Reunited Kings head to face Oklahoma City


Reunited Kings head to face Oklahoma City

Feb. 15, 2011 KINGS (13-38) vs.
OKLAHOMA CITY (34-19)Coverage begins at 5 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California (AP) -- Just as DeMarcus Cousins was becoming better known as one of the NBA's most talented rookies rather than a potential trouble-maker, the Sacramento Kings center became the center of controversy again after a weekend loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.A night later, his team proved it can get by without him.Cousins didn't travel with Sacramento for its latest road game after a postgame incident against the Thunder, but he'll be back on the court for Tuesday night's rematch in Oklahoma City as the Kings seek a fourth consecutive victory away from home.
RELATED: Kings fine Cousins, rejoins team in Okla. City
Sacramento (13-38) has the league's third-worst record, but it's discovering that it may have a building block in the middle for years to come in Cousins.
The fifth overall pick in the 2010 draft has averaged 19.6 points and 11.3 rebounds in his last seven games, a stretch that seemed to indicate Cousins had matured since a string of three earlier incidents that began in the preseason - including one with coach Paul Westphal.
RELATED: DeMarcus Cousins stats
He had 14 points and 12 boards in a 99-97 loss to the Thunder (34-19) on Saturday, but no one was talking about his play on the court afterward.Displeased that teammate Donte Greene passed the ball to Tyreke Evans rather than him in the waning seconds, Cousins reportedly took a swing at Greene in the locker room after the game. He was then left off the team plane to Phoenix.The Kings didn't let the situation affect them. Greene and Samuel Dalembert each had 12 points in the fourth quarter Sunday, helping Sacramento rally from a three-point deficit after 36 minutes for a 113-108 win.
REWIND: Kings get first win in Phoenix since 2005
"We missed Cuz tonight but we couldn't dwell on it," said Greene, who finished with 19 points. "We had to come out and still play well."Things happen. Everybody is not perfect. We try not to let things off the court distract us on the court. It is life. Everybody is not perfect and we've got to move on."
DAVE: Finding the silver lining in the Cousins-Greene-Evans fight
The Kings announced Monday that Cousins - who apologized for his actions - will be fined but will rejoin the team in Oklahoma City, where Sacramento will look for its first four-game road winning streak since Dec. 11, 2004-Jan. 4, 2005.That won't be easy to accomplish against the Thunder, who have won seven of eight against Sacramento and all four meetings in Oklahoma City.The Thunder, though, have sandwiched two losses around the win over the Kings, with turnovers proving costly in both defeats.Oklahoma City gave the ball away a season-high 23 times - Russell Westbrook had eight - in a 105-101 overtime loss to Memphis last Tuesday, then committed 20 turnovers in a 100-94 road loss to Golden State on Sunday.Westbrook, who had six of those, took responsibility for his team's sloppy play."I blame it on me," Westbrook said. "I've been not taking care of the ball and it's been rubbing off on my teammates. I have to figure out how to take care of the ball and make smart decisions for my teammates and not put them in bad situations."Aside from the turnovers, the Thunder need to do a better job on the boards. The Kings outrebounded them by 13 on Saturday and the Warriors held a 14-board edge Sunday.Oklahoma City is 22-6 when it outrebounds its opponent.Durant, who scored 35 at Sacramento on Saturday but missed two late free throws, has averaged 35.0 points in his last 11 home games. The Thunder are 7-0 when he reaches 35.

Antawn Jamison: Warriors really miss Andrew Bogut

Antawn Jamison: Warriors really miss Andrew Bogut

The Warriors were crushed by the Spurs on Tuesday night, 129-100.

According to former Warriors forward Antawn Jamison, the loss highlighted the void left behind with Andrew Bogut's departure. 

"They were such in a comfort zone when they had Bogut and they knew that he would pick up some of the deficiencies if guys got blown by -- he was always the rim protector," Jamison explained on KNBR 1050. "Anderson Varejao and Zaza (Pachulia) are great defenders but as far as protecting that rim, they are not Bogut.

[POOLE: Rewind: Opener brings painful reminder nothing's given for Warriors]

"And I think now they are kind of realizing how much they miss his dynamic as far as controlling that paint and being satisfied with just 'that's my job -- is to make sure I make it difficult for guys in the paint' ... it's the first game of the season, there's no need to push the panic button."

Back in early September, Steve Kerr shared his one concern for the upcoming season:

“The thing that’s different will be a lack of rim protection,” Kerr told “We had great rim protection from Bogut and Ezeli, and both those guys are gone. Zaza’s a very good defender, but he’s more of a positional guy than a shot blocker.

“So there’s definitely adjustments we’ll have to make, even schematically. We’ll have some growing pains, especially on defense, as we try to make sure we get everything right and comfortable.”

Pachulia registered just two points and three rebounds in 20 minutes, and turned the ball over three times.

Andre Iguodala scored just two points in 27 minutes off the bench. He committed three fouls and was a -28 for the game.

[RATTO: Spurs show early superiority over Warriors with sum of their parts]

Ian Clark missed all four of his 3-point attempts and was a team-worst -29, while Shaun Livingston was a -15.

"The Warriors' bench to me is going to be the biggest key this year because other than that Big Four offensively, nobody was bringing firepower off the bench," Jamison declared. "We know what Livingston and Iguodala can bring to the table, but somebody else off that bench really has to come in and step up and pick up the slack as well.

"I'm not worried at all. It just put in perspective that they really miss Bogut, and the bench needs to step up."

Could JaVale McGee ultimately be the answer at center?

"If he's able to focus and realize that he can contribute so much to this team with his length and his athletic ability, if he can be one of those guys that come off that bench and control that paint, I can see him eventually becoming a starter or getting starter minutes," Jamison answered.

Player-by-player examination of the 2016-17 Kings

Player-by-player examination of the 2016-17 Kings

Opening night is finally upon us. When the Sacramento Kings take on the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night, they do so with plenty of new faces from the team that finished last season 33-49. Here is a quick look at the team that will take the floor during the 2016-17 campaign with the hopes of snapping the Kings’ decade-long playoff drought.

Who’s Gone

After Sacramento decided not to pursue Rajon Rondo, the former All-Star took big money to join the Chicago Bulls. Darren Collison and Ty Lawson will be asked to fill the void left by the NBA’s leading assist man from last season. Also leaving the Kings are Seth Curry (Mavericks), Quincy Acy (Mavericks), James Anderson (Turkey), Caron Butler (free agent), Eric Moreland (free agent), Duje Dukan (Croatia) and Marco Belinelli (traded to Hornets).  

Who’s New

With Rondo leaving, Vlade Divac took a one-year, league minimum gamble on Lawson with the hopes that he can turn around his career. Veteran shooting guard Arron Afflalo was inked to a 2-year, $25 million deal with a team option in year two at $1.5 million. At the wing, Garrett Temple (3-years/$24 million) and Matt Barnes (2-year/$12.5 million) were added for depth. Anthony Tolliver was brought in to play the stretch four position. He’s on a two-year $16 million deal with a team option at $2 million in year two. With two draft day deals, the Kings were able to make three selections in the first round, drafting big man Georgios Papagiannis (13th overall), wing Malachi Richardson (22nd overall) and power forward Skal Labissiere (28th overall).  

Who’s Left

DeMarcus Cousins is entering his seventh season with the Kings and expected to play a huge role in the upcoming season. Despite politely asking for a new address during the summer, Rudy Gay is back for another season in Sacramento. Ben McLemore is entering his fourth season with the Kings after being selected with the seventh overall selection in the 2013 NBA Draft. Forward Omri Casspi returns for his third straight season in Sacramento, although he’s played for the Kings for five of his eight NBA seasons. Point guard Darren Collison is in the final year of his 3-year, $15 million deal that he signed in the summer of 2014. Big men Willie Cauley-Stein and Kosta Koufos are back for year two. Cauley-Stein was selected with the sixth overall pick last year and Koufos is in the second season of a 4-year, $33 million deal.   

The Starters

Ty Lawson - Point Guard

The 28-year-old veteran will man the point guard position while Collison is out for the first eight games of the season (league suspension).  Lawson spent last year bouncing between Houston and Indiana, playing in a combined 66 regular season games. The speedy guard is coming off a down year and looking to get back to the player that averaged 15.2 points and 9.6 assists during the 2014-15 season in Denver. He is expected to lead the second unit once Collison returns to action Nov. 8 at home against the New Orleans Pelicans.

Arron Afflalo - Shooting Guard

Afflalo joins the Kings after playing last season for the New York Knicks. The 31-year-old shooting guard brings a stabilizing influence to the Kings’ backcourt. He’s bounced around the league a bit, but he can shoot from the outside (career 38.5 percent from 3-point range) and has a nice post game for a guard. He’ll be asked to play major minutes early in the year

Rudy Gay - Small Forward

When Gay signed a 3-year extension in 2014, it was with the understanding that he would form a nice 1-2 punch with DeMarcus Cousins under head coach Michael Malone. Three coaches later, Gay has already informed the team that he will opt out at season's end. He is coming off a down offensive season, but his role in George Karl’s system was limited a season ago. The 30-year-old forward has every reason to put up big numbers as he approaches free agency next summer.

DeMarcus Cousins - Power Forward

The franchise cornerstone big man is fresh off Olympic gold and looking for his first playoff berth. After averaging 26.9 points and 11.5 rebounds per game last season, Cousins has clearly cemented himself as the game’s best pivot. He’ll be asked to open the game at the power forward spot, but will spend most of his season manning the center position. He’s taylormade to play in Joerger’s high-post style of play and primed for his third straight All-Star bid.

Kosta Koufos -- Center

Teams around the league like to start big and then make mid-quarter adjustments. Koufos knows Joerger’s system from their time together in Memphis. He will get the nod early, but expect plenty of Willie Cauley-Stein, Matt Barnes, Anthony Tolliver and Omri Casspi alongside Cousins as Joerger looks for the right mix. Koufos is a defensive-minded big that can rebound and score efficiently around the hoop. He’s in the best shape of his career and will likely be asked to open the game guarding the opponent's tough big.

The Rotation

Garrett Temple

While Collison is out, the Kings will ask Temple to play plenty of point guard minutes behind Lawson. After game eight, the versatile wing will play minutes at the 1, 2 and 3 as a perimeter stopper. He’s not a scorer, but Temple is a great locker room influence and plays with an infectious tenacity that fans will instantly appreciate.    

Ben McLemore

After starting 190 games in his first three seasons in the league, McLemore will get an early shot to play behind Afflalo at the two. He’s had plenty of struggles, but the former first round pick can shoot, he’s a big time leaper and he has the tools to be a very good NBA defender. If he can’t show that he’s ready to play rotational minutes during Collison’s absence, it could be a long season on the bench for the 23-year-old guard.

Omri Casspi

Casspi was a lethal weapon last season as both a starter and a reserve for Karl. He shot an impressive 40.9 percent from 3-point land and 48.1 percent from the floor on his way to a career-best 11.8 points per game. Casspi is in a dogfight for minutes with Tolliver, Barnes and Temple. He missed time during camp with a hip issue and an illness, but he finished camp strong. When the Kings go small, expect Casspi and Barnes to form a strong forward combination.  

Matt Barnes

At 36, Barnes showed that he has plenty left in the tank last season playing for Joerger in Memphis. Not always the most popular player amongst the fans, the Sacramento-native plays a gritty brand of basketball that has earned him the trust of his coaches and teammates. He’s likely not going to log 28.8 minutes or average 10.0 points per game like last season, but he’s a quality veteran presence that can still run the floor like a gazelle and lock down forwards on defense.

Anthony Tolliver

The Kings shocked the NBA world a bit with their investment this summer in the 31-year-old Tolliver. Another team-first guy, Tolliver can hit the open 3-ball, play defense and shock you with a sneaky block here and there. Joerger loves veterans and this is one handpicked by new assistant GM Ken Catanella. Can he bring the “Tolliver Effect” to Sacramento?

Willie Cauley-Stein

It’s not that Cauley-Stein has fallen out of favor in Sacramento, but he’s up against some serious veteran contenders for minutes this season. The lanky defensive stopper still looks slightly uncomfortable in the Kings’ new system. He will get his bearings eventually and make a nice addition to Joerger’s small ball lineups. Cauley-Stein has never been asked to run a high post or hit a 20-foot jumper in his young career. He’ll get minutes, but how many will depend on quickly he can acclimate to the new offensive and defensive schemes.

The Rest

Skal Labissiere

The rookie out of Kentucky has been the talk of camp. He has tremendous length and athleticism, but he’ll need time to develop. Labissiere will see time in Reno with the Bighorns, but expect the Kings to keep him around the team so their staff can develop this top tier talent.

Georgios Papagiannis

Another young big that needs development time in Reno, Papa G has trimmed down considerably since we first saw him walk in the door. The Kings will be patient in bringing the 7-foot-1 center along. He is a giant with a soft touch both inside and outside. If he can learn the high-post system and continue to show improvement in his physique, the Kings might be onto something in year two and three.

Malachi Richardson

Lost in a numbers game at the wing, Richardson will commute back and forth from Reno with his fellow rookie class. The smooth shooting guard/forward has great size and length to play the two, but his shot selection and accuracy must improve to make an impact at the NBA level. Coaches rave about his demeanor and he routinely beats veterans in 3-point shootouts after practice.