Kings

Kings can't contain Westbrook, Thunder in road loss

Kings can't contain Westbrook, Thunder in road loss

BOX SCORE

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Russell Westbrook didn't get a fifth straight triple-double, but the Oklahoma City Thunder won their fifth straight game and that was all he cared about Saturday.

Westbrook had 28 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists to help the Thunder roll past the Sacramento Kings 110-94. Oklahoma City has the longest current winning streak in the NBA and it's moved the Thunder into a tie for fifth in the Western Conference, pending the result of the Los Angeles Clippers' game against Cleveland later Saturday.

"We're getting it together, man," Westbrook said. "We had new guys coming in fresh off trades. We just had to find ways to get guys going. It's not always easy to be able to do that."

Westbrook had a triple-double in each of the first four games of the streak to raise his season total to 34. He needs seven more in Oklahoma City's final 13 games to tie Oscar Robertson for the NBA single-season record, set in the 1961-62 season.

Sacramento kept the game just close enough in the fourth quarter that Westbrook didn't leave the game for good until 58.6 seconds remained. He said he wasn't paying attention to his stats - "I just play, bro," he said when questioned about it - and Thunder coach Billy Donovan insisted the same.

"I don't follow it during the game," Donovan said. "I have no idea. Any time I'm making a decision, it's never a decision being made on somebody's statistical line. I'm just trying to do what I can to help our team be put in a position to win and play to the best of our ability."

Georgios Papagiannis had 14 points and 11 rebounds for Sacramento, which had a two-game winning streak snapped.

A 7-0 run, capped by a basket by Buddy Hield, gave Sacramento its only lead at 10-9 less than six minutes into the game. Steven Adams' dunk started an 11-0 spurt by the Thunder and the Kings came no closer than eight points the rest of the game.

The Thunder pushed its lead to 22 points in the second quarter and led 63-41 at halftime after last-minute 3-pointers by Victor Oladipo and Westbrook.

Sacramento came no closer than 14 points in the second half, on a put-back dunk by Skal Labissiere that made it 87-73 with 9:18 left. Westbrook re-entered the game, converted a three-point play, then assisted on a basket by Oladipo and a 3-pointer by Doug McDermott, pushing the Thunder's lead to 95-75.

"This is the fun time of year, when you're fighting for playoff position, you're fighting for home-court advantage," Sacramento coach Dave Joerger said. "They played fantastic and we learned a lot, especially the first half. . The second half, we kind of got ourselves up off the floor and picked up our level of intensity physically. We just talked about getting better and learning from this game and that is hopefully where we'll be in a couple of years if we keep taking steps forward."

TIP-INS:
Kings: Tyreke Evans didn't suit up due to what the team called a sore left ankle and Aaron Afflalo and Ben McLemore also skipped the game for personal reasons, leaving the Kings with only 11 players. ... Labissiere celebrated his 21st birthday by picking up three fouls in his first four minutes and scoring 13 points. His 32-point, 11-rebound outing on Wednesday in a win at Phoenix made him the first Kings rookie with at least 30 points and 10 rebounds in a game since Lionel Simmons on April 9, 1991, against Dallas. ... Hield, who led Oklahoma to last year's Final Four, received a loud ovation during pregame introductions.

Thunder: Westbrook has 71 career triple-doubles and needs seven more to tie Wilt Chamberlain for fourth on the NBA all-time list. ... The Thunder are the sixth Western Conference team to win 40 games this season. ... Adams recorded his 13th double-double of the season with 16 points and 13 rebounds.

AGGRESSIVE McDERMOTT:
McDermott had his highest-scoring game with the Thunder since being acquired from Chicago on Feb. 23, going 8 of 9 from the field, including 4 of 5 from 3-point range, and finishing with 21 points. He said he's making a point to be more aggressive off the dribble.

"I've been working on it because they are flying at me pretty hard," he said. "I have to have alternatives. . I just got into a good rhythm early. I got out in transition and hit some shots which got my confidence going."

UP NEXT:
Kings: Finish a difficult road back-to-back at San Antonio on Sunday.

Thunder: Host Golden State - missing the injured Kevin Durant - on Monday.

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.

The Maloofs' colossal charity bet on Mayweather-McGregor circus act

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AP

The Maloofs' colossal charity bet on Mayweather-McGregor circus act

Gavin and Joe Maloof have gambled plenty in their lives, which is in part how they ended up losing the Sacramento Kings. They ran big, they hit a dry well, and they ended up selling the works.

So their decision to bet $880,000 on Floyd Mayweather in his “thing” with Conor McGregor for a $160,000 payout seemed the perfectly daft idea for two guys who were painted as perfectly daft when they were running the Kings and their other businesses into a freeway abutment on I-80.

In fairness, they are planning to donate their winnings to a number of charities in the name of their hangover drink (Never Too Hungover, although I might have gone with the more lyrical HurlNoMore), so it’s not like their hearts aren’t a place close to the mythical “right place.”

But it does beg the question, “Why don’t they just give $160,000 and skip the scam?” Because it wasn’t about charity, it was about promotion, and while there’s nothing wrong with promotion, attaching it to one of the seediest carnival events of the modern era makes it seem, well, kind of creepy.

Or maybe “creepy” is too strong. Maybe’s it’s just opportunism, which is more, well, Vegas-y.

Kings fans will remember the Maloofs as the family that saved the foundering team from the clutches of owner Jim Thomas, and then remember them as the family whose clutches Vivek Ranadive had to save the team from 15 years later. It’s the nature of most ownerships – you do good to eliminate a prior evil, and eventually become evil yourselves when the fans turn on you.

But the Maloofs aren’t evil – even their most strident critics will say that. They just saw an opportunity to scratch a bunch of itches at once – good-heartedness, advertising, gambling and Vegas’ most important product – selling you things you could never imagine wanting.

It almost makes you wonder if they harbor a secret itch to take the $160,000 and double down on behalf of the charities for another of their pet projects – the Vegas Golden Knights. If they put it on the Knights to win the Stanley Cup at 200-1, that’s $32,000,000. Then if they took that and . . .

. . . and before you know it, they’re trapped in the fantasyland of Las Vegas at its weirdest. Maybe it’s just performance art with more money than most of us can eat.