensively.

The Wizards are shooting 58.3 percent, including 14-of-18 on shots in the paint. The Kings are shooting well considering how they've struggled all season (44 percent) but that's nearly good enough with the Wizards scoring at this rate.

Jordan Crawford dominated the second quarter off the bench for Washington with 15 points and has a game-high 21. Crawford made 8-of-12 in the first half.

Tyreke Evans leads the Kings with 20 points on 7-of-9 shooting. DeMarcus Cousins has 14 points and 10 rebounds but shot 6-of-18.

FIRST QUARTER
Wizards 34, Kings 29

WASHINGTON - The Kings continue to allow teams to shoot well and if it keeps up, they will end this road trip winless.

The Wizards are shooting 53.8 percent, led by John Wall with 12 points, three rebounds and three assists.

The Kings are shooting just 39.3 percent. DeMarcus Cousins has 10 points and seven rebounds while Tyreke Evans has nine points and three rebounds.

February 22, 2012
The Morning After: Cousins gets the All-Star treatment

MIAMI - Before Tuesday night's game Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra had this to say about DeMarcus Cousins.

"We will have to tread him with the same respect we treated Dwight Howard; particularly when the ball goes up I the air. We have to have an aggressive mindset tonight."

Cousins was 3-of-13 and had nine points and seven rebounds in the Kings 120-108 loss to the Heat Tuesday night.

Cousins is usually good for four to five offensive rebounds a night. He had only one against the Heat.

As Cousins continues to emerge, he'll see teams treat him like this every night.

"I had no angles at all," Cousins said. "It was tough on me offensively tonight but we had other players step up...we still had a chance to win."


February 22, 2012
Kings at Wizards: Five things to watch

WASHINGTON - Tonight ends the Kings' longest road trip of the season. The Kings are 0-5 on the trip and have lost six in a row overall.

The Washington Wizards are the worst team the Kings will have played on the trip. Like the Kings they have already had a coaching change and had their fair share of turmoil to start the season.

Can the Kings finally win a game? Here are five things the Kings need to do to end their losing streak.

February 21, 2012
In-game blog: Kings at Heat

FINAL
Heat 120, Kings 108

MIAMI - The Heat used a big fourth quarter to put the game out of reach.

Dwyane Wade led the Heat (26-7) with 30 points and 10 assists. Chris Bosh had 20 points and 10 rebounds. LeBron James had 18 points and eight assits.

Tyreke Evans had 21 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds for the Kings. Isaiah Thomas had 24 points and Marcus Thornton had 23 points.

The Kings (10-22) have lost six games in a row and end their six-game road trip tomorrow at Washington.

The Heat have won seven in a row.

THIRD QUARTER
Heat 93, Kings 88

MIAMI - Isaiah Thomas wowed the crowd in the third quarter, making five three pointers and scoring 20 points to keep the Kings from being blown out after they fell behind by 12.

Thomas has 24 points, establishing a new career high. Thomas had 23 points Sunday at Cleveland. The Kings did not have a turnover in the third, but ahven't slowed down Miami's offense.

The Heart are shooting 58.1 percent and four of their five starters have at least 14 points. Dwyane Wade leads Miami with 24 points.

The Kings have used an eight-man rotation tonight. Jimmer Fredette and J.J. Hickson have yet to play tonight.

February 21, 2012
Kings at Heat: Five things to watch

MIAMI - The Miami Heat have the NBA's second-longest active winning streak in the NBA at six games. The Kings have the league's longest active losing streak at five games.

Logic dictates the Kings will lose tonight, right?

Here are five things the Kings have to do to have a chance make logic look silly.

February 20, 2012
Tyreke Evans faces biggest defensive challenge of season

MIAMI - Concerns about Tyreke Evans playing small forward had a lot to do with his ability to defend the elite small forwards in the NBA.

Tuesday's assignment doesn't get much tougher - LeBron James.

James is playing like he will win his third MVP award in three seasons, averaging 27.9 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.8 assists while shooting 54.8 percent.

February 20, 2012
The Morning After: Isaiah Thomas leads from the point of attack

CLEVELAND - There has been plenty of talk for some time about the Kings' need for a point guard and whether Tyreke Evans is a true point guard.

Kings coach Keith Smart has referred to Evans as a combo guard and worked with him on becoming a better facilitator.

But perhaps the Kings' "pure" point guard was sitting on the bench all along.

February 19, 2012
In-game blog Cavaliers

FINAL
Cavaliers 93, Kings 92

CLEVELAND - Cleveland rookie guard Kyrie Irving made two free throws with 0.4 seconds to play to send the Kings to their fifth consecutive losss.

Irving was fouled by Tyreke Evans as he drove to the basket. The Kings had just taken the lead on a lay up by DeMarcus Cousins with 2.9 seconds to play.

The Kings (10-21) were down 10 in the fourth but rallied by the play of rookie Isaiah Thomas. Thomas had season highs of 23 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds.

The Cavs (12-17) were led by Irving with 23 points. Antawn Jamison had 21 points and rookie Tristan Thompson had 15 points and 12 rebounds off the bench.

Former King Omri Casspi had a career-high 12 rebounds for Cleveland.

Marcus Thornton had 21 points and a season-high 10 rebounds. Cousins had 19 points.


February 19, 2012
Kings at Cavaliers: Five things to watch

CLEVELAND - There have been signs the Kings are an improved team, but they are hard to find during a four-game losing streak.

Here are some things the Kings can do to have a chance of not allowing their losing streak reach five games:

February 18, 2012
Power rankings: It's all about the Heat

LeBron James just had to talk about the idea of playing in Cleveland this week, didn't he?

Anything James says is scrutinized and takes away from (for his many naysayers) from the stellar season he is having.

James is averaging 28 points, 8.1 rebounds and 6.7 assists while shooting a career-high 54.2 percent from the field.

James will be judged by the postseason, but for now, we can enjoy how James has the Miami Heat playing at a high level.

February 18, 2012
The Morning After: Kings are making it hard on themselves

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - There has been a constant theme after Kings losses that came up again Friday night after the Kings blew an 11-point lead and lost to the Detroit Pistons 114-108.

The Kings have to play smarter basketball.

The Kings make the game hard on themselves with mistakes that come from not sticking to the scouting report or not making the simple play.

February 17, 2012
In-game blog: Kings at Pistons

FINAL
Pistons 114, Kings 108

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - The Kings lost their fourth consecutive game, blowing an 11-point lead in the second half.

The Kings allowed 19 fast break points in the second half.

DeMarcus Cousins led the Kings with 26 points and 15 rebounds, but the Kings probably didn't get him the ball enough in the fourth quarter when the Pistons (10-22) took over behind Rodney Stuckey (36 points), Brandon Knight (23 points, career-high 10 assists) and Tayshaun Prince (22 points).

The Kings (10-20) shot 50 percent, just the second time they've shot 50 percent or better this season. The Kings have lost both of those games.


THIRD QUARTER
Kings 88, Pistons 86

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - The Kings are shooting 54.7 percent but are barely ahead after big third quarters for Detroit by Tayshaun Prince and Rodney Stuckey.

Stuckey scored 13 of his season-high 31 points in the third. Prince had 10 of his 18 points in the third. The Pistons managed to get 13 fast break points in the third, too.

DeMarcus Cousins has 18 points and nine rebounds for the Kings. Tyreke Evans has eight points and nine assists.


February 17, 2012
Cousins will play against the Pistons

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- After being ruled out earlier today with mid back spasms, DeMarcus Cousins tested out his back and will play tonight against the Detroit Pistons.

Kings coach Keith Smart did not say Cousins would start when asked. But it's hard to imagine Smart allowing a player who was having back problems earlier today to sit too long after he warmed up for the game.

Cousins has been the Kings most consistent player this season, averaging 16.3 points and 11.3 rebounds.

February 17, 2012
Kings at Pistons: Five things to watch

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - With DeMarcus Cousins (mid back spasms) out the Kings will be without their most consistent player this season.

How will the Kings replace Couins' production (16.3 points, 11.3 rebounds)?

Here are five things the Kings can do to still be productive without Cousins against the Detroit Pistons:

February 17, 2012
Kings center DeMarcus Cousins out tonight due to back spasms

By Jason Jones

jejones@sacbee.com

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Kings center DeMarcus Cousins will not play tonight because of mid back spasms.

Coach Keith Smart did not indicate who would start for Cousins.

Chuck Hayes or J.J. Hickson are the likely choices.

Cousins is averaging 16.3 points and a team-leading 11.3 rebounds.

February 16, 2012
DeMarcus Cousins will play for Charles Barkley

AUBURN HILL, Mich. - Kings center DeMarcus Cousins was drafted by Charles Barkley and will play for "Team Chuck" in the Rising Stars Challenge next Friday during All-Star weekend in Orlando.

Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal served as general managers and had 10 rookies and 10 second-year players to select from after Miami rookie Norris Cole and New York's Jeremy Lin were added to the pool.

February 16, 2012
The Morning After: Kings had a plan to stop Linsanity

NEW YORK - There was a buzz around these parts that the Kings could be the team to give Jeremy Lin some problems and end the Knicks' winning streak at six.

Why? Tyreke Evans is a big, guard that it was presumed would be physical and make it tough on the Lin to run the offense.

That wasn't the case. Not even close.

February 15, 2012
Lin embarrasses, exposes Kings


Jeremy Lin's amazing story was the ONLY reason to continue watching the Kings-Knicks game tonight after about the first quarter, when it became that Keith Smart's bunch is reverting to old ways. Three straight games now. They don't defend the perimeter. They don't move the ball. They dribble too much. Oh, and the Knicks new point guard sensation - and that would be Lin - contributed 13 assists. The Kings finished with a whopping 15.

Geoff Petrie and his basketball staffers can take some comfort from the fact that they were among the many who blew the call on the 6-foot-3 Lin, who just happened to grow up in Palo Alto, play for Golden State and the Reno Bighorns last season, and way back when, received exactly one invitation to participate in the Las Vegas Summer League. But at some point, the Kings have to get the point, right? They need a point guard. They need a point guard. They need a point guard.

Actually, the Kings need a floor leader. Until they address that issue, whatever talent they accumulate will continue to be wasted (or ruined by the dribbling, ball-stopping, one-on-one mentality). Kings shooters rarely receive a pass in rhythm, and even when they do, they persist in dribbling instead of just releasing a shot. The make the game harder than it needs to be ....

February 15, 2012
In-game blog: Kings at Knicks

FINAL
Knicks 100, Kings 85

NEW YORK - The Kings lost their third consecutive game as their mix of poor shooting and bad defense led to another blowout loss.

The Kings (10-19) shot 37.2 percent while the Knicks (15-15) shot 50.6 percent. It was the Knicks seventh win a row.

The Knicks were led by Jeremy Lin with 10 points and a career-high 13 assists.Landry Fields had 15 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.


THIRD QUARTER
Knicks 77, Kings 55

NEW YORK - The Kings haven't even scored 20 points in a quarter yet and are being thoroughly beaten by the streaking Knicks.

The Kings are shooting 32.3 percent and have looked outmatched most of the night.

Tyreke Evans leads the Kings with 14 points.

Jeremy Lin has 10 points and a career-high 13 assists for the Knicks. Landry Fields has 15 points and 10 rebounds.


February 15, 2012
Kings at Knicks: Five things to watch

NEW YORK - Tonight will be all about Jeremy Lin, the second-year guard that has become an international star during the Knicks six-game winning streak.

What can the Kings do to overcome Linsanity? Here are five things to look for:

1. Jimmermania
Kings rookie Jimmer Fredette is playing his first NBA game in New York. Fredette is from Glen Falls, N.Y., and there should be a lot of support for him tonight. In Fredette's first homecoming this season at Salt Lake City, Fredette missed a three pointer that would have given the Kings a lead late over the Jazz. How will he respond tonight after sitting out last night with a stomach illness?

2. Another big night
DeMarcus Cousins began this road trip with 28 points and 17 rebounds against Chicago. Can the second-year center have another standout performance? They have been more common for Cousins under Keith Smart.

3. Thomas watch
The Kings' comeback fell short last night, but once again rookie Isaiah Thomas was on the floor when the rally began. Thomas brings energy whenever he is on the floor.

4. J.T.'s task
Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire missed four games after the death of his brother and returned last night at Toronto. Jason Thompson will likely be asked to keep Stoudemire in check tonight, a role Samuel Dalmebert filled well last year in a Kings win at Madison Square Garden.

5. Defense, please
Can the Kings get some stops? Chicago shot 52.4 percent against the Kings and until the Kings make it tougher for teams to score, they will struggle to win.


February 15, 2012
The Morning After: Jimmer ready to return to New York

CHICAGO - Jimmer Fredette felt fine until after breakfast. After breakfast the Kings rookie started feeling ill and eventually sat out Tuesday's 121-115 loss to the Chicago Bulls at United Center.

"It must have been some kind of food poisoning," Fredette said.

Fredette said after the game he was feeling better and expects to be ready for tonight's game at the New York Knicks.

Kings coach Keith Smart said that after being sick all day he thought it would be best for Fredette to rest and be ready for tonight.

Fredette is from Glen Falls, N.Y., and will have a lot of family and friends at the game. So there's extra incentive for Fredette to play.

It will be were Linsanity meets Jimmermania. I think unlike a lot of road games, there will be a lot more people rooting for the hometown player (Jeremy Lin) and not Jimmer.

*Here's DeMarcus Cousins discussing the loss to the Bulls.

February 14, 2012
The legend of Jeremy Lin ... continues


This Jeremy Lin just won't end. The Bay Area phenom - and I guess we can call him that now - hit a last-second three-pointer earlier tonight to lead the New York Knicks past the Toronto Raptors. I wrote about Lin for tomorrow's Bee, but quoting his former coach at Golden State (Keith Smart) and with the Reno Bighorns of the NBA Developmental League (Eric Musselman). Lin, 23, was sent down to the D-League three times last year - and Musselman, who now coaches the LA-Defenders, loves the guy. After Lin's the latest heroics, Musselman texted me, "He is amazing."

A few other thoughts:
* If I were Smart (get it?), I would put Tyreke Evans on Lin tomorrow night and challenge him to smother the Knicks sensation.
* As yet another example of Lin's impact as an Asian American in the NBA, a sports columnist friend of mine at Newsday, whose son is an adoptee from Korea, let him stay up to watch the Knicks-Raptors game. We talked immediately afterward, and she said her son was too excited to sleep.
* Lin scored 12 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter and finished with 11 assists, including a nifty wraparound pass to Amare Stoudemire.
* Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni looks and sounds as excited as everyone else about Lin. No kidding. The kid saved his job ...
* So where were the Kings during the Jeremy Lin sweepstakes? Yeah, they were like most teams in the NBA. They blew it, too. The Harvard grad worked out for eight teams prior to the NBA Draft in 2010 and played for the Dallas Mavericks at the Summer League in Las Vegas. Afterward, the 6-foot-3 point guard was offered a two-year deal by Golden State (one year guaranteed), so he signed with the Warriors. The Kings spent the summer in pursuit of Pooh Jeter, who was let go after last season.

February 14, 2012
In-game blog: Kings at Bulls

FINAL
Bulls 121, Kings 115

CHICAGO -- The Kings scored a season high against one of the best defensive teams in the NBA, but allow the Bulls to shoot 52.4 percent in losing their second game in a row.

DeMarcus Cousins led the Kings with 28 points and 17 rebounds. Tyreke Evans had 27 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Marcus Thornton added 23 points.

Luol Deng led the Bulls with 23 points and 11 assists. Joakim Noah had a season-high 22 points and 11 rebounds.

THIRD QUARTER
Bulls 88, Kings 77

CHICAGO -- The Kings were within two three times in the third but were outscored 14-9 to close the third after DeMarcus Cousins picked up his fourth foul with 4:07 left in the quarter.

Cousins didn't appear to touch Joakim Noah on the play that sent him to the bench and very well might have put the game out of reach for the Kings.

Cousins 19 points and 11 rebounds but the Bulls were able to extend their lead behind Luol Deng's 12 points in the quarter. Deng has 19 points tonight to go with nine assists.

The Bulls are shooting 51.5 percent while the Kings are above their season average but sill struggling at 44.1 percent.
HALFTIME
Bulls 56, Kings 52

CHICAGO -- The Kings haven't slowed the Bulls offensively, even without Derrick Rose. The Bulls are shooting 51.1 percent, but only lead by four thanks to DeMarcus Cousins and some solid bench play.

Cousins has 16 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and a blocked shot. Donte' Greene came off the bench to make all four of his shots for 10 points, including a three pointer to bring the Kings within four at halftime.

The Kings need more from the backcourt to pull this game out. Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton have combined for 11 points on 4-of-12 shooting.

Carlos Boozer leads the Bulls with 12 points. Joakim Noah has 10 points and seven rebounds for the Bulls.


FIRST QUARTER
Bulls 27, Kings 24

CHICAGO -- DeMarcus Cousins is off to a good start with nine points, eight rebounds and a blocked shot. The Kings haven't been able to take advantage of their center's efforts after shooting 41.7 percent.

The Kings starting lineup played the entire first quarter. The Bulls used one sub, Taj Gibson.

Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer each had eight points for the Bulls.

Kings rookie Jimmer Fredette (stomach illness) is dressed for the game but odds are he will not play.

February 14, 2012
Derrick Rose won't play against Kings

CHICAGO -- Reigning league MVP Derrick Rose has been ruled out for tonight's game against the Kings because of back spasms.

This will be the third consecutive game Rose has missed, and eighth overall with back and big toe issues.

Rose is listed as day-to-day after a specialist determined Rose has no structural damage in his back.

Rose is averaging 22 points and 7.8 assists this season.

February 14, 2012
Kings at Bulls: Five things to watch

CHICAGO - The Kings begin their longest road trip of the season tonight against the Chicago Bulls.

The Bulls will be without the reigning league MVP, Derrick Rose, who is out with a back injury.

Can the Kings beat the team with the best record in the Eastern Conference? Here are five things to watch for tonight.

February 12, 2012
Weekly Power Rankings: Flip a coin between Bulls and Heat

I could go either way at the top of this list. The Miami Heat did lose to Orlando this week and the Chicago Bulls have won five in a row.

But based on overall health, I'll keep the Heat on top this week.

Let's just hope this is settled in the Eastern Conference Finals.

February 12, 2012
The Morning After: Kings seeing too many shots blocked lately

The Kings have had 28 shots blocked in their last two games.

Seventeen of those blocks came against Oklahoma City, which leads the NBA at 7.63 blocks per game entering Saturday's games.

But it's surprising when the Phoenix Suns, who are in the middle of the league at five blocks a game, block 11 as they did in beating the Kings 98-84 Saturday night.

February 11, 2012
Kings fall to Suns, 98-84

Head coach Keith Smart addresses the media following the Kings' 98-84 loss to the Phoenix Suns.

Shooting a chilly 35 percent, the Kings finished with just two players in double figures and lost to the Phoenix Suns at Power Balance Pavilion on Saturday night, 98-84.

The Kings had trouble finishing plays under the basket, making just 17 of 42 shots in the paint. DeMarcus Cousins had a game-high 26 points and pulled down nine rebounds, and Marcus Thornton scored 21 points.

The rest of the team combined to make 11 shots from the floor.

February 11, 2012
Kings vs. Suns: In-game blog

FINAL
Suns 98, Kings 84

On a cold shooting night, the Kings could not keep up with the Phoenix Suns, who shot 50 percent from the floor en route to a 98-84 win at Power Balance Pavilion.

The Kings shot 35 percent. DeMarcus Cousins had 26 points and 9 rebounds and guard Marcus Thornton scored 21 points for the Kings, who fell to 10-17.

Jared Dudley had 20 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Suns, who also received 18 points from Markieff Morris off the bench. Steve Nash finished with 15 assists after sitting out the second quarter.

The Kings had 11 shots blocked, a game after they had 17 shots blocked by the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Tyreke Evans had 4 points on 1-of-9 shooting.

THIRD QUARTER
Suns 75, Kings 60

The Kings will need another big fourth-quarter comeback if they want to win this one.

Phoenix has shot 53 percent from the floor through three quarters, led by 17 points from Jared Dudley and 15 points from center Marcin Gortat.

Marcus Thornton has 20 points to lead the Kings.

The Suns have been able to overcome 16 turnovers with good shooting.

Steve Nash returned to the floor to start the third quarter after getting stitches in his lip and had 6 assists in the quarter, giving him 12 for the game.

February 11, 2012
Kings vs. Suns: Five things to watch

The Kings (10-16) play another team trying to make up ground in the Western Conference's Pacific Division tonight in the Phoenix Suns (11-15). Here are a few things to keep an eye on when the game tips off at 7 p.m. at Power Balance Pavilion:

1. Guard matchup. Kings guard Tyreke Evans has averaged 21.4 points per game in the Kings' last seven games. More important to Kings head coach Keith Smart, though, have been Evans' strides in working to create shots for teammates, which Smart said has made Evans the "unsung hero" in the Kings' recent stretch of four wins in five games.

Tonight, Evans faces the unenviable task of chasing around after Suns point guard Steve Nash, an assignment that usually entails fighting through a lot of screens when the Suns run pick-and-roll. Nash's 10.1 assists per game lead the NBA.

February 11, 2012
Cheryl Miller clarifies TNT comments


TNT sideline reporter Cheryl Miller called and asked to clarify comments that were made about Sacramento's arena situation during Thursday's Kings-OKC broadcast at Power Balance Pavilion. In a first-half interview with Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, the former WNBA and USC great noted that a ballot measure requiring public approval for use of revenue (toward an arena) from proposed parking bids failed by a 5-4 margin. The mayor tried to explain that this was a good thing - from his perspective - because it enabled the bidding process to proceed. But Miller, along with analysts Reggie Miller and Chris Webber, appeared confused by his explanation.

"I feel bad," Cheryl Miller said Saturday. "I thought the question was very direct and we had plenty of time for him (Johnson) to expand on it. There could have been clarification across the board. I guess we stirred up the dust, but if there's a plus, people are talking about it. The last thing I want to see is Sac lose a team, and I know Chris (Webber) and my brother (Reggie) feel the way. Our hearts are in the right place. Reggie played for 18 in Indianapolis, so we all understand small markets. I just hope everybody keeps their ire up, and keeps their fervor for where the Kings need to be."

February 10, 2012
Chris Webber responds to criticism over TNT commentary

Former Kings great Chris Webber responded to criticism of his commentary on the Kings' arena situation during the TNT broadcast of the Kings' in over Oklahoma City with a phone call to KHTK 1140 this afternoon.

The broadcast team of Webber, Reggie Miller, Kevin Harlan and sideline reporter Cheryl Miller angered fans over comments that incorrectly addressed the arena situation.

You can hear Webber's cal to show host and Kings television play-by-play man Grant Napear here.

February 10, 2012
Video: Keith Smart after practice

Kings head coach Keith Smart talks about what he thinks of the Kings' shot selection and other topics following the team's practice Friday afternoon.

February 10, 2012
The Morning After: Greene given another chance to be Kings utility man

The first time I heard a Kings coach mention Donte' Greene as a defensive player was in July 2009.

I was speaking with Mario Elie, who had been just hired as an assistant coach with the Kings.

Elie made his NBA career on defense and said with Greene's size (6-foot-10) and athleticism that Greene should be able to be a reliable defender every night, but he thought Greene was more concerned about scoring.

February 10, 2012
Thornton comes through late, and other notes

Center DeMarcus Cousins talks about the impact of the home crowd following the Kings' win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night.

Kings center DeMarcus Cousins said he refers to Marcus Thornton as "Mr. Big Shot."

Head coach Keith Smart has used no such moniker for the Kings guard. But he demonstrated his confidence in Thornton nonetheless in the Kings' 106-101 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night.

February 10, 2012
Kings wild night, impressive win over OKC


Since this was the late TNT game, these are late-late-late night musings, thoughts, observations:

* The atmosphere at Power Balance Pavilion was more electric than it has been against any team not named the Lakers in the past, oh, six or seven years. The place was rocking, folks.

* Donte Greene played the most complete 16 minutes of his Kings career. The numbers don't tell the full story: 10 points, four rebounds, two assists, two steals, and great defense in the closing minutes against the willowly Kevin Durant. Donte used his size and length to stay in front of Durant, and contest his long jumpers, which is all you can do.

* The Kings had an arena and Sacramento-era record 17 of their shots blocked, including nine in the third quarter - six of them by Serge Ibaka. They also shot only 40 percent to the Thunder's 48. But, the Kings controlled the boards (46-40), committed only 12 turnovers to 21 assists, and beat OKC at its own game: the Kings outscored the Thunder in fastbreak points (23-19) and cominated the paint (60 points to 34).

* Oops. TNT analysts Chris Webber and Reggie Miller completely botched their update about Sacramento's arena situation. Guess they gotta read The Bee. They had Sandy Sheedy's proposal regarding the parking bids as passing and requiring a public vote, which of course, is not what happened. Mayor Kevin Johnson, seated a few feet away from me, worked his cellphone furiously, scrambling to get the accurate information to the TNT crew.

* Rookies Jimmer Fredette and Isaiah Thomas again contributed off the bench. Fredette threw nice passes and converted a three in transition, while Thomas was Russell Westbrook's worst nightmare in the closing sequences. Thomas is smaller than his listed 5-foot-9, but he is also quick and much stronger than he looks.

* As soon as the game ended, an animated DeMarcus Cousins ran over to the TNT broadcast table and was seen shaking hands with Miller and chatting with Webber. When I asked what he said to Miller, he said, "Ah, it was nothing. I just asked him, 'how do you like me now?' He said a lot of stuff about me. But he just shook my hand and we were laughing."

* Tyreke Evans had two beautiful drives at the start of the fourth quarter. Imagine if the Kings had a consistent deep shooter to put out there with him? Fredette eventually may be that guy. Marcus Thornton hits big shots, and when he is of the mind, can be a pest defensively. He has extremely quick hands. But he is a streak shooter, and in light of Evans' struggles from the perimeter, I'm not convinced this is a starting backcourt. More consistent outside shooting would lead to better spacing and open the lane, especially for Tyreke.


February 9, 2012
Kings beat Thunder, 106-101

Head coach Keith Smart talks about Marcus Thornton's late three-pointers, Donte Greene's contributions off the bench and other topics following Thursday night's game.

Tyreke Evans scored 22 points and made some key late free throws, Donte Greene led the Kings' bench players with 10 points and the Kings closed the game on a 19-6 run to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night at Power Balance Pavilion, 106-101.

The Kings trailed 95-87 with just under six minutes remaining in the game. But they rallied to tie it at 97-97 on the second of back-to-back three-pointers by Marcus Thornton and made 9 of 12 free throws down the stretch to close out the win.

DeMarcus Cousins had 19 points and 9 rebounds, and Jason Thompson added 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Kings, who improved to 10-16.

February 9, 2012
Webber confused on City Council vote

The announcers doing tonight's Kings-Thunder national game on TNT - especially former Kings forward Chris Webber - seemed confused when talking during the broadcast about Tuesday's City Council vote, even though Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson explained the situation to announcer Cheryl Miller before the game at Power Balance Pavilion.

Several times during the first half, Webber made comments about the council's vote on the arena failing. In the second half, Webber said he had talked to Johnson and again attempted to clarify but he never really explained the vote accurately and what it meant.

Yes, the vote failed - but it wasn't a vote on the arena, as Webber implied. The council rejected by a 5-4 vote a request by Sandy Sheedy to put the plan to lease the city's parking to help finance the arena up for a public vote.

Here's one of The Bee's Ryan Lillis' stories that best explains the vote and what it means.

February 9, 2012
Kings vs. Thunder: In-game blog

FINAL
Kings 106, Thunder 101

Trailing by eight points midway through the fourth quarter, the Kings closed out the game with a 19-6 run to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night at Power Balance Pavilion.

Tyreke Evans finished with a team-high 22 points for the Kings, who improved to 10-16. DeMarcus Cousins had 19 points and 9 rebounds, and Jason Thompson had 11 points and 10 rebounds.

The Thunder saw their Western Conference-best record drop to 20-6. Russell Westbrook scored a game-high 33 points and Kevin Durant had 27 points and 8 rebounds.

The Kings, who shot 40 percent from the floor, forced 23 turnovers and overcame a 48-percent shooting night and 17 blocked shots by the Thunder.

THIRD QUARTER
Thunder 78, Kings 76

Russell Westbrook scored 16 points in the third quarter as the Thunder took a two-point lead going into the fourth.

Westbrook leads all scorers with 27 points and has added 5 rebounds. Kevin Durant has 17 points for the Thunder.

Tyreke Evans has a team-high 16 points for the Kings, who have also received 14 points and 6 rebounds from DeMarcus Cousins, and 8 points and 9 rebounds from Jason Thompson.

Oklahoma City did an excellent job of challenging the Kings' shots after halftime. The Thunder has 14 blocks, including 9 by forward Serge Ibaka.

That has knocked down the Kings' shooting percentage, though they are still shooting above 40 percent from the floor.

February 9, 2012
Kings vs. Thunder: Five things to watch

The Kings have the opportunity to make an impression on a national audience tonight when they play the Oklahoma City Thunder at Power Balance Pavilion. The game will be shown nationally on TNT, and the Thunder has the best record in the Western Conference.

Here are a few things to keep an eye on during the game:

1. The Kings' defense, playing better, will have its hands full. The Kings have been markedly improved on defense in their last six games, allowing an opponent to score 100 or more points just once, and that in an overtime win over the Golden State Warriors. The Thunder, one of the NBA's highest-scoring teams, will test them. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook make up one of the league's most formidable scoring duos, with sixth man James Harden averaging 16.8 points off the bench.

2. Durant likes playing in Sacramento. In five games played at Power Balance Pavilion (or then-Arco Arena) in the past three seasons, Durant has averaged 32.8 points per game. The NBA's leading scorer the past two seasons is coming off of back-to-back 33-point games, including the Thunder's shootout win over the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night. Durant hit the eventual game-winning jumper in that game with about 15 seconds left and then blocked a potential tying shot as time expired.

February 9, 2012
Cousins on being a 'Rising Star,' plus Smart on 'Linsanity'

Kings center DeMarcus Cousins said today he is "excited" about being one of the 18 players selected to play in the Feb. 24 Rising Stars Challenge during NBA All-Star Weekend.

"It's going to be a fun event, there's going to be a lot of people there," Cousins said. "Playing with the other 'Rising Stars,' it'll be a lot of fun."

Cousins, who is averaging 15.3 points and 11.5 rebounds this season, played in last year's Rookie-Sophomore game and finished second behind Wizards guard John Wall for MVP honors.

* Head coach Keith Smart said he would start tonight's game with Cousins, the Kings' 6-foot-11 center, guarding Kevin Durant, the Thunder's lanky small forward and explosive scorer -- then quickly explained he was kidding.

February 8, 2012
Smart happy improving Cousins is among NBA's Rising Stars

Kings coach Keith Smart couldn't be happier for DeMarcus Cousins.

The Kings center was selected to play in the Rising Stars Challenge Feb. 24 as part of NBA All-Star Weekend.

"General managers" Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal will draft from a group of 18 players (nine rookies, nine sophomores) Feb. 16 on NBA TV to comprise Team Shaq and Team Chuck.

February 8, 2012
The Morning After: Jimmer uses defense to spark offense

MINNEAPOLIS - When Jimmer Fredette gets into a rhythm on offense, it's fun to watch.

But what also stood out besides Fredette's fourth-quarter scoring (13 points) was his defensive activity in the Kings' 86-84 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves Tuesday night at Target Center.

Fredette had two steals that led to baskets in the fourth quarter.

February 7, 2012
Video: Keith Smart postgame

I missed the first few seconds, but here you go:

February 7, 2012
In-game blog: Kings at Timberwolves

FINAL
Timberwolves 86, Kings 84

MINNEAPOLIS - Donte' Greene missed a three pointer at the buzzer and the Kings' winning streak ended at three games.

The Kings rally in the fourth was led by Jimmer Fredette, who scored 13 of the first 15 points for the Kings in the quarter.

Greene tied the game at 82 with at three pointer with 1:09 left in the game only to have Minnesota rookie Derrick Williams make a three with 56.8 seconds to play.

Nikola Pekovic led Minnesota (13-12) with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Marcus Thornton led the Kings (9-15) with 22 points.


THIRD QUARTER
Timberwolves 69, Kings 60

MINNEAPOLIS - The Timberwolves used an 8-1 run to close the quarter after the Kings had cut a lead that was 15 down to two.

Marcus Thornton scored 10 of his 21 points in the third but there hasn't been much else in terms of offense from the Kings. Tyreke Evans has 11 points, but the Kings also have 15 turnovers and are shooting 38.1 percent.

Nikola Pekovic has 23 points, eight rebounds and three steals for the Timberwolves. Ricky Rubio is up to 13 assists.

February 7, 2012
Kings at Timberwolves: Five things to watch

MINNEAPOLIS - The Kings go for their fourth win in a row tonight, which would be their longest winning streak of the season.

Here are five things to monitor when the Kings play the Minnesota Timberwolves"

1. Keep it 100
The Kings are 4-0 when scoring 100 points or more. When the Kings score like that, it usually means DeMarcus Cousins, Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton are all having good games.

2. Consistency to start
The starting lineup of Cousins, Evans, Thornton, John Salmons and Jason Thompson is 5-0.

3. Road cushion
The Kings were resilient in rallying Monday night against the New Orleans Hornets. But even without suspended star Kevin Love, the Timberwolves are better than the Hornets. So falling behind wouldn't be a good idea.

4. Run, Ricky, Run
The Kings are in the second of back-to-back games. The Kings are 3-4 in the second of back-to-backs, but expect Minnesota to test the Kings' legs led by guard Ricky Rubio pushing the pace.

5. Isaiah, Chuck and....?
Who else will step up from the bench tonight? Isaiah Thomas and Chuck Hayes have become reliable reserves but the rest of the bench needs to play better.

February 7, 2012
The Morning After: Smart's plan for the bench

NEW ORLEANS - Having figured out his starting lineup, Keith Smart wants to solidify his bench rotation.

"I want to be consistent with the bench guys and establish a rotation there and at one point have all five bench guys in the game and they are doing a great job," Smart said. "I've set aside several plays that they will only run that I though would fit them and keep the floor balanced."

Isaiah Thomas has been the most reliable bench player, sparking the Kings to comeback wins. Chuck Hayes is still the "arm and hammer" man as Smart calls him - a glue guy

The next step is figuring out how to best use the rest of the reserves.

Jimmer Fredette could play a big role in the improvement in the bench.

"I think (Fredette) can be a catalyst in that next group to where he can be one of the focal points in that second unit to where he's not locked in with other guys who are going to be mainstays when he's on the floor with the rest of the starting lineup," Smart said. "Him playing in that role will probably help him so when he does come in and play with some of the starters down the road. That's the plan, that's the vision."

Smart, however, isn't promising anyone playing time even if his vision is for the bench to thrive.

"That's what I want but they've got to produce," Smart said. "Because if not they'll sit over there and we'll watch the game all together from the sidelines."

February 7, 2012
It's about Sacramento, not Seattle


There will be plenty on this issue in the upcoming weeks, but since the Sacramento arena issue has been part of the arena discussion these past few days in Seattle, here is the latest from the Northern California end: David Stern absolutely wants another franchise in Seattle - the Sonics' departure four years ago remains a sore spot within his administration - but he doesn't want it to be the Kings, which would tarnish his legacy after a brutal offseason, protracted labor dispute and his personal attempts to solidify the Kings future here these last several years.

Also, the last thing Stern (and his fellow owners) wants is the relocation of another team with a history of stability and success - albeit, of late, addled by some serious mismanagement. Thus, he continues to work behind the scenes with Mayor Kevin Johnson on the financing of a new sports and entertainment complex in the downtown Railyards. Assuming the community and Sacramento politcal/business leaders continue making progress toward the financing of a new facility, I keep hearing Stern will remain committed to Sacramento. Given the stunning last-minute reprieve when the Kings appeared head to Anaheim last April, nothing would surprise me. I keep hearing whispers that Stern has a dramatic play yet to come - something "up his sleeve," as they say.


By the way, the Kings are winning

A few thoughts on the Kings' impressive comeback victory Monday at New Orleans:
* DeMarcus Cousins has come up with 20 and 16 rebounds in the last two games, while playing 40 and 38 minutes, respectively. I will say it again: Contrary to what a number of national NBA writers suggested when Paul Westphal was fired, the second-year center wasn't the problem. The Kings' faster pace under coach Keith Smart has played to Cousins' strengths and improved his conditioning. Smart actually communicates with Cousins and his teammates - not a novel concept. It will be interesting to see how he responds Tuesday night in Minnesota in a back-to-back situation.

* John Salmons has been a different player under Smart. Even when he struggles with his outside shot, he is making quicker decisions, taking the shot or moving the ball, instead of overdribbling and killing the shot clock.

* Isaiah Thomas is quickly emerging as a fan favorite. On a team known for its sluggish, one-on-one play, his energy and tempo are driving the Kings out of their dreadful offensive style.

* Ricky Rubio awaits Tuesday night in Minnesota. Even with Kevin Love unavailable because of his two-game suspension, one suspects the Timberwolves' point guard will try to run the Kings into exhaustion. I would love to see Evans defensively challenge Rubio; with his long arms, quick hands, strength and anticipation, Tyreke has the potential to be a special defender.

* For those who might have forgotten, the Kings' last four-game win streak occurred last season between March 23-March 29. Seriously, in a 24-win season, who cared?

* The Oklahoma City Thunder visit Thursday, in the Kings' only scheduled appearance on TNT. Of course, that all changes if they start winning a few games. Chris Webber will be back to provide commentary.

February 6, 2012
Video: Keith Smart postgame

Kings coach Keith Smart discusses the win over New Orleans. At the 4:20 mark Smart discusses Jimmer Fredette's role.

February 6, 2012
In-game blog: Kings at Hornets

FINAL
Kings 100, Hornets 92

NEW ORLEANS - Sparked by strong second-half play from DeMarcus Cousins and Isaiah Thomas, the Kings overcame an 18-point deficit to win 100-92.

It was the Kings (9-15) third win a row, their longest winning streak of the season.

Cousins finished with 28 points and 19 rebounds. He had 18 points and 14 rebounds in the second half.

Thomas finished with 17 points and six assists. Thomas scored 14 points and has five assists after halftime.

Greivis Vasquez led the Hornets (4-21) with 20 points and nine assists.

The Kings outscored the Hornets 31-14 in the fourth quarter.

February 6, 2012
Power rankings: The East is rising

For years the talk has been about how deep the Western Conference is and the lack of depth in the Eastern Conference.

But this season we've seen Philadelphia and Indiana make strides and possibly start to change that since Miami, Chicago, Boston, Orlando and Atlanta have remained competitive.

It's fun to debate now, but there are a lot of games to be played before we know which conference is best.

February 6, 2012
Kings at Hornets: Five things to watch

NEW ORLEANS - The Kings are looking for a three-game winning streak for the first time this season after a season-worst five-game losing streak.

Here are five things to look for as the Kings attempt to win their ninth game this season.

1. The Century Club
Can the Kings score 100-plus points in consecutive games for the first time this season? The Kings have topped 100 points only three times this season.

2. Inside advantage
DeMarcus Cousins and Jason Thompson have played well together. If they can come close to matching their rebound total from last Saturday (36 combined) the Kings will be in good position to win.

3. Backcourt scoring
The Kings are 3-0 when Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton each score 20 points. Surely Thornton will be motivated playing against the team that traded him last season.

4. Bench points
The Kings need to get some scoring from the reserves. Outside of Isaiah Thomas, scoring from the bench hasn't been reliable lately.

5. Steady Salmons
John Salmons is coming off two solid games. If he keeps this up, expect the rotation to stay tight, which could mean Jimmer Fredette might not play again.


February 5, 2012
Smart: Kings show they can 'run late'

Marcus Thornton said he "wasn't tired at all" while logging nearly 47 minutes in the Kings' win over the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night.

Neither did forward Jason Thompson, who played more than 40 minutes, exhibit any overt signs of fatigue.

As the Kings closed out their 114-106 win over the Warriors, it was their five starters on the floor for the entire overtime period. All five played the entire third quarter and at least 40 minutes, led by Tyreke Evans, who played 48 minutes and 23 seconds of a fast-paced game.

February 5, 2012
The Morning After: Thompson stars as a starter

If anything positive came out of Chuck Hayes' injury last month, it was Jason Thompson finding his game and re-establishing himself as a contributor with the Kings.

"I'm loving this guy with how he's playing, under control, staying within his strength, and doing a great job on the low post," Smart said. "When we need a bucket, he comes through, not with his right hand, but his left hand. He's working on that in practice, and it's paying off for him."

Thompson's role was uncertain before the season. Hayes was starting and J.J. Hickson was the first big man off the bench.

Thompson began to show signs of being a consistent contributor after Hayes' injury and worked his way into the starting lineup. In his first eight starts Thompson averaged 10.4 points and 8.2 rebounds.

Thompson had 15 points and 16 rebounds in Saturday's 114-106 overtime win over the Golden State Warriors at Power Balance Pavilion.

"J.T. did an incredible job (Saturday) on both ends of the floor," said DeMarcus Cousins after the game. "I know I had a career stat (20 rebounds) but J.T. did a lot tonight. It was just a great feeling; everybody stepped up tonight."

February 5, 2012
Kings finally break the century mark, and other notes

Guard Marcus Thornton talks to reporters following the Kings' 114-106 win over the Golden State Warriors in overtime at Power Balance Pavilion.

It had been a long time since the Kings scored 100 points in a game and, apparently, that was hovering in the back of head coach Keith Smart's mind.

Before the Kings beat the Golden State Warriors, 114-106, on Saturday night, they set a new Sacramento-era record by going 14 consecutive games without scoring 100 points.

The Kings hadn't broken the century mark since beating the Milwaukee Bucks on Jan. 5, 103-100. That was the day Smart took over as head coach, saying he wanted the Kings to adopt a running style, the likes of which usually makes for higher-scoring games.

"I've been trying to get us to get to 100 points for the longest time," said Smart, under whom the Warriors averaged 103.4 points per game last season.

February 4, 2012
Kings beat Warriors in overtime, 114-106

Head coach Keith Smart addresses the media following the Kings' 114-106 win over the Warriors at Power Balance Pavilion.

Marcus Thornton scored a game-high 28 points for the Kings, DeMarcus Cousins had 21 points and a career-high 20 rebounds and the Kings bounced back in overtime after stumbling in the fourth quarter to beat the Golden State Warriors, 114-106, at Power Balance Pavilion.

The Kings started the overtime period on a 9-0 run, and Tyreke Evans' three-pointer with 50.6 seconds left iced the win as the Kings improved to 8-15.

Evans finished with 26 points and nine assists, and Jason Thompson added 15 points and 16 rebounds. Cousins and Thompson combined to equal the Warriors' rebounding total as the Kings dominated the glass, out-rebounding the Warriors, 55-36.

February 4, 2012
Kings vs. Warriors: Whiteside back with team

As the Kings announced Friday, center Hassan Whiteside is back with the team tonight for their 7 p.m. game against the Golden State Warriors at Power Balance Pavilion.

Head coach Keith Smart said the Kings decided to recall Whiteside from the Reno Bighorns of the Development League "because he needs to start seeing some of the things we're doing, going through some of the plays, going through some of the offensive and defensive things."

February 4, 2012
Chat live with Matt Kawahara: Kings vs. Warriors

February 4, 2012
Kings vs. Warriors: Five things to watch

These teams met just five days ago in Oakland, with the Warriors' bench leading them to a 93-90 win. They play again tonight at 7 p.m. at Power Balance Pavilion. Here are a few things to keep an eye on during the game:

1. Keith Smart feels the Kings are making strides on defense. The Kings' head coach said the team finally had "everybody on one page" defensively Thursday night against the Trail Blazers. Players were talking to each other on the court and anticipating where they needed to move in coverage.

Right now the Kings, who are still allowing an NBA-worst 101.4 points per game, need their defense to be stout. They've gone 14 consecutive games without scoring 100 points themselves.

February 3, 2012
Video: Keith Smart and Isaiah Thomas

Head coach Keith Smart talks about gauging the growth of his team and how he deploys his rookies following the Kings' practice Friday.

Kings guard Isaiah Thomas discusses trying to be a vocal presence as a rookie and his role on defense.

February 3, 2012
Kings recall Whiteside from D-League

The Kings announced today they have recalled center Hassan Whiteside from the Reno Bighorns of the Development League.

Whiteside will be with the Kings in Sacramento for Saturday's 7 p.m. game against the Golden State Warriors.

Since being assigned to the Bighorns on Jan. 1, Whiteside has played in 11 games and averaged 7.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and three blocks in 18.9 minutes. Whiteside has yet to appear in a game for the Kings this season.

February 3, 2012
Friday practice: Different film strategies

At the end of practice today, the Kings gathered around a TV set up alongside one of their practice facility courts and had a brief film session.

It's part of the strategy of head coach Keith Smart -- a big believer in using film to reinforce his critiques and teachings to players -- to combat the dangers of having an early film session in the usual dark room.

"Players sometimes come over in the morning, they just got up, you put them in a dark room and they're half asleep, and then you've got to come on the floor," Smart said.

February 3, 2012
Thomas' confidence makes an impression

Guard Isaiah Thomas addresses the media following the Kings' 95-92 win over the Trail Blazers.

Keith Smart is confident in Isaiah Thomas' confidence.

It's one big reason why Smart said he feels comfortable having the rookie guard on the floor. Thomas played a little over 17 minutes in the Kings' 95-92 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night.

With Marcus Thornton returning to the starting lineup, Smart used a rotation of three guards against the Trail Blazers, with Thomas the lone guard coming off the bench.

February 3, 2012
The Morning After: Salmons breaks out on offense

John Salmons played his best all-around game of the season for the Kings Thursday night.

Salmons had season highs in points (19) and rebounds (eight) in the Kings 95-92 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

It was just the sixth time this season Salmons scored in double figures.

It's been a rough season offensively for Salmons as he's averaging just 7.6 points while a career-worst rate of 37.1 percent.

Kings coach Keith Smart has never wavered in supporting Salmons. Here's what Smart said about Salmons Thursday night:

February 3, 2012
About the Kings' little guy ... and that block

Kings rookie Isaiah Thomas is listed at 5-foot-9. Talk about a stretch. I'm 5-foot-6, and when I talk to Thomas, we're eye to eye. All of which makes his late-game block against Portland's Wesley Matthews - listed at 6-foot-5 - all the more impressive. Matthews, who was preparing to score on an assist from Gerald Wallace on the break, was surprised by the Thomas, who chased him down, elevevated, and with his left arm extended, swatted the ball away.

A few other post-game thoughts:

• This was easily John Salmons' best game of the season. And while Salmons has struggled - even defensively - the one thing he isn't doing is over-dribbling.

• The Kings won this game with their defense. Their decision-making was terrible for much of the fourth quarter.

• DeMarcus Cousins only played 14 minutes after getting in early foul trouble, but while Keith Smart said he went with the "rhythm of the game" - and there is a lot to be said for that - the second-year center was pretty effective during his brief appearance with eight points, six rebounds and two assists. I just think Cousins needs to be on the floor.

February 3, 2012
Kings see weathering early Portland run as sign of "growth"

Guard Marcus Thornton talks to reporters following the Kings' 95-92 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night.

When the Kings and Trail Blazers played in Portland on Jan. 23, the Kings trailed by a score of 33-31 halfway through the second quarter. The Trail Blazers then scored 11 consecutive points, encountered little resistance and stretched the lead to 20 before halftime.

Thursday night, the Kings trailed Portland 32-30 early in the second quarter. The Trail Blazers then scored 11 consecutive points -- and the Kings responded immediately, putting together an 8-0 run of their own to keep the game from getting out of hand.

At times this season the Kings have seen a stretch of several bad minutes take on a kind of snowball effect. As forward-center Chuck Hayes said Thursday night, "Once teams usually get going on us, when it rains it pours."

February 2, 2012
Kings hang on to beat Trail Blazers, 95-92

Head coach Keith Smart addresses the media after the game.

Marcus Thornton scored a team-high 20 points in his first game back after missing four games with a thigh injury, John Salmons added 19 points and the Kings erased an early 13-point deficit to beat the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night, 95-92.

Tyreke Evans added 18 points and Jason Thompson had 13 points and 12 rebounds as the Kings snapped a five-game losing streak and beat the Trail Blazers for the first time in their third meeting this season.

The Trail Blazers had two chances to tie the game as the clock wound down after Gerald Wallace stole the ball from Thornton with under 10 seconds left. But Raymond Felton and Jamal Crawford's three-point attempts both clanked off the iron, and the announced crowd of 11,740 at Power Balance Pavilion breathed a collective sigh of relief.

February 2, 2012
Chat live with Matt Kawahara: Kings vs. Trail Blazers

February 2, 2012
Kings vs. Trail Blazers: Thornton available

The Kings will have Marcus Thornton back tonight against the Portland Trail Blazers, though head coach Keith Smart said he doesn't know how much Thornton will play.

"It'll be good to see where he's at," Smart said. "He hasn't had a chance to play five-on-five, conditioning up and down the floor with the team, but he's had a chance to be on the floor, play some four-on-four."

Smart did not say whether Thornton will start.

February 2, 2012
Kings vs. Trail Blazers: Five things to watch

The Kings (6-15) and Trail Blazers (13-9) must be getting downright familiar with each other. They play tonight for the third time in the Kings' first 22 games.

Here are a few things to keep an eye on when the game tips off at 7 p.m. at Power Balance Pavilion, with the Kings looking to avoid their sixth consecutive loss:

1. Will Marcus Thornton return to the lineup? The Kings' guard, who has missed the last four games with a significant hematoma in his left thigh, said he hopes to play tonight -- with the approval of team doctors. Thornton is averaging 16.4 points a game. More than that, head coach Keith Smart said yesterday, the Kings have missed his veteran-type presence and "savvy" on the court, and his ability to be a creative and explosive scorer. If Thornton does play tonight, it will be interesting to see how many minutes he logs and how quickly he can shake off the rust, having not appeared in a game since Jan. 21.

2. The Kings haven't been able to contain Gerald Wallace. Wallace, the Trail Blazers forward, has had his way around the basket in the teams' first two meetings. Wallace was 17-for-23 (74 percent) from the field in those two games, averaging 22.5 points and 8 rebounds. Much of the responsibility for slowing Wallace down tonight will probably fall to Kings forward John Salmons.

February 2, 2012
Tip Sheet: Kings host Trail Blazers for third meeting

HA_kings_magic0003.JPG

PHOTO CREDIT: Forward Donte Greene looks at a screen before the team's game against the Orlando Magic on January 8, 2012 at Power Balance Pavilion. Hector Amezcua. Sacramento Bee.


We're here to feed your need for Sacramento Kings news. Each day, we'll highlight news, features and analysis from around the Web.

February 1, 2012
Video: John Salmons and Tyreke Evans

Kings forward John Salmons talks about where the Kings must improve from their first two losses to the Portland Trail Blazers and other topics following Wednesday's practice.

Guard Tyreke Evans discusses taking on a leadership role.

February 1, 2012
Smart: Physical Trail Blazers a 'great test' for Kings

Kings head coach Keith Smart addresses the media following Wednesday's practice.

The Kings play the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday for already the third time this season, having lost their first two meetings by double-digit margins.

This time, forward John Salmons said, when push comes to shove, the Kings need to do both.

"We've got to match their physical presence," Salmons said. "The first two games they were very physical with us, so we have to match that play."

February 1, 2012
Thornton hopes to play Thursday against Trail Blazers

Guard Marcus Thornton (left thigh hematoma) said he wants to play Thursday against the Portland Trail Blazers, but that the decision will be up to team doctors.

Thornton has missed the Kings' last four games. The team announced on Jan. 25 that tests had revealed a significant hematoma in his left thigh, and that Thornton would miss one to two weeks.

Thornton participated full-contact during the window of today's practice that was open to media -- a high-energy half-court scrimmage -- and appeared to be moving without much hesitation. Afterward, he said he "felt good out there for the most part."

February 1, 2012
Tip Sheet: Season-high 21 turnovers prove costly in Oakland

Tyreke Evans Warriors.JPG

PHOTO CREDIT: Sacramento Kings' Tyreke Evans falls to the floor in pain during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday in Oakland, Calif. Ben Margot, Associated Press.


We're here to feed your need for Sacramento Kings news. Each day, we'll highlight news, features and analysis from around the Web.

February 1, 2012
The Morning After: Thomas thriving late in games

OAKLAND - Isaiah Thomas is becoming the Kings go-to guy in the fourth quarter.

Thomas has 24 points in his last two games. All of his points have come in the fourth quarter and nearly led to wins for the Kings.

Thomas ran the offense in the Kings win at Toronto on Jan. 11 and played a big role in the Kings' comeback against Indiana on Jan. 18

Thomas has looked like one of the Kings better decision makers late in games, knowing when to look for his shot and when to set up others.

"I'm building confidence each and every game," Thomas said. "Whatever it is the team needs me to do - make shots, make plays for others, that's what I'm going to try and do. That's what I've been doing and I've been shooting the ball pretty well the last couple of games, but we still haven't won. I'm a winner and I don't like anything about losing."


February 1, 2012
Evans and Cousins ... start there

OAKLAND - Ok, this was a strange one: the Kings dominated most of the statistical categories tonight in their loss to the Golden State Warriors, except one: turnovers (21 to 8). That will definitely get you beat.

Here are a few other late-night thoughts:

• Despite the disappointing record, the Kings have two easily identifiable pieces around whom to build - Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins. You can't say the same when you look at the Warriors. They have to be worried about Stephen Curry's recurring ankle problems; he just isn't right. Monta Ellis is an undersized shooting guard, and he wasn't thrilled about being on the bench during the Warriors comeback. David Lee? Very productive, but do you want that contract?

• Evans remains an immense talent, an intense competitor, and someone who is truly receptive to coaching and direction. Is he a point guard? Absolutely not. But he is a unique and powerful player, at times a dominating player, and he clearly is responding to Smart's insistence that he pass ahead, play faster, move without the ball, and cease with the one-on-one dribbling displays. And, yes, I continue to believe he can (and should) be a lockdown defender.

• Cousins is maturing almost by the minute. He played 36 minutes, scored 21 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, and engaged in a calm, thoughtful conversation with the refs after he was called for a turnover on the baseline. His conditioning continues to improve, which is a crucial factor as he moves along in his career. Additionally, while he scored on some patient, crafty moves down low, we are seeing him positioned more often at the elbows, where he can face the basket, square up for his feathery jumper or make a one or two-step dribble to the rim.

• Geoff Petrie's immediate challenge: Finding players with complementary skill sets to Evans and Cousins. He still needs a floor leader and that small forward who can hit the deep jumper (a la Brandon Rush of the Warriors) and open the inside for Cousins. The lack of dynamic on-court leadership was apparent once again during this latest meltdown.

• Jason Thompson quietly is re-emerging as a factor, doing what he should be doing: rebounding, running the floor, providing energy, understanding his role.

• Jimmer Fredette is suffering from the rookie blues. He is passing up open shots, trying to penetrate against multiple defenders, and making the game much too hard. He is probably the Kings' best outside shooter. Take the open shot to stretch the floor, and when you aren't open, move without the ball. Of course, he would benefit immensely from the presence of a few more ball movers. Bad habits are contagious. Hope he doesn't go there.

• The diminutive Isaiah Thomas has the potential to be a more consistent version of Nate Robinson.

• How about guarding the corner three's? Rush converted four of his five attempts. That's what he does.



Kings Bloggers

Tag Cloud

Categories


November 2013

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Monthly Archives