Kings Blog and Q&A

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

April 27, 2012
Kings win tiebreaker, slotted fifth for draft lottery

The Kings won a tiebreaker with the New Jersey Nets and will be slotted fifth for next month's NBA Draft Lottery to be held May 30.

Both teams finished with 22-44 records. The Nets beat the Kings in Sacramento, 111-99, March 31.

The Kings have a 7.6 percent chance of winning the first pick in the draft. The Nets have a 7.5 percent chance of landing the top pick.

The lowest the Kings would end selecting after the lottery is eighth.

The Charlotte Bobcats (7-59) have a 25 percent chance of picking first.

The Kings will have the fifth or sixth pick in the second round, based on lottery results. If New Jersey picks ahead of the Kings in the first round, the Kings would pick fifth in the second round.

TEAM RECORD LOTTERY CHANCES (out of 1,000)

Charlotte 7-59 250
Washington 20-46 199
Cleveland 21-45 138
New Orleans 21-45 137
Sacramento 22-44 76
New Jersey* 22-44 75
Golden State# 23-43 36
Toronto 23-43 35
Detroit 25-41 17
Minnesota (To New Orleans via LA Clippers) 26-40 11
Portland 28-38 8
Milwaukee 31-35 7
Phoenix 33-33 6
Houston 34-32 5

* This pick may be conveyed to Portland.
# This pick may be conveyed to Utah via New Jersey.


April 27, 2012
The Morning After: More veterans would help the Kings

The Los Angeles Lakers obviously had bigger concerns than beating the Kings. They're preparing for where the Kings would like to be - the playoffs.

Lakers coach Mike Brown said this of the Kings:

"They (Sacramento) have a nice young team and maybe if they get a savvy veteran or two, we will be talking about them in the playoffs as well."

The Kings need more mature players to aid the rebuilding process and teach young players how to conduct themselves on and off the court.

April 27, 2012
Kings' Cousins, Evans differ on Team USA

After the Kings regular season finale a few hours ago, DeMarcus Cousins was asked about an ESPN.com report indicating that team officials are lobbying for his participation at Team USA's pre-Olympic training camp July 1-7 in Las Vegas. USA czar Jerry Colangelo has said players for the 2012 London Olympics squad will be picked from among the 16 NBA stars who are still healthy, willing and available, and were named to the preliminary squad in January.

Cousins, in a typically candid postgame conversation, said he hoped to be invited to Las Vegas, and if so, expected to make the final roster. LIke, um, the 2012 Olympic roster. "I mean, who wouldn't want to play for Team USA?" he said. "Go over there and represent your country. I would love to do it."

April 27, 2012
Video: Cousins, Thomas, Fredette post-game

Several Kings players address the media following the Kings' 113-96 win over the Lakers in their season finale at Power Balance Pavilion.

DeMarcus Cousins

Isaiah Thomas

Jimmer Fredette

April 26, 2012
In-game blog: Kings vs. Lakers

Head coach Keith Smart addresses the media following the Kings' 113-96 win over the Los Angeles Lakers at Power Balance Pavilion.

FINAL
Kings 113, Lakers 96

The Kings finished their season Thursday night by defeating a Lakers team that was resting its key players in preparation for a playoff run.

That's a position the Kings want to be in next year, which would be significant progress for a team that finished this lockout-shortened season 22-44.

After Thursday's season finale, head coach Keith Smart presented each player with a copy of a book titled "Talent Is Never Enough."

"There were several games this year where we were probably a little more talented than the team we played based on them having some players out with injuries, and we didn't close the deal," Smart said. "We didn't win those games. Hopefully next year we can win those basketball games.

"All the things we did this year were really building up toward summer preparation and then next year, to get us off to a great start. But it's going to require them being committed to it. And it's going to require myself and my staff and everyone else to be committed to them following through with the plan."

The plan for Thursday night's season finale against the shorthanded Lakers, said the Kings' Tyreke Evans, was "to play hard, get the win and let's get out of here."

They did so, jumping out to an 11-point lead after one quarter in a game that was never really close afterward. The Kings led by as many as 24 points.

DeMarcus Cousins finished with 23 points and 19 rebounds. Evans added 21 points and Jason Thompson had a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

The Kings scored 24 points off of 15 Lakers turnovers, and outscored the Lakers on the fast-break, 25-5.

Josh McRoberts had a team-high 16 points for Los Angeles. Ramon Sessions and Devin Ebanks each added 14 points.

The Kings won two of their final three games to finish one game ahead of the last-place New Orleans Hornets in the Western Conference.

"We just didn't get off to a great start, and that's what hurts you, especially in shortened seasons," said guard Jimmer Fredette. "I felt like we're continuing to get better, getting to know each other more as a group. But it's all about this offseason now, and working as hard as we can to get back and be better next year."

April 26, 2012
Chat live for the Kings-Lakers season finale

April 26, 2012
Kings vs. Lakers: Five things to watch

The Kings' season comes to an end tonight in the same building and against the same opponent it started with back on December 26.

The Lakers are heading to the playoffs as the third seed in the Western Conference, while the Kings are finishing their sixth consecutive losing season.

It was announced earlier today that Kobe Bryant will not play tonight, which saps tonight's game of some of its drama. Bryant would have needed 38 points to pass the Thunder's Kevin Durant for the league scoring title.

Instead, the Kings will reportedly face a Lakers team that will rest Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum for the playoffs, and that is already without Metta World Peace, who is serving a seven-game suspension for his elbow to the head of James Harden.

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

April 26, 2012
Kobe won't play vs. Kings tonight

If you were hoping to see Kobe Bryant put up 38 or more points tonight to take the NBA scoring title from the Thunders' Kevin Durant, you're out of luck.

The Lakers have announced that Bryant will sit out tonight's game against the Kings to rest up for the opening round of the playoffs. Thus, Durant wins the scoring title with a 28-point average. Bryant finished the season with a 27.9 average.

The Lakers, third seed in the Western Conference, open the playoffs at home on Sunday. Their opponent will be determined by Thursday night's games.

April 26, 2012
Smart on Bryant, Thornton's status for finale

Without much at stake for either team in tonight's regular-season finale between the Kings and Lakers, media attention has focused on the race between Kobe Bryant and the Thunder's Kevin Durant for the league's scoring title.

Bryant can wrest the title from Durant if he scores 38 points tonight.

That was Bryant's exact total last time the Kings and Lakers played in Los Angeles on March 2, a 115-107 win for the Lakers. The teams have split their first two games this season, with the Kings winning at home on Dec. 26. Bryant had 29 points in the first game.

"He's going to try to get 38 any night, it's not just tonight," said Kings head coach Keith Smart.

April 25, 2012
The Morning After: Kings hope to not wait for technical decision again

OKLAHOMA CITY - DeMarcus Cousins took his pregame nap without official word as to whether his 13th technical foul would be rescinded.

When Cousins woke up about three hours before tip off, he had a text message letting him know he was cleared to play against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Without the technical being overturned Cousins would have been suspended.

"I was never really concerned about it," Cousins said. "I felt I was playing the whole time."

It worked out for the Kings Tuesday, but they'd prefer if going forward that Cousins not need the league to step in to prevent a suspension.

"You get one that doesn't mean a whole in February or December but then you start accumulating those things," said coach Keith Smart. "Hopefully he's growing to understand how important he is to our team - because you still have got to play this game with emotion. If you're worried about what could possibly happen (with technicals) you've got to have that cushion. So hopefully this is a learning stage for him and he grows out of this."

Road woes

The Kings' traveling days are over for the season.

The Kings will finish with a 6-27 road record in 2011-12. That is the second-worst road record in the NBA.

Only the Charlotte Bobcats will finish with a worse road record. The Bobcats are 3-29 on the road.

It's no shock the Kings would be so bad on the road this season. Winning on the road requires poise, discipline and crisp execution.

Those are areas the Kings have struggled with all season.

And they did again in the fourth quarter against the Oklahoma City Thunder's backups in a 118-110 loss Tuesday.

Familiar problems (poor ball and player movement, bad shot selection, defensive breakdowns) became issues again.

The fourth quarter became a 12-minute reminder the Kings still have a ways to go to become a contender to make the playoffs.

And the Kings will continue to be a bad team (especially on the road) until they consistently fix those issues.

"People have got to learn their roles and that's our biggest issue," Cousins said. "People don't know their roles on this team."


April 24, 2012
In-game blog: Kings at Thunder

FINAL
Thunder 118, Kings 110

OKLAHOMA CITY - Daequan Cook scored 19 points in the fourth quarter as the Thunder's reserves led a comeback win for Oklahoma City (47-18).

The Thunder didn't play its starters the entire fourth quarter but had enough to beat the Kings (21-44), who couldn't slow down Cook or Derek Fisher late in the game.

DeMarcus Cousins led the Kings with 32 points. Jason Thompson had a season-high 22 points. Travis Outlaw also had a season high with 20 points.

The Kings (21-44) lost even though they shot 52.4 percent and had 60 points in the paint.

The difference was free throws. The Thunder made 33-of-36 while the Kings were 20-of-27.

Kevin Durant led the Thunder with 32 points and nine rebounds in 32 minutes.

THIRD QUARTER
Kings 86, Thunder 82

OKLAHOMA CITY - The Thunder stuck with their starters most of the third quarter but the Kings have maintained the lead behind DeMarcus Cousins, who leads Sacramento with 24 points.
Four of five starters for the Kings have scored in double figures. The fifth, Isaiah Thomas, has nine points.

Travis Outlaw has a season-high 18 points for the Kings.

Kevin Durant leads all scorers with 32 points, a total that should increase is slight lead over Kobe Bryant for the league scoring title.

Durant also has a game-high nine rebounds.

HALFTIME
Kings 59, Thunder 57

OKLAHOMA CITY - Neither team could keep up the hot shooting of the first quarter. After shooting 81.1 percent to open the game, the Kings are down to 58.1 percent.

The Thunder are at 46.3 percent after shooting 61.1 percent in the first quarter.

The Kings led by as many as 13 points but turnovers (six in the quarter) helped Oklahoma City get back in the game.

DeMarcus Cousins has 16 points to lead the Kings. Travis Outlaw and Jason Thompson each have 13 points for the Kings.

Kevin Durant has 20 points to lead the Thunder. Russell Westbrook has 11 points on 3-of-11 shooting and three assists.

FIRST QUARTER
Kings 40, Thunder 35

OKLAHOMA CITY - The Kings haven't looked this good on offense all season, or perhaps Oklahoma hasn't been this bad.

Either way, the Kings will take it.

Sacramento had its highest-scoring first quarter of the season after shooting 18-for-22 (81.1 percent). Travis Outlaw led the Kings with 10 points and four rebounds.

DeMarcus Cousins has nine points. Jason Thompson and Tyreke Evans each have eight points. Isaiah Thomas has five points and five assists.

The Kings had 12 fast-break points, nine assists and only one turnover.

The Thunder shot 61.1 percent. Kevin Durant, who is trying to win his third scoring title, has 16 points for the Thunder.

He's not expected to play a lot with the Thunder having already secured the second seed in the Western Conference.

April 24, 2012
Kings at Thunder: Five things to watch

OKLAHOMA CITY - The Kings have DeMarcus Cousins, but are still not 100 percent. Here are five to things to keep in mind because of that.

1. Guards wanted - Marcus Thornton (left quad contusion) and Terrence Williams (illness) will not play tonight. That means the Kings will be without their leading scorer for a third consecutive game (Thornton). No Williams means the Kings are without the player who might be their best passer.
2. Protect the ball -When the Kings get the ball to Cousins or Jason Thompson, they have to make sure Serge Ibaka doesn't have his way swatting the ball. Ibaka has 25 blocked shots in three games against the Kings.
3. Second unit facilitator - No Williams means Jimmer Fredette will have to handle the ball more with the second unit. He has to handle pressure well and not commit turnovers.
4. Aggressive Evans - After making 10-of-11 shots at Charlotte, Evans has to be in attack mode again.
5. Play all 48 - The Thunder won't have James Harden and won't play their stars major minutes now that they've clinched the No. 2 seed. If the Kings play hard, this game is winnable.

April 24, 2012
Cousins cleared to play tonight

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Kings center DeMarcus Cousins had his 13th technical foul of the season rescinded by the NBA and will play tonight at Oklahoma City.

Cousins was assessed a technical foul in the second quarter of Sunday's win at Charlotte. If it had not been rescinded he would have missed tonight's game due to an automatic suspension for reaching the limit on techs this season.

It was the first time Cousins had a technical foul rescinded this season.

April 24, 2012
Still no decision on Cousins' appeal

OKLAHOMA CITY - The Kings have not been told by the NBA if center DeMarcus Cousins will be available for tonight's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Cousins was called for his 13th technical foul of the season in Sunday's win at Charlotte. That is an automatic suspension, per league rules in the 66-game season.

The Kings appealed to have the technical foul rescinded.

April 23, 2012
The Morning After: Technical fouls catch up to Cousins

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - How did DeMarcus Cousins sum up his 13th technical foul of the season?

"I don't know, man," he said. "It's part of being DeMarcus Cousins."

It appeared officials were giving Cousins some leeway with his technicals since he picked up his 12th March 30 at Utah.

April 22, 2012
In-game blog: Kings at Bobcats

FINAL
Kings 114, Bobcats 88

CHARLOTTE - The Kings made sure they would not be the team the Charlotte Bobcats ended their losing streak against by dominating the game from the start.

The Kings (21-43) never trailed Sunday night, jumping on the home team early and never being challenged most of the game.

It was the Kings' largest margin of victory this season and the first time the Kings have led a game from start to finish.

The Kings had lost four consecutive games on the road six in a row to the Bobcats.

The Bobcats (7-56) have now lost 20 in a row.

DeMarcus Cousins finished with a game-high 29 points. He also had 10 rebounds. Tyreke Evans was 10-for-11 shooting for 22 points.

Jason Thompson added 14 points, 11 rebounds and a career-high seven assists. Thompson also had a career-high five steals.

Derrick Brown, Byron Mullens and Kemba Walker each had 13 points for Charlotte. Walker also matched his career high with 11 assists.

April 22, 2012
Kings at Bobcats: Five things to watch

CHARLOTTE - The Kings are the second-worst road team in the NBA at 5-26. But even they have enough to beat the worst team in the NBA, right?

It would be a mistake to assume that. The Kings figured to walk over a depleted Golden State Warriors team on the day they traded Monta Ellis and instead were beaten soundly.

Here are five things to watch if the Kings are to win on the road tonight.

1. Turnovers - The Kings had only 12 in their last game, but they led to 20 points for Oklahoma City in last Friday's loss.
2. Finish at the rim - The Kings struggle to finish around the basket. Bobcats rookie Bismack Biyombo averages 1.8 blocked shots in 22.6 minutes per game. He could be a problem for the Kings.
3. Defense - The Bobcats and Kings are two of the worst defensive teams in the NBA. If the Kings find the resolve to defend, they should be in position to win.
4. Perimeter scoring - Marcus Thornton (left quad contusion) is a game-time decision. If he doesn't play (which is likely) the Kings need Tyreke Evans, Jimmer Fredette and Terrence Williams to pick up the slack.
5. Cousins watch - DeMarcus Cousins has been walking a fine line when it comes to picking up his 13th technical foul, which would mean an automatic one-game suspension. If the Bobcats get physical with him, Cousins has no choice but to play through it and try not to engage the officials in heated dialogue.

April 21, 2012
The Morning After: Evans' agent visits Sacramento

Who would have guessed a tweet about a meeting during Friday night's game would lead to so many questions about Tyreke Evans.

Evans' agent, Arn Tellem, was in town Friday for a meeting with Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie and Kings management about Evans.

This wasn't a discussion about a contract extension (Evans isn't getting one yet). The Kings will let Evans play next season before deciding if they will extend him or how much to offer Evans.

April 21, 2012
Kings player rep backs Fisher in union dispute

National Basketball Players president Derek Fisher has an ally in Kings player representative Chuck Hayes as the NBPA executive committee tried to force Fisher to resign.

"I totally disagree," Hayes said. "There's not another man better for the job in the league to represent us."

The NBPA executive committee cast and 8-0 vote of confidence in Fisher, who was the face of the players during the NBA lockout, after he sought a full-scale audit of the union and its business.

Reports of a rift between Fisher and union executive director Billy Hunter surfaced during the lockout.

The executive committee consists of Washington guards Maurice Evans and Roger Mason, Boston guard Keyon Dooling, Miami forward James Jones, San Antonio forward Matt Bonner, and Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul.

Though they back Hunter, Hayes' statement shows they don't speak for all players or influential agents that question Hunter's leadership.

Fisher was accused of trying to negotiate an end to the lockout without Hunter. Others believe Hunter's guidance led to the players taking a deal that wasn't as good as it could have been for players.

How the lockout was resolved was of importance to the Kings, who would be in a favor of the system that provides revenue sharing to help them compete.

How this all ends figures to impact teams for years to come. Fisher's term is for two more years and Hunter's is through 2016.

The NBPA issued this statement Friday:

"On Wednesday, April 18th, the NBPA Executive Committee cast an 8-to-0 vote that it lost confidence in Derek Fisher's ability to act as Union President and requested Derek's resignation. The Executive Committee based its decision on numerous instances over the past six months where Fisher engaged in conduct detrimental to the union, including acting in contravention of the players' best interests during collective bargaining, declining to follow the NBPA Constitution, and failing to uphold the duties of the Union President. To avoid further damage to the NBPA and its 450 members, the Executive Board again calls for Derek's resignation.

"The NBPA performs annual financial audits and shares the results of those audits with the Executive Committee and Player Representatives at its annual meetings. The NBPA completed a financial audit in February and will share the results of the audit with the Executive Committee and Player Representatives at the union's summer meeting. Additionally, the NBPA conducted two business reviews following the negotiation of the 1999 and 2005 Collective Bargaining Agreements, and with the support of the entire Executive Committee, the union will conduct another business review in a timely manner. We hope for a swift and complete resolution to these issues."

Fisher, who now plays for Oklahoma City, issued a statement Friday:

"I along with many others are extremely disappointed with the executive committee. Their demand for my resignation and their need to protect the NBPA management and their own best interests instead of protecting the players we were elected to serve is unfortunate.

"I have tried to convey the legal and moral obligations we have as union officers. Sadly, the executive committee has now waged a personal character attack on me to divert attention from the real issue. The truth.

"So the next step is simple. All players have a voice. Any and all players may request an independent review of the business practices and finances and a player representative vote can be taken at a time when all 30 player representatives can be present. A firm of the players choosing may conduct the review.

"The allegations that are now being directed at me are defamatory. But I urge our members to order an independent review beginning immediately and that will be proven along with finding out definitively if there are any issues with the NBPA's business practices and finances."

April 20, 2012
In-game blog: Kings vs. Thunder

Head coach Keith Smart addresses the media following the Kings' loss to the Thunder at Power Balance Pavilion.

FINAL
Thunder 103, Kings 92

The Thunder continue their march to the playoffs. The Kings fall into a tie with the New Orleans Hornets for the worst record (20-43) in the Western Conference.

Oklahoma City shot 53.3 percent from the field and scored 20 points off of 12 Kings turnovers to defeat the Kings for the second time in a week.

"I was happy with the way they competed, the way they played," Kings head coach Keith Smart said of his team. "They made those guys work for some of the things they got tonight.

"Obviously we made some defensive breakdowns at the wrong time of the game. But we're going to get better, we're going to get better."

The Kings trailed by just three points early in the third quarter, 67-64, following a three-pointer from guard Isaiah Thomas. But the Thunder went on a 12-2 run and led by at least eight points the rest of the way.

"We've got to be a better defensive team," said the Kings' Tyreke Evans. "The good teams, they play defense. We all know we can score on this team. We've just got to talk more on defense to help each other."

The Kings had a tepid shooting night, finishing 40.9 percent from the field and 61.1 percent (11-of-18) from the free-throw line.

Kevin Durant led the Thunder with 29 points and added 14 rebounds and seven assists, falling just short of a triple-double on a night when Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson -- the only NBA player to average a triple-double over an entire season -- was in the building.

James Harden had 20 points off the bench for the Thunder, while Serge Ibaka added 12 points and eight blocks. In three games against the Kings this season, Ibaka has 25 blocks.

DeMarcus Cousins had a team-high 18 points and nine rebounds for the Kings.

Tyreke Evans finished with 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting after being held to just two points in a loss to the Thunder last Friday.

"(It was) just confidence in the shots," Evans said. "In warm-ups I was just thinking the mid-range game was going to have to be big for me and I was just looking for it this game."

The Kings forced 17 turnovers, converting them into 14 points. They were out-scored on the fast-break, 27-12, and fell to 1-11 in games without guard Marcus Thornton. Their leading scorer sat out the game with a left quad contusion.

"I give Coach (Keith) Smart tons of credit," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "He has this team playing hard. We had to play well to beat them.

"They have good offensive players on that team. They are a fast team, they move the ball and Cousins is a load down low. I thought we did a good job of making them miss some shots and our distribution was very good tonight."

April 20, 2012
OKC's Brooks impressed with Kings' Thomas


Not that there isn't enough going on inside Power Balance Pavilion, but before tipoff, Oklahoma City coach (and Manteca native) Scott Brooks lingered to ask about the latest arena developments and praise Kings rookie Isaiah Thomas. Brooks, who enjoyed a lengthy career as an NBA journeyman, was another undersized point guard. "He (Thomas) doesn't know he's only 5-foot-9," added Brooks, chuckling.

April 20, 2012
KJ, Maloofs shake hands, all smiles

During the timeout at the 5:49 mark, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson strolled into the arena but stopped to chat courtside with Kings co-owners Joe and Gavin Maloof, who were seated with NBA great Oscar Robertson. With television camers rolling and fans taking photos, the parties were all smiles. When public address announcer Scott Moak introduced Robertson to the crowd - which responded with a standing ovation - the mayor walked out of the group and down to his courtside seat directly across from the visitors bench. (Colleen Maloof was seated on the baseline, but the mayor didn't appear to see her).

April 20, 2012
Kings vs. Thunder: Five things to watch

The Thunder are still playing for a top seed in the playoffs and the best record in the Western Conference. The Kings are trying to avoid finishing with the worst.

With four games left, Oklahoma City is tied with San Antonio in the West with 45 wins. The Thunder (45-17) is a half-game back of the Spurs in the loss column.

Meanwhile, the Kings (20-42) are only a half-game ahead of the bottom-dwelling New Orleans Hornets.

Here are a few things to keep an eye on this evening when two teams on opposite ends of the spectrum meet at Power Balance Pavilion:

April 20, 2012
Adrienne Maloof to represent Kings at NBA Draft Lottery


Well, now it's Adrienne Maloof's turn. I was just told that the only female among the Maloof siblings will represent the Kings at the NBA Draft Lottery on May 30 in New York. The Lottery process - which is weighted to favor the teams with the poorest records - determines the drafting order for non-playoff teams. Former Kings star Chris Webber and Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson are among those who previously represented the team at the annual event. This year's projected No.1 prize: Kentucky's Anthony Davis.

April 20, 2012
Pitino remains big backer of Kings' Terrence Williams


I wrote about Kings swingman Terrence Williams for Friday's Bee, but wanted to add a few things that didn't get into column. Specifically, Louisville coach Rick Pitino, who coached Williams (and Francisco Garcia) in college, was typically engaging and insightful when we chatted recently about his former players. Initially, he sounded totally depressed - clearly still reeling from the loss to Kentucky in the NCAA Final Four. But he became increasingly upbeat as he talked about Williams and the adversity the guard/forward has overcome even to reach this level. One of the things I found most interesting: Pitino watches Kings games and talks to Williams several times a week.

April 19, 2012
Smart: Thornton's status for Friday not yet determined

Kings guard Marcus Thornton did not practice with the team today after suffering a left quad contusion in the third quarter of the Kings' loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night.

"It was too tender for him to practice today, so he didn't go today," said Kings head coach Keith Smart.

Thornton was kneed by Spurs guard Manu Ginobili and left Wednesday night's game briefly, but returned. Smart said Thornton was getting treatment to reduce swelling in the quad Thursday and that his availability for the Kings' game tonight against the Oklahoma City Thunder has not been determined.

"We'll see how he feels in the morning and then evaluate him by the time we get ready for the shootaround and then game-time," Smart said.

It wouldn't help the Kings to lose Thornton against the Thunder. The Kings are 1-10 this season in the 11 games Thornton has missed.

April 19, 2012
The Morning After: Spurs figure out Evans

With 10:10 left in the first quarter, TyrekeEvans had four points and rebound against the San Antonio Spurs.

That would be the extent of Evans' highlights.

The Spurs were able to take Evans out of the game by making him go against their set defense.

April 18, 2012
Kings' Cousins mourning his dog


During the middle of the Kings' miserable second-half performance Wednesday against the visiting San Antonio Spurs, I noticed what appeared to be an autograph or some other personal writing on the sides of DeMarcus Cousins' white sneakers. When I saw the shoes afterward in the locker room, the writing clearly read, "R.I.P. Roscoe."

When I asked DeMarcus about it, the Kings center immediately became animated, telling me that his 18-week-old bulldog died last week after suffering an allergic reaction to a bee sting. "He just collapsed in his crate while I was on our last road trip," said Cousins, who lives with his boyhood friend Andrew Rogers. "We had an autopsy done and everything because we wanted to know what happened. The (veterinarian) said it was from a bee sting."

Cousins said he is getting another puppy Thursday.

Here are just a few late-night thoughts, musings, quotes, etc.:

. Kings assistant Alex English is picking the Spurs to win another title. "They are the best team in this league," said English. "Just look at their record. Everything about them ... coaching, shooting, the system. They're unselfish." And he forgot to mention that the Spurs just won three games in three nights in three cities - and Tim Duncan didn't even play against the Kings.
. Spurs rookie Kawhi Leonard blitzed past Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton for a stunning reverse baseline dunk. The Spurs coaches believe the former San Diego State standout is special.
. The Kings caught a break when Marcus Thornton crumbled to the court with what appeared to be a left knee. He was helped to the locker room, but after being diagnosed with a left quad contusion, actually returned in the fourth quarter.
. What defense? The Spurs shot 58.8 percent and repeatedly exploited the interior.
. Joe, Gavin and Colleen Maloof attended the game and sat courtside.
. Two more reasons Gregg Popovich is easily the best coach in NBA - he was willing to bring back the volatile Stephen Jackson and is squeezing something out of Boris Diaw.

April 18, 2012
In-game blog: Kings vs. Spurs

FINAL
Spurs 127, Kings 102

The Spurs (45-16) used a balanced attack to blowout the Kings and sweep their set of three games in three nights.

Meanwhile the Kings (20-42) have now lost eight of their last nine games.

After shooting well in the first half, the Kings' shooting fell off while the Spurs kept rolling.

San Antonio shot 58.8 percent for the game. After shooting 51.1 percent in the first half, the Kings finished at 44.6 percent.

Isaiah Thomas led the Kings with 21 points and eight assists. Marcus Thornton had 20 points. DeMarcus Cousins had 18 points and nine rebounds before fouling out.

Tiago Splitter and Gary Neal each had 17 points off the bench for San Antonio. Tony Parker finished with 15 points and eight assists.


April 16, 2012
The Morning After: Kings using multiple options late in games

Former Kings coach Paul Westphal was the target of a lot of criticism back in 2009 for his strategies late in games.

Fair or not, there were folks in the media and fans who were not a fan of giving the ball to Tyreke Evans and allowing him to create on his own.

That's not the case with the Kings now.

April 15, 2012
Video: Marcus Thornton and DeMarcus Cousins post-game

Kings guard Marcus Thornton talks about his game-winning shot and other topics following the Kings' 104-103 win over the Portland Trail Blazers at Power Balance Pavilion.

Center DeMarcus Cousins addresses the media following the Kings win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

April 15, 2012
In-game blog: Kings vs. Trail Blazers

Head coach Keith Smart addresses the media following the Kings' win over the Portland Trail Blazers at Power Balance Pavilion.

FINAL
Kings 104, Trail Blazers 103

Marcus Thornton again showed why Kings head coach Keith Smart has faith in him as a late-game scorer.

With the Kings trailing the Portland Trail Blazers by one point, Thornton hit a 17-foot jumper with 3.4 seconds remaining to give the Kings their first win in eight games.

Wesley Matthews had made his eighth three-pointer of the game for Portland just seconds before to give the Trail Blazers the lead. Portland's desperation heave from mid-court fell short as time expired.

"It was a play designed by coach, a great play," Thornton said. "Isaiah (Thomas) taking it up, DeMarcus (Cousins) came down, set a great screen and I turned and got the ball, saw a little daylight and just tried to make the shot."

It was the Kings' first game at Power Balance Pavilion since Friday's news that the proposed deal for a new downtown arena had fallen through. Despite frustration among fans, an announced crowd of 16,012 turned out for the Sunday afternoon game and erupted when Thornton's final shot fell.

Needing big plays down the stretch, the Kings got them from several different players.

With the game tied at 100-100 and the Trail Blazers in-bounding with 39.4 seconds left, Terrence Williams stole the ball from Portland point guard Raymond Felton.

After a timeout, Cousins drove for a left-handed lay-up with the shot clock running down. That gave the Kings a 102-100 lead with 10.7 seconds remaining.

Matthews, though, followed with a step-back three-pointer from the corner. He finished 8-for-10 from beyond the arc and had 31 points to lead the Trail Blazers.

That set the stage for Thornton.

"No matter who the opponent was, we needed this win, and the young men found a way to do it," Smart said. "Based on everything that happened with our franchise this week and the way it has been with our team in the past two weeks, we found a way."

Thornton finished with 20 points. Cousins had 23 points and seven rebounds, Thomas had 18 points and eight assists and Tyreke Evans added 20 points.

Felton had 19 for the Trail Blazers and J.J. Hickson, making his return to Power Balance Pavilion after being released earlier this season by the Kings, had a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds.

The Kings shot 47.4 percent. The Trail Blazers shot 52.6 percent and made 16-of-32 three-point attempts.

But the Kings played one of their tidiest games of the season, recording 26 assists and turning the ball over just six times, leading to two Portland points. They scored 19 points off of 17 Portland turnovers.

"It feels good," Cousins said. "Even with all of the drama going on, our fans came out and supported us, stayed engaged in the game and showed their loyalty toward us. So we're thankful to have them and we love them for it."

April 15, 2012
Kings fans set aside hurt feelings to support team

By Matt Kawahara
mkawahara@sacbee.com

The Kings were met with a customary loud ovation as they took the court at Power Balance Pavilion for pre-game warmups this afternoon, prior to their first home game since Friday's news of the deal for a new downtown arena falling through.

At tip-off, the arena was at least half full, with fans still filing into their seats. Some fans expressed disappointment and anger over the failed deal as they made their way into the arena, but said they were setting those feelings aside in order to support the team itself.

"We almost boycotted (today's game)," said John Yelchak, 47, of Carmichael. "But this is our last game this year" in their ticket package.

April 14, 2012
Video: Keith Smart after practice

Coach Keith Smart discusses Saturday's practice, Friday's lack of fight in Oklahoma City and defense.

April 14, 2012
The Morning After: Kings still looking for on-court leadership

OKLAHOMA CITY - Who on the Kings can be Kendrick Perkins or Derek Fisher?

"(Oklahoma City) had a few bumps in the road when they were together early on," said Kings forward Jason Thompson. "Now they've got some veteran guys in (Kendrick) Perkins and Derek Fisher. So now when they go through stretches, they have that veteran voice that most teams don't have. That has been the big difference for them over the years."

The Kings are still looking for their Perkins, Fisher or anyone to become the leader the team needs to end their seven-game losing streak.

Like the Thunder, the Kings will probably have to trade (as they did for Perkins) or entice a free agent (Fisher) to join them to fill those roles.

If the Kings trade for a leader, they'll have to give up something big like Tyreke Evans. It cost the Thunder Jeff Green, who was a key player for them to land Perkins.

Who would the Kings be willing to part with to find a leader?

Bringing in a player like Fisher would be easier if the Kings were winning. That's not the case right now and there's no telling when that will change.

The Kings tried in the offseason via free agency (Chuck Hayes) and trade (John Salmons)

Salmons is injured. Hayes is having one of his worst seasons after his preseason health scare about his heart and dislocating his shoulder in January after beginning the season as a starter.

Another one of the Kings leaders, Francisco Garcia, is out with a concussion.

That leaves leadership to the rest of the roster to end this losing streak at seven games.

Regardless of if/when the losing streak ends, the search for leadership has to be a priority in the offseason.


April 13, 2012
In-game blog: Kings at Thunder

FINAL
Thunder 115, Kings 89

OKLAHOMA CITY - The Kings lost their seventh game in a row as the Western Conference leaders used their big second quarter to propel them.

The losing steak is the longest of the season for the Kings (19-41).

Jason Thompson was the only starter for the Kings who played in the fourth quarter of the blowout. The Thunder also rested their starters.

Isaiah Thomas led the Kings with 21 points. DeMarcus Cousins had nine points and 12 rebounds but shot just 3-for-14. Tyreke Evans played just 13 minutes and had two points.

The Kings shot 38.9 percent.

Kevin Durant led Oklahoma City (43-16) with 29 points.


April 13, 2012
Kings at Thunder: Five things to watch

OKLAHOMA CITY - After this morning's shootaround, Kings players checked their phones to find messages about today's news from New York.

Needless to say, there's plenty of confusion.

Didn't everyone think the post-Orlando celebration was going to mean a new arena was on the way?

No one was prepared to discuss their feelings because no one really knew what was going on. All of the news happened during shootaround.

But the Kings do have a game tonight - against the Western Conerence-leading Oklahoma City Thunder.

And the Kings have lost six games in a row heading into tonight's game. They'll try to end the losing streak in what would be their most impressive win of the season.

April 12, 2012
The Morning After: Kings effort, basketball smarts, lack consistency

NEW ORLEANS - The Kings showing they still have a ways to go from becoming a team that can be a team that competes for a playoff spot next season.

As bad as the season as been for the Hornets, the Kings (19-40) are only three games ahead of the Hornets (16-42) for last place in the Western Conference.

The Hornets have been slowed by injuries that have depleted their talent base all season.

April 11, 2012
In-game blog: Kings at Hornets

FINAL
Hornets 105, Kings 96

NEW ORLEANS - The Kings' losing streak reached six games after the Kings lost to the team with the worst record in the Western Conference.

The Hornets have lost several games this season by blowing leads in the fourth quarter but the Kings would not be able to pull off a comeback, even though they cut the deficit to four points more than once in the fourth quarter.

The Kings could not overcome their poor shooting (43.4 percent) or take advantage of 19 turnovers by the Hornets.

New Orleans shot 55.9 percent for the game.

Jason Smith led the Hornets (16-42) with 22 points. Marco Belinelli added 21 points.

Marcus Thornton led the Kings (19-40) with 25 points. Tyreke Evans had 19 points and eight assists. Jason Thompson had 18 points and Terrence Williams had 16 points off the bench.

THIRD QUARTER
Hornets 79, Kings 70

NEW ORLEANS - The Kings haven't played solid defense the last two quarters and their deficit is growing.

The Hornets are shooting 57.4 percent while the Kings are at 41 percent.

The good shooting by the Hornets has allowed them to overcome committing 17 turnovers that have led to 20 points for the Kings.

The Hornets led by as many as 11 points in the third, thanks to Jason Smith (21 points), Marco Belinelli (18 points) and Grevis Vasquez (12 points). Xavier Henry also has 12 points off the bench for the Kings.

Marcus Thornton has 23 points to lead the Kings. Jason Thompson has 14 points and six rebounds. Tyreke Evans has 13 points and five assists.

HALFTIME
Hornets 50, Kings 49

NEW ORLEANS - The Kings' shooting was bad in the second quarter and cost them the lead.

Sacramento shot 5-for-16 from the field. And even though they shot 14 free throws in the quarter, the Kings made only nine (64.3 percent).

The Kings missed 5-of-6 from three-point range, too. After matching their season-high for a quarter with 10 assists in the first, the Kings had only two assists in the second quarter.

The Hornets had no problem scoring, making 14-of-21 from the field with 18 points in the paint.

Marcus Thornton has 15 points for the Kings. Jaosn Thompson has 10 points and six rebounds. But the King haven't gotten much from DeMarcus Cousins. He has seven points and a rebound in eight minutes. Cousins has three fouls.

Kings center Hassan Whiteside left the game with 5:091 left in the quarter with a sprained right ankle and will not return.

Jason Smith has 17 points to lead the Hornets.

FIRST QUARTER
Kings 29, Hornets 20

NEW ORLEANS - Marcus Thornton is enjoying this return to his home state.

Thornton, who is from Baton Rouge, has 13 points as the Kings have jumped out to a lead over the injury-plagued Hornets.

The Kings are shooting 52 percent and have only two turnovers. DeMarcus Cousins only played five minutes and has two fouls.

Isaiah Thomas also had two fouls in the first.

Jason Smith leads the Hornets with nine points.

New Orleans already has nine turnovers, but has attempted 10 free throws, making eight, and haven't been called for a foul.

The Kings lone free throw came on a technical foul for defensive three seconds.

April 11, 2012
Kings at Hornets: Five things to watch

NEW ORLEANS - The Kings can complete a four-game sweep of the New Orleans Hornets with a win tonight. It would also be the Kings' 20th win and mean 20 percent of the Kings' wins would have come against the worst team in the Western Conference.e

Here are a few things to look for if the Kings are to end their five-game losing streak.

1. Better rebounding
In losing at Dallas on Tuesday, the Kings' saw a good first quarter not amount to a big lead because they allowed the Mavericks to grab nine offense rebounds and score nine second-chance points. Jason Thompson being back in the starting lineup should help with that.

2. Stay in transition
The Kings have to force the Hornets to try to play at a fast pace. The Kings scored 100 points for the first time in four game Tuesday and will need to be in 100s to improve their chances of winning.

3. Jimmer's production
Jimmer Fredette had 13 points with Marcus Thornton returning to the lineup. With John Salmons still out, Fredette's scoring is needed with the second unit missing John Salmons and Francisco Garcia because of injuries.

4. The jump shots
That is the shot the defense will try to bait Tyreke Evans into taking. If there's an open jump shot, he has to be decisive and not start dribbling and making the shot even harder to take.

5. Backcourt defense
The Hornets have big guards in Greivis Vasquez (6-6) and Marco Belinelli (6-7). Both could cause problems because the Kings are small in the backcourt with their starters (Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Thornton) and Jimmer Fredette off the bench. Terrence Williams and Evans will help, but the Kings can't afford to allow the Hornets guards to get going early against the starters.

April 11, 2012
The Morning After: Hybrids are a concern with Thompson

DALLAS - One of Keith Smart's lineup changes late in the season has been to start Donte' Greene instead of Jason Thompson against "hybrid fours" who play power forward based on a good perimeter game.

The Kings tried that again Tuesday with Greene starting against Dirk Nowitzki in the Kings' 110-100 loss to the Dallas Mavericks.

It worked when the Kings beat the Mavericks last month in Sacramento, but that doesn't mean it's been easy for Thompson to take a seat against Nowitzki or Phoenix's Channing Frye.

April 10, 2012
In-game blog: Kings vs. Mavericks

FINAL
Mavericks 110, Kings 100

DALLAS - Thanks to the scoring of their bench, the Mavericks sent the Kings to their fifth consecutive defeat.

After three lackluster showings, DeMarcus Cousins posted game highs of 25 points, 18 rebounds and a career-high six steals. But that wasn't enough to overcome 54 points from the Dallas bench.

Rodrigue Beaubois had 15 points off the bench for Dallas (32-26). Jason Terry added 13 points from the bench.

Dirk Nowitzki finished with 15 points on 4-of-14 shooting.

Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Thornton and Tyreke Evans each had 16 points for the Kings. Jimmer Fredette added 13 points off the bench for the Kings (19-39).

The Mavericks scored 25 points off 15 Kings' turnovers. The Mavs also had 20 second-chance points.

April 10, 2012
Kings at Mavericks: Five things to watch

DALLAS - The Kings return to the place of one of their worst offensive showings in franchise history tonight, when they play the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center.

In case you forgot about how terrible the Jan. 14 loss was, here's a reminder of how bad the 99-60 loss was:

*The Kings shot 25.6 percent (22-of-86), the lowest in a game for the Sacramento era, worst than the 27.9 percent the Kings shot Dec. 28, 2008 against Boston.

*The Kings' point total was the second-lowest in the Sacramento era. The Kings scored 59 Jan. 10, 1991 at Charlotte.

*The Kings matched the franchise low for points in a half with 23. The Kings made eight of their 46 shots (17.4 percent) in the first half.

Here are a few things the Kings to look for as the Kings look not to repeat January's game:

April 9, 2012
The Morning After: The Kings are too giving lately

For the second night in a row, Terrence Williams was drawn to his biggest blemish in the final box score.

Williams has five turnovers in each of his last two games and vowed not to see that again after a game the rest of the season

"I won't have five turnovers again,' Williams said.

April 8, 2012
In-game blog: Kings vs. Rockets

Head coach Keith Smart addresses the media following the Kings' 104-87 loss to the Houston Rockets at Power Balance Pavilion.

FINAL
Rockets 104, Kings 87

Lacking energy from the opening tip-off, the Kings dug themselves too deep a hole early en route to losing their fourth game in a row.

A mix-and-match lineup of Isaiah Thomas, Jimmer Fredette, Terrence Williams, Chuck Hayes and Hassan Whiteside gave the Kings a spark in the third quarter and played much of the fourth.

Starters DeMarcus Cousins, Tyreke Evans and Jason Thompson did not see the floor in the fourth quarter and combined for 19 points and 18 rebounds.

"That group got us to eight points, so I played those guys," Kings head coach Keith Smart said of his fourth-quarter lineup. "They did a good job getting us back to a manageable number."

Williams had 21 points and eight rebounds off the bench. Fredette added 17 points and Thomas had 16 points and six assists.

But the Kings burned themselves with mistakes, finishing with 21 turnovers that led to 22 points for the Rockets and making just 20-of-37 free-throw attempts.

And the fast-paced play that they have thrived with was nowhere to be found.

"The last two games have kind of resembled the beginning of the season," said forward-center Chuck Hayes, "like when things go bad we show everybody that things are going bad with our body language and our emotions.

"Maybe because it was the second game of a back-to-back or an early Sunday game, I don't know. We have to find the energy that we pretty much contained the past month or two."

Courtney Lee led the Rockets with 25 points, 17 of which he scored in the first quarter. Guard Goran Dragic had 15 points and nine assists, while Patrick Patterson added 10 points and 10 rebounds off the bench.

The Rockets outscored the Kings in the paint, 46-28. The 28 points were the fewest the Kings have scored in the paint in a game this season.

Cousins finished with nine points and eight rebounds in 25:45. Playing much of the second half, Hassan Whiteside had four points and a team-high 10 rebounds in 19:44.

"It's more of a mental thing than a physical thing," Fredette said of the team's lethargy. "Mentally you have to be prepared, all of us. We have to do a better job of getting ourselves ready in warm-ups and getting ourselves mentally prepared so we can start the game well and not get into lapses."

April 8, 2012
Kings vs. Rockets: Five things to watch

Less than 24 hours after their 109-94 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center last night, the Kings are back home this evening to play the Houston Rockets at 6 p.m.

While the Kings have been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, the Rockets are still fighting for a spot.

Houston (30-25) started the day in sixth place in the Western Conference but separated from the Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz, who are tied for ninth place, by only one and a half games.

That means the Kings can count on getting the Rockets' best. Here are a few things to keep an eye on during the game:

1. What will the Kings' starting lineup look like? There was no team shoot-around this morning, so there have been no updates on Marcus Thornton (bruised left calf) or John Salmons (sore right hip). Plus Francisco Garcia, who has started the last two games due to those injuries, told reporters after last night's game that he suffered a concussion when clipped upside the head by Los Angeles forward Bobby Simmons.

April 8, 2012
The Morning After: Kings still searching for a true rivalry

LOS ANGELES - The DeMarcus Cousins - Blake Griffin "feud" amounted to much of nothing but more words Saturday night when Griffin joked that his acting coach liked that Cousins thought he was a good actor.

That stuff is all fun for us media types, but lost in the all that is this: The Kings have a long way to go to catch the Clippers and the rest of the Pacific Division.

The Kings are 2-10 against the Pacific this season. Only Charlotte and New Orleans have fewer wins in their division.

April 7, 2012
Blake Griffin makes light of DeMarcus Cousins calling him an actor

LOS ANGELES - DeMarcus Cousins called Blake Griffin an "actor" who is "babied" by officials.

This was after Cousins fouled out in Thursday loss to the Clippers in Sacramento. During the game there were plenty of tense moments between the two.

Cousins complained about being slammed to the court, as did Griffin. Griffin accused Cousins of trying to elbow him when both players fell at one point.

The "actor" Griffin responded those comments to reporters after the Clippers beat the Kings, 109-94, Saturday night at Staples Center:

"Well, I first heard about it from my acting coach. He sent me an e-mail and obviously he was thrilled. It was a complement. I guess he's seen some commercials and stuff, so I appreciate it. Nah, I don't care. I'm not into going back and forth and name calling players through the media and all that, just let it go."

Griffin was then asked if his reaction to Cousins speaks to who he is as a player:

"I mean this in the nicest possible way. You have to consider the source. If this is somebody that's really has been in the league a long time, and really knows the ins and outs of the game, and has a great reputation for carrying himself the right way, then it's something I would kind of look at and be like I really rubbed this guy the wrong way, but someone like that you just keep going."

Griffin had 27 points and 14 rebounds in the game. Unlike Thursday's game there weren't any noticeable testy moments between Cousins and Griffin.

April 7, 2012
In-game blog: Kings at Clippers

FINAL
Clippers 109, Kings 94

LOS ANGELES - You could say the Kings gave this game away.

The Kings had 11 turnovers in the fourth quarter in turning what could have been a close game into a blowout.

The Kings (19-37) had 20 turnovers for the game that led to 32 points for the Clippers (34-22).

The turnovers and a bad shooting night (41.5 percent) were too much to overcome.

The Kings became flustered by the Clippers and made too many unforced errors. Passes were thrown into bad spots were players weren't open.

"I think we were rushing," said Tyreke Evans, who had a team-high six turnovers.

Terrence Williams had nine assists off the bench but also had five turnovers.

DeMarcus Cousins had 15 points and matched his career high with 20 rebounds, but shot 5-for-19.

Blake Griffin was dominant with 27 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and two steals for the Clippers. Randy Foye had 25 points and Chris Paul carved up the Kings' defense with 19 points and 15 assists.

Paul also had seven steals, the most by a Kings opponent this season.

The Kings were without three players to start (Marcus Thornton, John Salmons and Chuck Hayes) because of injuries and would lose Francisco Garcia with 11:07 left in the game to a concussion.

Bobby Simmons whacked Garcia in the head on the play, but there was no foul called.

Kings coach Keith Smart jumped on the court to force the officials to call a technical foul on him to stop the play and to get Garcia, who was down on the court, some assistance.

If Garcia can't play Sunday against Houston, the Kings might be down three wing players.


April 7, 2012
Chuck Hayes out tonight

LOS ANGELES -- Kings backup forward/center Chuck Hayes will not play tonight against the Los Angeles Clippers because of food poisoning.

Hayes is at the team hotel near Staples Center and not at the game.

That means the Kings will be without three of their top-8 rotation players -- Marcus Thornton (bruised left calf), John Salmons (sore right hip) and Hayes.

That will leaves just Hassan Whiteside as lone backup center on the bench. Forward Jason Thompson can also play center if needed.

April 7, 2012
Kings at Clippers: Five things to watch

LOS ANGELES --More times than not, talk between basketball players is just that. As contentious as Thursday's game was at Power Balance Pavilion, it's hard to imagine the feelings escalating beyond chatter.

Kings center DeMarcus Cousins can't afford to pick up a technical foul. His next would be his 13th and unless it would be rescinded by the league, it would mean Cousins would face an automatic one-game suspension.

Clippers All-Star forward Blake Griffin, who was involved the physical play with Cousins, cannot afford being ejected or any kind of league discipline.

The Clippers have won seven of their last eight games, but the loss was a critical one - to the Los Angeles Lakers who the Clippers are chasing in the Pacific Division standings. The Clippers are talented, but many of their key players like Griffin have little or no playoff experience. So winning every game to get the highest possible seeding is vital.

Aside from waiting for tempers to take over (or not), here are five things to look for tonight.

April 7, 2012
Power Rankings: Here come the Spurs

Often dismissed and having not won a title since 2007, the San Antonio Spurs seem to find a way to win.

That's been the case again this season as the Spurs have won 10 in a row to take over the lead in the Western Conference.

The Spurs have depth and good health -- two things that are a must for teams trying to win a championship.

New additions Stephen Jackson, Boris Diaw and Patrick Mills all recently joined the team but figure to play big parts in the playoff push for the Spurs.

If nothing else, the "old" Spurs have made the race in the West interesting instead of allowing Oklahoma City to runaway with the best record in the West.

April 7, 2012
Thornton, Salmons out tonight

LOS ANGELES - Kings guard Marcus Thornton (bruised left calf) will miss his third consecutive game tonight when the Kings play the Los Angeles Clippers.

John Salmons (sore right hip) is also out again. Salmons has missed the last six games.

Cousins is fine

When asked what his reaction was to being fined $25,000 for publicly criticizing officiating following shootaround, Cousins jokingly yelled "No!!!!"

"It's OK," Cousins said in a more serious tone. "It's over with. I'm moving on."


April 6, 2012
The Morning After: Kings go small to try to finish off Clippers

Kings coach Keith Smart has elected to play small ball late in games and did so again Thursday night in the Kings 93-85 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

With 3:18 left in the game, Smart substituted power forward Chuck Hayes for Tyreke Evans.

The Kings were up 81-80 and had Evans, Jimmer Fredette, Terrence Williams, Isaiah Thomas and DeMarcus Cousins on the floor.

The Kings still had a chance to win the game but Evans missed a fadeaway jumper with 45.9 seconds to play that would have made the score 86-85 in favor to the Clippers.

That would be the score after two Evans free throws with 18 seconds to play, but forced to foul and make shots, the Kings tried going to Cousins, who wasn't getting any love from the officials.

The first attempt to score with 15.7 seconds to play ended with a turnover (the Kings believe he was held on the play) and that was pretty much the game after two more free throws by Randy Foye.

So why go small even though Jason Thompson (15 points, 16 rebounds) was having a good game?

Smart explains:

"It was because of spacing, we needed more spacing on the floor. I needed something that forced them not to allow their big players to hang out in the paint. I needed some action to get us going towards the basket a little bit, to even create fouls and force them in so we get a cleaner look at a shot when we have the opportunity. We weren't getting hurt on the glass; we were getting hurt by being too tight amongst each other, so I needed that spacing. It got us right back where we wanted to be, except for a couple of plays."

What Smart didn't want was a lot of standing against a set defense.

A slower game exposes the Kings' flaws - notably their lack of shooting.

The Kings shot just 41.7 percent against the Clippers, including 4-of-17 shooting on three pointers.

"I was searching for a lineup where I could get speed on the floor. We're not a great shooting team. They're going to force you to play a slower-paced game.

"We have to make some jump shots. Our guys are trying - they're working their tails off everyday working on their shooting. They're going to have to get better wit their shooting."

April 5, 2012
In-game blog: Kings vs. Clippers

Head coach Keith Smart addresses the media following the Kings' 93-85 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers at Power Balance Pavilion.

FINAL
Clippers 93, Kings 85

Inbounding with 16.5 seconds left and down by three points, the Kings lost the ball out of bounds and saw their chances for a comeback win against the Clippers slip away.

After trailing by as many as 14 points in the second quarter, the Kings closed that deficit in the second half and led 81-78 after an Isaiah Thomas jump shot with 4:11 remaining.

But the Clippers retook the lead with a quick 6-0 run and held off the Kings down the stretch.

Center DeMarcus Cousins addresses the media following the Kings' loss to the Clippers.

"Blake (Griffin) hit a couple jump shots down the stretch that helped them out a lot," said Kings guard Tyreke Evans. "They got a couple that hurt us, but other than that I think we played them well."

Randy Foye had a game-high 20 points for the Clippers. Blake Griffin added 14 points and nine rebounds, and Chris Paul had 13 points, eight assists and five rebounds.

Jason Thompson recorded a double-double for the Kings with 15 points and 16 rebounds. Isaiah Thomas added 17 points and Evans had 14 points and six assists.

The Kings shot 42 percent, compared to 45 percent for the Clippers.

Both teams committed 18 turnovers in what was a physical game, nowhere more so than the matchup between Griffin and Kings center DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins spent much of the game in foul trouble, but when on the floor got tangled up with Griffin on several occasions.

"I thought that was a great football game tonight," said Kings head coach Keith Smart. "It was two big guys playing and these guys are physical. It's going to be a great rivalry as we develop this team to be consistent at winning."

Said Cousins: "If they're going to let it be physical it's usually physical on both ends. You saw the game, so I don't really have to say much."

April 5, 2012
Kings vs. Clippers: Five things to watch

The Kings play the first of back-to-back games against the Los Angeles Clippers tonight at Power Balance Pavilion. The teams will meet again in Los Angeles on Saturday.

With the regular season getting down to the final stretch, the Kings have 12 games remaining, and nine of them are against teams that are currently in position to make the playoffs. That includes the Clippers, who right now are fourth in the Western Conference at 32-22.

Kings head coach Keith Smart, though, earlier today dismissed the notion that the Kings (19-35) are going into those games intending to play "spoiler."

April 5, 2012
Smart: Thornton, Salmons out against Clippers

The Kings will again be without leading scorer Marcus Thornton tonight against the Los Angeles Clippers, head coach Keith Smart said after the team's shootaround this morning.

Thornton is still recovering from a bruised left calf sustained Monday night against the Timberwolves that kept him out of the Kings' loss to the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday. Smart said Thornton is "walking much better but still not ready to get on the floor and play yet."

Thornton had 18 points in the Kings' 108-100 loss to the Clippers on March 1 -- the teams' only previous meeting this season.

April 4, 2012
The Morning After: Kings fail to figure out Suns

Kings coach Keith Smart acknowledged the Phoenix Suns cause a lot of matchup problems for the Kings.

The assumption would be those matchups would be tied to how the Kings figure out how to defend the Suns.

But the Suns have figured out how to defend the Kings pretty well, too.

April 3, 2012
In-game blog: Kings vs. Suns

FINAL
Suns 109, Kings 100

DeMarcus Cousins posted a career-high 41 points, but the Kings couldn't contain Steve Nash in the fourth quarter.

Nash finished with 18 points and 12 assists, including points to spark a 7-0 run to put the Kings away after they pulled within 94-90.

Isaiah Thomas had 25 points and seven assists for the Kings (19-35). Terrence Williams scored a season-high 16 points off the bench for Sacramento.

Marcin Gortat had 20 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out for Phoenix (27-26).

THIRD QUARTER
Suns 79, Kings 78

DeMarcus Cousins was dominant in the third quarter to give the Kings a chance to rally in the quarter.

Cousins scored 13 of his game-high 29 points in the third. Cousins also has 12 rebounds.

Isaiah Thomas has 19 points and seven assists for the Kings. Thomas had eight points and four assists in the third. Terrence Williams has 14 points off the bench.

Five Suns have scored in double figures, led by Marcin Gortat's 18 points. Gortat also has 10 rebounds.

The Kings were able to close the gap by taking care of the ball (only two turnovers) and by making 9-of-10 free throws.

The Kings missed seven of their first 11 free throws.

HALFTIME
Suns 59, Kings 51

The Kings continue to hurt themselves tonight.

Sacramento trailed by as many as 17 points in the second quarter, but might be closer if not for nine turnovers (leading to 12 Phoenix points) and the Kings making just four of their 11 free throws.

The Kings have also made only one of their seven free throws.

DeMarcus Cousins has 16 points and four rebounds to lead the Kings. Terrence Williams came off the bench to add 12 points, four rebounds and four assists. Isaiah Thomas has 11 points.

Marcin Gortat has 13 points and eight rebounds to lead Phoenix. Michael Redd added 10 points off the bench.

Tyreke Evans started at shooting guard with Marcus Thornton out (bruised left calf) and has six points.

Donte Greene started at small forward and has not scored. He also doesn't have a rebound or an assist.

FIRST QUARTER
Suns 29, Kings 18

Neither team has been impressive shooting the ball, but the Suns have made two three pointers and five free throws. The Kings haven't made a three or even attempted a free throw.

The Suns were not called for a foul in the first quarter.

The Kings are shooting 37.5 percent and have five turnovers, leading to eight points for the Suns.

The Suns are shooting 39.3 percent but have only one turnover.

DeMarcus Cousins leads the King with 10 points.

Marcin Gortat and Shannon Brown each have seven points for the Suns.

April 3, 2012
Kings vs. Suns: Five things to watch

The Kings look for back-to-back wins tonight against the Phoenix Suns at Power Balance Pavilion.

Sacramento will be without two key players in Marcus Thornton (bruised left calf) and John Salmons (sore right hip).

The Kings have not announced who will start for Thornton.

But the Kings can still beat the Suns, in part because of their own injury concerns, which are among the five things to look for tonight.

1. No Grant Hill
Hill did a good job defending Tyreke Evans when the Suns visited Power Balance Feb. 11. Evans missed shot 8-for-9 for four points to go with six rebounds, five assists and a team-high four turnovers. Hill is out with a meniscus tear in his right knee, so Evans should look to attack.

2. Shooting better
The Kings have yet to shoot 40 percent in two games against Phoenix, shooing 35.1 percent and 38.4 percent, respectively.

3. Run, run, run
The Kings have scored 84 and 88 points, respectively, in both losses to the Suns this season. Sacramento is not at its best in slow-down game so the more the Kings can run, the better chance they have of scoring.

4. Bigs play big
Jason Thomspon will start tonight, unlike the last time these teams played and Keith Smart started Donte Greene to deal with mobile power forward Channing Frye. The Kings need Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins to control the paint and dominate the rebounding battle.

5. Stay aware
When Steve Nash probes the defense, the Kings cannot get sucked into chasing him and leaving their defensive assignments. If they do, Nash will pick them apart. Nash has 22 assists in two games against the Kings.

April 3, 2012
The Morning After: T-Will likes the Kings and Jimmer gets his shots up

Terrence Williams likes the Kings. And the Kings like him.

And Williams wouldn't mind if he were a King beyond this season.

The latest solid showing by Williams was Monday night when he scored 12 points to go with 12 rebounds and three assists as the Kings beat Minnesota, 116-108.

April 2, 2012
Former King Brad Miller surprises, says goodbye

brad.jpg
This is too short a format to give Brad Miller his due as an NBA player and significant member of the Kings, especially during the 2003-04 season when he started alongside Vlade Divac while Chris Webber recovered from microfracture knee surgery. This topic will be revisited in the near future, when Kings-Wolves isn't conficting with Giants-A's, the NCAA Tournament, and a schedule crunch caused by the compressed NBA season. Promise. Miller is deserving of more. But his appearance at Power Balance Pavilion on Monday - as starting center of the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves - is noteworthy, and weird, and worthy of immediate attention.

So, a few thoughts, observations, memories of Miller: :

April 2, 2012
In-game blog: Kings vs. Timberwolves

FINAL
Kings 116, Timberwolves 108

Tyreke Evans led the Kings with 24 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists as the Kings ended a three-game losing streak at home.

The bench was key in the win as Jimmer Fredette (19 points) and Terrence Williams (12 points, 12 rebounds, three assists) played well after Marcus Thornton left the game in the first quarter with a bruised left calf.

The Kings (19-34) host Phoenix Tuesday.

Kevin Love led Minnesota (25-30) with 23 points an seven rebounds. Nikola Pekovic had 17 points off the bench.

THIRD QUARTER
Kings 87, Timberwolves 86

The Kings lead is shrinking after they had their worst shooting quarter of the night.

The Kings shot 34.8 percent in the third quarter (8-of-23) while the Timberwolves shot 60 percent after making 12-of-20 shots.

The Kings are shooting 54 percent for the game but the Timberwolves are up to 52.5 percent and still shooting well from beyond the arc. Minnesota has made 10 of its 17 threes (58.8 percent).

Tyreke Evans has 17 points, eight rebounds and six assists to lead the Kings. DeMarcus Cousins has 16 points and eight rebounds. Isaiah Thomas and Jimmer Fredette each have 14 points.

Luke Ridnour has 13 points and six assists for Minnesota but left the game with a sprained right ankle.

Kevin Love has 12 points but only three rebounds for the Timberwolves.

HALFTIME
Kings 65, Timberwolves 58

With Marcus Thornton out for the game, Jimmer Fredette is taking advantage of his chance to play.

Fredette has a team-high 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting. The Kings are shooting 65 percent as a team.

Tyreke Evans has 13 points, four rebounds and four assists for the Kings.

Minnesota is shooting just 48.8 percent, but has made eight three pointers to stay in the game.

Brad Miller has 11 points for the Timberwolves, including three three-pointers. Kevin Love has 10 points for Minnesota.

FIRST QUARTER
Kings 33, Timberwolves 30

The Kings shot 60.9 percent, led by Tyreke Evans (nine points, four rebounds, two assists) and Isaiah Thomas (eight points).

But the scoreboard doesn't reflect the bad news the Kings received during the first quarter.

The Kings will be without starting guard Marcus Thornton for the rest of the game because of a bruised left calf.

Thornton was off to a good start with four points, two rebounds and an assist in eight minutes.

Kevin Love leads Minnesota with 11 points.

April 2, 2012
Thomas named conference rookie of the month

Kings guard Isaiah Thomas has been named Western Conference rookie of the month for March -- the second consecutive month Thomas has received the honor, the NBA announced today.

Thomas led all conference rookies in assists (4.9 per game) in games played in March and ranked second in scoring (13.6 points per game).

The 23-year-old scored a career-high 28 points and had 10 assists in the Kings' 117-112 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on March 28. He is averaging 10.6 points and 3.7 assists per game this season.

In 23 games since Thomas became the Kings' starting point guard in February, coinciding with an emphasis on playing at a faster pace, the Kings are averaging 105.7 points, compared to 92.6 points per game before that.

The Kings (18-24) play the Minnesota Timberwolves tonight at 7 p.m. at Power Balance Pavilion.

Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers, who led all rookies in March in scoring (19.9 points per game) and assists (6.7 assists per game) was named the top rookie in the Eastern Conference for the third time this season.

April 1, 2012
The Morning After: First quarter telling for Kings this season

The formula to beating the Kings appears simple.

Don't let them jump ahead.

The Kings are 9-21 this season when trailing after the first quarter.

The Kings are now 9-13 when leading after the first quarter after their nine-point lead during the first wasn't enough to propel them past the New Jersey Nets, Saturday night at Power Balance Pavilion.

The King actually led 35-31 at the end of the first quarter before losing 111-99.

But by overcoming the nine-point deficit, the Nets had already accomplished their goal

"We knew this team (Sacramento) was going to try to knock us out in the first quarter," said Nets coach Avery Johnson. "They are a first-quarter team but then we started adding 20- and 21-point defensive quarters. We got back to our defensive sets and got them out of transition."

The end of the first quarter set the tone for the rest of the game. By getting the lead down to four, the Nets were close enough to make the Kings have to work ahrd for a win.

The Kings just didn't match the intensity of the Nets.

"Overall, energy was down," said Donte Greene. "We got into it and picked it up late but it was kind of too late by then. We've got to start in the first quarter, even the third quarter - we've got to bring it."




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