Kings snap Hornets' streak with 102-96 win

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Kings snap Hornets' streak with 102-96 win

Jan. 29, 2011BOX SCORE KINGS VIDEONBA PAGE NBA SCOREBOARD

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) Consideringthat Sacramento has the second worst record in the Western Conference,it was hard to imagine the Kings sweeping the Los Angeles Lakers andstreaking New Orleans Hornets in consecutive nights.
REWIND: Shocker at Staples -- Kings upset Lakers, 100-95
Yet, led by brash rookie DeMarcus Cousins, the Kings managed to win both games in impressive fashion.Cousins followed up a huge effortagainst the Lakers on Friday with another big game, finishing with 25points, 12 rebounds and seven assists to help the Kings snap theHornets' winning streak at 10 games with a 102-96 victory Saturday.Sacramento (12-33) never trailed inwinning consecutive games for the second time all season. The last timethe Kings won back-to-back games was Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, the third andfourth games of the season."We've shown great strides in bothfocus and poise," Kings coach Paul Westphal said. "We had some hardknocks early in the season, helping us deal with the bumps in theroad."Cousins was again instrumental in abig win. He scored 27 points and had 10 rebounds in the 100-95 win overthe Lakers and played just as well in tormenting the Hornets inside andalso on the perimeter."(DeMarcus) is intelligent, helearns," Westphal said. "He's learning what works and what doesn't.He's changed some habits offensively."Cousins is playing confidently andalso isn't afraid to speak his mind. He had some harsh words for theHornets' Chris Paul after the All-Star guard committed a hard foul latein the game that sent Beno Udrih to the floor.Cousins quickly confronted Paul and told him to "clean it up.""I'm know I'm the rookie, but Ican't sit there and let him hurt my point guard," Cousins said. "It'snothing against Chris Paul, I was just having my teammate's back."Fouled-plagued Tyreke Evans had nineof his 18 points in the fourth quarter for the Kings, who have wonthree of four games. Samuel Dalembert had 16 points and Udrih added 14.David West scored 21 points for theHornets, who were looking to set a franchise record with 11 straightvictories. Paul had 19 points and seven assists, Marcus Thornton had 16points and Emeka Okafor 15."When you win this many games youhave a target on your back," Hornets coach Monty Williams said. "Wedidn't play their record. Young teams like that pick it up about now(this time of the season). We've just got to turn the page, but notwithout learning some of these lessons."A goaltending violation gaveThornton a basket and West followed with a medium-range jumper at the1:43 mark, pulling the Hornets to 96-94. The Kings responded once againwith Dalembert tipping in a missed shot and Udrih making two freethrows for a 100-94 lead with 31 seconds remaining."We've lost a lot of chippy gamesthis year," Cousins said. "This was another big win for us, anothermomentum boast. Hopefully we can keep it going."Trailing by nine to start thefourth, the Hornets cut it to 89-87 on Okafor's two free throws at the5:45 mark. But Evans scored off a drive and passed off to Omri Casspifor a layup, helping Sacramento build the lead to 94-87."We were supposed to handle thisteam," West said. "We just came out with the wrong attitude. Wecouldn't guard them and we didn't stop them enough. We didn't stop themnearly enough to win the game."The third quarter didn't start outwell for the Kings. Evans picked up two fouls in the first 3 minutesand walked dejectedly to the Sacramento bench with five fouls.Yet the Kings stayed in front 76-67heading into the fourth with some unlikely players leading the way.Dalembert had seven points and seldom-used Luther Head, subbing forEvans, scored five.The Kings went to Cousins early andthe rookie center delivered. He had 19 points, six rebounds and fiveassists in the first half when the Kings led 56-46. Sacramento led theentire first half and built a 17-point lead, but the Hornets closed thesecond quarter with a 9-2 run."I just thought Cousins had his way with us," Williams said. "We put up no resistance. The defense wasn't there tonight at all."NOTES: Cousins scored 10 points andEvans had nine in the opening quarter when the Kings led 24-22. ...Paul hasn't missed a game this season after playing in just 45 lastseason. ... Kings starting forward Jason Thompson left the game with asprained right ankle in the first quarter and didn't return... TheHornets had beaten the Kings by a combined seven points in two earliermeetings, including a 75-71 win in Sacramento.

Despite loss, Sharks 'in a good spot' headed into bye week

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USATSI

Despite loss, Sharks 'in a good spot' headed into bye week

SAN JOSE – Despite what was technically their sixth loss in the last eight games, the Sharks seemed to put more stock in the point they gained in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Bruins on Sunday night at SAP Center, rather than the one they left on the table.

They have that luxury. 

The Sharks will enter their bye week five points ahead of Edmonton and Anaheim for first place in the Pacific Division, and figure they’re due for some time off after a short summer followed by a World Cup for some, and a brutal condensed NHL schedule for all.

“[We’ve] showed up and played hard,” Joe Pavelski said. “We’ve been in a lot of games. Games we’ve lost, we’ve battled. There hasn’t been any cheat in [our] game. Defensively, we’ve been strong. There’s a lot of good areas in our game that we like right now.”

Playing in the second of a back-to-back against a Bruins team had was coming off of its own bye week, the Sharks fell behind 1-0 on a first period goal by Ryan Spooner, but notched a Patrick Marleau equalizer in a second period in which they outshot the Bruins 16-9. An evenly played third period gave way to overtime, where Brad Marchand scored on a breakaway to give the Bruins their fourth straight win since changing head coaches.

The Sharks spoke before the weekend about finishing the final two games strong before the respite. They ended up gaining three of four points, including Saturday’s 4-1 win in Arizona, and were pleased with their effort against the Bruins as they capped off 10 games in 20 days since the All-Star break.

“It was an important push into this break,” Pete DeBoer said. “To go in up [five points] on the next closest team is a real testament to our group.”

Paul Martin said: “I thought we played pretty well, considering the back-to-back with some travel, and a team that was waiting for us.”

Perhaps the most encouraging performance came from Martin Jones, who was one of a number of Sharks players that was looking particularly fatigued lately. The goaltender entered the game with a 1-0-2 record, 4.46 goals-against average and .837 save percentage in his last four starts, including getting pulled after the first period in Boston just 10 days ago.

Jones was impressive, though, making a vital pad stop on the dangerous David Pastrnak in front of the net midway through the third period to keep it a 1-1 score.

“It was a good game. Two teams playing hard,” Jones said. “We can take a lot of positives from that one. It was a good hard game, just didn’t go our way tonight.”

Overtimes have been an issue lately, though. The Sharks have lost their last four games decided during the three-on-three, all coming within the last two weeks. As satisfied as they are with their cushion in the division, it could have been cushier.

Against the Bruins, Tuukka Rask denied Brent Burns on a two-on-one in overtime, and Marchand scored off of the ensuing faceoff, blowing the zone past Pavelski and Marc-Edouard Vlasic and corralling a long toss from Torey Krug before sliding it home.

“We get to overtime, shootouts – we expect to get that extra point,” Pavelski said. “We haven’t found it lately. We’ll just keep looking for it.”

DeBoer said: “The points are critical, they’re valuable. I don’t read a lot into [overtime decisions], we’ve won our share over the time I’ve been here. We had a chance to win tonight, too. … I concentrate on the effort, and I thought we got better as the game went on.”

Being focused and energized, as they have been most of the season to this point, shouldn’t be a problem when the season resumes next Saturday in Vancouver. The Sharks are in prime position to win their first division title since 2010-11, and a return trip to the Stanley Cup Final is a distinct possibility.

Losing six of eight won’t be nearly as acceptable coming out of the break as it apparently is going into it, but that’s not something to worry about now, even after another defeat. 

“There are some games you wish you could get back and get those points, but we’re still in a good spot,” Marleau said.

Trading Cousins is the ultimate Kingstastic move

Trading Cousins is the ultimate Kingstastic move

There was a lot of complaining about the lack of defense in this year’s All-Star Game, as though last year’s All-Star Game didn’t happen.

But the Most Valuable Player, which was putatively Anthony Davis for scoring a record 52 points in front of his home crowd, was actually the man with the fewest minutes of all.

Yes, the man, the god, The DeMarcus Cousins. The Very Definition Of A Sacramento King, By Becoming An Ex-Sacramento King.

Cousins, now the second-best player on the New Orleans Pelicans, played only two minutes Sunday, the lowest total by any All-Star since Connie Hawkins in 1971, ostensibly because he told head coach Steve Kerr he was a little ouchy, but more likely because the Kings were frantically trying to trade him and didn’t want him hurting himself in a game with even no contact whatsoever.

Not during the All-Star Break, mind you. DURING THE ALL-STAR GAME ITSELF! Adam Silver must have been vomiting hedgehogs into a bucket at the very thought.

As it turns out, the Kings, who have sworn up and down that they would never consider trading Cousins, did that very thing, closing a deal to send Cousins and forward Omri Casspi to the New Orleans Pelicans for a first and second-round pick in the upcoming draft, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway (who is likely to be waived in true Kings fashion) and 2016 first-rounder Buddy Hield.

You remember Buddy Hield. He’s the guy who clocked Cousins in the joy division going around a Cousins pick during the last Pelicans-Kings game, and got tossed for doing so.

In other words, the Kings prefer the guy who punched their best player in the goolies to their best player. This is so Kingsy.

But on the back end, Cousins’ agent, Jarinn Akana, said Cousins is disinclined to sign a long-term contract with his next team, making him a rental who could some day return to Sacramento in a Groundhog's Day remake that would cause the Oroville Dam to get up and walk off the job.

This too is so Kingsy.

This is the greatness of the Kings. They blew up the All-Star weekend during the game itself. They blew it up trying to get rid of their best player when they are within fighting distance of their first playoff spot in 11 years. They blew it up after saying they weren’t considering trading the dynamite at all.

Kingsy, Kingsy, Kingsy. It’s Kingstastic!

And the best part of it all is that the trade leaves everyone deflated and confused and ultimately angry, while the Kings undervalued their only marketable player to invest in a future they have mocked for decades.

You know what we;’re talking about. Gimme a K! Gimme an I! Gimme an N-G-S, throw an extraneous Y on the end of it what does it spell?

Yeah. Right.

It’s remarkable thing, being a King. While we have all amused ourselves with the machinations of the thick-as-two-short-planks New York Knicks and Carmelo Anthony, the Kings have been Kinging this way for most of the last 35 years.

And now, they have decided to feed their obsession with the Golden State Warriors by running even further away from them, by tossing their only bargaining chip for a future player or players that they typically ruin, and Buddy Hield, who just found out that even at these prices life can still be cruel.

Give them their due, though. The Kings could win the NBA title and hock the trophy. They could be invited to the White House when the President is off playing golf. They could increase their Forbes valuation to $5 billion and declare bankruptcy.

Because they are the Kings, and that sentence has rarely meant more than it does now.

Not because they traded Cousins. Trades happen all the time. Wilt Chamberlain got traded twice.

But the Kings handled this with all the skill of a pickpocket with feet where his hands should be. They lied unconvincingly. They talked hard business and ended up with a nebulous deal that guarantees nothing except more speculation come summer. And they have nothing else to trade between now and . . . well, whenever they stopped being so damned Kingsy.

For New Orleans, it is a roll of the dice, an attempt to make the playoffs with a two-headed monster in Cousins and Davis. It may be too much to giver, but without knowing how the Kings will screw up those picks, it remains speculative at best.

Indeed, this is subtraction by subtraction, the standard Kings deal. And whatever the Kings have gained in this trade (hey, you never know), we remain safe in saying that they did it in such a Kingsy way that they may never top this.

Until the next time they do anything at all. Never doubt the power of Kingsiness.