Kings can't complete comeback vs. Kobe, Lakers

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Kings can't complete comeback vs. Kobe, Lakers

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LOS ANGELES (AP) With a 20-point lead over lowly Sacramento in the fourth quarter, perhaps the Los Angeles Lakers started thinking 36 hours ahead to a visit from the Miami Heat.The Kings capitalized on that wandering focus for an impressive comeback until the Masked Mamba finished them off.Kobe Bryant scored 38 points in his second straight big game in a protective mask, and the Lakers blew most of a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter before holding on to beat Sacramento 115-107 Friday night in their highest-scoring performance of the season.Bryant warmed up for Miami's Sunday afternoon visit with eight rebounds, three assists and 13-for-24 shooting in his second game since Dwyane Wade gave him a concussion and a nasal fracture with a hard foul in the All-Star game.Kobe wasn't thinking about the guy who broke his nose while making sure the Lakers didn't stub their toes against Sacramento."We played well, (but) we didn't come in with the right sense of urgency and focus in the fourth quarter, and it almost cost us," Bryant said.Andrew Bynum had 19 points and 15 rebounds for the Lakers, who improved to 16-1 at home since losing their season opener on Christmas. Pau Gasol added 15 points, and Metta World Peace scored eight of his 15 points in the final 5 minutes when the Lakers finally countered a lengthy rally by Sacramento's reserves."We were doing good things offensively," Gasol said before recalling the Lakers' similar fourth-quarter woes two nights earlier against Minnesota. "But the last two games, we got such a big lead, we stopped doing the things that got us such a big lead. Against Miami, we can't afford to let up at any time."Francisco Garcia scored 18 points to lead seven Kings in double figures in their eighth loss in 10 games.After Sacramento trailed 94-74 early in the fourth quarter, its reserves scored 11 consecutive points during a 21-6 run that trimmed the Lakers' lead to 100-95 on Jimmer Fredette's 3-pointer with 5 minutes to play."It was a great confidence-builder for myself, but ultimately we wanted to win the game," said Fredette, who scored all 12 of his points in the fourth quarter. "We were coming back, and we had a few things that didn't go our way, and a couple of shots that didn't go down that could have put us really close."World Peace and Bryant both hit key 3-pointers down the stretch to counteract big baskets by Fredette and John Salmons, who had eight of his 12 in the final period.Marcus Thornton scored 15 points for the Kings, who have lost two straight since California's capital city announced its financing plan for a 391 million downtown arena to replace Arco Arena. Sacramento couldn't keep up with the Lakers despite committing just five turnovers, their fewest in a game since Dec. 1, 2007."These guys could have folded and said, It's over, we're going to roll over,'" Sacramento coach Keith Smart said. "But they played hard and got themselves back in the game, and that's why this group is going to be OK. This group is going to come around as we continue to get familiar with each other, and they're going to play hard every single night."Two nights after scoring 31 points in a win over Minnesota in his first game in the mask, Bryant had 31 points through three quarters against the defense-deficient Kings. The NBA's leading scorer had 20 points in the first half, but didn't score in the fourth until hitting a rally-killing 3-pointer with 2:43 to play.Bryant is sticking with his clear plastic mask until his nose is less tender, although he says the protection feels like "a sauna on my face."The mask hasn't affected his vision or his shooting stroke: He's 20 for 24 on free throws since donning the mask, even though he banked in his last foul shot with 9.5 seconds left."The mask felt fine," Bryant said. "It felt fine last game, it felt fine tonight."The Lakers have had trouble with their upstate rivals in recent months, starting with Sacramento's 100-95 win at Staples Center in January 2011 to snap a six-game skid in the series. The Kings then beat the Lakers at home on Dec. 26 while Bynum served a suspension, sending Los Angeles off to a 0-2 start to the season.Notes: Before the game, Sacramento announced forward J.J. Hickson will miss the next three games to rest a bruised hip. The fourth-year backup was hurt during the Kings' loss to the Clippers earlier this week. ... Derek Fisher got a technical foul for arguing a foul called against him after Isaiah Thomas hit him in the head with his elbow and then pulled Fisher down to the court in the third quarter. ... Eddie Murphy watched the game from courtside.

Source: Kings hire Perry as Executive VP of Basketball Operations

Source: Kings hire Perry as Executive VP of Basketball Operations

SACRAMENTO -- The changes keep coming in Sacramento. NBC Sports California has confirmed that the Kings have hired former Orlando Magic executive, Scott Perry, to fill the role of Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations.

Perry will report directly to Vlade Divac, who will retain final say in player personnel decisions.

Perry spent the last five seasons in Orlando as Vice President of Basketball Operations and Assistant General Manager. He was let go from the Magic last week following the dismissal of General Manager Rob Hennigan.

Perry, 53, began his career as an executive with the Detroit Pistons where he held the position of Director of Player Personnel from 2000-2007. He briefly left the Pistons, joining the Seattle Supersonics organization as an Assistant General Manager of the team for the 2007-08 season, before spending another four years as Detroit’s Vice President of Basketball Operations from 2008-2012.

Highly regarded around the league, Perry adds another experienced basketball mind to the Kings front office.

During his postseason media availability last week, Vlade Divac spoke openly about his willingness to accept additional help.

“We’re open always to improve - the team, the front office, everything is open for improvement,” Divac said. “I’m very happy and confident in what we have right now, but like I said, we should be open if something can you better.”

With the addition of Luke Bornn on Wednesday to head up the team’s analytics department, and Perry on Friday, the Kings appear to be building a stronger infrastructure as they move into a full youth movement.

Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical was first with the information.

Kings add new stat guru Luke Bornn to front office

Kings add new stat guru Luke Bornn to front office

SACRAMENTO -- Changes are coming to the Sacramento Kings. The team quietly made news on Monday evening when it was reported that Roland Beech, the Kings VP of Basketball Results, will not return after two years on the job.

But Sacramento hasn’t abandoned the analytics movement. In fact, they are about to invest heavily in a new group, with a new face at the helm. -- Luke Bornn, who will join the Kings front office as the new VP of Analytics and Strategy, NBC Sports California has learned.

In accepting the role, Bornn, 31, will leave soccer giant A.S. Roma as well as his positions as an assistant professor at Simon Fraser University and visiting scholar at Harvard University. He’ll be taxed with building a new department in Sacramento that will look to bring in some of the brightest minds in the field of analytics.

He is a stat head for sure, but one with a focus on creating a system of sketching and mapping the spatial movements of players using the incredible technologies now available to teams through the NBA’s SportVU system.

“We’ll be looking at more advanced modeling tools often with the player tracking data to try and get a deeper understanding of player performance,” Bornn told NBC Sports California. “There is a lot of what happens on the court that really is not picked up by the box score. A lot of players that make big contributions make it in ways that don’t appear. It’s not an assist, it’s not a rebound, it’s not a block.”

According to their site, “SportVU utilizes a six-camera system installed in basketball arenas to track the real-time positions of players and the ball 25 times per second. Utilizing this tracking data, STATS is able to create a wealth of innovative statistics based on speed, distance, player separation and ball possession.”

Introduced to the basketball data world while working at Harvard in 2012 by Kirk Goldsberry, who now works for the San Antonio Spurs front office, Bornn is already well known in the basketball world for his work.

“Kirk and I sort of hit it off,” Bornn said. “He had just gotten SportVU data and he basically said to me, ‘I have this data, but I have no idea what to do with it, I have the basketball side, but I don’t have the technical side.’ I had the technical side and so it started a long collaboration of working with player tracking data.”

Bornn has co-authored papers presented at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in each of the previous four years, including four straight Sloan finalist papers.

Every team in the league has someone looking over this data, but Bornn hopes to tailor the information to the needs of the Kings’ staff.

“It’s not about me coming in and saying, ‘Here is how to think about the game and here’s the magic numbers,’” Bornn said. “It’s really about me going to them and saying, ‘How do you think about the game, what is it that you care about, is there questions you want answered and can I help you with that?’”  

The plan is for Bornn and his team to build a database of sorts that is accessible to players, coaches and the front office that relies heavily on video to show information, instead of just numbers on a page. They will have your conventional statistics, but an array of other options as well specifically created for the team.

“My role with the Kings will be all encompassing,” Bornn said. “It’s player evaluation, opponent scouting, it’s performance - with the sports science group there. We’ll be looking at all aspects, from the basics of stats, all the way to the more advanced metrics.”

From developing oncourt strategies to charting player health, Bornn and his team will make information accessible to the Kings’ front office, coaching and medical staff with the hope of adding yet another resource for the franchise.

Predicting player injuries is one of the hot button topics in the NBA at this moment with the league going as far as elongating the All-Star break and taking another 10 days onto the schedule to help spread out back-to-back games. It’s a complex issue that is in its fledgling stages.

“In terms of injuries, that’s where everyone wants to go and I think that’s where we’ll aim to go as well, but right now, that’s very much an unsolved problem,” Bornn said.

It appears that the Kings are jumping into the analytics field with both feet. Bornn is moving to Sacramento with his family and will be on the ground as the Kings prepare for a very important 2017 NBA Draft and then free agency.