Kings close 2011 with bust vs. Knicks, 114-92

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Kings close 2011 with bust vs. Knicks, 114-92

BOX SCORE

SACRAMENTO -- Learning at a morning shootaround that he would be making his first NBA start because teammate Amare Stoudemire was injured, New York Knicks rookie Josh Harrellson didn't have a lot of time to be nervous.And the rookie from Kentucky didn't show it, either.Carmelo Anthony scored 23 points and the Knicks got an unexpected 14 points and 12 rebounds from Harrellson in controlling the game early and cruising past the Sacramento Kings, 114-92 on Saturday night.The Knicks didn't miss starting forward Stoudemire, their leading rebounder and second-leading scorer, who sat out with a sprained left ankle. All five starters had 14 points or more for New York, which took a 14-point lead into halftime and the lead never dipped below double digits in the second half as the Knicks snapped a two-game losing streak.Tyson Chandler had 22 points and seven rebounds, and Landry Fields scored 21 points for the Knicks, who had struggled offensively in losing their previous two games, but had a season-high point total against the Kings. Toney Douglas had 17 points and eight assists, and Bill Walker added 11 points."When the ball is moving like that, you can see how successful we can be offensively," said Fields, discussing the Knicks' season-high 26 assists. "It's a very nice win. Hopefully it brings us momentum going into our next game (Monday at home against Toronto)."Harrellson connected on his first shot, a wide-open 3-pointer two minutes into the game. He added three more 3-pointers and clearly outplayed Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, his teammate for one season at Kentucky."I guarded him all season at practice, so I felt like I know DeMarcus' game," Harrelson said. "I thought I did a good job on my former teammate. I was trying to get him out of whack, get him out of his rhythm."There had been no rhythm offensively in the first three games for Harrellson, who had a combined three points and five rebounds in 29 minutes."It was very important for me to make that first shot and get my confidence going," Harrellson said. "They had to come out and guard me and that opened things up and left other people open."New York (2-2) used a 15-0 run in the opening quarter to take a 35-20 lead. Douglas scored nine points and had three of the Knicks' six 3-pointers."They were hitting big threes and executing and jumped on us and we were never able to crawl back in the game," Kings coach Paul Westphal said.Marcus Thornton had 14 points for the struggling Kings (1-3), who have lost three straight after defeating the Lakers at home to start the season. Both Jason Thompson and Tyreke Evans had 13 points. The Kings shot 35 percent from the field and made only 26 of 41 free throws.Sacramento plays a home game against New Orleans on New Year's night."This is a very disappointing loss because we had a very good practice (Friday), probably our best practice of the year," Kings forward Chuck Hayes said. "But we came out like we don't know how to carry it over. It's discouraging."With the Knicks getting contributions from many different players, Anthony was quiet early in the game and his first basket didn't come until he made a driving layup midway through the second quarter.Yet he still had 17 at halftime and the Knicks had a 14-point lead. A rested Anthony finished with seven rebounds and five assists in 33 minutes, including just a two-plus minute stint in the fourth with the win secured."Our team is starting to pick up things in the offense that if we continue to do it, we can be successful," Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said. "When you have a Carmelo with an Amare, it tends to open the floor even more. When the ball moves, our younger guys can get more involved."With the Knicks ahead by 13 points entering the fourth quarter, Chandler scored eight points in the opening three minutes, including two three-point plays. Chandler's second one put New York ahead 88-70. The lead was 20 points or more for much of the fourth quarter.Chandler was in foul trouble and barely a factor in the first half, playing four minutes. However, the veteran center made all six free throws and had eight points in the third quarter in helping the Knicks take a 78-65 lead into the fourth."From the beginning of the game until the end, we just looked lost," Evans said. "We just play off our natural talent and that's how we get our points. It's terrible right now and we've just got to figure something out."Anthony scored 15 points and Harrellson had 11 in the opening half, when the Knicks led 56-42. The Kings shot 33 percent as their offensive problems continued.Notes: Knicks reserve forward Jared Jeffries missed his third straight game with a sore right calf. . The Chicago Bulls also had a 15-0 first-quarter run against the Kings in Thursday's game. . Free throws continue to be a problem for Evans, who has made 13 of 27 this season. . Knicks rookie center Jerome Jordan committed four fouls in his first seven minutes.

Calipari sees Labissiere's progress during rookie season: 'I give Sac credit'

Calipari sees Labissiere's progress during rookie season: 'I give Sac credit'

Nothing has come easy for Skal Labissiere. He survived the earthquakes in Haiti. He moved to the United States speaking only only French and Haitian Creole as a young teenager. And his lone season at Kentucky he went from a top five prospect to a player that nearly fell out of the first round.

The knock on Labissiere coming out of Kentucky was that he didn’t like contact. Maybe it went farther than that, but there was no question that when he left for the NBA, he didn’t exactly walk away on the best of terms with head coach John Calipari.

When the Kings took on the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center in the final week of the regular season, Calipari sat in the stands watching a small group of his former players. During the telecast, NBC Sports California’s Kayte Christensen caught up with the legendary coach and he couldn’t stop gushing about his Wildcats alums, specifically the play of Labissiere.

“I look at Skal and the progress - I give Sac credit,” Calipari told Christensen. “These guys are working with him. He’s playing more confident. They’re putting him in positions he can have success. I didn’t do as good a job as they did.”

Labissiere went off for 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting against Los Angeles. He added three rebounds and two blocks, but the Kings stumbled down the stretch, allowing the Lakers to come away with the 98-94 victory.

In his freshman season at Kentucky, Labissiere scored more than 19 points just once, a 26 point outburst in his second game of the year against NJIT (New Jersey Institute of Technology). His highwater mark in his rookie season for the Kings was a 32-point, 11-rebound performance against the Phoenix Suns on March 15.

“He’s getting stronger, he’s growing, you can see him maturing physically, which was a big part of it,” Calipari said. “He had a good season with us, but, I used him wrong. Now I see him now, it’s amazing he’ll speak for me after I’m watching him play like this.”

The 21-year-old power forward has a smile that lights up a room. He even uses it as a defense mechanism when things get uncomfortable. Speaking about his time in Kentucky seems uncomfortable for the 6-foot-11 forward.

“Coach Cal, he does a really good job of getting guys ready for the next level,” Labissiere told NBC Sports California. “I appreciate him.”

Labissiere is looking ahead, not backwards. He is a an incredible talent and he is thankful for the job that Dave Joerger and his staff have done with him during his first season in the NBA.

“Coach Joerger, every since I was drafted here, he’s always believed in me,” Labissiere said. “He’s always putting me in the right positions, making me work on different things that normally I didn’t do in college. He’s making me do different things and believing in me. I love playing for him.”

Kentucky has produced some of the best big men in the game, including DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns. It’s a hotbed for talent, but specifically for centers and power forwards that take their game to the next level in the pros.

Labissiere would love to be included in that list, but he isn’t trying to be someone he’s not. His focus is on improving and helping his team win games.

“I don’t know, I’m just working for myself, doing what I’m supposed to do,” Labissiere said. “If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I’m just going to keep doing my thing.”

The Kings have big plans for Labissiere and the rest of their young core this summer. Labissiere will likely join the team’s three other 2016 first round picks in Las Vegas for Summer League in July. Another two or three rookies from the 2017 NBA Draft will likely join them as Sacramento attempts to build some early chemistry amongst.

Following Summer League, Labissiere is scheduled to travel to Haiti where he will hold a basketball camp in his home country. It’s the first time he’s been back to Haiti since moving to the US following the earthquake in 2010.

Labissiere wasn’t the only Kentucky product on display for Sacramento against the Lakers. Willie Cauley-Stein spent three seasons under Calipari before going sixth overall in the 2015 NBA Draft.

Cauley-Stein put up solid numbers in front of his former coach, finishing the game against the Lakers with 14 points, seven rebounds and three blocks in just 23 minutes of action.

“Willie is doing what he does,” Calipari said. “He’s flying up and down that floor, he’s blocking shots. He seems to have some freedoms to do some of the stuff he does well.”

Cauley-Stein is a completely different player two season removed from his time at Kentucky. He finished strong down the stretch for Sacramento, showing a newfound confidence in his scoring ability.

“It’s a great feeling, I don’t think he’s watched me play like that since I left,” Cauley-Stein said. “It was cool to get a chance to see him and show him things I’ve worked on and I’ve gotten better. It was really satisfying, [him] telling me I got better, so I know I’m [going] in the right direction.”

It’s clear that Labissiere and Cauley-Stein had a very different experience at Kentucky. The end result might work out just fine for the Sacramento Kings. The duo played alongside one another for plenty of games down the stretch as the team’s starting frontcourt. It’s a look Kings fans might get used to seeing going forward.

 

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.