Kings Blog and Q&A

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

November 30, 2012
In-game blog: Kings vs. Pacers

FINAL
Pacers 97, Kings 92

David West (31 points, 11 rebounds) was too much for the Kings as the Pacers swept the season series with the Kings, 2-0.

The Kings (4-11) could have tied the game late, but Marcus Thornton's 27-foot three pointer over Roy Hibbert was off.

DeMarcus Cousins led the Kings with 19 points and 16 rebounds. But it was a bad shooting night for Cousins, who shot 5 of 17.

Thornton had 15 points starting for the injured Tyreke Evans. Jimmer Fredette and Francisco Garcia each had 12 points off the bench.
George Hill added 25 points for the Pacers (8-8)

THIRD QUARTER
Pacers 72, Kings 67

David West scored 10 of his 25 points in the third quarter to keep the Pacers in the lead after the Kings had taken a brief five-point lead.

DeMarcus Cousins has 15 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Kings.

It was a better showing from the starters after a bad first half. Marcus Thornton now has 11 points.

Jimmer Fredette has 10 points off the bench.

George Hill has 15 points for the Pacers.

HALFTIME
Pacers 43, Kings 40

The Kings can thank their bench for being in this game. The starters have shot 6 of 18 and have just 17 points (it should be noted Tyreke Evans is know playing with a bruised left knee).

Ten of those shots were by DeMarcus Cousins, who made three.

The bench made up for the starters, led by Francisco Garcia's nine points. Jimmer Fredette added eight points off the bench.

The Kings' reserves shot 10 of 20.

Cousins has nine points and eight rebounds.

David West has a game-high 15 points for Indiana.

FIRST QUARTER
Pacers 20, Kings 17

The Kings are playing tonight with Tyreke Evans (bruised left knee) and the Kings struggled to start the game on offense.

The Kings missed 3 of 16 to start, but received a boost from Jimmer Fredette. Fredette had six points and an assist off the bench to jump start the offense.

The Kings shot 7 of 21 for the quarter.

It was a rough start for DeMarcus Cousins, who was 2 of 7 for four points. He shot 9 of 27 in the first meeting at Indiana this season.

David West has six points to lead the Pacers.

November 30, 2012
Kings vs. Pacers: Five things to watch

For the second time this week the Kings face an opponent they played from their season-opening road trip.

The Kings lost in double overtime, 106-98, Nov. 3 in Indiana.

So here are five things the Kings can take from that loss and either repeat or avoid tonight at Sleep Train Arena.

1. Force mistakes: The Kings rallied to force overtime with their defense. The Kings had a season-high 15 steals in forcing 24 total turnovers. Eight different players had a steal for Sacramento.

November 29, 2012
Notes from Thursday's practice

Another day at practice where there wasn't a lot in the way of news.

The curtain that separates the media from seeing practice was raised in time to see some scrimmaging.

*Jimmer Fredette had a nice step through move to get into the lane for a lay up.

*Fredette was playing some shooting guard in practice.

*There were times during the scrimmage James Johnson was defending DeMarcus Cousins.

*Keith Smart on increasing Tyreke Evans' minutes (he's averaging a team-high 32.4):

"I would like to get that up, yes, but I also want to make sure that he's productive in those minutes."

Smart wants to make sure there isn't too much dead time for someone playing 40 minutes. So rather than have that player taking breaks on the floor, he'd rather sit him and play someone fresh.

*When asked about the Kings lack of free throws during some games, Smart said the Kings are doing a good job of getting to the paint and looking for contact but couldn't say why they don't shoot more free throws.

(Yes, he avoided a fine).

"We've got to do a better job of putting pressure on guys off the dribble and forcing them to put a hand on us and draw fouls," Smart said.

*Smart is still concerned with the Kings' defensive rebounding. Sacramento began Thursday 28th in total rebounding (39.57 per game) and is outrebounded on average by 4.64, the third largest differential in the league.

The Kings just allowed Kevin Love to grab 24 rebounds.

"That's a man's job because you've got to get it," Smart said. "You just have to have mindset that you're going to get 20 rebounds tonight. As a guard you're going to get 10 rebounds and that's the mindset that you've got to have."

Smart on ways the Pacers are different from the team the Kings played Nov. 3 in Indiana:

"David West is getting the ball a lot more in areas where he's comfortable scoring right now."

"George Hill is just playing very well."

November 28, 2012
Evans wants the ball late in games; Thomas and Fredette sorting out playing time

No breaking news out of practice today. Kings coach Keith Smart didn't address the media because he had to leave for his son's basketball game.

No injury news, either.

Tyreke Evans, Jimmer Fredette and Isaiah Thomas spoke with the media after practice.

Evans

On being the "go-to" guy:

"I want to try to take on that challenge if the coach puts the ball in my hands to make a play for me or one of my teammates. That's what I was trying to do last night. I thought I could have had the elbow jumper a little bit more but I was looking for the assists, I was looking to pass the ball."

On the Kings' philosophy on a go-to guy late in games:

"If a guy's got a hot hand that's who we go with. If a guy's rolling, try to get him a good look."

On taking on the role again as he did to start his career:

"I just don't try to make it seem like I'm trying to do it all by myself and seem selfish. I'm a guy that will play with my team and try to win basketball games."

Fredette

On communication with Smart about the rotation between himself and Thomas:

"He just makes a game time decision. We don't know until he calls your name, basically. So you've just got to be ready and prepared. He decides on the matchups and what's best for the team at the time."

On working with Thomas:

"We have a good relationship with each other. We're both competitive. we work hard in practice, going against each other, trying to make each other better so that's one thing that's a positive for us."

"We cheer for each other when we're on the bench on the other is playing."

Thomas

On his role:

"No matter if I start or I come off the bench I know I've got to bring energy and be me on the offensive end."

On how he and Fredette manage not knowing who will play:

"Honestly I don't know. I'm ready. I'm ready at the beginning of games and he's ready. We never know who's going to go in first, really. We never know who's going to play more. We've just got to be ready no matter what. I didn't play a couple games ago and I stayed ready. He didn't play last night. We've just got to stay ready. It is what it is; you've got to control what you can control."

On if playing limited minutes causes players to press more:

"You can ask anybody that doesn't know how long they're going to be on the court. They kind of think too much because they want to do everything to stay on the court."

November 28, 2012
The Morning After: Kings bogged down by confusion

The pressure was on and the Kings looked ... confused.

So it's no shock they failed to execute and lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves Tuesday night.

The Kings still don't know what they're doing late in games when the pressure is on. It's a group that doesn't seem to know their roles.

November 28, 2012
Kings swallowed by Wolves


Sometimes, the basketball gods make the right call. The Kings threatened to come back and win tonight's game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, but a prayer of a shot by Kevin Love helped secure a deserving victory for the visitors. On top of everything else - DeMarcus Cousins' foul trouble, lack of rebounding, terrible decisions, etc. - the injured Ricky Rubio is still a few weeks away from being activated following major knee surgery.

So, here are just a few final thoughts on the Kings' latest effort:

* Kevin Love (outrebounded) the Kings entire starting lineup (20).
* Except for Tyreke Evans, who is playing the best basketball of his career, and really seems to be settling into the type of player he can be in this league, none of the Kings played well.
* Given the Kings' atrocious decision-making and late-game execution - not a new problem in light of the absence of a big time floor leader - it seems strange that Jimmer Fredette can't get on the court. The second-year guard has played sparingly of late and lost time to Isaiah Thomas, but now that teams are becoming more familiar with the energetic, but diminutive Thomas, his turnovers - particularly on penetration - are becoming an increasing issue.
* Maybe it's contagious. Rookie Thomas Robinson totally ignored a wide-open Marcus Thornton on the right wing, and attempted an ill-advised dribble-drive, among other things. He grabbed six boards, but seemed confused and tried to do too much.
* There is no way Cousins should have attempted 22 shots in 27 foul-plagued minutes. And five rebounds? He is not exactly on a roll ...
* Finally, I am still trying to figure out why Cousins, Isaiah Thomas, John Salmons, among others, insisted on driving into a crowd of defenders that, for the most part, consisted of the 6-foot-9, long-limbed Andrei Kirilenko, the 6-foot-10 Kevin Love and the 6-foot-11 Nikola Pekovic. Once again, the Kings' reluctance to make the extra pass (or even a meaningful pass, period) contributed mightily to their demise despite their reasonable assist total (21).

November 27, 2012
In-game blog: Kings vs. Timberwolves

FINAL
Timberwolves 97, Kings 89

The Kings hope of a second two-game winning streak came to an end thanks to a dominant performance by Kevin Love.

Love posted the first 20-20 game of the season with 23 points and 24 rebounds to lead Minnesota (6-7) and end a five-game losing streak.

Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins each had 20 points apiece for the Kings (4-10).

Love, however, outrebounded the Kings' starters by himself (24-20). The Kings shot 44 percent after shooting better than 50 percent in three consecutive games.

THIRD QUARTER
Timberwolves 75, Kings 67

The Kings haven't found their shooting touch from the previous three games and continue to lose ground.

The Kings are shooting 43.1 percent.

Kevin Love has a lot to do with the Minnesota's lead. The All-Star forward had 17 points and 21 rebounds to lead Minnesota.

The Kings were without DeMarcus Cousins much of the quarter. He picked up two fouls, with his fourth being a unique double foul.

One official called Love for a block, another called Cousins for a charge. So the double foul was called.

Without Cousins to contend with most of the quarter, Love grabbed 10 rebounds.

Cousins has a team-high 14 points for Sacramento.

HALFTIME
Timberwolves 48, Kings 45

Minnesota is still in the lead, thanks to 50 percent shooting and 30 points in the paint.

The Kings have 12 points from DeMarcus Cousins and 10 from Marcus Thornton off the bench.

But the Kings have yet to attempt a free throw while the Timberwolves has shot eight free throws.

Nikola Pekovic leads Minnesota with 12 points. Kevin Love has 11 rebounds and eight points.

Minnesota led by as many as nine points in the second quarter before Keith Smart was able to get his entire starting lineup in to settle things down.

FIRST QUARTER
Timberwolves 27, Kings 26

DeMarcus Cousins already had 10 points and Tyreke Evans has seven, but the Kings are down thanks to the hot shooting of the Timberwolves.

Minnesota made 12 of 19 shots and every starter has at least four points. Luke Ridnour, Nikola Pekovic and Andrei Kirilenko all have six points.

The Kings scored seven points off six turnovers by Minnesota.

The Kings led by as many as seven points, but the Timberwolves ended the quarter on a 17-9 run.

November 27, 2012
Kings vs. Timberwolves: Five things to watch

This is the kind of game the Kings have shown the tendency to lose in recent seasons.

The Minnesota Timberwolves have lost five game games in a row and key players have been injured. In these situations the Kings have shown up overconfident and gotten beaten (see last season's loss to Golden State after the Monta Ellis trade).

For a team that has been below .500 more times than not lately, it was amazing how many times I heard something along the lines of "we were overconfident" after a loss.

November 26, 2012
NBA fines Aaron Brooks for mouthpiece toss; Cousins says ref cursed at him

The NBA fined Kings guard Aaron Brooks $25,000 for throwing his mouthpiece into the stands after last Friday's loss at Utah.

The fine was announced after Kings media availability so Brooks was not available for comment.

Brooks was frustrated at the end of the game, one in which the Kings held a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter.

Brooks believed he'd been fouled on a drive by Utah's Jamaal Tinsley with 14.9 seconds to play but there was no call and Tinsley was given credit for a steal.

The Jazz would win the game, 104-102, on a jump shot by Gordon Hayward with 4.5 seconds to play.

Brooks is the third King to be disciplined by the league this month.

Thomas Robinson was suspended two games for a flagrant foul against Detroit's Jonas Jerebko.

DeMarcus Cousins was suspended two games for leaving the locker room to confront San Antonio television analyst Sean Elliott in a hostile manner after a game at Sleep Train Arena.

*Speaking of Cousins, I was going to post the video of his media time today, discussing his ejection and technical fouls, but my bosses don't take too kindly to profanity on the web site.

Here's what he said:

"The referee (Gary Zelenski) cursed at me. He told me to go (expletive) ask the other referee (about the first technical foul). I was going to say something back, kept my cool and walked away and still end up with a technical. So I still don't understand."

Cousins said he was told by Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie that his technical fouls would not be rescinded by the league.

So I asked Cousins if he considered just not talking to officials. Here's his response:

"If that's the case before every game they shouldn't say if you have a problem come talk to us. Because apparently we can't talk to them."

November 26, 2012
Cousins' second technical? NBA should look again

After watching replays of the sequence leading to DeMarcus Cousins' ejection in Saturday's Kings-Jazz game at Sleep Train Arena - say, about 25 times over the past 24 hours - my conclusion is this: Unless I totally missed something, Cousins did nothing that warranted a second technical and automatic ejection. I was seated a few feet from where the incident occurred, and from what I observed, after referee Gary Zielinski pointed and directed Cousins to walk away, the third-year center started to protest, but then restrained himself and quickly closed his mouth. He was hit with the second technical after he turned his back and started moving toward midcourt.

Though TV never compeletely captures the moment, the replay confirmed my gut reaction, so I won't be surprised if the league rescinds the second technical. An argument can be made that Cousins didn't even deserve the first technical assessed moments earlier when he slapped down on the ball during a bang-bang play with Jazz backup center Enes Kanter.

That said, the refs are human. Until Cousins cools it with the frowns, headhakes, and constant verbal complaints, he will remain an easy, obvious target. His recent postgame confrontation with Spurs' analyst Sean Elliott (and resulting two-game suspension) doesn't help his cause, either.

November 25, 2012
The Morning After: DeMarcus Cousins must show more restraint
November 24, 2012
In-game blog: Kings vs. Jazz

FINAL
Kings 108, Jazz 97

Tyreke Evans sat for most of the fourth quarter Friday night as the Kings blew a 13-point lead against the Jazz. Evans would get no such rest Saturday.

The Kings' guard scored a season-high 27 points on 9-of-17 shooting to lead the Kings to a win over the Jazz at the Sleep Train Arena. They improved to 4-4 at home on the year and 4-9 overall.

The Kings played nearly mistake-free in the second half, committing just two turnovers, and held the Jazz to 40.5 percent shooting overall. Meanwhile the Kings shot 54 percent.

With DeMarcus Cousins ejected from the game in the third quarter, rookie Thomas Robinson played much of the fourth quarter and played well, scoring seven points in the period to finish with nine.

Evans was also 9-of-9 from the free-throw line and has not missed any of his 17 free-throw attempts over the last three games. Jason Thompson finished with 16 points and nine rebounds and Aaron Brooks had 13 points.

Randy Foye scored 17 points and Paul Millsap had 13 points and 8 rebounds for the Jazz, who played without injured point guard Mo Williams and fell to 7-7.

THIRD QUARTER
Kings 83, Jazz 75

For the second night in a row, the Kings are taking a lead into the fourth quarter against the Utah Jazz. They'll be trying not to give this one back -- but they'll have to protect it without center DeMarcus Cousins.

Cousins was ejected late in the quarter -- he drew two quick technical fouls after appearing to slap a ball out of the hands of Jazz center Enes Kanter after the whistle had been blown.

Cousins was having a good game with 14 points and nine rebounds and had thrown down a thunderous dunk a few possessions earlier. Tyreke Evans leads all scorers with 17 points, and Jason Thompson has added 14 points and eight rebounds.

Randy Foye leads the Jazz with 15 points. Al Jefferson has 12 and Paul Millsap has 10.

November 24, 2012
Kings vs. Jazz: Five things to watch

Fan furor over Keith Smart sitting Tyreke Evans most of the fourth quarter Friday night might subside by tip-off tonight in the second of back-to-back games against the Utah Jazz.

There's statistical evidence for the anger. Evans had the highest plus/minus rating of any Kings last night (plus-6) which might have been higher is he played more than 30:37, second fewest among the starting five.

A lot will be forgotten if the Kings rebound and win tonight. Here are five things to ponder as the Kings look to avoid another losing streak:

1. Evans' minutes: After a stretch of supbar play on offense, Evans appears to have found his way on offense. Or as he told me last night, he feels like himself again. Evans has played more than 40 minutes once this season - in a double overtime loss at Indiana. If the game is close, Evans should be on the court more.
2. Brooks' shooting: Is it a coincidence Evans is playing better with Aaron Brooks in the starting lineup? Brooks is shooting 70.3 percent (19 of 27) from the field and 61.5 percent (8 of 13) on three pointers.
3. Making the smart play: It was easy to rave about the great decision making in beating the Lakers when there was a double-digit lead most of the fourth quarter. When the game was tight in Utah, the Kings couldn't get out of their own way at crucial moments, leading to bad shots, bad fouls and looks of disgust on the court.
4. Keeping track of Hayward: The Kings couldn't slow him down enough last night as he had 23 points off the bench in Utah's comeback win. That might mean playing a bigger defender, like James Johnson, on Hayward.
5. Tinsley factor: The player with the best plus/minus Friday night was backup point guard Jamaal Tinsley. He was a plus-18 with 12 assists and a late steal in the win for Utah. Mo Williams (sprained right ankle) is doubtful for tonight's game so there will be a lot of Tinlsey again.

November 24, 2012
The Morning After: Tyreke Evans sits quietly as Kings blow a game

SALT LAKE CITY - Tyreke Evans said he doesn't want to be seen as selfish.

So rather than tell his coach he wanted to go back into a game that was slipping away, he just waited and the Kings eventually lost 104-102 to the Utah Jazz.

Kings coach Keith Smart said he sat Evans so long because the Kings had a good flow and a comfortable lead. But as Evans sat, that flow left the floor.

When Evans checked in the Kings led 99-94. But by then the Jazz had all the momentum and Evans could do nothing to stop it after three solid quarters of play.

"Yeah, it was," Evans said when asked if it was tough to watch nearly nine minutes of the fourth quarter. "Just knowing that (the Jazz) was fighting every time down the court."

Of course, the other argument is Evans shouldn't have to ask back into a game that he's playing so well. He was the last starter to return to the game as the Kings imploded.

Evans said he didn't ask Smart to put him back in the game because he doesn't want to appear to be selfish or a stat chaser.

He unfairly had that tag placed on him as a rookie during the Kings' 20-5-5 campaign that he was always uncomfortable with.

If Evans keeps up his play of late, there's no reason not to play him more.

Evans is playing his best ball of the season lately and his statistics would indicate he should be playing more. He's averaging 19.3 points, five rebounds and 4.3 assists in his last three games.

Evans is doing so even though he averages 29:44 of playing time, trailing Jason Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins for average playing time on the team.

Evans couldn't get going again after sitting most of the fourth quarter Friday night.

"They had momentum going," Evans said. "It's just tough coming in and trying to get it going gain. It's tough."

*The Kings came out of a timeout with 32.4 seconds to play and apparently couldn't get the play right, forcing Aaron Brooks to try and make something happen on his own.

"No, it wasn't an isolation," Smart said. "We wanted the big to come up and get a pick-and-roll and force two guys to come into the pick and roll. Obviously no one came up there and then he took it upon himself to make a play."

The only big on the floor was DeMarcus Cousins and he appears to be setting a screen on Jimmer Fredette's man.

Check out the highlight video here and decide for yourself.

But coming out of a timeout and not running the correct play and looking clueless on the inbounds play after Gordon Hayward's game-winner are examples of the lack of discipline that will keep the Kings piling up losses.

November 23, 2012
In-game blog: Kings at Jazz

FINAL
Jazz 104, Kings 102

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Kings blew a 13-point lead and Gordon Hayward's jumper with 4.5 seconds to play sent the Kings home with a loss.

Tyreke Evans led the Kings(3-9) with 19 points but sat nearly nine minutes of the fourth quarter while the lead evaporated.

DeMarcus Cousins had two costly fouls in the backcourt that led to free throws for the Jazz, but the Kings had a chance to win the game.

Out of a timeout the Kings called an isolation play for Aaron Brooks, but he was stripped (Brooks believes he was fouled) with 12.5 seconds to play to set up Hayward's shot.

Hayward led the Jazz (7-6) with 23 points.

THIRD QUARTER
Kings 80, Jazz 73

SALT LAKE CITY - Four of the five Kings' starters have scored in double figures to keep Sacramento ahead.

Four of the five Kings' starters have scored in double figures to keep Sacramento ahead.

Tyreke Evans has a game-high 17 points. He also has a team-high five assists. Aaron Brooks has a season-high 17 points.

The Kings are still shooting well (54.2 percent) and had only one turnover in the third quarter.

Marvin Williams has 16 points to lead Utah. Jamaal Tinsley has eight assists filling in for injured starter Mo Williams.

HALFTIME
Kings 53, Jazz 52

SALT LAKE CITY - The Kings are accustomed to receiving strong efforts from it's bench, but it's Utah's reserves that are keeping this game close.

Utah has 22 bench points. The Kings aren't bad with 16, but if not for the Jazz bench, the Kings might be comfortably ahead.

Gordon Hayward (11 points) and Derrick Favors (eight points) have led Utah's bench.

Tyreke Evans has 12 points to lead the Kings. Aaron Brooks has 10 points and Jason Thompson has nine points. Jimmer Fredette added seven points off the bench.

The Kings have been in control most of the half even with little production from DeMarcus Cousins (two points, four rebounds).

The Kings are shooting 52.5 percent (21 of 40). The Jazz are at 43.9 percent (18 of 41) but have made 14 of 16 free throws. The Kings have also allowed eight points off 10 turnovers.

The Jazz are also beating the Kings in paint points (24-18), an area the Kings have done well in this season.

The Jazz will be without starting point guard Mo Williams, who could not stay on the court after returning from a sprained right ankle suffered in the first quarter.

FIRST QUARTER
Kings 32, Jazz 28

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Kings are off to a good shooting start, having made 13 of 21 shots in the opening quarter.

Aaron Brooks has 10 points and two assists for the Kings. Jason Thompson has seven points.

The Jazz shot 9 of 22 and were able to cut into the Kings' 10-point lead behind the play of reserves Gordon Hayward (six points) and Derrick Favors (two points).

November 23, 2012
Kings at Jazz: Five things to watch

SALT LAKE CITY - Tonight's game provides a test of the Kings' maturity.

They are playing on the road, and the opponent isn't a title contender. So what kind of effort will we see from Sacramento against the Utah Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena?

It's anyone's guess.

With that in mind here are some things to consider as the Kings go for their first road win of the season:

November 22, 2012
The Morning After: Kings have to follow up win with another strong showing

The Kings win over the Lakers was easily their best game of the season. But I'll be more impressed if they can follow that up with a solid effort Friday at Utah.

The Kings' inability to play with energy and focus they showed against the Lakers is baffling.

For the Kings to begin improving, they can't take teams not named the Lakers, Celtics, Thunder or Heat lightly.

November 21, 2012
In-game blog: Kings vs. Lakers

FINAL
Kings 113, Lakers 97

The Kings had their best offensive showing of the season season in beating the Los Angeles Lakers at Sleep Train Arena.

The Kings (3-8) posted season-highs in scoring, shooting percentage (54.3 percent) and three-point percentage (46.7 percent). The Kings capped the night with a season-high 40 points in the fourth quarter.

Marcus Thornton led a solid bench effort with 23 points. Tyreke Evans led the starters with 18 points and six assists.

Jason Thompson had 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Kobe Bryant led the Lakers (6-6) with 38 points. But besides Jodie Meeks (15 points) and Metta World Peace (13 points), Bryant didn't get much help.

Dwight Howard had seven points and nine rebounds. Pau Gasol had eight points and nine rebounds.

THIRD QUARTER
Kings 73, Lakers 69

The Kings led by as many as 11 points in the third quarter. Tyreke Evans had 10 points of his 14 points in the quarter and also has six assists and four rebounds for the game.

Aaron Brooks scored 11 points in the third after going scoreless in the first half and give the Kings a lead.

Kobe Bryant is keeping the Lakers in the game. He scored 16 of his game-high 31 points in the third. That's making up for a quiet games from Dwight Howard (four points, eight rebounds) and Pau Gasol (six points, seven rebounds).

HALFTIME
Kings 42, Lakers 41

Sparked by a 9-0 run to start the second quarter, the Kings have taken a halftime lead.

John Salmons leads the Kings with 13 points. Marcus Thornton has 11 points off the bench.

Kobe Bryant has 15 points to lead the Lakers.

The Lakers are just 6 of 15 on free throws. The Kings have attempted only two free throws.

FIRST QUARTER
Lakers 21, Kings 15

The Kings are shooting 6 of 19 and have seven turnovers. And if not for John Salmons, who scored the Kings' first nine points, they might be in a bigger hole.

Three starters (DeMarcus Cousins, Tyreke Evans, Aaron Brooks) already have three fouls and have combined to shoot 1 of 10.

Metta World Peace and Kobe Bryant each have five points to lead the Lakers.

November 21, 2012
Kings vs. Lakers: Five things to watch

The Lakers are in town.

That should be enough to inspire a spark out of the Kings tonight.

The Kings usually play with energy - something they've lacked a lot this season - when they play the Lakers. But at some point the Kings have to execute to end their losing streak, which is at five games.

Here are five things the Kings could try tonight to end their losing streak.

1. Hack-a-Howard: Lakers center Dwight Howard was 7 of 19 on free throws Tuesday night against Brooklyn. The Nets went to fouling Howard intentionally late, but still lost to the Lakers.
2. Attack from the point: The Kings are starting Darius Morris at point guard while Steve Nash and Steve Blake are out with injuries. Aaron Brooks, Jimmer Fredette and Isaiah Thomas have to be aggressive and test Morris.
3. Glass watch: The Lakers figure to have the advantage rebounding with Howard and Pau Gasol. The Kings can't make their job easier by taking bad shots that can be rebounded easily and lead to transition points. Nor can the Kings afford to allow Howard and Gasol too many second-chance points off offensive rebounds.
4. Run, run, run: The Lakers want to play fast, but the Kings are younger and have had two days off while the Lakers are in the second of back-to-back games. The more the Kings can run and not play halfcourt offense, the better their chances of winning.
5. Big bench effort: The Lakers' bench has not been productive and has been hurt by injuries that have left them with one point guard (Chris Duhon) to run the team. The Kings have been good off the bench most of the season and has to take advantage of the Lakers' second unit when possible.

November 20, 2012
Geoff Petrie weighs in on 2-8 start; the Kings lack energy and looking for leadership

I caught up with Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie this afternoon to get his take on the Kings' 2-8 start.

"I don't think you can avoid, our record isn't what we hoped it would be at this point and the major reason for that is that we've just struggled mightily on offense. The improvements we've made defensively for the most part have been mitigated by not being able to be productive offensively, primarily in the halfcourt."

On if roster changes need to be made:

"I think in the short term you have to give it a little more time. And maybe there are different lineup combinations that will work better, maybe there are different rotations that will work better. But at some point those things have to be open for discussion. I don't think this early in the season any teams are looking to be aggressive and make changes."

On if he has to be more patient with young players:

"To a point. We're still a young team but we're not a totally inexperienced team either. But you're still looking for growth there."

Energy problems

The Kings lack energy to start games.

That's not exactly what a coach wants to hear, but it's something players admit has been a problem lately.

"I just think that everybody we play has more energy than us," said guard Tyreke Evans. "We've got to do a better job of having energy and we'll be good from there."

Said guard Marcus Thornton:

"I don't think we've been playing with a lot of energy the last couple of games, letting teams get out to a good start. And for us we can't have that."

Why do the Kings lack energy?

"I have no idea," Evans said. "We showed against (Brooklyn) how good we can be and how we can play with energy."

Kings coach Keith Smart said he doesn't have a speech to give his players to inspire enthusiasm every night.

"That's not happening in pro sports, you have too many games," Smart said. "It's up to the players to come out of the gate, making plays and making shots to be ready to go to start a basketball game."

The Kings have an acknowledged leadership void they are trying to fill. So Smart said he stays on his point guards to get the rest of the team energized.

"When you have energy and enthusiasm at the one position,(the team is) going to have it because you're going to push the pace of the basketball game," Smart said. "That's why I love watching (Deron) Williams from Brooklyn, the way he plays the game so fast to start a game off and then he settles into and let's his teammates play. And Jason Kidd did that when he was playing (in Dallas) and Steve Nash does that. Those guys understand the tempo of the game starts with them. Not with a big guy, not with a wing player, it starts with them. That's why I try to harp onto those guys the pace of how you play determines a lot in the first quarter....you can't coach energy."

*I've hit the topic of leadership and the Kings a few times. Here's a little more from Smart on the subject:

"A leader will push through but our team has got to push through. It's not so much just one guy. We don't have the one guy that I can say, here's the ball, carry us with 42 points."

"You can count (on a leader) every single night to bring the same level of energy and intensity every single night, then that leadership thing pushes through. Our guys are still trying to feel themselves out in the NBA."

"I think you get the false sense of leadership sometimes. You get the 'I'm scoring so I'm a leader.' Leadership is how you work and how you function every single day. You can lead from any position on the team....you cannot hide a leader."

November 19, 2012
Call to Readers: Weigh in on the Kings' season so far

At 2-8, the Kings are off to their worst start through 10 games in more than two decades, while uncertainty continues to swirl around the team's future in Sacramento. The Bee is looking for fans to weigh in on the state of the team -- are you frustrated, angry, optimistic, ambivalent, supporting the Kings no matter what?

Call/email reporter Matt Kawahara at (916) 321-1015 or mkawahara@sacbee.com with your comments.

November 19, 2012
The Morning After: The numbers behind a bad start

Ten games into the 2012-13 season, the Kings are tied for the third-worst record in the NBA and the worst record in the Western Conference.

The Kings are off to their worst start since the 1990-91 season.

A big reason for this is defense.

November 18, 2012
In-game blog: Kings vs. Nets

FINAL
Nets 99, Kings 90

The good shooting of DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans wasn't enough to overcome 17 turnovers and balanced scoring from Brooklyn.

Cousins made all nine of his shots in the second half to finish 12 of 21 with a season-high 29 points. Evans was 8 of 14 with 21 points. But only one other King scored in double figures.

Six Nets (6-2) scored in double figures, led by Andray Blatche with 22 points.

The Kings (2-8) also gave up 22 points off 17 turnovers.

THIRD QUARTER
Nets 74, Kings 65

Andray Blatche finally missed a shot but the Kings still trail Brooklyn.

DeMarcus Cousins (18 points, seven rebounds, two assists) and Tyreke Evans (17 points, seven rebounds) were both effective in the third quarter. But that still wasn't enough to overtake the Nets.

The Kings have 13 turnovers, six coming in the third quarter.

Blatche made his first 10 shots and is shooting 11 of 12 for 22 points.

HALFTIME
Nets 54, Kings 42

It was the Andray Blatche show much of the second quarter. The backup forward for Brooklyn made all six of his shots in the quarter and is 9 of 9 for the game with 18 points.

Overall the Kings allowed Brooklyn to shoot 53.7 percent. Deron Williams has eight of Brooklyn's 15 assists. The Kings have four assists through two quarters.

Tyreke Evans leads the Kings with 10 points and four rebounds. DeMarcus Cousins had six points but is shooting 3 of 12.

FIRST QUARTER
Kings 21, Nets 20

The Kings changed things up.

*James Johnson and Isaiah Thomas are out as starters, replaced by John Salmons and Aaron Brooks.

*Jimmer Fredette was the first point guard off the bench instead of Thomas. Fredette had been the No. 3 point guard all season.

But that Nets closed the quarter on a 13-5 run to take the lead.

Brook Lopez has eight points to lead Brooklyn. Deron Williams already has three assists.

Tyreke Evans leads the Kings with six points and four rebounds.

November 18, 2012
Kings vs. Nets: Five things to watch

Keith Smart said lineup changes are a possibility now that the Kings are 2-7. And as usual, Smart is being secretive about what those changes might be when the Kings play the Brooklyn Nets this afternoon.

But the lineup isn't the only thing that needs to change to end Sacramento's four-game losing streak.

So here are some lineup possibilities and other areas of improvement to look for this afternoon.

1. Aaron Brooks in the starting lineup: The competition for the starting point guard spot was closer than most realize. This would be the most obvious change to shake up what has been a slow-starting team lately.
2. Marcus Thornton in the starting lineup: Along with Brooks, Thornton has been a big part of the production from the bench. If Smart starts Thornton, that would probably put Tyreke Evans at small forward and James Johnson on the bench. Then the Kings would have a smaller lineup, which Smart would prefer not to use.
3. More Jimmer: For a team that needs more spacing and improved shooting, Jimmer Fredette has to be an option. Defenses have to respect his outside shot, which can't be said about many of the Kings.
4. Check the egos: If all the talk of self-examination and accountability was serious, we should see some changes in how the Kings approach the game. That means finding the hot player on offense and more than two people touching the ball on offense. Now is not the time for players to prove their worth while the team struggles.
5. Halftime routine: Whatever the Kings have been doing at halftime isn't working. In their last two games the Kings have been routed in the third quarter. The Nets have the talent to bury the Kings in the same manner if they come out flat.

November 17, 2012
John Salmons speaks up to try to halt losing streak

Players and coaches won't discuss publicly what was said in Friday night's players-only meeting or during Saturday's film session that was said to be another session of honesty among teammates.

But we do know who got the "clear the air" movement going: John Salmons.

Salmons is not the most vocal King. He admittedly leads by example. But with the Kings losing four consecutive games and with a 2-7 record, he felt the need to speak up and have the players talk amongst themselves.

November 17, 2012
The Morning After: Kings not sharing enough on offense

The Atlanta Hawks shredded the Kings' defense in a 112-96 win by doing what the Kings say they want to do -- share the basketball.

"We preach moving the basketball," said Hawks coach Larry Drew. "We want to be a
team that has the ability to try to exploit matchups which we feel we can. More importantly we emphasize sharing the basketball and we did a really good job of that tonight. Guys were finding each other all over the place and when we play like that we're a fun team to watch."

The Kings were a lot of fun to watch in the second quarter Friday night.

The Kings had 11 of their season-high 25 assists in the second quarter.

But when the game fell apart in the third quarter, the Kings had just three assists. The Kings had eight assists in the second half.

So when things went bad, the Kings didn't do what their second-unit did and share the ball. Again, it costs them.

"If we can move the basketball then we can get back into the game," said Kings coach Keith Smart. "When we don't move it, well, you saw what happened. Everyone was trying to do one-on-one plays, a lot of them think they're one-on-one players, but they're not. When we move the ball and share the basketball, we have a better opportunity. If we share the ball, move the basketball for the pass to make a play, then we shoot about 45 percent as a team. If we simply try to go one-on-one, we shoot around 30. That's where we need to work on, I need to find the right combination to move the basketball and get away from this individual side of the game that we are playing right now."

Boos for the home team

The Kings left the court to boos Friday. Understandable after the Kings dropped their fourth consecutive game in what could be described as a passive manner.

Smart was booed in the fourth quarter when he pulled Jimmer Fredette. The loudest cheers in the second half came when Fredette checked in for the first time with 7.2 seconds left in the third quarter.

Fredette had just two points and clearly could not get into a rhythm after sitting so long. Defense is usually the reason Fredette sits, but with the Kings allowing a season high in points (112) and shooting percentage (55.3 percent), it's hard to imagine Fredette would have been much worse.

Third quarter collapse

One reason Smart has to look at changing his starting lineup is he can only ask the bench to save the Kings so many times.

After the reserves cuts pulled the Kings within two at halftime (after trailing by 16) the starters gave the lead right back after halftime.

By time Smart got Thornton back into the game in the third, the Kings were down down seven with 4:12 left in the quarter. Aaron Brooks checked in with 3:31 left in the third and the Kings were down 10.

"It was a combination of asking, do I start that second combination back in the game or do I go back to what we did earlier," Smart said of the third-quarter problems. "Sometimes as a coach, you have to somehow find in that group what you have and pay
attention. You have to kind of read what is happening in the game. The other team is ruling the quarter, in the second quarter we cut the lead down a great, managing amount. We were only down by two at halftime. Then obviously we came out to start the second half and did okay, but then it got away from us."

November 16, 2012
In-game blog: Kings vs. Hawks

FINAL
Hawks 112, Kings 96

The Kings shot 6 of 24 in the third quarter as the Hawks pulled ahead by double-digits again.

The Hawks are shooting 53.3 percent (32 of 60). Kyle Korver leads Atlanta with 18 points. Lou Williams has 17 points off the bench.

Jason Thompson has 14 points for the Kings. DeMarcus Cousins has seven points (3 of 12 shooting) and 10 rebounds. Cousins also has five assists.

THIRD QUARTER
Hawks 86, Kings 70

The Kings shot 6 of 24 in the third quarter as the Hawks pulled ahead by double-digits again.

The Hawks are shooting 53.3 percent (32 of 60). Kyle Korver leads Atlanta with 18 points. Lou Williams has 17 points off the bench.

Jason Thompson has 14 points for the Kings. DeMarcus Cousins has seven points (3 of 12 shooting) and 10 rebounds. Cousins also has five assists.

HALFTIME
Hawks 58, Kings 56

After a bad shooting start, the Kings made 15 of 21 shots in the second quarter.

The bench was responsible for most of the production. Marcus Thornton had 10 points and Aaron Brooks had 13 points and three assists to lead the second unit.

Kings' reserves scored 32 of 36 points in the second quarter for the Kings.

Even with the hot shooting, the Kings are still down because Jeff Teague hit a jumper at the buzzer.

Teague leads all scorers with 15 points.

FIRST QUARTER
Hawks 34, Kings 20

Jeff Teague got the Hawks off to a good start and the Kings are trying to keep pace.

Teague made 6 of 7 shots for 13 points. Atlanta shot 14 of 24 (58.3 percent) while the Kings are off to another slow start (8 of 20, 40 percent).

The Kings also had five turnovers in the quarter.

Tyreke Evans leads the Kings with seven points.

November 16, 2012
Kings vs. Hawks: Five things to watch

Keith Smart gave his players their shooting statistics Thursday and asked each player to go their strengths and stay away from their weaknesses. Smart said they all agreed to do so.

With that in mind, here are five areas of the floor five Kings need to go to or avoid to keep their word (thanks to nba.com/stats).

Smart wants to see his players get their offense going by getting near the basket and the statistics show why.

1. DeMarcus Cousins: Here's the case for Cousins playing near the basket: He is shooting 59.2 percent (29 of 49) from five feet and closer. He's shooting 26.9 percent (14 of 52) from everywhere else on the floor.

2. Tyreke Evans: He's shooting 56.3 percent in the restricted area, but the mid range game (6 of 24, 25 percent) is lacking.

3. Marcus Thornton: He's more proficient near the rim than Cousins (25 of 38, 65.8 percent). On the perimeter Thornton has made 2 of 6 corner three pointers. That might be the spot to find Thornton to get him rolling from the perimeter. Playing Thornton with Chuck Hayes wouldn't hurt, either. Hayes has assisted on 10 of Thornton's shots makes this season.

4. Jimmer Fredette: He's not the biggest guard, but Fredette can score in the paint when he relies on pull ups and floaters. Fredette has made 8 of 11 shots in the paint outside of the restricted area (72.7 percent). He's also made 6 of 9 midrange shots (66.7 percent).

5. James Johnson: Johnson attacking the rim was a positive to come out of Tuesday's loss to Portland. Johnson is shooting 3 of 18 from midrange and has missed all seven of his three pointers. Johnson is shooting 61.5 percent (16 of 26) near the rim. Johnson has made 20 shots this season with only two makes from 20 feet or beyond.

November 15, 2012
Video: Keith Smart after practice

Kings coach Keith Smart addressed the media after Thursday's practice. The Kings had their entire team back with Francisco Garcia (flu) and Isaiah Thomas (death of his grandmother) back at practice today.

November 14, 2012
Video: DeMarcus Cousins discusses his return to the lineup

Kings center DeMarcus Cousins met with the media for the first time since his suspension after a postgame confrontation with San Antonio Spurs television analyst Sean Elliot.

The National Basketball Player's Association is appealing the suspension so Cousins did not discuss the incident.

November 14, 2012
NBPA going forward with appeal for DeMarcus Cousins

The National Basketball Player's Association if going forward with its appeal on behalf of Kings center DeMarcus Cousins.

Cousins was suspended two games for confronting San Antonio Spurs television analyst Sean Elliott in what the NBA deemed a "hostile" manner after last Friday's game.

Cousins can't get the games back, but he can recoup the money he lost during the suspension.

November 14, 2012
The Morning After: Jimmer remains a 'plus' on the court

The statistics continue to support that Jimmer Fredette needs to play more.

Fredette is one of two Kings to not have a negative plus/minus rating this season. Fredette is at zero. John Salmons, who has played in just three games, has a plus-9.

Last season Fredette finished tied with Salmons for second-worst plus/minus on the Kings (-209).

Adding to that -- Fredette's average per 48 minutes is 36.9 points per game.

November 13, 2012
In-game blog: Kings vs. Trail Blazers

FINAL
Trail Blazers 103, Kings 86

The Kings lost their third consecutive game Tuesday night. By the end of the game the Kings were down four players and there's no way of knowing if any of those players would have helped against Portland rookie point guard Damian Lillard.

Lillard had game highs of 22 points and nine assists for the Blazers (3-5). LaMarcus Aldridge added 19 points. J.J. Hickson had 10 points and 13 rebounds.

James Johnson had a season-high 16 points for the Kings (2-6). Marcus Thornton had 14 points and Jimmer Fredette had 13 points and a career-high six assists.

Portland was 14 of 27 on three pointers. The Kings were 1 of 11 on threes.

THIRD QUARTER
Trail Blazers 74, Kings 58

The Kings 54-50 with 7:22 left in the third quarter and then ... it was all bad.

The Blazers closed the quarter on a 24-4 run. All five starters for the Blazers have scored in double figures, led by Damian Lillard with 22 points and nine assists.

The Kings started Tyreke Evans at point guard after halftime because Aaron Brooks (sore left ankle) is out. Marcus Thornton played shooting guard.

Jimmer Fredette played only three minutes in the third after his hot start.

Thornton has 14 points to lead the Kings.

HALFTIME
Trail Blazers 46, Kings 42

The Kings might be down some players but the Kings left with the bench are making up the difference.

Jimmer Fredette (10 points, four assists), Marcus Thornton (eight points) and Thomas Robinson (eight points) have been key in keeping the Kings close.

Aaron Brooks left the game with a sore left ankle, leaving Fredette with plenty of time to play.

Fredette has already played 14 mintues.

Damian Lillard leads Portland with 14 points and four assists.

FIRST QUARTER
Kings 25, Trail Blazers 18

The Kings fell behind 25-10 before closing the quarter on an 8-0 run and stay within reach of the Trail Blazers.

The Kings already have six turnovers.

Jason Thompson, Marcus Thornton and Tyreke Evans each have four points.

Smart went to the bench earlier than normal to try and shake things up and eventually get some kind of offense.

Damian Lillard leads Portland with eight points and two assists.

The Kings are playing without DeMarcus Cousins (suspension) and Isaiah Thomas (personal reasons).

Aaron Brooks started for Thomas.

November 13, 2012
Appeal denied, Cousins will miss second Kings game tonight

By Vic Contreras
vcontreras@sacbee.com

The agent for Kings center DeMarcus Cousins says his client will not play in tonight's game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Sleep Train Arena, meaning the appeal to shorten his two-game suspension to one game has been denied.

Cousins also missed Sunday night's loss to the Los Angeles Lakers after being suspended by the NBA earlier in the day for confronting San Antonio Spurs announcer Sean Elliott in a "hostile manner" after a game last Friday.

The suspension cost Cousins $94,653 in salary. The third-year center, who has yet to address the media about the incident, will be eligible to return to the Kings when they host the Atlanta Hawks on Friday.

For more on this story, see Wednesday's sports section.

November 13, 2012
Kings vs. Trail Blazers: Five things to watch

While the DeMarcus Cousins awaits word on his appeal to have his two-game suspension reduced to one in time for tonight's game against the Portland Trail Blazers, we'll assume he won't be playing.

So with no Cousins how can the Kings end their two-game losing streak?

Here are five ways:

1. Reke Havoc: We're still waiting for Tyreke Evans to have a breakout game this season. His best game of the season still might be the first of the season. With no Cousins there's no reason for Evans to not be more assertive on offense.
2. Gang rebound: The Blazers don't have the imposing size of the Lakers, but it will still take a collective effort not having Cousins on the glass. It helps that Thomas Robinson is back from his two-game suspension.
3. Jimmer's jumpers: The Kings need someone that can make a perimeter shot and Jimmer Fredette give them their best chance of that. Kings coach Keith Smart said he would find more time for Fredette to help the lagging offense.
4. Defensive discipline: The Kings cannot foul excessively if they are to have a chance to win. Without Cousins, there isn't the depth to withstand having to play small against the likes of LaMarcus Aldridge.
5. No excuses: Keep the focus on the game, not the officials. If there's a bad call don't stop playing or let that change your effort.

November 12, 2012
Where the heck is Geoff Petrie?

Among the most troubling elements of these eventful past few days - the two-game suspensions of rookie Thomas Robinson and DeMarcus Cousins - is the ongoing silence of team basketballl president Geoff Petrie. It's not like Sacramento is a huge media market, with dozens of reporters making unreasonable demands or anything. Yet that fact continues to elude the Kings top bball people. Our beat writer, Jason Jones, left a message for Petrie on Sunday after Cousins' penalty for confronting Spurs analyst Sean Elliott was assessed, yet he never heard back. This is a one-newspaper town. How tough is that? (Petrie's voice wasn't heard on the Kings-Lakers telecast from the Staples Center a few hours later either, by the way).

So, ok, we are admittedly Bee-centric. But after practice today, we again asked team publicists if Petrie would address the situation, and were told he was not available. Several of the local media types - from print, television, and bloggers - grumbled openly, and in fact mocked the organization's inability to confront issues, only further diminishing Petrie's reputation. Coach Keith Smart once again was left to answer all the tough questions, and for the first time, he appeared stressed and irritated.

This, then, becomes the question: How can Petrie, as the longtime voice and face of the franchise, expect Robinson and Cousins and the other players to be held accountable when he refuses to .... be held accountable? This is leadership?

November 12, 2012
Players Association appealing Cousins' suspension


DeMarcus Cousins' agent told me a few minutes ago that the Players Association is appealing the two-game suspension the third-year center received for what the league characterized as "confronting" San Antonio Spurs television analyst Sean Elliott in a "hostile manner" following Saturday's Kings-Spurs game at Sleep Train Arena.

According to John Greig, the union is continuing to investigate the matter, but already is convinced the penalty is too severe. Cousins was informed of the two-game penalty and did not play in the Kings-Lakers game Sunday in Staples Center. The immediate goal is to get the suspension lifted prior to tomorrow's home game against the Portland Trail Blazers. Calls to the Players Association were not returned.

"We will definitely have something more to say tomorrow," Greig added late Monday afternoon.

November 12, 2012
The Morning After: Evans still not finding his way on offense

LOS ANGELES - Kings coach Keith Smart said Tyreke Evans has the "green light" to be aggressive on offense.

But watching the Kings play it would be hard to believe that.

On a night when DeMarcus Cousins was suspended, Evans took only nine shots. That's the same number of shots attempted by Travis Outlaw, John Salmons and Jimmer Fredette.

November 11, 2012
In-game blog: Kings at Lakers

FINAL
Lakers 103, Kings 90

Playing without two of their top interior players, the Kings had little chance of slowing the Lakers and have now lost two games in a row.

Jason Thompson fouled out with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

Jimmer Fredette led the Kings (2-5) with 17 points off the bench.

Dwight Howard had 23 points and 18 rebounds to lead the Lakers.

Kobe Bryant had 20 points while Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace each had 18 points for the Lakers (3-4).

THIRD QUARTER
Lakers 79, Kings 66

The Kings shot 32 percent in the third quarter and the Lakers continued to take advantage of Sacramento's lack of size.

Jason Thompson had 15 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Kings while Isaiah Thomas has 13 points.

Kobe Bryant has 20 points. The inside duo of Dwight Howard (16 points, 12 rebound, three blocked shots) and Pau Gasol (16 points, five rebounds, two blocked shots) has been too much for the undermanned Kings.

HALFTIME

Lakers 57, Kings 48

LOS ANGELES -- Jason Thompson has 10 points filling in at center for DeMarcus Cousins, but the Kings haven't been able to keep up with Kobe Bryant (15 points, 3 assists) and Dwight Howard (14 points, 10 rebounds).

The Kings have stayed in the game with some solid contributions from the bench. Jimmer Fredette has seven points in four minutes. Chuck Hayes has six points.

The Kings have been outrebounded 26-16 without Cousins.

FIRST QUARTER
Lakers 29, Kings 22

LOS ANGELES -- Playing without suspended center DeMarcus Cousins, the Kings trail the Lakers at Staples Center.

Travis Outlaw started at power forward and Jason Thompson moved to center for the Kings.

Thompson had five points for the Kings while Tyreke Evans led the Kings with six points.

Metta World Peace led the Lakers with seven points.

November 11, 2012
DeMarcus Cousins suspended two games for confrontation with Spurs announcer Sean Elliot

By Jason Jones
jejones@sacbee.com

LOS ANGELES - The Kings are playing without center DeMarcus Cousins, who was suspended by the NBA Sunday for two games for "confronting Spurs announcer Sean Elliot in a hostile manner" after Friday's loss to the Spurs at Sleep Train Arena.

Cousins left the locker room to confront Elliott after being told that Elliott had made comments about him that were critical.

Cousins said Friday that Elliott was "immature" for his comments that included Elliott suggesting Cousins should have more "humility" playing against Tim Duncan.

November 11, 2012
Kings at Lakers: Five things to watch

LOS ANGELES - The last time the Kings visited Staples Center on Oct. 21, it was for the preseason game the Lakers "tried" to win. The Kings won the game and the Lakers ended the preseason winless.

Obviously both teams will be trying to win tonight.

Here are some things to look for as the Kings look to beat the Lakers again.

November 10, 2012
The Morning After: More on DeMarcus Cousins' problem with Sean Elliott

DeMarcus Cousins hears it all the time.

He's immature. His body language is bad. His attitude makes him tough to coach.

But was Spurs analyst Sean Elliott right to tear into Cousins during Spurs broadcast?

Cousins would say what Elliott said that bothered him after the game, except to say the comments about him were "immature."

Well thanks to Twitter followers that helped me and courtesy of the folks at Spurs Nation you can read the entire post of why Cousins was so upset.

Yes, Cousins said something to the effect of he was going take it to Duncan's (butt). But I didn't think what Cousins said was out of the ordinary for an NBA game.

Cousins yelled that toward his bench and teammates, not at Duncan. And the two had some fun jawing with each other in the fourth quarter of the Spurs win.

Here's what Elliott said:

"That's why some humility is in order. You think you're dominating Tim Duncan, you get it stuffed right back in your face. Timmy doesn't like to talk trash. But if guys start talking mess to him, he's going to respond. All that trash talking was premature. I'm not about to let these guys off the hook. Young ballclubs...should learn from this. Don't start talking and flapping your gums against one of the greatest players ever. He's going to make you pay. Tell me who got the best of this exchange."

I'm not sure how Cousins knew what Elliott said so quickly after the game. But the words definitely bothered Cousins to the point he mentioned them without being asked by the media.

Cousins assumed I'd heard the comments already, but during a game I don't hear the television feeds.

Why was Cousins mad? Believe it or not Cousins does care what people think about him, especially if he believes what is being said isn't based on the truth.

Athletes often say they don't read what's written about them and don't care. Well that's not true. Many of them know everything written or said about them.

Cousins would like to see his reputation change. He just doesn't want a person he doesn't know like Elliott telling the world that he was disrespecting Duncan.

Cousins holds Duncan in very high regard. But as long as the reputation is one of immaturity, Cousins will be subjected to this criticism.

About the only way Cousins can avoid the verbal lashings would be to keep quiet and show no signs of anger during games.

Well that's not going to happen. Cousins doesn't have a poker face on the court. So this won't be the last time Cousins hears something like this from a commentator.

That is, unless the Kings start winning often. Then Cousins will simply be intense.

November 9, 2012
In-game blog: Kings vs. Spurs

FINAL
Spurs 97, Kings 86

The San Antonio Spurs ended the Kings' two-game winning streak with some precision on offense while the Kings struggled to score after a hot first quarter.

The Kings shot 35.2 percent (32 of 91) which wasn't good enough with the Spurs shooting 48.6 percent (35 of 72) to make four for committing 20 turnovers.

Jason Thompson and Marcus Thornton each scored 17 points to lead the Kings (2-4).

Tim Duncan led the Spurs (5-1) with 23 points, 12 rebounds and four blocked shots. Patty Mills had 18 point off the bench for San Antonio.

THIRD QUARTER
Spurs 69, Kings 68

The Kings put together a much better offensive showing in the third quarter. And even though their shooting overall is still bad (37.1 percent) they're in the game.

Jason Thompson has 17 points to lead the Kings and Marcus Thornton has 16. Tyreke Evans scored eight of his 10 points in the third quarter.

Tim Duncan has 15 points and eight rebounds to lead the Spurs. Patty Mills has 11 points off the bench for San Antonio.

The Spurs are helping the Kings stay in the game with 19 turnovers that have led to 15 points for the Kings, who haven't had much from DeMarcus Cousins (seven points, four fouls) in 14 minutes.

HALFTIME
Spurs 47, Kings 39

The Kings shooting has gone cold as they managed just 12 points in the second quarter.

Meanwhile the Spurs are shooting 54.5 percent (18 for 33) to make up for having 13 turnovers in the first half.

Spurs veteran Tim Duncan is doing what he does with 12 points and seven rebounds even though he's feeling sick.

Jason Thompson leads the Kings with 10 points. Marcus Thornton has nine points off the bench.

But the Kings are shooting just 34.8 percent. DeMarcus Cousins, Tyreke Evans and Isaiah Thomas have combined to shoot 3 for 15.

Cousins has played only 10 minutes because he has three fouls.

FIRST QUARTER
Kings 27, Spurs 24

The Kings are looking a lot better on offense and already have seven assists after ball movement was a big concern lately.

DeMarcus Cousins has five points, five rebounds and three assists for the Kings. James Johnson is having his best game on offense this season with seven points. Johnson also has three rebounds.

Gary Neal came off the bench to lead the Spurs with seven points. The Spurs are shooting 50 percent (7 for 14) but also have seven turnovers that have led to nine points for the Kings.

The Kings have also been careless to start a game again. Their five turnovers have led to11 points for the Spurs.

November 9, 2012
Kings vs. Spurs: Five things to watch

Thomas Robinson's two-game suspsension for elbowing Detroit forward Jonas Jerebko serves as a reminder of the Kings' lack of depth in the frontcourt.

The Kings have plenty of wing players, but at the power forward and center positions, Robinson and Chuck Hayes are the primary backups.

Not having Robinson coincides with games against the San Antonio Spurs (with Tim Duncan) and the Los Angles Lakers (with Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol).

Without Robinson, here are five ways the Kings have to adjust for the next two games, beginning tonight against the Spurs.

1. Cousins on the court: DeMarcus Cousins has had two good scoring games because he has stayed out of foul trouble. That can't change or the Kings will be in big trouble.
2. Same goes for J.T.: When it comes to "energy" players in the frontcourt, no Robinson leaves Jason Thompson as the only big in that category. If Thompson were to get into foul trouble the Kings would be without a key component to their ability to get out on fast breaks and rebound.
3. More minutes for Hayes: Chuck Hayes already plays a key role in the rotation. Now there will be plenty of minutes as a reserve if needed.
4. Johnson at the four: Starting small forward James Johnson could also give the Kings some minutes as a power forward. He's already done it this season when the Kings have used a small lineup.
5. Outlaw, too: Travis Outlaw might be more of a "stretch" power forward in a pinch, and the Kings are in a pinch. So Outlaw at the four is a real possibility.

November 8, 2012
Video: Thomas Robinson on his suspension

Here's Kings rookie Thomas Robinson discussing his two-game suspension for elbowing Detroit foward Jonas Jerebko in the neck Wednesday night.

November 8, 2012
Kings rookie Robinson suspended two games by NBA for flagrant elbow

Victor Contreras
vcontreras@sacbee.com

Kings rookie forward Thomas Robinson has been suspended by the NBA for two games following his Flagrant Foul Two and ejection in Sacramento's 105-103 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night at Sleep Train Arena.

Robinson was ejected by game officials in the fourth quarter after throwing an elbow to the head of Jonas Jerebko. NBA executive vice president Stu Jackson said the suspension is without pay, and that Robinson will miss the next two games, Friday at home against San Antonio, and Sunday at the Los Angeles Lakers.

Robinson will be docked $82,308 for the two games missed. He scored two points and grabbed seven rebounds Wednesday night before his ejection. He's averaging 4.4 points in 13.6 minutes in his first five NBA games out of Kansas.

Thursday afternoon at the Kings' practice facility, Robinson apologized for his actions.

"I've got to be smarter in my decisions. It was a bad decision, a bad choice I made," Robinson said. "I made it already, I can't change it. If I could I would but it's something I have to live with and move on from here."

Robinson will be eligible to return to the Kings on Tuesday night against the Portland Trail Blazers at Sleep Train Arena.

See Friday's Bee for more on this story.

November 8, 2012
The Morning After: Keith Smart not satisfied with just winning

For the second consecutive game the Kings appeared on their way to a blowout victory that ended up being closer than coach Keith Smart would have liked.

The Kings beat the Detroit Pistons, 105-103, Wednesday night at Sleep Train Arena.

Smart was happy with the win, but doesn't mean it covered up things he didn't like. There were defensive breakdowns late and the offense stalled with players standing around again.

November 8, 2012
Kings escape Pistons, and cheap shot

So, a few more late-night musings after Kings-Pistons game:

• After watching repeated replays of the elbow that rookie Thomas Robinson delivered to the throat of the Pistons' Jonas Jerebko with about 10 minutes remaining was absolutely inexcusable. The incident happened a few feet from where several of us media members were sitting, so we had a pretty good view. The two players jostled for position under the basket, and after Robinson tagged Jerebko, you could hear the thud as the Pistons forward hit the floor, grabbing his throat. His face turned red and he appeared to be struggling to breathe. Later, one member of the Pistons training staff said the reserve forward was fine. "Just stunned," he said.

• Robinson was charged with a Flagrant 2 foul and ejected. He faces a one-game suspension - at the very least - which means he would miss Friday's game against the San Antonio Spurs. It will be interesting to see whether he makes himself available after practice today to explain and/or apologize for his actions.

• This was a very entertaining matchup between two of the league's emerging young centers. The Pistons' Greg Monroe - who was drafted two spots behind DeMarcus Cousins in 2010 - finished with his first career triple-double. The durable Cousins, who took a hard hit on his left shoulder in the third quarter, finished with 21 points and 11 boards, and again was a factor in the closing minutes with his rebounding, defense and a pair of scores underneath - one on a nifty feed from Isaiah Thomas. These two will be going at it for the next decade.

• Where has this been? Jimmer Fredette scored 12 points, added two assists, and directed and organized the offense in the fourth quarter. He was the floor leader the Kings have been lacking since, oh, maybe, Doug Christie. It's one game, but if the former BYU standout continues to play like this, he will earn huge minutes. His deep shooting also opened up the interior - for a change - for Cousins.

• After the game, Francisco Garcia, John Salmons and Chuck Hayes engaged in a spirited conversation about Monroe. "We have our own PTI," wisecracked Hayes. "We talk about players all the time." The veterans were particularly impressed with Monroe's "basketball IQ." And, it was duly noted, the Pistons also run their offense through the third-year center.

• My least-favorite stat of the night: The Kings' 15 assists.

• My favorite stats of the night: Monroe's 11 assists and the Kings' 8 steals.

November 7, 2012
In-game blog: Kings vs. Pistons

FINAL
Kings 105, Pistons 103

The Kings (2-3) held off the Pistons (0-5) with seven players scoring in double figures.

There was an ugly moment when Thomas Robinson was ejected with 10 minutes to play for flagrant foul 2 after elbowing Jonas Jerebko in the head and neck area.

DeMarcus Cousins lead the Kings with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Greg Monroe had 21 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists for Detroit.

THIRD QUARTER
Kings 79, Pistons 71

The Kings have managed to maintain their lead with balanced offense.

Tyreke Evans and Isaiah Thomas each have 15 points. Evans scored 11 points in the third quarter.

DeMarcus Cousins has 13 points and seven rebounds. Jason Thompson has 12 points.

Cousins began the third quarter wearing a shoulder harness after a flagrant foul in the second quarter by Jason Maxiell.

But two minutes into the third Cousins left the game to remove the harness.

Greg Monroe has 14 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists for Detroit. Brandon Knight leads the Pistons with 15 points.

HALFTIME
Kings 55, Pistons 46

After Isaiah Thomas played the entire first quarter, Aaron Brooks took over for the entire second quarter and scored eight points to go with two assists and help the Kings take a lead at halftime.

DeMarcus Cousins has 10 points and five rebounds for the Kings.

Center Greg Monroe leads the Pistons with 10 points, five rebounds and five assists.

The Kings have been hustling and have 12 second-chance points. Credit Thomas Robinson, who has six rebounds, four of them offensive.

FIRST QUARTER
Pistons 27, Kings 26

Isaiah Thomas is off to a hot start shooting, but the Kings still trail after a quarter.

Thomas made 5 of 8 shots for 12 points. DeMarcus Cousins and Jason Thompson each have six points for the Kings.

Jason Maxiell has nine points to lead Detroit. Brandon Knight has eight points.

The Kings have four turnovers while the Pistons have just one. The Kings are shooting 50 percent whit the Pistons are at 47.8 percent.

November 7, 2012
Kings vs. Pistons: Five Things to Watch

Is it too early in the season for a trap game?

The Kings host the Detroit Pistons tonight. Detroit happens to be one of two winless NBA teams and was on the losing end of two playoff teams (Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets) recently earning their first wins of the season.

Not that the Kings have reason to be cocky.

Sure the vibes are good after Sacramento picked up its first win of the season Monday night against the Golden State Warriors. But the Kings are still a long way from being where they want to be.

Here are a few things the Kings can do to stay on course:

1. Rebound: The Kings outrebounded an opponent for the first time this season on Monday. If DeMarcus Cousins stays out of foul trouble, the Kings should be competitive on the glass.
2. Ride the Chuck Wagon: Apologies to those in Houston that would live to trademark Chuck Hayes' nickname, but it's impossible to ignore the impact Hayes is having on his teammates. What's underestimated his Hayes' impact on offense as a passer and getting the Kings organized.
3. Reke Havoc (on offense): Tyreke Evans has been good defensively but is still finding his way on offense after a good season opener. Evans has to find the game he showed in Chicago where he looked confident in his jump shot and was aggressive going to the hoop.
4. Run, run, run: It can't be said enough - the Kings need to get out in transition more on offense. The more the Kings play halfcourt offense, the greater the chances they'll make mistakes and commit turnovers.
5. Patient Cousins: If the Kings want to give Cousins at least 15 touches, he has to make the most of them. If he doesn't force things, he can use his skills as a passer to set up Evans, Marcus Thornton and others when his shot isn't available.

November 6, 2012
Video: Kings coach Keith Smart on the first big victory


November 6, 2012
The Morning After: Smart keeps the Kings steady

There were several signs posted throughout the Kings locker room Monday night.

One on the door that leads to the court simply read: "REBOUND."

Another was just as simple, but perhaps more profound:

"RELAX IT'S ONLY NOV."

After three losses to start the season Kings coach Keith Smart wasn't about to panic. He wasn't going to change his starting lineup or alter his rotation drastically.

That's the right move with this young team. After spending a month telling the Kings, media and everyone that would listen the Kings were on the right path, losing the first three games of an 82-game season was no reason to flip out.

It's said you can tell if a team still believes in its coach by its defense. A team that stops defending has usually tuned out the coach.

Even with the three losses, the Kings hadn't done that. Through four games only the Chicago Bulls have even cracked 40-percent shooting against the Kings.

Yes, it's only four games. But so far, so good for Smart.

The Kings didn't panic because he didn't.

November 6, 2012
Kings opening night musings


So, after a long, but thoroughly entertaining Kings opener against the Golden State Warriors, here are a few late-night thoughts, musings, observations:

* I don't think I've ever seen Tyreke Evans have this type of night offensively. He went 1-for-9, didn't come close to converting a jumper, and had trouble converting when the Warriors converged (as one would expect) on his drives to the basket. It will be interesting to see how long Keith Smart sticks with Evans and James Johnson in the starting lineup. DeMarcus Cousins had a very productive night with 23 points, 15 boards, two blocks and two steals, but the Kings lack of perimeter shooting certainly doesn't enhance spacing or make scoring easy for any of the bigs.
* Klay Thompson increasingly looks like one of the steals from the 2011 NBA Draft. Mychal always insisted his son was more than just a shooter, and it's looking like father knows best. Shooting, creating his own shot, creating for others. He has size, length, and will become more physical as he gets older. There's a lot to like here. If Stephen Curry overcomes his seemingly chronic foot problems, this can be a terrific backcourt.
* So what ever happened to Crazy Glue or that sticky stuff wide receivers are so fond of? Those black tarps that fell from the overhead scoreboard and onto the court during play - I counted three times - apparently were supposed to cover the old Thunder Valley advertisements until the new Sleep Train signs were installed. That was pretty embarrassing stuff. That said, the Sleep Train plan is pretty slick: the familiar "toot toot" is aired over the p.a. system whenever a Kings player hits a three.
* The number that was most surprising: the Kings finished with only 13 assists, and none in the fourth quarter. Guess that helps explain their offensive meltdown.
* Belated happy birthday wishes to Bill Walton, the sometime Kings analyst and one of the game's good guys. He turned 60 on Sunday. I actually covered him when he had a full head of red hair.
* If the Kings' outside shooting remains so shaky, I wouldn't be surprised to see more of Jimmer Fredette. He scored five quick points against the Warriors, including a contested driving layup that earned him a free throw.
* As a final offering, I loved the analogy Keith Smart offered when talking about his unusual lineup combinations. He said he feels like a baseball manager writing out his lineup card before every game.

November 5, 2012
In-game blog: Kings beat the Warriors, 94-92

FINAL
Kings 94, Warriors 92

Stephen Curry missed a deep three pointer at the buzzer as the Kings (1-3) held off the Golden State Warriors (2-2) for their first win of the season.

The Kings were outscored 28-19 in the fourth but held on thanks to the play of Aaron Brooks, who scored nine of his 12 points in the fourth quarter.

DeMarcus Cousins led the Kings with 23 points and 15 rebounds. Marcus Thornton finished with 16 points.

Klay Thompson led the Warriors with 22 points. David Lee added 20 points.

THIRD QUARTER
Kings 75, Warriors 64

DeMarcus Cousins had a big third quarter and is up to 21 points to go with 14 rebounds. After making 9 of 27 in the loss to Indiana, Cousins has made made 9 of 14 shots. He only has two personal fouls, but did draw his second technical foul of the season. He was called for a tech along with Andrew Bogut.

After five turnovers in the first quarter, the Kings have only eight for the game.

Meanwhile the Warriors have 11 turnovers that have led to 15 points for the Kings. The Warriors are shooting 38.3 percent with Stephen Curry missing nine of his 11 shots.

Klay Thompson has 15 points to lead the Warriors.

HALFTIME
Kings 52, Warriors 44

The Kings' bench provided a boost, led by Marcus Thornton. Thornton has 14 points, four rebounds and three assists as the Kings outscored the Warriors 31-22 in the second quarter.

The Kings have 11 assists, eight coming from bench players. The bench has scored 32 points for the Kings.

David Lee leads the Warriors with 12 points. Stephen Curry six points and seven assists.

The Kings have held the Warriors to 37.5 percent shooting.

FIRST QUARTER
Warriors 22, Kings 21

The Kings shot 45 percent (9 of 20), which is good for them this season, to overcome five turnovers, but still trail the Warriors early.

Isaiah Thomas has seven points while DeMarcus Cousins has six points and five rebounds. Marcus Thornton has five points in 4 minutes off the bench. Thornton also has two assists.

Harrison Barnes leads the Warriors with six points. The Warriors lead even though they are shooting 34.8 percent.

November 5, 2012
Kings vs. Warriors: Five things to watch

The Kings are one of four winless NBA teams.

Not exactly how the Kings wanted to start the season, but hardly reason for wholesale changes.

The Kings have done some things well early, but obviously have a lot of work to do.

Here are five things to watch for tonight when the Kings look to avoid 0-4 against the Golden State Warriors.

1. Offensive efficiency: The Kings make it tough on themselves a lot on offense. Rather than work to find a better shot, there are too many times they just go at a set defense with no gameplan. So make the extra pass and get the best shot possible.
2. Play smarter: Recognize who the hot man is on offense and get him the ball and play off him. In two of three games, the Kings' best offensive player that night (Tyreke Evans at Chicago, Marcus Thornton at Indiana) went too long without touching the ball.
3. Finish the break: The Kings might have a win or two if they were doing a good job of finishing fast breaks. Perhaps it's a sign the Kings aren't athletic enough, but it could also mean they need to make better decisions on the break.
4. Keep defending: The Kings have been active and aggressive on defense. Even though the Kings haven't won a game playing this way, they can't let up on defense. The Kings don't have a proven shot blocker, but the 15 steals they had against Indiana shows they are aggressive. That's a step in the right direction.
5. Watch the whistles: The Kings aren't always getting the benefit of the doubt with the officials, but they can do a lot to not be in bad positions. Too often they reach and grab at players and pick up cheap fouls or pick up bad offensive fouls. This is especially important for DeMarcus Cousins, who has led the NBA in fouls the last two seasons.

November 5, 2012
Limited number of Kings tickets for tonight's game remain available

Kings spokesman Chris Clark said that tickets are available for the team's 7 p.m. home opener today against the Golden State Warriors.

Clark said the game was trending toward a sellout and that a very limited number of tickets remain to be sold. Clark predicted a strong walk-up and a capacity crowd.

November 4, 2012
The Morning After: Kings didn't find Thornton enough late

INDIANAPOLIS - Marcus Thornton was the Kings' hottest player on offense during their comeback late against the Indiana Pacers.

But in the second overtime of their 106-98 loss, Thornton didn't touch the ball until he grabbed a rebound with 2:11 left on the clock.

Seems like a long time for the player that forced overtime twice not to touch the ball, especially on a night when the Kings were struggling with their shots.

November 3, 2012
In-game blog: Kings at Pacers

FINAL/2OT
Pacers 106, Kings 98

INDIANAPOLIS - The Kings (0-3) remain winless on the season after falling to the Indiana Pacers in double overtime.

The Kings defended well after a bad second quarter, but still couldn't break 100 points.

Marcus Thornton forced the second overtime with a three and led the Kings with 26 points. DeMarcus Cousins had 21 points and 13 rebounds, but shot 9 for 27.

David West led the Pacers (2-1) with 18 points and 18 rebounds.

THIRD QUARTER
Pacers 74, Kings 66

INDIANAPOLIS - The Kings came out with increased tenacity on defense after their embarrassing showing in the second quarter.

Now if the offense can catch up, the Kings might have a shot to win this game.

The Kings forced Indiana into seven turnovers in the quarter that led to 11 points. The Kings shot just 40.9 percent but their defensive effort made up for the bad shooting.

DeMarcus Cousins had 17 points and nine rebounds for the Kings. Marcus Thornton has 12 points and Tyreke Evans has 10 points and seven rebounds.

All five starters for the Pacers have scored in double figures, led by George Hill's 13 points.

HALFTIME
Pacers 56, Kings 42

INDIANAPOLIS - The Kings followed one of their best quarters of the early season with might be the worst quarter of 2012-13.

The Kings were outscored 38-18 as Indiana shot 54.2 percent. The King also had five more turnovers to give them 11 in two quarters.

George Hill scored nine of hi 13 points in the second quarter to lead the Pacers. DeMarcus Cousins leads the Kings with 11 points and six rebounds.

Marcus Thornton continues to be productive as a reserve for the Kings with 10 points, three rebound and two assists.

The Kings are shooting 39 percent.

FIRST QUARTER
Kings 24, Pacers 18

INDIANAPOLIS - The King are still doing a good job of slowing their opponents on offense, but this time the Kings managed to find a little bit of offense.

The Kings missed nine of their first 11 shots but made 7 of 12 to close the first quarter with a lead. DeMarcus Cousins has nine points and ix rebounds to lead the Kings. Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton each have six points.

Both teams committed six turnovers in the quarter but the KIgns have only allowed two points off their turnovers. The Kings have six points off Indiana mistakes.

Neither team is shooting well. The Kings are at 39.1 percent white the Pacers have shot 31.8 percent.

November 3, 2012
Kings at Pacer: Five things to watch

INDIANAPOLIS - The Kings don't want to return home with a 0-3 record. The Kings have played good defense, but the offense has left much to be desired through two games.

Earning their first win of the season won't be easy. The Indiana Pacers have size and a defensive base that could irritate a Kings team that is struggling to find its way on offense.

If the Kings are to win, here are five things they can do to make that happen.

1. Stop fouling: Sure there are there are some questionable calls in every game. But when a team has 63 fouls in two games, there aren't enough borderline calls to excuse that. The Kings have show more discipline and adjust to the officials.
2. Get aggressive: The Kings have hot 32 free throws in two games. Their opponents have shot 69. DeMarcus Cousins has attempted one free throw in two games. Those numbers mean Cousin and the King need to get in the paint more and finish and force the officials to call fouls.
3. Score in transition: The Kings had 19 fast break points Friday night against Minnesota. But they made just 7 of 13 shots on the break. The Timberwolves had 20 fast break points, making 8 of 10 shots on the break. Blowing opportunities for easy points is a reason the King are struggling on offense.
4. Win the boards: The King have been outrebounded in both their games and have allowed more second-chance points than they've scored. The Timberwolves had 17 offensive rebounds Friday.
5. Keep defending: The most point the Kings have allowed in a quarter is 28. The Bulls and Timberwolves combined to shoot 2 for 26 on three pointers. Those are just a couple of things to like about the Kings' defense to start the season. Keep that up and they have a chance

November 3, 2012
The Morning After: Jimmer Fredette gets his chance to help

MINNEAPOLIS - Jimmer Nation was in an uproar over Jimmer Fredette's six seconds of playing time in the season opener at Chicago.

Well Fredette played 15:06 in the Kings 92-80 loss, scoring six points with an assist. All of Fredette's points came in the second quarter when he and Marcus Thornton led a comeback to cut Minnesota's 18-point lead down to nine at halftime.

"You've just got to stay ready," Fredette said. "You never know when you're going to get your opportunity and just stay ready and go and play the way that you play.

Kings coach turned to Fredette after watching Tyreke Evans and Isaiah Thomas shoot 2 for 10 in the first quarter and Aaron Brooks miss his first five shots.

"I thought that Jimmer did a good job," Smart said. "The kid didn't play the night before but he came in here mentally ready and stayed focused and into the basketball game and made the right plays for us. Managed the team a little bit, and got us into some offensive things."

Fredette has done all that's been asked of him to improve, but he's the third point guard behind Thomas and Brooks. So many nights his playing time could depend on one those players having an off night unless Smart decides to use small lineups.

Fredette said his mental preparation has to be on point in his situation.

"You have to stay ready mentally and believe you should be out there to help the team."

*DeMarcus Cousins had more fouls (five) than rebounds (four) against the Timberwolves. Chuck Hayes had 11 rebounds to lead the Kings. That's how many Cousins has in two games while slowed by foul trouble.

Four of the five Wolves starters and three of their reserves had more rebounds than Cousins.

*Marcus Thornton has 15 points in each of his games off the bench this season.

*Every player for the Kings that saw time committed at least one foul.


November 2, 2012
In-game blog: Kings at Timberwolves

FINAL
Timberwolves 92, Kings 80

MINNEAPOLIS - The Kings held Minnesota to 36.8 percent shooting, but put the Timberwolves on the free throw line 36 times, of which 26 were made.

That's a big reason why the Kings are now 0-2. The Kings committed 34 fouls after committing 29 in their season-opening loss at Chicago.

Isaiah Thomas led the Kings with 20 points and Marcus Thornton had 15 points off the bench. The Kings shot 36 percent and had only 12 turnovers, but the fouling was excessive again.

J.J. Barea led Minnesota (1-0) with 21 points.

It was a rough night for the two Kings the team want to be the cornerstones of the franchise .

Tyreke Evans shot 3 for 14 for six points. DeMarcus Cousins had 11 points and four rebounds and was limited to 25 minutes because of foul trouble.

THIRD QUARTER
Timberwolves 70, Kings 65

MINNEAPOLIS - The Kings managed to take a 61-56 lead in the third by starting the quarter on a 20-6 run. Minnesota responded with a 12-0 run to regain the advantage.

After a bad shooting start, Isaiah Thomas got hot in the third and has a team-high 16 points. But getting something out of DeMarcus Cousins has been hard a he's only played 15 minutes and has five fouls.

J.J. Barea leads Minnesota with 16 points and five assists off the bench.

The Kings have held Minnesota to 36.6 percent shooting. The Kings are shooting 39.1 percent.

HALFTIME
Timberwolves 50, Kings 41

MINNEAPOLIS - The Kings are shooting 36 percent and their starting guards are a combined 2 for 10 from the field.

DeMarcus Cousins (four points, one rebound) has played only nine minutes because he has three fouls.

But the Kings, who were down 18, are down only nine thanks to the bench. Marcus Thornton has 11 points and Jimmer Fredette has six points.

The one starter that has been a solid contributor tonight is Jason Thompson, who has eight points, six rebounds and two assist.

The Kings only have six turnovers that have led to 10 points for Minnesota, which is shooting just 39.6 percent.

J.J. Barea has 10 points off the bench to lead Minnesota.

Tyreke Evans, Isaiah Thomas and Aaron Brooks have combined to shoot 2 for 15. The Kings are shooting 18 for 50 overall.

The Kings have committed 15 fouls already.

FIRST QUARTER
Timberwolves 28, Kings 18

MINNEAPOLIS - There are still problems on offense.

The Kings have started the game shooting 29.6 percent (8 for 27) to fall behind 28-18. The Kings have only two turnovers, but they haven't overcome their poor shooting.

Starting guards Tyreke Evans and Isaiah Tomas combined to miss six of their seven shots to tart the game. Aaron Brooks has missed all three of his shots, too.

Jason Thompson has six points and five rebounds to lead the Kings. Derrick Williams leads the Timberwolves with seven points. Brandon Roy already has four assists for Minnesota.

The Kings have two assists total.

Another problem for the Kings is fouls. They committed eight in the first quarter, with starters DeMarcus Cousins and James Johnson each picking up two.

November 2, 2012
Kings at Timberwolves: Five things to watch

MINNEAPOLIS - Tonight the Kings try again for their first win of the season.

It's only Game No. 2, so there isn't any panic around the team. The Kings believe they did enough things well in the season opener to win and that fixing some issues on offense will result in wins.

So here are five things to watch on offense tonight when the Kings play the Minnesota Timberwolves.

1. Find the hot hand - Some night's it won't be obvious, but Wednesday against the Chicago Bulls Tyreke Evans had it going but only took 13 shots in 39 minutes. Two Kings took more shots. The Kings have to realize a player is on a roll and work to keep him going.

2. Spacing the floor - The emphasis in Thursday's practice was proper spacing. When the Kings don't space the floor, they are very easy to defend and commit turnovers.

3. Slow down - Seven turnovers for DeMarcus Cousins will not work. Cousins said he needs to slow down and play under control. Better spacing around Cousins would help. Cousins also can't force the issue and dribble into trouble.

4. Leadership at the point - Kings coach Keith Smart wants his point guards to be more assertive in getting their teammates in the right spot on the floor. The other four players need to be receptive to those directions.

5. Stop standing - The Kings have to get back to moving on offense. The ball and players have to move for the offense to be effective. The Kings can't succeed consistently if the offense comes down to one-on-one plays too often.

November 1, 2012
Kings work to fix their offense; Salmons rejoins the team

MINNEAPOLIS - The Kings practiced Thursday with an emphasis on cleaning up the problems they had on offense in losing their season opener at Chicago on Wednesday.

"We didn't have a lot of mistakes other than what our offense did," said Kings coach Keith Smart. "We turned the ball over, spacing was atrocious last night. Guys kind of forgot where they were and needed to be on the offensive end. And I knew we were going to be a little bit behind because I wanted to get them a great base of how we wanted to defend. We'll catch up."

Added Tyreke Evans: "We were so worried about our defense we forgot how to run our offense."

When the ball movement stopped, players that wanted the ball moved closer to it, Smart said. That contributed to the poor spacing. And when players weren't sure what was going to happen with the ball, they were out of position.

"We had point guards looking for a bailout guy," Smart said. "Looking for a player who needed to be in a particular spot and he wasn't there last night. So we tried to clean those things up."

The ball movement issue is a sign of a bad habit being hard to break. Guard Aaron Brooks said the Kings were "stagnant" on offense at times and that cost them against the Bulls.

"The defense was pretty good but on offense we've got to move the ball," Brooks said.

*The question from Jimmer Nation: Why didn't Jimmer Fredette play more than six seconds?

Here's your answer:

"They kept size on the floor so you could never have Jimmer and Isaiah (Thomas) on the floor or Jimmer and Aaron," Smart said. "I needed to have the right defensive team on the floor. And even then they tried to take advantage of some post up situations."

Smart said he wants to avoid trapping opponents in the post this season to prevent wide-open jumpers off double teams.

*John Salmons returned to the team today. He'd been in Philadelphia with his wife, who gave birth to the couple's third child.

"I thought I would only be there for a couple days," Salmons said after practice at Target Center. "I went home early to induce and ended up being five days overdue. So, there's going to be some rust, getting back in game shape. I only played in one preseason game."

Smart said Salmons would not play Friday against Minnesota. Salmons left the team shortly after the Oct. 10 preseason game.

November 1, 2012
It's inevitable: Aaron Brooks will be a starter

One game into their 2012-13 season, here are a few quick-hits:

• The Kings still don't have anyone on the roster with conventional playmaking skills, but it was surprising to see Isaiah Thomas in the starting lineup instead of veteran Aaron Brooks for Wednesday's season opener. Everybody loves Isaiah, but Brooks is bigger, faster, more experienced, and as he demonstrated in the second-half rally, a better decision-maker. Just a guess here, but it won't be long before Brooks shares the backcourt with Tyreke Evans.

• Except for that late five-second call, Evans had an excellent opener. He was physical with Luol Deng and Richard Hamilton throughout the game, didn't dominate the ball, and was a contributor when the Kings made their run. I agree with my colleague Jason Jones; if this performance is characteristic of his season, he will own the two-guard spot and earn that large contract.

• Loved the defensive intensity, but what happened to that improved ball movement we keep hearing about? These Kings too often looked like the Kings of recent years - refusing to make the extra pass in the halfcourt offense. There was too little movement, too few hard screens and too much impatience (19 turnovers, 14 assists).

• DeMarcus Cousins still has to learn to make his move quicker in the low post, and when the defenders converge, to give up the ball. He has shown some nifty passing in the past, but he was a black hole in Chicago.

• Improved perimeter shooting would improve spacing and help Cousins, in particular. Jimmer Fredette should seize the opening.

• Rookie Thomas Robinson didn't shoot well (1-for-5), but he goes after the ball, and he threw a beautiful lead pass on the break that Marcus Thornton should have converted.

November 1, 2012
The Morning After: Tyreke Evans stands out in loss

CHICAGO - This is the Tyreke Evans the Kings would love to sign to a long-term contract.

Evans had 21 points, eight rebounds, three assists and a blocked shot in Wednesday's 93-87 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday.

Evans had to chase around Richard Hamilton on defense and for most of the night was the Kings' best player on offense.



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