Kings

Instant Replay: Kings come up short in battle with Lakers

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USATSI

Instant Replay: Kings come up short in battle with Lakers

BOX SCORE

It looked like a rookie/sophomore game Friday night at Staples Center as the Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Lakers faced off for the last time in the 2016-17 season. It was a spirited affair, but in the end, the Lakers found a way to win on their home floor, coming away with the 98-94 victory.

Julius Randle used his strength advantage to abuse the Kings in the post. The third-year big finished the night with 25 points on 10-for-14 shooting and added six rebounds for the Lakers. 

No. 2 pick in the 2016 draft, Brandon Ingram, shook off a slow start to score 14 points on 6-for-14 shooting. Jordan Clarkson added 12 points and six assists and former King Thomas Robinson chipped nine points and five rebounds as the Lakers pulled away late.

Welcome to Tinseltown Mr. Cauley-Stein. Sacramento’s second-year big put on a show for the Kings, playing tremendous basketball on both sides of the court. The 7-foot center finished the night with 14 points, seven rebounds and three blocks in 22 minutes of action.

Rookie Skal Labissiere looked like he was trying out for the slam dunk contest. The smooth shooting big score 19 points on 8-for-13 from the floor and added three rebounds and two blocks in the loss.

Darren Collison started after sitting the previous game. The veteran point guard shot 5-for-7 from the field on his way to 15 points and a game-high 10 assists. 

Buddy Hield struggled from the field early, but still managed to drop in 17 points on 7-for-14 shooting. Georgios Papagiannis added 10 points and 10 rebounds and Ben McLemore went for nine off the bench as the Kings moved to 31-48 on the season.

STANDOUT PERFORMER

Labissiere continues to show he’s ready for the NBA stardom. The 21-year-old forward has big league potential. 

TURNING POINT

The battle of NBA babies came down to wire. Los Angeles went for the win late, gaining the lead in the final three minutes and holding on for their 24th victory of the season. Larry Nance Jr. hit a free throw to give LA the two-point lead with five seconds remaining and the Kings couldn’t come up with the play to even the score late.

INJURY UPDATE 

Kosta Koufos sat for his fifth straight game for planned rest. Ty Lawson and Garrett Temple sat as well as the Kings’ season winds down. Rookie Malachi Richardson is officially out for the season with a right hamstring thickness tear. Rudy Gay is out for the year with a torn left Achilles. 

WHAT'S NEXT 

The Kings return home following the game where they’ll face off with MVP candidate James Harden and the high-scoring Houston Rockets Sunday afternoon at Golden 1 Center. 

Patience needed for young and inexperienced Kings

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AP

Patience needed for young and inexperienced Kings

The Sacramento Kings are attempting to do something rarely seen in the NBA. They’ve paired four first round selections from the 2016 NBA Draft with another five rookies for the 2017-18 season. They’ll open the season with nine players with one year of NBA experience or less and three others with two years in the league or fewer if you include two-way contracts.

Veterans Vince Carter (40), Zach Randolph (36), George Hill (31), Garrett Temple (31) and Kosta Koufos (28) push the average age of the Kings to 26.1. According to RealGM, they’ll enter the 2017-18 season tied for the 15th youngest roster in the league.

If you remove the veterans, the Kings youthful core averages less than 22 years of age. But age doesn’t tell the entire story.

Entering his third NBA season, Willie Cauley-Stein has seen action in 141 of a possible 164 games. On the current roster, he might as well get lumped in with the veterans.

Buddy Hield donned a Kings uniform for 25 games last season after coming over in a midseason trade from the New Orleans Pelicans. He played 82 games in total between the two clubs, which is five more combined contests than his fellow 2016 draft mates Skal Labissiere (33 games), Georgios Papagiannis (22 games) and Malachi Richardson (22 games) played in.

Sacramento selected three first rounders in the 2017 NBA Draft, including De’Aaron Fox, Justin Jackson and Harry Giles. They also landed point guard Frank Mason III with an early second round pick and convinced 25-year-old former first rounder Bogdan Bogdanovic to leave the European game behind and join the club.

Without bringing two-way players Jack Cooley (16 games) and JaKarr Sampson (147 games) into the discussion, the Kings have a major experience issue. They’ll walk into the season with 10 players having a combined 300 games of NBA experience and 223 of those games were played by Cauley-Stein and Hield.  

Sacramento’s veteran group has appeared in 3718 regular season contests. Dave Joerger will have no choice but to turn to the group for plenty of minutes as the Kings’ young players learn on the fly.

Patience is necessary. Vlade Divac and his team have assembled a lot of talent, but they will need time to develop. Joerger has a strong staff in place, including Elston Turner, Bryan Gates, Duane Ticknor, Bob Thornton, Jason March and Larry Lewis. Phil Ricci was also added to the staff as a player development coach this season with the influx of young players.

Even with an expanded staff, there is no way Joerger can fit all 10 of his youngsters into the rotation. They’ll need playing time to develop and there is a good chance that some of these freshman and sophomore players will spend time with Darrick Martin and the Reno Bighorns.  

DeMarcus Cousins: 'Take all them motherf****** down'

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AP

DeMarcus Cousins: 'Take all them motherf****** down'

Some professional athletes take a stand by kneeling on the sidelines or raising a fist into the air. Some write succinct tweets expressing their dismay with the current political climate in the United States of America. Others just get right to the point with a poignant off the cuff statement to a waiting camera.

Former Sacramento Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins has certainly mastered the art of the cryptic tweet, but he’s also never been one to shy away from a direct question when asked. When an inquiry was thrown his direction about confederate statues in New Orleans and his home state of Alabama, Cousins was brief with his words, but very clear.

"Take all them mother****ers down," Cousins told TMZ while navigating a security line at the airport. "Take 'em all down.”

Cousins may not have chosen the most eloquent words, but his point of view is shared by plenty of others. He isn’t the first athlete to take a stand with regards to race in America over the last week as racial tensions have spilled out into the streets in Charlottesville, Virginia. Social media is filled with professional athletes adding their thoughts to the conversation.

The Warriors’ Kevin Durant has made it clear that he will not visit the White House and President Donald Trump, a visit most teams make following an NBA championship.

"Nah, I won't do that," the 8-time All-Star told ESPN on Thursday. "I don't respect who's in office right now.”

"I don't agree with what he agrees with, so my voice is going to be heard by not doing that,” Durant continued. “That's just me personally, but if I know my guys well enough, they'll all agree with me."

Garrett Temple has used Twitter to make his thoughts known as well. Recently named the Kings’ Players Voice Teammate of the Year by the National Basketball Players Association, Temple has used his position as an NBA player to speak out multiple times.

Over the last week, he’s fielded questions and had plenty of discussions through social media on the issues of race and equality. His Twitter timeline is littered with thoughtful replies and some not so thoughtful ideas as well. Plenty of fans thanking him for using his position to further the conversation and of course, there is the occasional, “stick to sports” comment.

Agree or disagree, today’s athletes have huge platforms to share their opinions. From Cousins to Temple, there are varying degrees of engagement, but the time of players staying out of the discussion is long gone.