Kings Blog and Q&A

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

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December 10, 2013
Highlights from Kings 112, Mavericks 97


As the newest Kings, Rudy Gay, Quincy Acy and Aaron Gray, watched, Sacramento blows out the Dallas Mavericks 112-97.

December 3, 2013
Postgame notes: Ben McLemore accepts the challenge on defense

Postgame notes from Tuesday's 97-95 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder:.

*Add defensive specialist to Ben McLemore's many growing roles as a rookie.

McLemore was given the assignment of defending Russell Westbrook. That's a role could expand to possibly defending Kobe Bryant on Friday if he returns for the Lakers.

I also wouldn't be surprised to see McLemore starting the game on more point guards while Greivis Vasquez takes on more stationary players that aren't as big of threats on offense.

McLemore figures to take his lumps on defense, but he said he wants the role and accepts the challenge.

*The Kings have lost five games in a row. This is their second five-game losing streak of the season.

*DeMarcus Cousins (sprained right ankle) missed his first game of the season. He's expected to be ready for Friday's game against the Los Angeles Lakers.

*Isaiah Thomas scored 21 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter. It's the fifth time in his career that he's scored 15 or more points in the fourth quarter.

*The Kings matched their season high with 10 made three pointers.

*Kings coach Michael Malone on the effort from Thomas:

"That's who he needs to be. I just told him I thought prior to that quarter he was trying to be a very passive, playmaking point guard and that's not who he is, that's not who he's ever been. Isaiah Thomas is at his best when he puts pressure on the defense, he attacks, he looks to score, and then off that he'll get other guys involved. When he plays like that, we take on his personality. We got very aggressive, very confident, and he led the charge with that. But that whole group - Isaiah, Marcus (Thornton), John (Salmons), Patrick (Patterson) and Jason (Thompson) - played with great energy and passion and put us in a position to win the game."

*Kevin Durant on holding the Kings to 34 points over the second and third quarters:

"I think that our offense is really good and that keyed our defense. We're talking. We're scrambling. We kept those guys on the perimeter and rebounded. We just have to continue to do that."

*OKC coach Scott Brooks on the game:

"I thought we need to do a better job in that first quarter. We gave up too many points. They were playing with just a lot of freedom and we weren't active enough on the basketball. I thought bits and parts after that we were much better. We knew that this team (wasn't going to quit). When we got up 17 points I told these guys that they're not going to quit. That's been the trademark of their team so far and that's a good trait to have and they did it. They just kept fighting and playing every possession. Little guy (Isaiah Thomas) got hot and we couldn't turn it off."

December 1, 2013
Postgame notes: Patrick Patterson goes perfect from the field

Some notes and quotes from today's game, won by Golden State, 115-113, on two free throws by Stephen Curry with 8.6 seconds to play.

*Patrick Patterson did not miss a shot today (8-for-8, 2-for-2 on three pointers) in scoring 18 points. Patterson also had seven rebounds.

"It felt good, especially from the three-point line," Patterson said. "I can't remember the last time I made two in a game."

The last time that happened was Nov. 8 at Portland.

*One change that's worked for the Kings is moving Patterson to the bench. He's actually scoring and rebounding better as a reserve in seven games (7.7 points, 5.7 rebounds per game) than he did in six starts (5.7 points, 4.7 rebounds per game).

"I'm not worried about my scoring, just focused on my defense and rebounding," Patterson said. "Opportunities to shoot the ball will come throughout the course of the game but if I focus on defense and rebounding and providing opportunities for my teammates and making it easier for them on the defensive end I'll be fine."

*DeMarcus Cousins had the unique experience of being called for a Flagrant Foul 2 in the fourth quarter only to see it downgraded to an offensive foul against Andrew Bogut.

Cousins was asked what his first thought was when he heard that announcement.

"DeMarcus Cousins," he said, referring to his reputation with officials.

"I've never seen that before -- ever," Cousins said. "I've never seen a Flagrant 2 go to a regular foul."'

*Kings coach Michael Malone on that Flagrant Foul 2 situation:

"Thank goodness they can review it and they downgraded it to a regular foul. That's a challenge of ours too. Every night we go out there and bust our humps and the whistle's not going our way at times, we have to find a way to overcome that and not use that as an excuse and find other ways to get wins."

More Malone:

"I must admit I didn't' realize theyd' called a Flagrant 2 and had signaled an ejection. So if I'd known that he might have had to calm me down."

*Cousins ended up being the go-to player down the stretch. The Warriors opted not to double time Cousins and he scored over Bogut twice to tie the game in the final minute.

*Cousins did pick up his league-leading fifth technical foul in the game.

*Perimeter defense remains a major problem for the Kings.

The Kings allowed Curry and Klay Thompson have it too easy to start the game and once they got going, there wasn't much the Kings could do defensively.

Curry weaved his way through defenders while Thompson seemed to be open far too often.

Curry had 36 points and 10 assists. Thompson had 28 points, including a career-high eight three pointers.

"I got a lot of open looks. I let it fly," Thompson said. "That's how I got to play - just let it fly and not think about it."

*Isaiah Thomas on his layup attempt to tie the game that was blocked by Bogut:

"I think I made a pretty good move but I got a little too deep. ... I got it with my back turned to the basket so I just wanted to try to get to the hoop and Bogut played it well."

November 29, 2013
Postgame notes, video: Marcus Thornton is back in the mix

Notes from tonight's loss to the Los Angeles Clippers:

*Marcus Thornton is back in the rotation as the backup shooting guard.

"He's had some really good practices lately and has been putting in a lot of extra time," said coach Michael Malone. "The way he's been playing and shooting the ball in practice gave him an opportunity to have a matchup between him and some bigger guards."

Malone said he spoke with Thornton and Jimmer Fredette before the game. Malone said the situation is not ideal, but he is waiting to see if either guard can seize the minutes behind Ben McLemore.

November 24, 2013
Postgame notes: Shooting slump in second half dooms Kings

LOS ANGELES - The Kings lost back-to-back games in Los Angeles, the second coming in a 100-86 loss to the Lakers Sunday night at Staples Center.

The game was decided in the third quarter when the Kings missed 15 of their 20 shots and scored just 13 points.

*The Kings shot 50 percent in the first half, but shot 33 percent in the second half, 41.7 percent for the game.

*DeMarcus Cousins picked up his fourth technical foul of the season. The technical foul he thought would be rescinded from a Nov. 13 game against Brooklyn has not been rescinded by the league yet.

*Cousins had 18 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, his second game in a row with seven assists.

*Greivis Vasquez scored 20 points, a season high.

*The Lakers' bench outscored the Kings' bench 40-26. Xavier Henry had 21 of those points for the Lakers.

*Isaiah Thomas had nine points, the first time he hasn't scored in double figures this season. His 12 games scoring in double digits off the bench to start the season is a team record.

November 23, 2013
In case you didn't know, DeMarcus Cousins and Chris Paul aren't buddies

LOS ANGELES - In some ways DeMarcus Cousins is very old school.

In an era where many players are buddies, Cousins doesn't roll like that.

Specifically, Cousins probably won't be sending Chris Paul a Christmas card next month.

Check out this scene from after the game when Isaiah Thomas tried to shake Paul's hand.

Somewhere, Bill Laimbeer and Rick Mahorn have to be smiling, right?

In the big scheme of things, it's no big deal. And in case you forgot, Cousins and Paul have history.

Last season Paul had one of the best (or worst depending on your view) flops of the season that angered Cousins. The NBA issued a flopping warning on Paul for this beauty.

Then there's the taunting technical foul Cousins received in the first meeting of the season against the Clippers after blocking Paul's shot on Nov. 1.

Paul spent several moments pointing at his temple, mockingly telling Cousins he needed to think better during games.

Paul also refused to address Cousins after that game, preferring to praise Thomas.

Cousins only had 24 points and 10 rebounds that game.

By the way, the Kings host the Clippers next Friday.

November 23, 2013
Postgame notes: Patterson's big second half is part of rally that falls short

LOS ANGELES - A lot to cover from today's 103-102 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. I won't bore you too much if I can help it.

It was a big game for Patrick Patterson (21 points, seven rebounds) off the bench. Patterson has looked very comfortable coming off the bench since coach Michael Malone removed him from the starting lineup.

*Patterson scored 15 of his points in the second half.

"The coaching staff, as well my teammates were telling me to just keep shooting
the ball," Patterson said. "I had great looks throughout the course of the game. (In the) first half, they just weren't falling. A couple easy looks, a couple of hooks around the basket. Even just short jumpers weren't falling. Shots that I'd normally make, shots that I made all of last year (were not going in). Early on this year, they haven't been falling, but my teammates, the coaching staff, the organization continue to give me positive motivation."

After shooting 3-for-9 to start the game, Patterson ended the game shooting 8-for-16.

I wasn't the only member of the media that thought DeMarcus Cousins took a beating with minimal payoff (six free throws). Cousins finished with 23 points, 19 rebounds and seven assists.

*I thought the flagrant foul 2 ejection in the fourth quarter for Travis Outlaw was harsh. It seemed as if the reaction was due in part to the tense nature of the game.

Outlaw said he tried to prevent J.J. Redick from falling hard, but was unable to stop Redick's momentum.

Outlaw said the tension on the court and how the Clippers rushed to confront him didn't help.

"I ain't saying they was out to get me or anything," Outlaw said of the officials. "They were trying to keep it calm, keep the peace."

*Once again Malone turned to Luc Mbah a Moute in the second half of a game for defense, putting him on Chris Paul instead of giving that assignment to Greivis Vasquez.

*There were two technical fouls in the game. One on Cousins and the other on Blake Griffin.

Both were in the fourth quarter.

*Paul is succeeding at being an irritant to the Kings. Not only with his play, but his ability to do things that bring the officials' attention to him for fouls.

The Kings would question whether Paul should have been awarded free throws twice in the final minutes.

One foul call led to Luc Mbah a Moute fouling out. The other set up Paul's game-winning free throw with 2.5 seconds to play.

The Kings would argue Paul was trapped on the play and simply threw the ball up to draw a foul.

*Malone covers a few topics, including the final play of the game in the video below:

November 20, 2013
Postgame notes: Cousins plays through the pain

PHOENIX - Some postgame quick hits from the Kings' 113-106 win over Phoenix:

*DeMarcus Cousins said his shoulder was hurting during the game but he was able to manage it. He played with a brace on it.

*Kings coach Michael Malone said the shoulder might have impacted Cousins' shooting (4 of 14) but he also credited the Suns with playing good defense.

*Isaiah Thomas has scored in double figures every game this season. He's the only King to do that.

*Cousins had 19 points and 12 rebounds, his first double-double this season that wasn't a 20-10 effort.

*Luc Mbah a Moute is quickly becoming a favorite of Malone. Mbah a Moute helped limit Gerald Green to three points in the second half after he scored 20 in the first half.

*One reason Malone might not feel good? The Kings gave up 44 points in the fourth quarter. His goal is to hold teams to 20 or fewer in the fourth. On the bright side, just before allowing that season high, the Kings held the Suns to 12 in the third, a season low. This was also the first road win of the season.

November 19, 2013
Postgame notes: Jimmer plays ahead of Thornton in win

Some quick notes from tonight's game:

*Marcus Thornton didn't play tonight. He's not injured and not being traded.

"I've given Marcus Thornton nine games to play and I wanted to give Jimmer a look tonight," said Kings coach Michael Malone.

Fredette had three points (1-of-5 shooting) with three assists in the Kings' 107-104 win over the Phoenix Suns.

*DeMarcus Cousins said his shoulder "slipped" out of socket during the second quarter.

"I've don it before," Cousins said. "I've done it a number of times. It just slipped out and slipped back in."

Cousins said he expects to play Wednesday in Phoenix.

*The Kings matched their season high with 107 points. They also scored a season-high 54 points in the paint.

*The Kings have 131 turnovers through 10 games, the fewest through 10 games in team history. The previous best was 136 to start the 2004-05 season.

*The Kings were outscored 25-2 in fastbreak points.

*Check back later for more. Time for me to pack for Phoenix.

November 18, 2013
Highlights from Grizzlies 97, Kings 86

The Kings lose their seventh of the last eight games as the Memphis Grizzlies come into Sacramento to grab a 97-85 win.

November 17, 2013
Postgame notes: Culture of bad habits still holding Kings back

Figuring what to expect from the Kings game-to-game is not easy (the understatement of the day, I know).

How the Kings continue to play with a lack of urgency is befuddling. They did so again this afternoon in losing to the Memphis Grizzlies, 97-86, at Sleep Train Arena.
Perhaps it's a case of old habits dying slow. Or maybe this is just who the Kings are - a team with unpredictable levels of effort and focus - and that won't change unless players change.

There was talk of changing the culture postgame, and how much work that takes.

The work will begin to take hold when the Kings realize they have to hold themselves accountable and not accept subpar effort from themselves and teammates.

"As a group, as a unit, as a team, we've just got to get tired of losing," said forward John Salmons. "If you're tired of losing when we're down in the third quarter like that you wouldn't come out with the lack of energy like we did. I think guys are used to it and it shows on the court. When you have that mentality it's hard to break those habits."

A lot of these players have been around in past seasons when players have admitted to being overconfident for games when most night the Kings had a losing record entering those games.

*Kings coach Michael Malone now sounds a lot like Keith Smart last season, talking about searching for the right mix of players that would gel on the court.

Malone benched his starting lineup less than five minutes into the third quarter and only Luc Mbah a Moute returned in the second half at any point.

Starting point guard Greivis Vasquez understood why Malone did that.

"As a player you've got to take messages the right way and understand if he gives you another chance you have to go in and play harder," Vasquez said. "...I'm not mad at him, I support him 100 percent."

*Malone said benching Salmons for Mbah a Moute was about Salmons struggling on offense and wanting to give Mbah a Moute a chance to start after a solid effort against Detroit.

Mbah a Moute had four points, three rebound sand two assists. Salmons had 10 points and five assists off the bench.

*Hamady Ndiaye getting a chance to play was a bright spot in that he highlights all that was wrong with the Kings.

Ndiaye plays through mistakes and there's never questioning his effort.

"I'm going to keep on working," Ndiaye said after career highs in minutes played (25) and rebounds (six). "I don't plan on anything, I don't expect anything. Whatever comes my way I'll be ready for it."

*The lightest power forward the Kings had available (Travis Outlaw) appeared to put up the biggest fight against Zach Randolph, who scored at will in the first half.

Outlaw also added 18 points.

*Marcus Thornton had 12 points off the bench for the Kings. Five bench players scored in double figures while none of the starters did.

*DeMarcus Cousins scored just nine points with five rebounds. It's his second time scoring fewer than 10 points.

November 16, 2013
Postgame notes: Cousins needs more help in the frontcourt

If the Kings are going to have any success, finding some consistent production in the frontcourt is a must.

Besides DeMarcus Cousins, the Kings have gotten little consistently from their frontcourt.

Knee contusions cost the Kings forwards Patrick Patterson and Travis Outlaw early in the first quarter. Starting forwards John Salmons and Jason Thompson combined to score seven points - one fewer than Detroit's Greg Monroe.

Luc Mbah a Moute had nine points in a season-high 30 minutes.

Meanwhile Josh Smith (21 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, five steals, four blocks) and Andre Drummond (15 points, 18 rebounds) had more than enough to combat the 26 points, 13 rebounds and three blocked shots from Cousins in Detroit's 97-90 win.

"Our (starting) forwards went 3-of-12 (from the field)," said Kings coach Michael Malone. "DeMarcus had a good stat line, but I don't really think any of our guys played too well tonight. If you're not making shots, turning the ball over, and they're getting points in the paint at the rim... it's not good. They were getting run out after run out for a while. It was all deceiving. Detroit had 97 points and shot 45 percent from the field, but I thought the numbers were a lot higher."

*The forwards aren't the only area of concern. Again, the Kings got little from their shooting guards.

Ben McLemore played better Friday night, but he's still not looking completely like himself in two starts.

McLemore is 3 of 14 with nine total points as a starter.

Marcus Thornton had five points and two assists after scoring 24 in his breakout performance on Wednesday. Thornton missed five of his six shots.

*Cousins, Isaiah Thomas and Greivis Vasquez accounted for 56 points and 15 assists. They also had 16 of the Kings' 17 turnovers, with Vasquez tallying eight.

*One of the turnovers was especially embarrassing for Vasquez. He was called for standing out of bounds, one of the points of emphasis this season.

If a player goes out of bounds he must return to the court immediately. Players are not allowed to stand out of bounds to create spacing on the court.

*Thomas has scored in double figures in all eight games to start the season, matching Eddie Johnson for second most consecutive games scoring in double figures off the bench to start a season.

It almost seems a certainty Thomas will match Walt Williams' streak of nine Sunday afternoon against Memphis.

*Drummond's effort was another reminder of how the Kings botched last year's draft. Drummond appears on his way to being a rebounding force in the league, the kind of player that would have fit well with Cousins.

The Kings passed on Drummond, Damian Lillard and Harrison Barnes and ended up with Thomas Robinson.

November 13, 2013
Postgame notes: Change is good for the Kings

Some postgame notes from tonight's game

The Kings ended their five-game losing streak by blowing out the Brooklyn Nets, 107-86.

The Kings held the Nets to 37.8 percent shooting, their best defensive effort of the season.

This was the first time Malone's been happy after a game since the season opener.

"I loved the defense," Malone said. "Tonight was the closest that we have come to playing a full 48 minutes. I did not like the way that we started the fourth quarter -- I had to call a timeout to get our guys under control. I loved the 26 assists and only seven turnovers, but for us to win it has to start on the defensive end of the floor. When we defend, rebound, and share the ball, we're a decent basketball team."

*Greivis Vasquez had his best game as a King with 17 points and 12 assists, the most assists by a King since Beno Udrih had 13 on Feb. 25, 2011 at Charlotte.

"It took a little while but like I said, I'm satisfied. I'm not in a comfort zone or anything like that - we've got to be professional about this and come back tomorrow, go through practice, get something out of it and get this win on Friday. We've got to build from this win and we've got to continue to play great team defense."

*Isaiah Thomas (19 points, six assists) has scored in double figures in every game this season.

According to Stats LLC, Thomas tied Spud Webb for the third-most games scoring in
double-figures off the bench to start the season.

Walt Williams holds the Sacramento-era record with nine consecutive games scoring in double-figures off the bench to start a season.

*Malone on how Marcus Thornton and Patrick Patterson responded to coming off the bench:

"I thought they were terrific. The one thing that I want to make clear is that I made those changes, but it wasn't Marcus Thornton or Patrick Patterson that made us 1-5. I wanted to shake things up and to their credit they came in the game off the bench and had a huge impact. After the game, I told Marcus that maybe I should've put him on the bench sooner with that performance. Patrick had 10 rebounds. They're going to need to do that for us every night. Marcus got his points and his shots off of our defense and it worked with the flow of our offense."

*Ben McLemore struggled in his first NBA start, going 1 for 8 for two points. But Malone said he doesn't expect McLemore to have many games like that.

*DeMarcus Cousins told a few media members at halftime that the technical foul he received from Joey Crawford would be rescinded. Cousins already has one technical foul this season.

November 9, 2013
Postgame notes: Changes are to come

Quick observations from the Kings' 96-85 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers Saturday night at Sleep Train Arena.

*Once again, the Kings were beaten up on the court and looked like the dejected, selfish bunch they've been known as in recent years.

Malone has had enough of it, too.

His solution: "Change the lineup."

More Malone:

"I told our guys, 'The media is going to go out there and ask me well you played small a lot tonight, you got kicked on the glass,' and the reality is we got kicked when we were big. At least in the end we were trying to fight, we gave up a lot of threes off offensive rebounds. You don't need great skill to be a guy that rebounds; being a good rebounder is all about effort, determination, physicality - and we lacked all those tonight as a whole."

*Those critiques aren't new to the Kings. Their effort has been spotty for years and without roster changes or a wholesale change in mindset, I don't see how that changes.

*Malone promised changes by time the Kings host the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday.

Those changes could include Luc Mbah a Moute and Jimmer Fredette playing more. Both played Saturday night.

*The Kings were outrebounded 52-33.

*How bad was this game? Damian Lillard was 1 of 15 from the field and the Kings still trailed most of the night. The Kings actually held the Blazers to 43.9 percent shooting, but when you give up that many rebounds, including 19 offensive rebounds, it's hard to overcome.


November 8, 2013
Postgame notes: Kings fail to defend well again

PORTLAND, Ore. - Some quick thoughts on the fourth loss in a row by the Kings. This time, it was a 104-91 defeat courtesy of the Portland Trail Blazers.

*It's safe to say the Kings have played good defense in a game once this season - the only game they won. Sacramento held Denver to 43 percent shooting and 88 points in the season opener. Since the Kings haven't held a team under 98 points or under 48 percent from the field.

*There are just too many times where it's too easy to score on the Kings. They give up easy looks out of timeouts and continue to look confused on defense, leaving shooters open.

*The Kings got little offensive production from their shooting guards. Marcus Thornton shot 2 of 11for five points. Ben McLemore played 7:01, didn't attempt a field goal and had four fouls while going scoreless.

*Subtract DeMarcus Cousins shooting 13 of 25, the Kings shot 23 of 61 (37.7 percent).

*The Kings had 11 steals, which sounds great. But coach Michael Malone does not want to depend on steals and gambling for good defense. The Blazers still held the Kings to 41.9 percent from the field and had only four steals.

*Luc Mbah a Moute, brought to the Kings to play defense, did not play against the Blazers. He's healthy but out of the rotation after missing much of the preseason with a sore right knee.

*The Kings have trailed by at least 14 points in each of their four losses. This game was largest margin of the defeat during the losing streak, but the Warriors loss felt much worse than an 11-point loss. The Kings trailed by 27 in that game.

*Thomas Robinson had 10 points and four rebounds off the bench for Portland. The Kings' first-round pick a year ago always gets up to play Sacramento. Eight of Robinson's points came in his first 5:53 on the court.

*The Kings were outrebounded 47-31. Cousins had nine rebounds and Thornton had six. No other King had more than four. Four of the five starters for Portland had at least seven rebounds.

November 6, 2013
Postgame notes: DeMarcus Cousins has a tough night

Some thoughts from tonight's game:

*DeMarcus Cousins should have been mad at Dennis Schroeder for catching him with a shot to his groin era in the fourth quarter.

He then picked up a fifth foul for pushing Al Horford that was downgraded from flagrant foul 1.

"They ran straight to the camera to see if it was a flagrant," Cousins said. "That was my frustration."

Last season Cousins upset O.J. Mayo, who was playing for Dallas, by hitting him in the crotch, which Cousins maintained was an accident. He was stills suspended for a game.

*Malone took the blame for Cousins second consecutive game in which he failed to put up the dominant numbers that he did in his first two games.

Cousins had 11 points, six rebounds, two assists and five fouls. Cousins got off to a good start with six points and two assists in the first quarter.

"I think that we can give credit to Al Horford because he did a great job of guarding DeMarcus Cousins. The Hawks made it so that he had a hard time finishing in the post. Once again, I have to do a better job of getting him more looks and putting him in better positions on the floor to alleviate some of that pressure for him so maybe he can carry us a little more offensively. That's something that I've been looking at when I watch the film and I'm going to try to help him out. He is the key to our team and he obviously didn't have the night that we all hoped that he would. We will get back to it tomorrow at practice."

*Cousins has faced two top-level centers now - Horford and Andrew Bogut in his last two games. Cousins is averaging 9.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in his last two games.

In his first two games Cousins averaged 27 points and 12 rebounds.

*The second and third quarters were especially bad for the Kings. Atlanta outscored the Kings 57-33. The Kings actually started the game

The Kings actually started well on Tuesday, for a change. But the inability to sustain the effort is what is holding the Kings back and why they are 1-3.

"We won the first quarter," Malone said. "We came out and our starters did a lot of good things during that first quarter, but throughout the course of the game, the effort wasn't there."

*Malone sat Cousins midway through the fourth quarter with the five fouls. Because the group that was in the game played well, Malone did not put him back in the game.

*More on the lineup that finished the game.

Malone stayed with the lineup with the Kings down 103-100 with 9.3 seconds to play that got the Kings back in the game.

That was Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Thornton, John Salmons, Patrick Patterson and Chuck Hayes.

That meant not going back to Ben McLemore, who was having a good game.

The rookie had 15 points in 23 minutes, including 3 of 7 on three pointers.

Thomas missed a three that would have tied the game.

November 3, 2013
Postgame notes: Kings lack 'fight' in loss to Warriors

OAKLAND - Obviously, Michael Malone was not happy after tonight's game.

The pre-Malone Kings were on display tonight. Where bad shots were hoisted and defense appeared optional in a 98-87 loss to the Golden State Warriors.

Malone called out the "lack of fight, lack of competitive spirit" that was absent most of the night.

That's most evident in the Warriors shooting 51.3 percent and Stephen Curry (22 points, 12 assists) and Klay Thompson (27 points) having their way most of the night.

The Kings played a lot like the Kings of recent that seasons that at times looked and admitted to being overconfident.

But the Kings have no reason to be overconfident at this point. If they were, the Warriors put them back in their place.

Here's what Malone said after the game:

"I don't think it had anything to do with missing shots. I thought our energy, the fact that we were not read to play, is what set the tone the whole night. They came out the first two possessions and posted up Andrew Bogut, he got layups at the rim. No resistance, no fight, no pride, obviously we didn't shoot the ball well tonight and that contributes to it but we didn't shoot the ball well against Denver but we defended and got a win. Tonight we didn't shoot the ball well; we didn't defend, especially from the three-point line. We don't have the greatest talent in the NBA, I've said that many times before so we have to be a work team. If we think we can show up to a very good basketball team in their house and just go through the motions, what's going to happen is what happened tonight; we're going to get our ass kicked. I give the guys a lot of credit who were in the game the third and fourth quarter, at least they competed. I told them at halftime, I'm not a great coach. If I have to coach effort we're in a lot of trouble and I thought I was coaching effort the whole night until that third and fourth quarter."

*The starting lineup's trend of falling behind to start games has show up again in the regular season.

The Kings starters were especially bad from the start, beginning with Andrew Bogut without much of a fight to start the game.

More Malone:

"Obviously, getting down by big leads that started in the preseason. It happened to us in Portland, it happened to us against Golden State at home; it happened against the Clippers one game. Sometimes that's not effort, that's just that we're not playing, making shots but tonight was one game that really stands out; we were not ready to play. I don't know what it was, this was our first back to back game, we didn't have any back-to-backs in the preseason. I don't know if it was brand new to our guys this season the first back-to-back but I just thought the effort, the lack of fight, lack of competitive spirit was really, really poor tonight for the most part."

Greivis Vasquez added this:

"We're letting people push us around and they did whatever they wanted today, so we've got to come with more fire. We can't really let our offense dictate our defense so we've got to get better defensively and that's got to be the challenge the whole year. The good thing about it is that it's only the third game. We're going back home, we've got to defend our home court advantage and hopefully win games at home."

*The Kings have allowed their last two opponents to shoot 50 percent or better.

Vasquez said communication has to improve on defense:

"We've got to be more mature. That's the biggest thing. We've got to talk. We've got to communicate better. We've got to understand that in order for us to win it's not about who scored the most, it's who gets the most stops. Our stops are going to get us our offense. Our best offense is going to be our defense. Sometimes we forget about that and we just worry about how we're going to get it done or try to outscore the other team. We're going to have to do it defensively and it's not only one guy. We've all got to be engaged, we all have to communicate, we all have to do it as a team. That's why at the end of the year whoever wins the championship is the team that plays the best defense."

*This is Malone on his postgame message for the team:

"I'm never just going to let it go; I'm not going to beat a dead horse dead by any means, I just told them after the game, we cannot just show up and just go through the motions. I was in Cleveland and we had the best record in the NBA two years in a row because we had the best player. There were nights where we could just chug along, but I hate to break it to everybody, we don't have LeBron James, we don't have any great, great players on this team. We do when we play hard and we play with effort. DeMarcus [Cousins] has shown that when he comes out and plays with energy and fire and emotion, he is arguably one of the best big men in the NBA. But as team, it wasn't just DeMarcus, I want to make that clear. As a team tonight our effort was nowhere near where it needs to be."

You would think the Kings wouldn't need that reality check. Better to get it now, right?

*

November 2, 2013
Kings vs. Clippers highlights
November 1, 2013
Postgame notes: Defense lets the Kings down in loss to Clippers

DeMarcus Cousins summed the Kings biggest problem in their 110-101 loss to the Clippers easily:

"The shots we gave up tonight, anybody could have come in here and won tonight. We've got to get better on the defensive end."

The Kings had only 10 turnovers and outscored the Clippers 40-26 in the paint.

Those should be keys to a win.

But the Clippers shot 50 percent for the game (35 of 70) including 12 of 24 on three pointers.

"That's a team that a lot of people picked that could make the NBA Finals," said Kings coach Michael Malone. "If you're going to try and guard those guys with no contact and not making them feel you, it could be a long night."

*The Kings better make contact with the Golden State Warriors Saturday night in Oakland or they'll be 1-2. That's another team that can get hot from the perimeter quickly.

*The Kings gave up 30 points or more in the second and fourth quarters.

*Isaiah Thomas scored a game-high 29 points, picking up the Kings after their sluggish start to the third quarter.

"It's just a feeling; every basketball player feels it," Thomas said. "I made a couple shots; I got on a roll a little bit. My teammates kept finding me and I was just aggressive. I was trying to make plays and I saw a few plays I could make and I did."

Malone on Thomas off the bench:

"He's been that for us in so many of our games going back to the preseason. He comes in, plays with great energy, puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the opposing defense, pick and rolls, attacking, hit some big shots, got the crowd back in the game. He applies great ball pressure defensively. He was playing so well, I decided not to put Greivis (Vasquez) back in the game because Isaiah kind of had it rolling and that group that was in there was playing so well, so we went with them for awhile. But IT has been great for us and we're going to need that type of effort and energy from him every night."

*Cousins is not a fan of Chris Paul's in-game tactics. Paul is an agitator and has made Cousins his target against the Kings more than once.

"I don't really have to speak on it - you all know what he does," Cousins said of Paul. "It's obvious."

*On his fourth-quarter technical foul on Cousins: He said he was trying to get the crowd going and was not taunting Paul.

*The Kings didn't have enough to slow Blake Griffin, who finished with 20 points, 17 rebounds and six assists.

"We knew this was going to be a game like this," Griffin said. "The Kings are not a team that you can look past anymore. It was not an easy victory at all by any means. They're playing good basketball. They got the players. DeMarcus is playing at a high level. Isaiah is playing at a high level. We knew that it was going to be tough."

*Marcus Thornton looked like himself with 17 points. Malone said it was the best Thornton has looked, including the preseason.

October 31, 2013
Live chat replay: Ailene Voisin discusses Kings' first game of season

Join Sacramento Bee columnist Ailene Voisin's discussion about Wednesday night's season-opening game between the Kings and Denver Nuggets.


 

October 31, 2013
Highlights from Kings vs. Nuggets season opener
October 30, 2013
Postgame notes: Cousins' 30 points one of the best scoring nights in Sacramento history for a season opener

There were some things to like tonight - namely DeMarcus Cousins, Greivis Vasquez, Isaiah Thomas - and ultimately a win for the Kings, 90-88, over the Denver Nuggets Wednesday night at Sleep Train Arena.

A look of some of what went right, wrong and can be improved for Friday's game against the Los Angeles Clippers.

*Cousins looked like an All-Star center in finishing with 30 points, 14 rebounds, two blocked shots and two steals. He made key defensive plays in addition to carrying the offense that saw only two other players (Vasquez and Thomas) score in double figures.

Kings coach Michael Malone said playing Cousins in the post will be a priority. The days of Cousins hoisting jumpers aren't over, but that will be curbed under Malone.

"You watch this team in the past and in playing against them, (Cousins) was a way from the basket a lot," Malone said. "I think he was away too much. He's too talented, too big, too skilled to be just on the perimeter. You let the defense off the hook if you don't post him up."

*Here's where Cousins' 30 points ranks in season openers in Sacramenton Kings history:

Reggie Theus (33 points, 10/31/86 vs. L.A. Clippers)
Otis Thorpe (31 points, 11/6/87 vs. Golden State)
Rodney McCray (30 points, 11/3/89 at Portland)
Cousins (30 points, 10/30/13 vs. Denver)

*Malone did not like allowing 23 points off fast breaks, but said the Kings did better defensively in the fourth quarter by holding the Nuggets to no points off the break in the fourth quarter and 16 points total in the final period.

*Transition defense has to be a focus for Friday's game against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers are going to try to run a lot because as they showed Tuesday night, their halfcourt offense is still a work in progress.

And the Clippers have a lot more talent to run with.

*Jason Thompson made one shot, the game-winning dunk with 41.5 seconds to play.

"I just made an aggressive energy play," Thompson said. "It just happened to be the game winner."

*Vasquez and Thomas combined for 31 points and nine assists. Vasquez had 17 points and four assists, Thomas had 16 points and five assists.

*The Kings didn't get much production from their shooting guards offensively. Marcus Thornton and Ben McLemore shot 2 of 13 for eight points. McLemore was 1 of 7 and missed some wide open three-pointers.

*Chuck Hayes rolled his left ankle but said it was fine. He couldn't put any pressure on it initially.

*The Kings shot 40.7 percent but held Denver to 43 percent. The defensive energy for the Kings was solid overall. They forced 19 turnovers, too.

*According to Stats LLC, the Kings have the longest winning streak when opening a season at home with 13. The Kings have a 15-1 record in home openers since 1998-99.

*The Kings had lost nine games in a row to the Nuggets.

*As for my pregame predictions, I'm 1-0 on the season. Yay me!!!!

October 25, 2013
Postgame notes: Vasquez and Thomas a potent duo Friday night

LOS ANGELES - The preseason is over and the Kings will be off Saturday before beginning their preparation for the season opener next Wednesday against Denver.

Some things to take from Friday night's 110-100 exhibition win over the Los Angeles Clippers:

*The two-point guard attack is shaping up exactly how the Kings envisioned during the summer, even though Grevis Vasquez is still not 100 percent.

Vasquez is the bigger, pass-first table setter while Thomas causes havoc by completely changing the tempo.

Vasquez had his best showing of the preseason with 12 assists and no turnovers.

"I'm finally getting into my rhythm," Vasquez said. "I'm still a little rusty, missing shots. It's just hard for me right now because I want to turn it on right away."

Vasquez missed all five of his field goals and didn't score against the Clippers.

That wasn't a problem for Thomas, who scored a game-high 27 points off the bench.

"My focus it to just be me," Thomas said. "Whether I start or come off the bench I can only control what I do and the energy I bring. And that's what I'm going to do."

Vasquez and Thomas also figure to share time on the court together this season.

*Vasquez took responsibility for the Kings' slow starts lately. The Kings trailed by 14 in the first half Friday, the third consecutive game where they've trailed big late.

Thomas was the elixir for a sluggish showing, again.

The Kings can't afford to continue that trend in the regular season. Thomas can't save them every night and a good team in the regular season won't allow them to comeback.

*Kings coach Michael Malone wouldn't say tonight's starters were the starters for Denver, but didn't rule it out either.

Here's how it breaks down based off who started Friday:

Center: DeMarcus Cousins. No brainer.
Power forward: Patrick Patterson. Spaces the floor and unlike Jason Thompson, doesn't play in the same areas of the floor as Cousins.
Small forward: John Salmons. The veteran has been steady throughout training camp.
Shooting guard: Marcus Thornton. Had his best scoring game of the preseason (17 points) but Malone was more impressed with his six rebounds. Only an inability or unwillingness to commit to defense figures to keep Thornton off the floor.
Point guard: Vasquez. He's a pass-first point guard to get Cousins going early in games.

*Cousins has been efficient throughout the preseason. He averaged 19.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and shot 51.9 percent in 24 minutes per game.

If he keeps that up, it will be hard to keep him out the All-Star Game.

*Luc Mbah Moute's sore knee this month appears to have opened the door for Travis Outlaw to be in the rotation to start the season. Mbah a Moute did not play tonight.

*Jimmer Fredette did not play tonight to give Thornton and McLemore the minutes at shooting guard.


October 24, 2013
Highlights of Kings' preseason win over Warriors
October 23, 2013
Postgame notes: Isaiah Thomas reminds us what he means to the Kings

The Kings and Warriors put on a good show, as always seems to be the case. Some quick observations:

*It doesn't matter if he starts or comes off the bench, Isaiah Thomas is the heart and soul (yes, I know that's a cliché) of the Kings. For the second consecutive preseason game, Thomas came off the bench to bring life to a lifeless Kings unit.

Kings coach Michael Malone said he doesn't know who will be his starters for the season opener, but it's obvious Thomas is a big part of whatever the Kings do.

"That's what Isaiah does," said Kings center DeMarcus Cousins. "He brings energy to the game regardless if he's starting or coming off the bench. He's done it first year, second year and I'm sure he'll continue to do it."

*Malone said Marcus Thornton would definitely play Friday at the Los Angeles Clippers. Thornton didn't play at all with Jimmer Fredette starting and Ben McLemore playing the rest of the game.

This wasn't the kind of standout game Fredette has had in previous preseason outings (three points, three assists). McLemore scored nine points off the bench and closed the game.

It looks like the battle for the rest of the minutes at shooting guard is between Fredette and Thornton. I can't see any scenario where McLemore doesn't play major minutes.

*The final seconds to close the game were crazy. What stood out to me was:

1. Patrick Patterson coming up with a big offensive rebound and keeping the ball alive again so McLemore could grab another offensive rebound. Patterson had eight rebounds starting next to Cousins, right around his target for rebounds.
2. Salmons is shooting the ball confidently. His game winning three pointer with 7.6 seconds to play capped a 9-point quarter for Salmons.
3. The hustle and toughness of McLemore. He was called for a foul late on David Lee's lay up attempt in the final seconds, but he attacked the play without hesitation. Lee missed the second of two free throws to give the Kings the 91-90 win.

*When Stephen Curry got in Thomas' face in the third quarter, DeMarcus Cousins ran to make sure the situation didn't escalate.

The reality is most players do not really want to fight. This isn't the 1970s or 80s and a brief scuffle costs today's players too much money.

"What I saw was fake tough guys trying to be tough," Cousins said. "I'm not even going to get into that. I'm just going to diffuse the situation and keep playing ball. That was selling wolf tickets, nothing."

*The Kings outscored the Warriors 21-9 in the fourth quarter. That's how you overcome allowing 34 points off 25 turnovers.

Of those turnovers, six were by Greivis Vasquez, five by Patterson and four by Thomas.

*Andrew Bogut vs. Cousins will be fun to watch this season. Genuine disdain between the two on the court. A lot of pulling, grabbing and falling to the floor.

That said, I hated seeing Cousins foul out on a double foul call. That's worse than the offsetting penalties in football.

*Tonight's starting five: Vasquez, Fredette, Salmons, Patterson and Cousins. Yes, that could change Friday.

*Line of the night heard from courtside: Thomas drew a foul and Warriors coach Mark Jackson didn't like it. His words for the officials:

"That's not the real Isiah Thomas."

October 21, 2013
Highlights from Kings vs. Trailblazers preseason matchup
October 20, 2013
Postgame notes: Competition for playing time at guard will be hard to sort out

PORTLAND, Ore. - Quick thoughts from Sunday's preseason loss at Portland:

*Good luck, Michael Malone, figuring out which guards should/shouldn't play.

Isaiah Thomas was a spark (in spite shooting 5-for-17) with 15 points and 10 assists. Jimmer Fredette looked good (nine points, two assists) again. Ben McLemore lit up the Blazers for 23 points. And all three of them came off the bench.

Greivis Vasquez shot 1-for-8 but managed to have six assists and two steals in 20 minutes. Marcus Thornton score 10 points.

Figuring out shooting guard will be the toughest job between Thornton, Fredette and McLemore. Malone said after the game it's not feasible to give three shooting guards consistent minutes, but I expect to see some different lineups that have at least three guards on the floor.

Thornton hasn't had a big scoring game in the preseason like Fredette or McLemore, but he's the only one that's proven he can be a big-time scorer.

You also have to wonder if Fredette has done enough to warrant time, forcing Thornton or McLemore to play some spot duty at small forward.

Fredette has not looked bad whenever he's played in the preseason.

*DeMarcus Cousins had the night off and Jason Thompson had an off night starting in Cousins' place.

Thompson missed all five of his shots and had just two rebounds and four fouls in 15 minutes.

*Malone was not pleased with how the Kings defended to start both halves.

"We were nowhere near ready to play to start the first quarter ad to start the third quarter," Malone said. "You look at the fact that they shot roughly 95 percent in the first six minutes of the first quarter and the third quarter. After that, they shot in the low thirties."

One of the changes Malone made to fix the defensive problems in the second half was to go with more Chuck Hayes and Travis Outlaw. Hayes had 11 rebounds.

The game story going online in a couple of hours will focus on Patrick Patterson (27 points, eight rebounds). The notebook focuses on McLemore (23 points) and his role off the bench.

October 17, 2013
Kings already are more entertaining than the teams of recent seasons

It's always dangerous to place too much significance on preseason games, but the 2013-14 Kings already are more entertaining than the teams of recent seasons. Basketball, alas, remains a simple game, and when players give effort, attempt to defend, and understand that consequences exist when they don't pass the ball ....

About that ball movement: It's already much improved. The assist total (18) in Thursday's victory over the Phoenix isn't overwhelming, but, clearly, the combination of pass-first point guard Greivis Vasquez and Michael Malone's offensive emphasis is having an effect.

Vasquez, whose minutes are being limited to make ensure he's healthy (ankle) for the season, is infectious. He is all about setting up his teammates - passing ahead on the break, hitting a shooter in the corner, or, as he demonstrated earlier tonight, facilitating fastbreak baskets with precise alley-oops. His one-handed lead pass to Ben McLemore for a throwndown in the second quarter was the play of the game, and his similar pass to the rookie moments later for a contested (and unsuccessful) breakout was almost as impressive. In the Kings locker room afterward, when asked about the sequence, McLemore and second-round draft pick Ray McCallum actually stood up and imitated Vasque, motioning with their right hands to stress that both tosses were one-handed.

"I told Greivis I owed him one because I didn't finish the second (breakout)," McLemore said with a grin.

A few other postgame thoughts, observations:

• McLemore's speed and quickness along the baseline will really complement his outside shooting. I don't think he's a pure shooter - not in the Ray Allen, Larry Bird, Chris Mullen, mode, etc. - but his outside stroke will improve as he gains confidence and develops other elements of his game. He is freaky athletic. This was a terrific first-round draft pick for the Kings.

• Jimmer Fredette's offseason work on his ballhandling is paying off. During his 23-point, five-assist effort against the Suns, he used escape-dribbles to free himself for jumpers and passes, exploited screens and angles for pick and rolls, and in general, played within himself. His improved ballhandling remains key. He can shoot - which means he will always have a job in this league - but his willingness to defend and ability to utilize his dribble spacing and open shots will dictate the essence of his career.

• If DeMarcus Cousins continues to play like this, totally dominating a very competent Marcin Gortat, the Kings' rebuilding process accelerates exponentially.

• Malone talked about going small to get his best players on the floor, which means McLemore will see minutes at small forward.

• The visitors locker room in Sleep Train Arena has been remodeled and reconfigured for the three-year, pre-arena setting, but on an unseasonably warm Sacramento night, it was a sauna post-game. Dreadful. I felt badly for the Suns, and more notably, the trainers and equipment managers who were sweating and visibly challenged as they collected the worn tape, sweaty jerseys, etc., and worked the room.

Finally, I am writing about the return of Kings assistant Corliss Williamson for Saturday's Bee, and later Friday, serving as a guest speaker at the Sacramento Auto Show at Cal Expo Friday at 4:30. The topic: The changing landscape of sports in Sacramento. That means the subject is Kingscentric, of course.

October 17, 2013
Cousins dominates; BYU Jimmer shows up in win

Quick observations from tonight's preseason win over the Phoenix Suns:

*DeMarcus was just too good tonight. It wasn't just his 29 points (8-for-15 shooting), nine rebounds and three assists. He also had six steals.

"People are going to talk about his scoring," said Kings coach Michael Malone. "The things that stick out for me - he got on the floor for two loose balls and drew two charges. Those are winning plays. That will carry us for a long time. That has to be our mentality."

*Cousins has to take the step of dominating big men that can't match his skills to take his game to an elite level and the Suns had no one that could contend with him.

*Cousins didn't play the fourth quarter or he easily could have had 40 points. If there's something to knock Cousins for, it was missing five of his 18 free throws (72.2 percent) and five turnovers. Cousins should shoot 80 percent or better from the line. His shooting touch is too good. But that's nitpicking tonight.

*Tonight we saw "BYU Jimmer" as I like to call him. Jimmer Fredette was aggressive and had 23 points and five assists. He shot 5-for-7 on three pointers. I wrote about Fredette predominantly for the print story off the game, so there will more on him posting on the website by midnight.

*Greivis Vasquez is exactly what the Kings needed. He found Ben McLemore early in the game for an alley-oop on a fast break by looking ahead on the break. The Kings have been awful at that in recent seasons. More times than not, the person with ball put his head down and tried to get to the rim while his teammates watched. It was like a plague that spread throughout the roster.

*Until early in the fourth quarter there were times where Malone looked sick on the sidelines. That had a lot to do with the Suns shooting 58 percent in the first half. The Kings got that down to 47.6 percent for the game, but Malone still didn't like allowing 48 points in the paint.

*Hamady Ndiaye gave the Kings a boost with his energy off the bench in 13 minutes. He's still not a lock to make the team, but it'll be hard for the Kings to let a 7-footer with that kind of athleticism go. The Kings need a rim protector to develop and Ndiaye seems to fit everything the Kings want. He works hard, gives maximum effort and believes in defense. He was throwing himself all over the court tonight. His two points, two rebounds, blocked shot and three fouls were fun to watch.

*Ndiaye playing meant no Chuck Hayes tonight.

*John Salmons continues to have a solid preseason (10 points, six rebounds and some solid defense). Patrick Patterson shot 3-for-6, including a three pointer.

*Don't count out Ray McCallum stealing minutes this season. He had four assists in three steals in a little over 14 minutes. I expect several variations of three-guard lineups this season.

*I stopped by the Kings locker room during pregame media availability and was startled. I counted nine players watching film of the Suns. That was not a regular scene since I began covering the Kings in 2009.

October 14, 2013
Kings beat Clippers, 99-88, for second preseason win

A 9-4 run to start the fourth quarter by the Los Angeles Clippers was exactly what Kings coach Michael Malone wanted to see from his team.

And he called a timeout to let it be known the effort he'd seen was unacceptable.

"That was old Sacramento Kings basketball," Malone said. "Nobody playing together on either end of the floor, no gameplan discipline."

Malone said it wasn't his intent to diminish the entire effort during the Kings' 99-88 preseason win Monday night at Sleep Train Arena.

But in no way does he want the Kings to believe sloppy play late in a game - even with a double-digit lead - is acceptable.

"We did some good things in stretches but overall I felt we were very lax with how we closed that game out," Malone said. "We've got to hold ourselves to a higher standard. We've to play as close to 48 minutes as possible and I was not happy with how we finished that game out."

DeMarcus Cousins had 31 points and 11 rebounds for the Kings. Greivis Vasquez had two points, two rebounds and an assist in 11 minutes in his first preseason action as a King after offseason ankle surgery.

"I was moving good," Vasquez said. "I was running fine. I felt good. So hopefully the next game I will play more minutes."

Isaiah Thomas had 16 points and five assists off the bench for the Kings (2-1). Vasquez started at point guard, playing the first 11 minutes of the game.

Cousins dominated a frontline without starters Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan for Los Angeles (2-1). Chris Paul also did not play for the Clippers.

Cousins, however, echoed Malone's view that the Kings could have played a lot better.

"I think we executed well early on and kind of went away from it later on which is something we can't do," Cousins said. "Even though we did get a win I felt like we didn't play the best that we could. A lot of mistakes tonight."

The Kings had 18 turnovers and allowed 23 points in the fourth quarter. Malone's goal is not to allow more than 20 points in the fourth quarter.

October 10, 2013
Video: Postgame comments from coach Michael Malone

LAS VEGAS -- Coach Michael Malone discusses the improved ball movement, spacing play of DeMarcus Cousins, Travis Outlaw and Jimmer Fredette in the Kings' 104-86 preseason win over the Los Angeles Lakers.

October 10, 2013
Kings beat Lakers for first preseason win

LAS VEGAS - DeMarcus Cousins led the Kings with 16 points and 12 rebounds as Sacramento (1-1) notched its first preseason win, 104-86, over the Los Angeles Lakers Thursday night at MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Isaiah Thomas had 10 points and nine assists.

Cousins shot 2-for-10 in the preseason opener Monday at Golden State but was much more efficient against the Lakers (2-2).

Cousins made 8-of-13 shots and also had three assists.

Nick Young led the Lakers with 17 points. Steve Nash did not play the second half for the Laekrs because of a sore ankle.

*Jimmer Fredette started and had seven points, three assists and three steals. Travis Outlaw finished with a team-high 18 points as the starting small forward as coach Michael Malone continues to experiment with lineups.

*After committing 26 turnovers Monday, the Kings had 15 turnovers against the Lakers.

*Greivis Vasquez (ankle), Carl Landry (quad) and Luc Mbah a Moute (ankle) did not play for the Kings. Marcus Thornton did not play so Malone could give more time to Fredette and Ben McLemore.

Check back for more later.

October 8, 2013
Kings talk offense, turnovers; injury updates from preseason opener

OAKLAND - Some postgame notes and quotes from Monday night's preseason opener that the Kings lost, 94-81, to the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena.

The Warriors went back to their starters in the fourth quarter and pulled away to win the game late.

"It's preseason," said Kings center DeMarcus Cousins. "I don't understand what that was about but that's what they decided to do. I can't control that."

The Kings biggest issue wasn't who the Warriors played in the fourth quarter. It was the 26 turnovers during the game.

April 18, 2013
Final, final, final (or maybe not) thoughts on Kings

After getting home and watching replays of a tremendously entertaining KIngs-Clippers game at Sleep Train Arena - and, seriously, this game and the atmosphere approached the level of some of those Kings-Lakers classics - here are a few late thoughts, observations, comments:

• This was the best performance of DeMarcus Cousins' young career. Soft midrange jumpers, quick moves and one-handed runners, twisting drives, passes to teammates in the corners, pursuit of rebounds, challenging shots. His talents were on full display.

While Cousins can be a complete "knucklehead," as Charles Barkley likes to say, the third-year center also has been thrust into an almost untenable situation: Young coach; future whereabouts unclear because of the arena uncertainty; absence of a bonafide playmaker and complementary frontline rebounder/shotblocker; an overabundance of selfish, dribble-obsessed teammates; lack of organizational leadership. And yet Cousins still has the instincts, emotional intelligence and competitive drive to come up with 36 points, 22 rebounds, three assists and three blocks in what could be the last NBA game ever played in Sacramento? His teammates should care so much .... and remembering Charles when he was 22.

• Cousins' emphatic block on on a drive by Matt Barnes in a fourth quarter, followed by his emphatic salute to the energized crowd, was the play of the game.

• Seattle native Isaiah Thomas has been a class act throughout. The way the diminutive guard competes, you wouldn't know whether he's from the Pacific Northwest or Northern California.

• Poor rebounding was a crippler throughout the season. Apart from Cousins' 22 boards, none of the Kings managed double-digit rebounds against the Clips. In your home building, in this setting, this is truly unacceptable.

• I spent part of the evening wondering why so many of the Clippers' folks appeared so uptight before, during and after the game. Much too tense for a team jostling for postseason positioning. Later, I read T.J. Simers' column in the Los Angeles Times about coach Vinny Del Negro's future and what appears to be intense, ongoing strife within the organization. This is far from the ideal vibe for a team that should be enjoying its best season since Donald Sterling bought the team in 1981. Some things apparently never change. All-Star Chris Paul has to be studying his situation, looking at the Lakers, and wondering about the possibilities...




April 17, 2013
Kings history involves Stern, skivvies, humor

So, while starting to feel that Sacramento's prospects for keeping the Kings have improved exponentially and unexpectedly since the involvement of Silicon Valley billionaire Vivek Ranadive and his group - and the situation remains both intriguing and fluid, so no predictions are forthcoming - I wanted to share a conversation with former Bee columnist Joe Hamelin. (This was all motivated by a chat earlier in the day with Reggie Theus, a member of the original Sacramento Kings, who came back and coached the team, and more recently was hired to run the men's basketball program at Cal State Northridge.

Prompted by the chat with Reggie, and another conversation with legendary Clippers play-by-play announcer Ralph Lawler, I probed Hamelin for his recollections about October 25, 1985.

This was a humbling experience, to say the least. At the time, I was the Clippers beat writer for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, and had traveled with the team to Sacramento for the historic opener at Arco I. Somehow - and the details remain sketchy - I talked my way into riding from the hotel to the game with newly anointed NBA Commissioner David Stern. I do recall thinking that this was a pretty big "get," as we say in the business.

When I mentioned this to Hamelin, who is retired, but as engaging as ever, he just laughed, Earlier that afternoon, he related, he interviewed Stern at the hotel. In his room. While the Commissioner was .... in his skivvies. "I specifically remember David standing there in boxer shorts and white t-shirt," Hamelin said.. "And what do they call those things that hold up the boxers? Suspenders? Anyway, while you were riding to the game in the limousine, I was watching the motorcade breeze past, driving over the side of the road, and stuck in terrible traffic. I actually think I missed tipoff."

And, of course, Hamelin had to ask the question that remains impossible to answer: Are the Kings staying?

April 8, 2013
Pitino, Kings, NCAA Title a year later

While watching Louisville celebrate it's NCAA Championship a little while ago, I started thinking back to my conversation a year ago with Rick Pitino. I caught up with him in Miami, where he was attending a Marlins game with one of his sons and trying to decompress from the loss to John Calipari and Kentucky in the Final Four a few days earlier. His voice was scratchy, and he admittedly was exhausted and depressed. But as usual, he offered helpful insights on former Kings guard Terrence Williams, and then digressed to chat about Francisco Garcia, one of his former (and all-time favorite) players.

At the end of the conversation, I asked Pitino how he expected to compete against Kentucky's powerhouse program and Calipari's exploitation of the "one and done" approach to recruiting. The two campuses, by the way, are located within an hour of each other. Why continue knocking heads with an old adversary? But Pitino was insistent; he believed he could develop championship contenders by recruiting prospects who would be more inclined to stay in school for three or four years instead of jumping right to the NBA after their freshman season, thus, giving him time to develop cohesiveness and reinforce a team concept.

His philosophy is definitely old school, but hey, he must know what he's doing. Besides being a 2013 Hall of Fame selection, Pitino, who has been an NBA assistant and head coach, is the only college coach to win NCAA Championships at two schools (Kentucky, Louisville).

April 4, 2013
More late-night stuff on Kings, Steinberg, Sacramento, Seattle

Not that the Kings/arena/relocation ordeal couldn't become much dramatic, but here are a few other thoughts and observations after revisiting Wednesday's events in New York and reaching out to sources:

• Why did NBA Commissioner David Stern appear so exhausted? Well, he is. The league's longtime top-ranking executive, who retires on Feb. 1, 2014, has been intimately involved with Sacramento's attempts to build a new facility since 2006. Frankly, I think the league should devote an entire staff to dealing with arena issues that will continue to affect the NBA as long as franchises exist in 29 cities. Buildings get old. Owners go broke. It happen. Anyway, the last thing Stern wanted was a bruising battle between two terrific cities for one team. With Ron Burkle, Vivek Ranadive, Mark Mastrov and the Jacobs family strengthening Sacramento's attempt to keeps its only major professional sports franchise, this is like asking Stern and his owners to split the baby. Ouch.

• No one - ok, maybe Kevin Johnson - really entertained the notion that four major investors could be lured to the capital city in time to make a serious, deadly serious bid to buy the Kings and partner in a private/public partnership. While Stern, Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver and the league's lawyers are aware of all the details, most of the owners are too busy tending their own franchises - particularly during playoff drives - to snoop into the business of the other teams. So, yes, don't be surprised if members of the finance/relocation committee were receptive to the power of persuasive, and the charisma of the KJ-led group that includes state Senate pro tem leader Darrell Steinberg.

March 30, 2013
Kobe passes Wilt, predicts Kings stay, recalls Game 7

These Kings-Lakers encounters almost never disappoint. Saturday night was no different. In front of a sold out arena - and the place is always packed with people and with emotion when the Lakers visit - Kobe Bryant led his team to a much-needed 103-98 victory and passed Wilt Chamberlain on the league's all-time scoring list.

Oh. One more thing. While the team's future in Sacramento is uncertain because the Maloofs have reached agreement to sell majority interest to a group intent on relocating the team to Seattle, Kobe predicted he'll be back here next year. He also (fondly) recalled Game 7 of the Kings-Lakers conference finals classic in 2001-02.

"They're (Kings) not going nowhere," Bryant said, laughing, when surrounded by reporters late Saturday in the visitors locker room. "The cowbells are still (clanging) ... I predict we'll be back here next year. You guys have been saying the same thing for three years."

March 26, 2013
More on Kings, Kevin Johnson, NBA, City Council

There were no surprises at the City Council meetings that ended a few hours. Council members voted 7-2 to approve a term sheet detailing the public's contribution to the proposed $448 million downtown sports and entertainment complex, with Kevin McCarty and Darrell Fong - both of whom expressed concern about the city's risk and the lack of time to more closely vet the agreement - voting against the agreement.

Tuesday's vote was the latest development in Mayor Kevin Johnson's campaign to keep the Kings in Sacramento. The Maloofs already sold their majority interest in the team to the Seattle-based group headed by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer, but the league's other owners (as stated in the NBA by-laws) have to approve all sales and relocations. Within the past several weeks, Johnson, attempting to come up with a counter bid, has put together a potential Kings ownership group that includes billionaire Ron Burkle, 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov, Golden State Warriors minority owner Vivek Ranadive and Steve Jacobs, founder of San Diego-based-Qualcomm.

Here are a few other thoughts, quotes and observations from the meeting in the overheated, and overcrowded council chambers:

March 25, 2013
Kings, Burkle, Rendell, Fourth Investor Keep It Interesting


This was just another wild and crazy day in a Kings arena saga that has extended into its second decade - and become more dramatic by the hour. Before a fourth major investor emerged in the attempt to buy the team, build an arena and keep the franchise in Sacramento, joining the efforts of billionaire developer and Pittsburgh Penguins co-owner Ron Burkle, 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov and Golden State Warriors minority owner Vivek Ranadive, I spoke with several interesting parties and NHL sources about Burkle.

The group includes former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell and Pat Brisson, Sidney Crosby's agent and longtime friend of hockey legend Mario Lemieux, who partnered with Burkle to buy the Penguins out of bankruptcy in 1999 and faciitated development of the new Consol Energy Center. I wrote a column about this for Tuesday's print editions of The Bee, but for a look ahead:

* Rendell, who was governor when the private/public financing plan for the arena was finalized in 2007, characterized Burkle as an aggressive, bruising, but fair negotiating partner. The former governor estimated the state's contribution to the $321 million facility, which opened in 2010, at 35 percent.

* Burkle is universally described as an intensely private, media-shunning pro sports owner. Nonetheless, because of his willingness and financial ability to spend and compete in the market, he is extremely popular in Pittsburgh. Of course, his team also wins: Since he joined Lemieux's ownership bid, the Penguins have been to the Stanley Cup finals twice, won once, and withstood repeated relocation threats before the new downtown facility was negotiated and constructed. The Penguins also currently own the best record in the NHL, are regarded as elite hockey franchise in the United States, and have sold out the building since Valentine's Day, 2007.

* The plot thickens. The addition of Ranadive last weekend to Sacramento's potential ownership group was interesting enough. David Stern loves his reputation as the most progressive commissioner in professional sports (think WNBA, the number of African-American head coaches, etc.), and the fact Ranadive would be the first Indian-born native is extremely significant. So is Stern's retirement date: Feb., 2014. If Mayor Kevin Johnson's coalition somehow pulls this for Sacramento? I think the Kings finally find a permanent home. That said, I still think Seattle winds up with an expansion franchise or the promise of the next team that financially is forced to relocate.

* The introduction of the Jacobs family, founders of San Diego-based Qualcomm, does nothing but strengthen Sacramento's efforts and suggest that a competitive bid for majority interest in the team will be presented to the league's relocation committee in the next few weeks. Of course, let's not forget the Maloofs have already agreed to sell the team to the Chris Hansen/Steve Ballmer group in Seattle, but also, that the Board of Governors has the right to approve all sales and relocations. Again, the league does not want yet another relocation, particularly one involving a franchise that was extremely robust and viable - a model franchise, Stern said - before the Maloofs were crushed during the nation's economic collapse.

* Burkle and Mastrov abruptly canceled a Monday afternoon visit to The Bee. In light of the late-afternoon developments, and the introduciton of the Jacobs family, it starts to make sense.

February 21, 2013
The late Jerry Buss? The Maloofs should be paying attention


After reading texts and watching video highlights from Jerry Buss' memorial services Thursday at the Nokia Theatre, I just wanted to add a few thoughts. I met Dr. Buss in 1981, or not long before he fired Paul Westhead, appointed Jerry West and Pat Riley as co-coaches, only to capitulate when The Logo said he wanted no part of coaching again and handed the solo duties to Riley.

In the ensuing years, the Lakers have been pure Hollywood, part soap opera, tremendous acting, and unfailing high drama. Think "Downton Abbey" for three-plus decades, not three seasons. Under a stewardship that began in 1979 and culminated in in 10 NBA Championships, Buss' Lakers offered continued entertainment. They have their moments, of course. They screw up with the best of them (Magic as head coach?). But then they recover, and make amends, and they all this in front of one of the world's largest audiences.

Buss, who offered great insight and powerful resistance, by the way, when neighbor Donald Sterling relocated the Clippers to the Los Angeles Sports Arena in 1984 - and as we all know in Sacramento, opposed the Maloofs' attempt to relocate the Kings to Anaheim in 2011 - oversaw the best organization in professional sports. There is nothing close, no team nearly as much fun. George Steinbrenner presided over a dynasty and always seemed miserable. Buss presided over a dynasty and cherished the thrill of the chase, and of course, all those titles.

While circumstances affect outcomes in all sports, Buss' success was no accident. He paid his players, hired great people, replaced folks who didn't get the job done. He repeatedly promoted his daughter, Jeanie, because she has long been one of the brightest business minds in sports and entertainment. She tolerated her father's affinity for the young ladies; he re-hired her boyfriend (Phil Jackson) a few months after dumping him because, simply, he was the game's premier coach.

But when I think about Dr. Buss, a one-time chemistry professor who made his millions in the Southern California real estate market, I will most fondly recall his iconclastic teams; those Lakers-Celtics, Bird-Magic matchups in the 1980s; his ability to nurture the brilliance and quirkiness of West; his appreciation for his first rock star coach, Riley; Randy Newman's anthem, "I Love L.A." rocking the old Forum; Southern Cal's marching band and its nightly rendition of the Fleetwood Mac hit, "Tusk"; and mostly, the way the way the organization responded when a devastated Magic Johnson announced in Oct., 1991, that he had contracted HIV.

That was when, in my mind, the Lakers were elevated to a higher realm. At a time when AIDS was a death sentence, when it was a political football even within the NBA, Buss' folks opened the Forum doors. With David Stern's constant supervision and unwavering support, they embraced their superstar and helped educate the public about a contagious, virulent disease. Journalists were welcomed into Mike Dunleavy's locker room. Conversation was encouraged, even elicited. West and the late Chick Hearn sat in the stands, often by themselves, openly crying at times, but never dodging a very sensitive subject. The discussion started in the United States, and continued the following summer in Barcelona.

The Maloofs, who attended the invitees-only ceremonies on Thursday, should have paid closer attention all these years. No one expects owners to be saints. But fans have every right to expect commitment to supportive communities and competent management in the team's business and basketball operations. If Dr. Buss ever contemplated selling the Lakers - and his wealth is down the list among NBA owners these days - there is no doubt incoming owners would have been required to park themselves at Staples Center. As an emotional West said while eulogizing his former boss, "He was a man for all people."

We won't forget.

February 20, 2013
Kings trade Robinson, give up disappointing No.5 pick

Nothing is official yet, but so much for the theory that the Kings would not make any trades while the Maloofs attempt to sell their majority interest to a group that intends to move the franchise to Seattle. While awaiting word that the deal has been finalized - sending rookied Thomas Robinson, Francisco Garcia and Tyler Honeycutt to the Houston Rockets for Patrick Patterson, Cole Aldrich and Toney Douglas, it's clear that Kings basketball officials decided they erred in drafting the undersized Robinson with the No.5 pick last summer and wanted to cut their losses. While this looks like a pure salary dump, as our Bee writer Jason Jones notes in Thursday's print editions, the 6-foot-9 Robinson - as he is listed - has been a major disappointment. While the former Kansas standout is athletic, has quick feet and pursues rebounds, he has terrible hands and doesn't finish around the basket. (Another ex-Jayhawk and one-time Kings backup center Scot Pollard cautioned accordingly while everyone was celebrating the fact Robinson dropped to the Kings at No.5).

While a lot of scouts really like Patterson, who is also an undersized 6-foot-9 power forward who can shoot, any enthusiasm for this deal is tempered by two things: the fact that Cisco was a great teammate and a calming influence in the locker room and Rocktes' general manager Daryl Morey's recent history of fleecing his colleagues. Morey is too much of an analytics guys for my taste, but he seems to have a feel for assembling players with complementary skills and personalities -- the personalities being huge here. I really like his recent additions of James Harden, Jeremy Lin, Omer Asik, and role players like Chandler Parsons and now Garcia and Robinson.

Obviously, much more to come.

February 19, 2013
More Kings, Spurs, and arena politics

San Antonio Spurs coach and team president Gregg Popovich was unusually cranky before and after tonight's Spurs-Kings game at Sleep Train Arena. One suspects the reasons have mostly to do with his team's schedule (the Spurs are on their annual exhausting road trip to accommodate the rodeo at AT&T Center); fatigue from having to coach the West Squad during the All-Star Game last weekend in Houston, which required him to run practices and fulfill several media obligations; and the fact he didn't want to get pulled into conversations about the Kings arena situation, uncertain future, and similarities between Sacramento and San Antonio as small market cities.

Pop probably wasn't too thrilled that his opponents closed to within two points in the final minutes, though the Kings managed kicked themselves with an inability to grab loose balls and defensive rebounds in the critical sequences. Nonetheless, count me among those who find his aging, unselfish, precise, glitz-free team delightful to watch. For a few minutes there, I thought I was back in Indianapolis watching Yugoslavia-Argentina at the 2002 World Championships or at the 2004 Athens Olympics watching Argentina (and Manu Ginobili's squad) against anybody. This was international ball revisited. Tony Parker penetrated for layups or floaters, and found shooters in the corners. If teammates weren't open, the ball quickly moved to someone else on the wings or underneath. Execution was crisp, decisions instinctive, and the offense rhythmic. Unlike so many offenses today, where everything is initiated off the dribble - really, it's ok to move the ball before putting it on the floor - the Spurs pass (lead league in assists), cut and shoot.

Also, while they don't defend like they did earlier in Tim Duncan's career, the future Hall of Famer's length is still disruptive. They defend well enough, and they rebound. If they enter the playoffs rested and healthy, this will be a very interesting postseason.

January 29, 2013
Kings, Smart, and about that relief

After listening to Keith Smart's post-game press conference Monday evening, I immediately recalled those famous commercials about Rolaids and relief. The Kings' victory against the Wizards in Washington, D.C., was an obvious tension-buster after what has been an emotionally draining time for many folks associated with the organization. Since it was announced that the Maloofs had sold majority interest to the Chris Hansen/Steve Ballmer group in Seattle, the Kings dropped had four straight and appeared demoralized and distracted for large portions of the defeats.

Players and coaches aren't robots. Amid all the talk of sales and potential counter bids here in Sacramento, Smart hasn't gotten enough credit for keeping this group remotely together. After Isaiah Thomas' runner secured the victory over the Wizards, he appeared physically and emotionally drained. Understandably.

January 23, 2013
Kings toss game away, but Shaq praises Cousins

After watching the Kings turn the game over (25 turnovers) to the visiting Phoenix Suns at Sleep Train Arena, I got home in time to watch NBA.TV's postgame show with Matt Winer, Steve Smith and Shaquille O'Neal. When Winer asked his colleagues what "caught their eye" during Wednesday's games, Shaq paused, then replied, "DeMarcus Cousins."

"DeMarcus Cousins?" a surprised Winer responded.

"I see flashes of greatness," Shaq explained, "but I need consistency. Whenever I see something great, in my mind, I say, 'you need to do that all the time, not some of the time.' He is probably the most talented big man in the game. BUT he needs to show that every night."

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 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 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 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 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 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.

October 1, 2012
Model for the Kings? The neighboring A's, of course


Crummy old facility. Years of rumors about relocation. Low team payroll. Even lower expectations. Not a superstar on the roster (until the marvelous Yoenis Cespedes stays healthy for a full season). Sound familiar? If the 2012-13 Kings want a model for their 2012-13 season, they need only look about 90 miles to the southwest. Oakland's A's - who about an hour ago clinched their first postseason berth for the first time since 2006 - are one of the most compelling stories in sports.

No one - again, no one - expected this team to reach the playoffs. The A's were supposed to be in San Jose by now, right?

Pitching, defense, timely hitting, a nurturing, demanding manager known as Bo Mel (Bob Melvin), and that tired old cliche about chemistry. What else can you say? Well, there is this: most of the A's have spent considerable time - either this season or recent seasons - on Darren Bush's River Cats roster. Jarrod Parker. Josh Donaldson. Chris Carter. Brandon Moss. Derek Norris. Grant Balfour. Ryan Cook. Jerry Blevins .... it goes on and on.

I couldn't but remember River Cats manager Darren Bush, only half-jokingly, telling me the A's would be fine because they would be raiding his pitching staff.

August 30, 2012
Don Nelson, Jamaal Wilkes, Reggie Miller ... but Phil Knight?

I'm sure there will be further discussion about this leading up to the Sept. 7 Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in Springfield, Mass., but for the moment, let's just say, Don Nelson and Reggie Miller are no-brainer selections.

And I always felt that fomer Lakers star Jamaal Wilkes - quiet and unassuming, and an essential member of Pat Riley's Showtime squad - never received the recognition he deserved. But the selection of Nike co-founder Phil Knight as a "contributor" for this year's class makes me shake my head.

While there's no disputing the influence of the sneaker companies and the nice bump they provided for the earnings of college coaches and an innumerable number of high profile athletes, I'm not sure that makes them worthy of inclusion into basketball's Hall of Fame. Then again, it's all about the money.

August 28, 2012
Kings fans keep hanging on ....

Amid all the conversation about Virginia Beach's interest in building a new arena and luring a professional franchise to the region, the Kings on Monday released some interesting numbers on season ticket sales and renewals. Just a few tidbits from team publicist Chris Clark:

* The season ticket renewal rate is 80 percent over last season.
* The Kings rank in the top five in the league in group sales.
* Approximately 1,000 fans attended the open house held last Tuesday and Wednesday, with the partial season ticket plans once again proving to be an effective lure. (Back in the day, former Kings president John Thomas refused to offer anything other than full season ticket packages - an arrogant, financially devastating approach given the economic downturn and the Kings' on court decline.

Yet, despite it all, tolks here in Sacramento remain consistent and amazingly resistent: They hold their noses when it comes to the owners and six-plus years of subpar play, but they love their team, probably anticipating an uptick with DeMarcus Cousins, Tyreke Evans and rookie Thomas Robinson..

August 7, 2012
Olympic gold medalist Ruthie Bolton at book signing


Ruthie Bolton, an original member of the WNBA's now-defunct Sacramento Monarchs, continues to live and work in the area. She also has been writing about growing up in McLain, Miss., her successful college and professional careers, and of particularly relevance given the ongoing 2012 London Games, her experiences with the 1996 and 2000 U.S. Olympic teams. The self-described "Mighty Ruthie" was a major contributor on the teams that won gold medals in Athens and Sydney, respectively.

The former Monarchs star will sign copies of her new release - "The Ride of a Lifetime" - this Sunday from 2-4 p.m., at The Avid Reader, 1600 Broadway.

July 12, 2012
More Cousins, Garcia, Team USA, London


LAS VEGAS - As could have been predicted, Team USA had no trouble disposing of a dispirited Dominican Republic team Wednesday night at the Thomas & Mack Center at UNLV. It was obvous that members of coach John Calipari's team wanted to be anywhere but on the court, in this heat, having failed to qualify for the London Games.

The Dominicans squandered their last opportunity for the 2012 Olympics with their to Nigeria last Sunday.

"I'm going to London anyway," said team captain Francisco Garcia. "I got tickets for the family a long time ago. I really thought we were going to make it."

Garcia chatted briefly with DeMarcus Cousins before the USA's 113-59 rout. The Kings center, who played for the Select Team during the weeklong training camp, is staying in touch to watch the Kings' first few games in the Summer League. "He's full of himself right now," said Garcia, laughing, and saying he heard reports about his teammate's progress throughout the week.


Here are a few final thoughts on Team USA:
* USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo and coach Mike Krzyzewski look absolutely exhausted. True, temperatures reached 114 both Tuesday and Wednesday. Mostly, though, they have been dealing with what they termed "distractions," among them the crazy free agent period and the injuries to key players.
* Krzyzewski, who was an assistant on the 1992 Dream Team, sounds like he'd take the original Dreamers over any subsequent USA roster. "In their prime, all those guys together .... There was no team ever like that." The late Chuck Daly described his '92 squad as "majestic."
* Dream Team members Clyde Drexler, Chris Mullin, Scottie Pippen and assistant Lenny Wilkens receiving a rousing ovation when they were introduced to the crowd last night during a timeout. Daly, you might recall, never called a timeout in 11 games in Barcelona. Of course, his team won by an average of 43 points.
* As far as cobbling together teams at the last minute? Ask Larry Brown about that. Except for Tim Duncan and Allen Iverson, the team that sprinted to the 2003 gold medal at the Olympic qualifying tournament in Puerto Rico virtually abandoned him for the 2004 Athens Games. Mike Bibby, among others, freely admitted that he bailed because of terrorism fears.
* Krzyzewski played the 6-foot-8 LeBron James in numerous positions, including center. Expect plenty of tinkering as Team USA heads off to Washington, D.C. for more training and another exhibition.




July 12, 2012
More Griffin, Davis, Cousins and USA Basketball


LAS VEGAS - It's about 90 minutes before the USA exhibition against the Dominican Republic here at Thomas & Mack Center, and USA Basketball officials are still awaiting the MRI results on Blake Griffin's surgically repaired left knee. The Clippers forward complained of discomfort and swelling on Wednesday and flew to Los Angeles earlier for tests.

According to USAB officials, Griffin remains on the final roster unless (or until) he withdraws. Anthony Davis, the NBA's No.1 overall pick - and one of three alternates named to the squad last Saturday - can step in and play the upcoming exhibitions. The United States Olympic Committee governs the deadlines prior to the Games, but the International Olympic Committee (IOC) controls the Games. Final rosters for all teams have to be submitted to the IOC 24 hours before the games open.

DeMarcus Cousins, who has impressed USAB types after his shaky opening day performance, was in the conversation after Griffin went down. What hurts him is this -- he wasn't on the original roster, wasn't named as alternate (Davis, Rudy Gay, Eric Gordon), and hasn't been submitted for the drug testing. That said, if another big man gets injured between now and the IOC roster deadline, USAB would be scrambling and could lobby the IOC for an exception.

Stay tuned.

July 11, 2012
Kings' Cousins finishes strong


LAS VEGAS - Though he plans to stick around to watch the Kings first few games in the upcoming Summer League, DeMarcus Cousins' weeklong experience with the USA men's Select Team ended today. And let's just say that, while it started poorly, it ended well. NBA and USA Basketball types were very complementary of the Kings center.

Here are the final thoughts on the 6-foot-11, 290-pound Cousins from Select Team coach Jay Triano: "He's a super talent. He can make shots. He gets rebounds. I told him that if he ever gets to where's he's in great shape, running the floor, there's no reason he wouldn't get be able to get 15 to 20 rebounds a game. He just has a knack for eating up space and he has a knack for the ball. If you get that many rebounds a game, you find yourself in double-digit scoring, too."

Cousins reiterated his desire to compete on future national teams, with an eye on the 2014 FIBA World Championships. "If it happens, I will gladly accept," he said. "If not, I had run. I improved every day. Overall, it was a good experience. Today went well. Another competitive day. We battled Olympians."

There will be more on this topic in the future, but these last few days in particular, it sounds like Cousins really turned some heads. Or, changed some minds. The Kings star increasingly sought out Kobe, LeBron and the other Olympians as the week progressed, seeking their counsel and establishing relationships. One USAB official told me that Cousins' talent and his progress throughout the week was a major dinner topic conversation on Tuesday.

July 10, 2012
Cousins, kids, take it out on Olympians


LAS VEGAS - I'm awaiting confirmation from USA Basketball officials, but a number of NBA types said that DeMarcus Cousins, Kyrie Irving and John Wall weren't weaving a story - they outscored the Olympic team during scrimmages a few hours ago at the Mendenhall Center on UNLV's campus.

While this is not the stuff of legends, say, Bobby Hurley, Chris Webber, Grant Hill surprising the 1992 Dream Team on the second day of practice. The Select Team has been known to prevail in scrimmages in recent pre-Olympic training sessions.

But it's interesting, and Cousins was right in the middle of it - or so we were told. Members of the large press contingent got booted out of the gym again before the scrimmages began. I'll write more about this for tomorrow's Bee, but when Cousins came out to chat with reporters, he was visibly excited. He pump-fisted, joked around, talked about his fishing trip to Alaska, and in general, was back to being DeMarcus most of us have come to appreciate.

It doesn't hurt the USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo sounds almost apologetic for labeling Cousins "immature" after the first two days of practice.

July 10, 2012
Colangelo offers more on Cousins

LAS VEGAS - That clear-the-air conversation between DeMarcus Cousins and USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo on Monday seems to have benefitted both parties. While Cousins said he heard nothing definitive when he approached Colangelo and why the USAB czar characterized him as "immature" during the opening days of the training cap. On Tuesday, while Cousins and the Select Team practiced in an adjacent gym and the Olympians warmed up for their own session, Colangelo seemed eager to put the issue to rest.

"We had a discussion," said Colangelo. "He asked me to be specific. I tried to be responsive, and as far as I'm concerned, (they should) just bury it. It's a non-issue. Hopefully that's the end of it."

When a Sacramento television reporter asked if Cousins' early presence was a red flag, Colangelo responded: "No, I don't want to do that. That would be unfair to him and unfair to any player to say it's a red flag, in particular since he had some red flags in the past. The fact that he's here, putting in his time .... He's had a couple really good days here back-to-back ... his play, his demeanor, his conduct, everything ... so everyone should just drop it."

July 9, 2012
Kings' Cousins clears air with Colangelo

LAS VEGAS - I will address this more extensively in tomorrow's Bee, but Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, upset that USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo characterized him as "immature" in a teleconference with reporters on Saturday, approached the USAB boss to discuss the matter about an hour ago.

Cousins is among members of the Select Team e here scrimmaging and training with the 2012 Olympic squad. The 6-foot-11 center was extremely physical - throwing elbows and amassing fouls - in the Friday's opening day of practice. Colangelo and other USA officials and coaches weren't thrilled with his overly aggressive approach, or his frequent complaining to the referees.

By all accounts, however, the third-year center has progressed significantly by the day. (One GM who watched Sunday's entire session after members of the press were booted said DMC was exceptional).

June 29, 2012
Kings enjoying NBA Draft, Xmas in June

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So, after another crazy NBA Draft, and we say crazy because the flurry of major trades never materialized, but there were several curious selections, here are a few late-night thoughts:
* The Kings are receiving overwhelmingly great reviews for taking Thomas Robinson, the Kansas Jayhwawks power forward at No.5. While it's always interesting to look back on can't miss high Lottery choices, and noting how many are complete busts, it's easy to understand the enthusiasm. The 6-foot-9, 244-pound Robinson is a prototypical, modern day power forward. He rebounds, is a physical defender, runs the floor, hits the 15-foot jumper, and doesn't dominate the ball. He pencils out as a very, very good NBA player. This is Xmas in June.
* I can't remember the last time I've seen Geoff Petrie this happy. When he approached the gathering of media types in the practice facility late Thursday night, he was almost giddy. As coach Keith Smart noted, Robinson was the "clear cut" choice within the organization if he was available. And, of course, no one thought he would be available.
* This is all started because Charlotte Bobcats owner/boss Michael Jordan decided to take Michael Kidd-Gilchrist instead of grabbing Robinson or moving the pick. MJ, of course, has never lacked guts. He drafted Kwame Brown and Adam Morrison - tough even for the game's greatest player to live down - but that didn't stop him from following his instincts again on Thursday. Big guts. Always. Gotta admire that.
* The news that Tyler Honeycutt has a fractured foot was overshadowed by the evening's events. The Kings were hoping to get a long look at the second-year small forward during the Las Vegas Summer League (July 13-20). Instead, Honeycutt is in a boot and expected to be sidelined for six weeks.
* Rod Thorn (retiring) and Doug Collins have had their differences in Philadelphia, but the 76ers had a terrific night. They drafted St. John's Moe Harkless, whose stature has risen dramatically in recent weeks, and then obtained Arnett Moultrie in a swap with the Miami Heat.
* The Cleveland Cavaliers' selection of guard Dion Waiters is at least a little reminiscent of Minnesota's drafting of Ricky Rubio with the No.5 pick in 2009. Waiters didn't start a game during his two college seasons. Rubio similarly came off the bench while playing professionally for FC Barcelona and for Spain's talented national team. But though the dynamic point guard is recovering from major knee surgery, and everyone can only speculate on how completely he recovers from the injury, not too many people these days think Rubio was a bad pick for the Timberwolves.
* The frontcourt pairing of Robinson and DeMarcus Cousins, the No.5 pick in 2010, and let's just say it now -- a steal by the Kings - is beyond intriguing. The talent base of Cousins, Robinson and 2009 Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans at small forward/two guard, gives the franchise a solid foundation. The Kings still lack perimeter shooting and a playmaker, but with the addition of Robinson, the future suddenly looks a lot brighter. It actually looks like there is a plan ....
* A final thought about the reaction at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., when Stern was introduced and walked to the podium to start the selection process: the Commissioner was good-natured, even jocular when he was booed by the crowd, which obviously was reacting to the Nets' departure from East Rutherford to Brooklyn. It's not all that terrible, though. Brooklyn is just across the river.
PHOTO CAPTION: Thomas Robinson, the first unanimous first-team All-American since Blake Griffin in 2009, poses with NBA Commissioner David Stern at the draft in Newark, N.J. Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

May 21, 2012
OKC making noise like Kings of old ....


The NBA's crazy, compact season continues, but it no longer includes the Lakers. This is sort of hard to believe given their level of talent, but here are a few thoughts about the Western Conference semifinals that ended a few hours ago with the Thunder celebrating their 4-1 series clincher.

* The lusty crowds inside (18,000) and outside (an estimated 6,000 or 7,000 according to TNT's Ernie Johnson) OKC's downtown arena were reminiscent of the gatherings around Arco Arena a decade ago. Small markets tend to generate some of the loudest noise. And, yes, beating the Lakers has something to do with it.

* In contrast to the frisky old Spurs, whose stars also are well into their 30s, the Lakers throughout this series looked old, dispirited, discombobulated, and confused. What's the system? The style of play? Why the lack of energy and what happened to the free-flowing movement? Actually, I wonder what Jerry Buss is thinking about Phil Jackson and that triangle offense he was so eager to dump ...

* Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak was a lonely figure seated alone in the stands, but afterward, he was classy as usual. He stopped in the hallway after the game and endured a painful, informal interview session.

* Revealing stats of the night: Kobe Bryant, 0 assists. Andrew Bynum, 0 assists.

* The league should (and probably will) rescind the flagrant foul assessed to Metta World Peace just before intermission. That was ridiculous, based soley and unfairly on reputation.

* OKC and San Antonio finished a combined 15-1 in the opening two rounds. This should be a phenomenal conference finals.

* It's hard to believe that, only a year ago, OKC coach Scotty Brooks benched Russell Westbrook for his poor decision making. Westbrook was OKC's MVP of this series, though Kevin Durant continues to improve, and amaze with his overall skill and particularly his late-game shotmaking and defense. If he ever develops that superstar edginess? Becomes a little less accommodating? Scary thought.

* TNT's "Inside the NBA" was must-see TV when the studio cast consisted only of Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson, but Shaquille O'Neal has been a terrific addition. Together, it works. They are insightful, hilarious, opinionated, and not afraid to offend their former peers. Mostly, they are simply too entertaining to miss, whether it's Shaq wearing his graduation outfit, Charles bragging about his weight loss, Kenny doing the robot walk behind the set, or Ernie interrupting the banter with a pithy transition ... Great stuff. Too bad they don't work the Finals.

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

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

Lakers coach Mike Brown said this of the Kings:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DeMarcus Cousins

Isaiah Thomas

Jimmer Fredette

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

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

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

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

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

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

That would be the extent of Evans' highlights.

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

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

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

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

That's not the case with the Kings now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

The formula to beating the Kings appears simple.

Don't let them jump ahead.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


March 31, 2012
The Morning After: Williams gets to the point in win

SALT LAKE CITY -- It is evident Terrence Williams is a player Kings coach Keith Smart quickly came to trust on the court.

Players on 10-day contracts aren't supposed to be counted on in the fourth quarter of close games, but Williams has been a big-time player for the Kings late in games since joining the team last week.

Williams said after the game that he'd already signed to stay with the Kings the rest of the season. So after two teams in two-plus seasons, the 11th pick in the 2009 NBA Draft might have found a home with the Kings.

March 29, 2012
Video: Thompson says ankle still "nagging"

Forward Jason Thompson addresses the media following the Kings' loss to the San Antonio Spurs at Power Balance Pavilion.

Kings forward Jason Thompson said Wednesday night his left ankle is not completely back to normal despite his return to the Kings' lineup in their 117-112 loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

Thompson had missed the Kings' previous two games with the sprained left ankle. He played 37 minutes against the Spurs, finishing with 15 points and seven rebounds.

"The ankle's still not 100 percent, but I felt like I did what I could to help the team out," Thompson said. "It kind of was nagging a little bit, but I obviously didn't want to be on the court if it was going to affect how I was playing."

March 29, 2012
The Morning After: When the lane is closed Evans still has to shoot

The Kings won't win many games that Tyreke Evans only takes five shots.

That's how many shots Evans attempted in Wednesday night's 117-112 loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

Only one of the field goals attempts came after halftime.

The result: Evans had more turnovers (four) than shots made (three).

The Spurs were determined to not let Evans beat them by driving to the basket. It's no secret that's the strength of Evans' game and as expected, the Spurs made that tough.

Evans did have five assists, but the game was a reminder Evans' aggression on offense can't be limited to driving to the basket.

Evans was 1-of-2 on layup attempts and 2-of-3 on jump shots.

There were more shots there for Evans to take. The Spurs were conceding midrage opportunities. Evans did not take them nearly enough.

"What he has to do is he is going to have to take shots," said Kings coach Keith Smart.

According to NBA.com/stats, 384 of Evans' 715 field goal attempts this season have been within five feet of the basket (53.7 percent). Evans is shooting 59.1 percent from within five feet.

Evans' shooting falls way off anywhere else on the floor:

5-9 feet: 22-of-78, 28.2 percent
10-14 feet: 4-of-22, 18.2 percent
15-19 feet: 25-of-81, 30.9 percent
20-24 feet: 19-of-74, 25.7 percent
25-29 feet: 15-of-66, 22.7 percent
30-34 feet: 0-of-0, 0 percent
35-39 feet: 0-of-2, 0 percnet
40 feet-plus: 2-of-8, 25 percent

"As he grows he's going to learn to take those shots, miss them," Smart said. "Shoot them all, I don't care, but he's going to have to take those shots."

Evans said he is comfortable shooting mid-range jump shots when defenses take away the paint.

"I was comfortable taking it (Wednesday)," Evans said. "I took it when I had a chance. I just stopped taking it in the second half and I couldn't really get a rhythm. I was coming in and out of the game so I just find a rhythm after that."

Evans played 30 minutes, the lowest amount of any starter.

But when Evans is in the game, he is going to have to take and make shots outside of the paint consistently.

At one point Smart sat Evans after he drove right into Kawhi Leonard when there was no where for him to go with the ball. A jump stop would have given Evans the chance to take a short jumper but Evans tried to force his way to the rim.

It's the kind of shot Smart has tried to get Evans not to take against a set defense.

"You're dealing with smart players that study the scouting report and understand the tendencies - not rush out, don't overcommit and invite the jump shot," Smart said. "And he's going to have to take those shots being the point guard, off guard or small forward. That's part of his development that he has to get to. He has to get there because if not it's going to frustrate him because they're going to close the lane off."

March 25, 2012
The Morning After: Williams' debut comes during crunch time

OAKLAND - Terrence Williams' debut for the Sacramento Kings caught him by surprise.

It came with 8:19 left in the Kings' 111-108 loss to the Golden State Warriors Saturday night at Oracle Arena.

Williams signed a 10-day contract with the Kings last Wednesday and has practiced once with the team.

March 24, 2012
Kings go away from Cousins late

OAKLAND -- DeMarcus Cousins was having his way inside through three quarters on offense against the Golden State Warriors' Jeremy Tyler and Mickell Gladness, with 26 points on 8-of-18 shooting and five assists.

But as has happened multiple times this season, the Kings went away from a hot-shooting Cousins down the stretch in a close game.

Cousins attempted just two shots in the fourth quarter and did not get to the free-throw line. He finished with 28 points and 18 rebounds, both team-highs, as the Kings lost to the Warriors, 111-108.

Kings head coach Keith Smart said the Warriors went to a zone defense in an attempt to deny Cousins the ball, and the Kings' guards were reluctant to throw the ball into the zone.

March 23, 2012
Evans says he's planning return to starting lineup

Guard Tyreke Evans addresses the media following the Kings' loss to the Utah Jazz at Power Balance Pavilion.

Tyreke Evans' 25-point performance off the bench in the Kings' 103-102 loss to the Utah Jazz led to head coach Keith Smart being asked afterward if maybe Evans prefers coming off the bench.

It was Evans' second consecutive game in a reserve role. But it doesn't sound like he'll be occupying that role much longer.

"I think I'm going to start next game," Evans said after the game. "I don't know yet. I'm disappointed with the loss. I just want to get another win. I think I'm going to start next game."

The Kings' next game is Saturday night at Golden State.

March 23, 2012
Kings lose, but ... not so bad


Thursday's 103-102 loss to the visiting Utah Jazz doesn't help the club's overall record - another Lottery appearance is a lock - but the Kings are increasingly entertaining to watch. Keith Smart wasn't kidding when he promised to implement an uptempo style. When Marcus Thornton, Tyreke Evans, Isaiah Thomas and John Salmons fully commit to defending aggressively (and consistently) on the perimeter and in transition, the Kings will start winning games. And again, those 28 assists indicate a willingness to share the ball these days. No one misses that sluggish, dreadful, one-on-one style of the previous two years.

A few other thoughts, observations, musings:

* The Kings were immensely relieved to learn that Jason Thompson only aggravated an old ankle injury when he fell to the floor in the closing seconds. When Thompson had to be helped into the locker room, his arms around a trainer and teammate, most media types and scouts in the building suspected a more ominous injury such as an Achilles tear or torn knee ligament. The Kings press people were quick with the diagnosis.

March 23, 2012
Missed free throws hurt Kings down stretch, and other notes

This was how DeMarcus Cousins summed up the final few minutes of the Kings' 103-102 loss to the Utah Jazz on Thursday night, which was decided by Al Jefferson's put-back shot with 0.9 seconds to play:

"Just turnovers down the stretch, just small things, and small things turned into big things, which put us in that chippy situation, and they made the most of it," Cousins said.

In the final 3:11, the Kings were 2-of-9 from the field and, perhaps more damaging, 1-of-5 from the free-throw line. They also committed a pair of turnovers.

March 22, 2012
Thompson sprains ankle, is day-to-day

Kings forward Jason Thompson talks to reporters following the Kings' 103-102 loss to the Utah Jazz at Power Balance Pavilion.

Kings forward Jason Thompson has a sprained left ankle and is day-to-day, the team announced.

Thompson came up limping after Al Jefferson's game-winning shot with 0.9 seconds left in the Utah Jazz's 103-102 win over the Kings and had to be helped to the locker room.

Thompson said he had tweaked the ankle earlier in the game and stepped awkwardly on the final play. He was walking on his own in the locker room.

March 22, 2012
Cousins 'tired of' Jazz's Harris

Kings center DeMarcus Cousins addresses the media following the Kings' 103-102 loss to the Utah Jazz at Power Balance Pavilion.

There is apparently no love lost between DeMarcus Cousins and Devin Harris.

Cousins and the Utah Jazz guard had to be separated from jawing at each other leading into a timeout in the first quarter of the Jazz's 103-102 win over the Kings at Power Balance Pavilion on Thursday night.

This is what Cousins had to say about the incident after the game:

"Honestly I'm tired of the kid. I don't know, like really I don't know what his issue is. I'm tired of the kid, honestly. I'm tired of him."

March 20, 2012
Evans held himself out of starting lineup

Kings guard Tyreke Evans addresses the media following the Kings' 119-110 win over the Memphis Grizzlies at Power Balance Pavilion.

Kings head coach Keith Smart said he has a rule that if a starting player gets injured and needs to miss games, that player will still have his spot in the lineup when he's well enough to return.

With Tyreke Evans available Tuesday night after missing two games with a sprained left ankle, that rule was in effect.

It was John Salmons, though, who started at small forward in the Kings' 119-110 win over the Memphis Grizzlies. Smart said after the game that that was a decision Evans made at the team's morning shootaround.

March 20, 2012
Kings and Smart - Keith and Carol - on a roll


The Kings not only have won three straight games, they're playing their most entertaining basketball in a long, long, long, long time. Keith Smart has his squad playing hard and fast, and minimizing their lack of frontcourt length by swarming the passing lanes, rotating quickly and, in general, exhibiting the level of energy that leads to fastbreaks, victories, and more fans in the seats. If they keep this up - the Utah Jazz is here Thursday - theirs will be an appealing product even against lousy opponents during mid-week stretches.

But, since we're speaking of Smart: His wife, Carol, who stayed in the Bay Area with the two kids for his first season in Sacramento, moonlights as a seventh-grade girls basketball coach in her spare time. During a quick visit last night, Ms. Smart just happened to mention that the Fallon Mustangs (Dublin) went undefeated (12-0) and won the league. Only half-joking, of course - we think - she reminds her husband that she has a higher winning percentage than he does.

A few other late-night thoughts after the Kings' victory over the Memphis Grizzlies:

* While members of the media conducted interviews in the locker room, DeMarcus Cousins, Marcus Thornton and teammates walked closer to the televisions to catch ESPN replays of Brittney Griner's dunk against Florida. When the Baylor star threw down the one-hander, several of the Kings started screaming. Cousins, holding a towel, started waving the cloth and jumping up and down. Unfortunately, Cousins wasn't around to enjoy the Monarchs, who won the 2005 WNBA Championship before the franchise ceased operations.

* Kings co-owner Gavin Maloof said arena negotiations with AEG representatives lasted eight hours. He wouldn't talk specifics, though, and said the family plans to hire a p.r. firm to deal with the inquiries as the plan moves forward.

* Grizzlies center Marc Gasol barely missed a triple-double with 15 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. Cousins, who had been struggled, responded with a nice performance - 23 points, five rebounds, three assists and four steals in 25 minutes.

* Stat of the night: 28 assists.

March 20, 2012
Cheers for Mullin, boos for Lacob


OAKLAND - The scene inside Oracle Arena earlier tonight during the Chris Mullin jersey retirement ceremonies was crazy/surprising/disturbing/interesting, but because of the deadline pinch, I was unable to elaborate in my column in this morning's Bee. So, without further ado, here are some of the details, starting and ending with the crowd jeering and booing a visibly stunned Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob.


* Until Lacob reached for the microphone during the 30-minute halftime festivities, the event was moving along in traditional fashion, with fans cheering Warriors greats Nate Thurmond, Rick Barry, Al Attles, Mullins' Run TMC mates Tim Hardaway and Mitch Richmond, among others, along with former GSW coach Don Nelson and one-time Kings/Warriors guard Sarunas Marciulionis (who came into the league with Vlade Divac, Sasha Volkov, Zarko Paspalj and the late Drazen Petrovic with the historic Euro Class of 1989).

But when Lacob started to speak, there were discernible rumblings from the sellout crowd. Shouts of "Monta" echoed in the building, in an obvious reference to the recent trade of Monta Ellis in the deal for injured Milwaukee Bucks center Andrew Bogut. Frowning, and noticeably flustered, Lacob tried again. "Now that we've gotten that out of the way ..." he began, which only further incited fans.

March 18, 2012
Kings, Rubio, Smart and more


A few thoughts after the Kings' blowout victory over the depleted Minnesota Timberwolves:

* After three home clunkers, the Kings have responded with great energy in their blowout victories against the Boston Celtics and the Wolves. It's too early to make too much of this, but even with Tyreke Evans out (ankle) and DeMarcus Cousins struggling in both games, the Kings were impressive.

* Jason Thompson has been exceptional for three straight games - rebounding, making plays, scoring in transition, and showing a deft touch around the rim with both hands. He always plays hard, but he has been mistake-prone. Not lately, though.

* Marcus Thornton has contributed nine steals in the last two games.

* The Wolves miss Ricky Rubio's perimeter defense almost as much as his passing/dynamic presence. Before tearing an anterior cruciate ligament against the Lakers on March 9, he ranked third in the league in steals (2.2) and fifth in assists (8.2). As was evident against the Kings, they have trouble stopping dribble-penetration.

* Smart, who spent almost a decade as a Warriors coach/assistant, plans to attend Monday's jersey retirement ceremonies for Hall of Famer (and former Warriors GM) Chris Mullin. Tim Hardaway and Mitch Richmond - the other members of Run TMC - will be there as well. Also attending will be one-time Kings guard Sarunas Marciulionis, who is traveling from his native Lithuania, and Don Nelson, jetting in from Maui. Nice gesture from Mullie to invite his long coach given their strained relationship during their final years together at Golden State.

* Former Kings coach Rick Adelman has endured a tough run of players suffering season or career-ending injuries, foremost among them Chris Webber (knee), Tracy McGrady (knee) and Yao Ming (foot), and now Rubio, whose recovery will be aided by his young age (21).

March 14, 2012
Kings: Evans day-to-day with sprained ankle

Guard Tyreke Evans addresses the media following the Kings' 124-112 loss to the Detroit Pistons.

Kings guard Tyreke Evans has a sprained left ankle and is day-to-day, a team spokesman said.

Evans appeared to land awkwardly and turn the ankle with 4:20 remaining in the Kings' 124-112 loss to the Pistons on Wednesday night. He was helped off the court and did not return to the game.

Evans said after the game the ankle was not swollen. X-rays on the ankle were negative, the team announced.

Evans scored a team-high 23 points as the Kings lost their third consecutive game and fell to 14-29. They next play Friday night against the Boston Celtics at Power Balance Pavilion.

March 14, 2012
Kings forgot there was a game?

The Kings effort - lack of effort, actually - against the depleted Golden State Warriors earlier tonight was inexcusable. Is it possible to trade to entire the entire roster by Thursday's noon deadline? This was by far the Kings' poorest performance under coach Keith Smart, and given the circumstances, it was even worse than that: The Warriors were in the visitors locker room when they learned that Monta Ellis and Ekpe Udoh had been traded to Milwaukee for injured Bucks center Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson.

While Ellis said he welcomed the trade, Udoh sat in the locker room, staring at the television screen. He seemed shocked, understandably.

A few other late-night musings:

* Warriors rookie head coach Mark Jackson, who during his introductory press conference, had promised his team would reach the playoffs, sat by himself in the front row of seats shortly after the team was announced. He stared ahead, and wasn't interested in chatting.

* The Warriors seem to be - and should be - seriously concerned about Stephen Curry's recurring foot problems. The standout third-year guard, plagued by issues last season, underwent surgery in the offseason and still isn't right. The club is considering sitting him down for the near future, which could mean the remainder of the 2011-12 season.

* I keep hearing the Kings hope to make a trade before the deadline, though none of the team's significant players are involved.

* Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob, who was one of the co-founders of the defunct American Basketball League (ABL) and its San Jose franchise back in 1996, said he is hoping to land a WNBA franchise sometime in the near future. When the Monarchs ceased operations in November, 2009, the WNBA attempted to find buyers for the franchise in the Bay Area - actually enlisting coach/GM John Whisenant in the attempt - to no avail. "I was a year too late," said Lacob, part of the ownership group that purchased the Warriors in July, 2010. "But it will happen. We will get an WNBA. Right now, there just aren't any teams available."

* Two stats say everything about the Kings' loss to the Warriors: the Kings' 11/13 assist/turnover ratio, and the Warriors' 50 percent shooting - both from the field and beyond the arc.

March 14, 2012
Video: Kings burned again by Warriors' perimeter shooting

Kings forward-center Chuck Hayes talks about the Kings' effort following their 115-89 loss to the Golden State Warriors at Power Balance Pavilion.

When the Kings and Warriors played on Jan. 31, Brandon Rush made several late, key three-pointers as part of 15 fourth-quarter points to lead the Warriors to a win.

On Feb. 4, in an overtime loss to the Kings, the Warriors made 16-of-29 three-point shots as a team. Dorell Wright was 4-of-6 from long range in that game and Klay Thompson was 4-of-5.

March 13, 2012
Kings lose to Warriors, 115-89

Head coach Keith Smart addresses the media following the Kings' loss to the Warriors.

The Golden State Warriors had a different look when they took the floor Tuesday night. Guard Stephen Curry was sidelined by an ankle sprain. Monta Ellis and Ekpe Udoh were not with the team amid reports of a proposed trade.

But the Warriors have been one of the best three-point shooting teams in the league this season, and against the Kings, that was no different.

The Warriors made 12-of-24 shots from beyond the arc and the Kings, who have struggled this season guarding teams with good perimeter shooters, had no answers in the second half of a 115-89 loss at Power Balance Pavilion.

March 12, 2012
Kings lose, frustrate Smart, Cousins

The Kings' 106-99 loss to the visiting Atlanta Hawks on Sunday was one of the most disappointing performances of the Keith Smart era. While the Hawks have talent, they also are without the injured Al Horford, traveled cross-country after playing at home Friday, and should have been greeted by a Kings team energized by their victory over the NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks and the fact they are three games into a nine-game homestand.

To Smart's credit, he says what he thinks - and he thinks his team failed to give an adequate effort and was unusually brief during his post-game interview session. This was a winnable game. But we'll keep it short because, well, this is one of those outings that belongs in the "forgettable" bin.

• DeMarcus Cousins, who led the Kings with 28 points, 12 boards and three steals, seemed frustrated throughout the game. One sequence late in the fourth quarter epitomized his evening: On an obvious (and crucial) pick-and-roll situation, Marcus Thornton drew the double-team on the right side, and when Cousins rolled to the basket, he forced a contested shot instead of passing the ball to the open teammate (Cousins). In the locker room afterward, Cousins sat for the longest time staring at his cellphone, composing himself before meeting members of the media approached. It's hard to believe this is the same player Paul Westphal aggressively urged management to trade early in the season ...

• The Kings' perimeter defense was non-existent - the Hawks shot 51.2 percent overall, benefitting from an inordinate number of uncontested shots from the wings or corners - and the ball movement was almost as bad. The starting backcourt of Thornton and Isaiah Thomas (three turnovers) contributed zero - and is in zero - assists.

• Francisco Garcia continues to enjoy a rebirth. He played 26 minutes, and along with Jimmer Fredette, helped space the floor with his outside shooting.

• The Kings were crushed on the boards. Besides Cousins (12), Tyreke Evans grabbed five rebounds.

• The Warriors are here Tuesday. They were impressive in L.A. against the Clippers Sunday night, coming back from a 21-point deficit despite Stephen Curry's chronic foot problems.

March 11, 2012
Video: Fredette, Evans post-game

Kings guard Jimmer Fredette talks about the play of the bench and other topics in the Kings' 106-99 loss to the Atlanta Hawks at Power Balance Pavilion.

Guard Tyreke Evans discusses the lack of energy and other topics following the Kings' 106-99 loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

March 11, 2012
Kings fall to Hawks, 106-99

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

The Kings narrowed a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter to five points, but could get no closer as their two-game winning streak ended with a 106-99 loss to the Atlanta Hawks at Power Balance Pavilion.

Lacking the buoyant energy they displayed against the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night, the Kings fell behind in the third quarter with their starters on the floor.

Head coach Keith Smart went with a mix of starters and bench players down the stretch looking for a spark. Marcus Thornton's three-pointer with 3:32 left in the game pulled the Kings within five points at 94-89, but the Hawks pulled away from there.

March 9, 2012
Kings showing off for Drake?


Recording artist Drake showed up fashionably late (third quarter) to the Kings game Friday night, but by the time he walked in front of the crowd and into his courtside seat a few feet from the visitors bench, the rout was already on. And, no, this time the Kings weren't on the losing end. Kings 110, Dallas Mavericks 97. Keith Smart's squad led by as many as 21 points against the defending NBA Champions, who looked tired and out of sorts, and a team missing its former defensive anchor and screen-setter, Tyson Chandler. (They have to work harder these days for good looks).

A few other late-night musings, observations, stats:

* After noticing some of my colleagues' tweets suggesting that women were particularly appreciative of Drake's appearance, I would like to set the record straight. From my seat across from the visitors bench, it certainly looked like there were just as many men holding up their cellphones for photos and trying to crowd next to the celebrity, but hey, who's counting? Right fellas? At one point, Mavericks assistant Tony Brown complained to the officials because the crowd of photographers and onlookers extended into the Mavericks' huddle during a timeout. Jason Kidd didn't seem to mind too much, though. The Mavs point guard stopped and shook hands with Drake before heading to the locker room with about 20 seconds remaining.

* Ricky Rubio's left knee injury received some chatter post-game. The Timberwolves rookie banged knees with Kobe Bryant with 16 seconds remaining Friday in the Lakers-Wolves game and was helped to the bench in obvious pain. The dynamic point guard kept holding the outside of his knee and left the building on crutches amid fears that he had sustained a major cartilage or ligament injury. At the very least, it appears highly unlikely that he will accompany the Wolves for his Power Balance Pavilion debut next weekend.

* Bill Walton served as television analyst for the game, and as usual, lingered courtside and graciously signed autographs for a mob of youngsters.

* Referencing the near sellout (and boisterous) crowd, Smart reiterated his oft-stated desire to invigorate the fan base and "bring back the cowbells." And, of course, that's all Gavin Maloof needed to hear. The Kings co-owner, who visited the locker room post-game and sat in on the coach's interview, immediately jumped up and said, "We gotta bring back the cowbells! We have to start that Sunday (against the Hawks)." Gavin seems to have forgotten, however, that after repeated complaints to the league office from the likes of Phil Jackson, Donnie Nelson, Jerry Sloan and other visiting coaches in the previous decade, the Kings were urged to discourage fans from bringing the the cowbells to the arena. It was an enduring part of the team's identity, though. The league might want to re-think that one ....

* Drake waited outside the Kings locker room for almost 20 minutes after the game, chatting with folks, posing for photos. At one point he grabbed a basketball and displayedg some decent dribbling skills.

* Mavs owner Mark Cuban was a rare no-show. He was in the Cayman Islands with his family, which was good for him but unfortunate for us, because he always has something interesting to say.

* Kings' most impressive stats of the night: a 25-14 assist/turnover ratio; nine boards by small forward Tyreke Evans; 11-of-27 on three's; 50 percent overall shooting; and a 21-point lead. How often does that happen these days?

March 8, 2012
The Morning After: Smart just wants to coach Jimmer

Win or lose, Kings coach Keith Smart is usually asked about Jimmer Fredette after every game.

Fredette had a solid showing in the Kings' 99-98 win over the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday with 11 points off the bench. Fredette has scored in double figures in three of five games this month, but was also scoreless in 10 minutes at Phoenix.

Here is how Smart addressed the latest question about Fredette's progress:

March 8, 2012
Video: Smart puts his faith in defense, and other notes

Guard Tyreke Evans talks about the Kings' late defense and other topics following the team's 99-98 win over the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday night.

Keith Smart was prepared to place the outcome of Wednesday night's game against the New Orleans Hornets in the hands of his team's defense.

After forcing a shot-clock violation with 19.2 seconds to play, the Kings had the ball down by one point, 98-97. Smart said that in the timeout, he told Marcus Thornton to look for a quick basket rather than hold for the last shot.

Smart said he wanted to shift the pressure back to the Hornets to score.

March 7, 2012
Kings defeat Hornets, 99-98

Head coach Keith Smart addresses the media following the Kings' win over the New Orleans Hornets at Power Balance Pavilion.

Isaiah Thomas stole an inbounds pass with the Kings down by one and 8.9 seconds left, and found a streaking John Salmons for the eventual game-winning lay-up as the Kings defeated the New Orleans Hornets at Power Balance Pavilion, 99-98.

The Hornets had a chance to win it with 6.8 seconds left, but Trevor Ariza's fadeaway jump shot was well-defended by Tyreke Evans and clanged off the front of the rim.

The Kings, who trailed by six points early in the fourth quarter, snapped their four-game losing streak with three strong defensive possessions in the final minute.

March 7, 2012
Kings, City Council, colorful characters

A few late-night musings after Tuesday's eventful evening with the Sacramento City Council and several hundred of their closest friends, many of whom were eager to discuss the proposal for a new arena in the downtown railyards:

• The council's 7-2 vote that approved the term sheet and authorized the parties to proceed with the RFP and parking bids was preceded by testimony from a number of colorful characters opposing and favoring the proposal. Mayor Kevin Johnson said there were 19 requests to speak in opposition, and three times as many waiting to vent in favor of the deal. KJ gave equal time to both groups - limited individual speakers to two minutes - and 40 minutes total. The most creative, or at least the most entertaining presentation was given by longtime Kings fan Mike Barnbaum, who approached the podium wearing a purple hardhat, spoke a few words, and belted out an off-key version of the song, "Downtown," before reaching his two-minute time limit. (And, yes, believe it or not, the crowd joined in the chorus). Later, Mike reminded me the song was made famous by British singer Petula Clark. How could I have forgotten?

• City manager John Shirey, who is being praised for his significant behind-scenes input at the recent NBA/city/Kings meetings in Orlando, related an interesting anecdote during the raucous post-meeting press conference in the foyer outside the council chambers. "This is a great milestone for this city," he said. "It's a great thing for me personally ... .My team growing up was a team called the Cincinnati Royals. And it was a sad day for me when that team left Cincinnati (1972 for Kansas City). But here it is, it's grown up again, it's right here again in Sacramento, and we're going to keep it. And I don't have to say goodbye a second time."

• Shirey isn't the only city official with a sentimental attachment to the Kings. City council member Steve Cohn, an avid basketball fan, is a native of Kansas City, another former home of the Kings. Yet this is the first arena venture that the East Sac resident has enthusiastically embraced.

• While watching the scene in the chambers and later in the foyer, where KJ held a press conference joined by several council members, David Taylor, and officials from AEG, Populous and Turner, I was reminded about the impact of spontaneous emotion. Anyone attending modern sports events is usually subjected to the whims of the game's particular game operator, and subjected to overhead video screens and fan prompts that tell fans when to cheer, when to jeer, when to stand, in essence, choreograph the entire evening allegedly based on developments on the court. It's pretty annoying stuff. But watching the Kings/Sacramento fans at the council meeting and the postgame presser reminded me of what geniune emotion sounds like. When the 7-2 vote was announced, the crowd inside the chambers erupted in a familiar chant of "SAC-ra-MEN-to, SAC-ra-MEN-to." Later, the chant switched to "THANK you KJ, THANK you KJ," a reference to the mayor, who just happens to be a native Sacramentan and former NBA All-Star.

• Kings co-owner Gavin Maloof, who sat throught the four-hour meeting, didn't break down like he did when the tentative agreement was announced in Orlando. But he choked up when council member Rob Fong looked directly at him in the audience and, very eloquently, thanked him and other members of the Maloof family for giving Sacramento another year and another chance to come up with a workable arena plan to retain the Kings.

"I see Gavin out there," began Fong, "and we spent some time together on this. Please tell your family, 'thank you.' There are plenty of ways or times you guys could have said, 'you know what? We gave you a lot of chances.' We hung in there with you, but you hung in there us, and I think we're finally going to get there."

• Poor little Isaiah Thomas looked exhausted. The popular rookie point guard showed up for the final two-plus hours of the session, then hung around for the press conference. With the Kings having arrived home from Denver around 1 a.m. Tuesday, he looked absolutely exhausted.

March 7, 2012
Kings, City Council, colorful characters
March 2, 2012
Thomas finds early miscues tough to shake, and other notes

Guard Isaiah Thomas reacts following the Kings' 108-100 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers at Power Balance Pavilion.

Kings head coach Keith Smart said he thought rookie guard Isaiah Thomas may have become flustered after committing some early turnovers against the Clippers on Thursday night.

Thomas admitted as much following his least productive game since he cracked the starting lineup on Feb. 17.

Thomas, who was named the NBA's Western Conference rookie of the month earlier Thursday, had 10 points and four assists in the Kings' 108-100 loss but committed six turnovers. The Kings turned the ball over 18 times as a team.

March 1, 2012
Kings fall to Clippers, 108-100

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

After playing one of their best offensive halves of the season for the first 24 minutes on Thursday night, the Kings cooled off in the second half and lost to the Los Angeles Clippers at Power Balance Pavilion, 108-100.

The Kings shot 57.5 percent from the floor in the first half -- and still went into halftime with the score tied at 57-57, thanks in part to nine turnovers.

They made just 14 of 39 shots (35.9 percent) after the intermission and finished with 18 turnovers that led to 27 points for the Clippers.

"(The Clippers) got a little more aggressive, a little more physical as we tried to attack the basket," said Kings head coach Keith Smart. "They got in there and knocked some balls loose and they turned over some points.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

February 28, 2012
Kings defeat Jazz, 103-96

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


February 24, 2012
Stern pressing hard for Sac arena


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A few of them were:

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


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

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

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

Much more to come in the coming days.

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

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

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

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

February 19, 2012
In-game blog Cavaliers

FINAL
Cavaliers 93, Kings 92

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

The Kings have to play smarter basketball.

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

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

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

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

That wasn't the case. Not even close.

February 15, 2012
Lin embarrasses, exposes Kings


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 11, 2012
Cheryl Miller clarifies TNT comments


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


February 9, 2012
Kings beat Thunder, 106-101

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

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

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

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

February 9, 2012
Webber confused on City Council vote

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


By the way, the Kings are winning

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 6, 2012
Video: Keith Smart postgame

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marcus Thornton scored a game-high 28 points for the Kings, DeMarcus Cousins had 21 points and