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


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


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.

Kings' Cousins has 'one goal' entering new season

Kings' Cousins has 'one goal' entering new season

SACRAMENTO -- A season without expectations. That is what everyone, from Dave Joerger to Vlade Divac, has said entering the 2016-17 Sacramento Kings season. But on the eve of opening night, DeMarcus Cousins wants no part of that.

“I have one goal, that’s playoffs,” Cousins told media members on Tuesday before the team boarded a plane for Phoenix. “That’s success for me right now.”

Cousins has never tasted the playoffs in his first six seasons in the NBA. In fact, the Kings are trying to snap a decade long drought dating back to the 2005-06 season during the Rick Adelman era.

Joerger made the playoffs the previous three seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies. He isn’t ready to make promises, but he laid out his path for success this season following practice.

“The first thing we’ve got to do is learn how to compete,” Joerger said. “The second thing then is to learn how to win. We’re not a young group, so if we can get to stage one quickly, then we can can to stage two. If it takes all year to get to stage one, that’s okay, that will be a progression.”

Vegas has the Kings win total set at 34, good enough for third worse in the Western Conference. To add insult to injury, Sacramento’s odds of winning the NBA Championship are set at 500/1.

“I don’t really care what people think,” Cousins added. “I don’t care what their expectations are. I know what we’re putting in on the daily. I know we’re in here working, we’re trying to get better everyday. All we can do is worry about one another and go out and perform every night.”

The Kings will be a work in progress throughout the season. With an entirely new coaching staff and eight new faces on the opening night roster, this is a team in need of seasoning. Chemistry will take time, but this is a veteran team with plenty of experience.

“It’s a great group of guys,” forward Omri Casspi said. “I feel like once the season starts, everything will fall into play on the court as well.”

Joerger has been busy putting in his defensive principles all camp in an attempt to patch the largest hole the Kings had from a season ago. A key phrase keeps coming up when players are asked about Joerger’s style of coaching, specifically of the defensive end, where his teams routinely rank amongst the league’s best.

“The attention to details on the defensive end,” Casspi said of what Joerger has brought to the table. “We always have a guy in the way and we really play the lanes.”

Attention to detail is almost a buzzword in Sacramento. Joerger’s system is very different from what the Kings ran last season. There will still be switching, but not nearly as much. Joerger’s teams play tough, aggressive, inside-out defense. They clog the lane and protect the rim, which should play to the strengths of the roster.

“Offensively, I think we can play with the best, we’ve always been talented offensively,” Cousins said. “Defensively is where we’ve always struggled. Do I think we’re in a comfortable place? No, but I think we’re on the right path. We’ve still got a lot of growing to do.”

Cousins may feel that the Kings can score with the best, but he’s learning an entirely new system. For the first time in his career, the two-time All-Star will man the high-post on a regular basis. The offense will run through him on most plays and will be expected to become a distributor, as well as the team’s leading scorer and rebounder.

“I still can play my game, be the same DeMarcus, but I think it’s better for the team,” Cousins said. “It helps our spacing. I think it plays to our advantage. I don’t think it’s a sacrifice at all.”

The offense might be perfect for Cousins’ skill set, but he’s just seeing the most rudimentary parts of the scheme at this point. With so much focus on correcting the defensive inadequacies, Joerger has hardly cracked his playbook during camp.

“About a quarter or a third,” Joerger estimated when asked how deep into his offensive sets he’s gotten so far. “It’s been tough, but I’d rather try to get better at smaller set of stuff than not being very good a whole bunch of things.”

Joerger will implement new wrinkles as the season goes on. The high-post system has plenty of room to expand as the players become more acquainted with the principles. When it’s run to perfection, this offense is pretty to watch. But even in its basic form, the high-post is an efficient and structurally sound system.

“I’m a lot more comfortable than the last time we talked,” Cousins said with a smile. “Coach has a lot, we’re learning a lot, it’s new options every day. But I’m definitely in a better place now.”

Early in the season, the Kings’ focus will be on developing and improving, not so much worrying about who the new next opponent is on the schedule. It’s been a long camp, including a week layoff between the team’s last preseason game and their first regular season game. For now, the players are just ready to get the ball rolling on a new season and dispense with facing each other in practice every day.

“I feel like it’s time to get started,” Casspi said. “We’re all excited and happy and ready to go to Phoenix.”

The Kings open on the road against the Suns on Wednesday night, before returning for their home opener Thursday evening against the Spurs. They play the Timberwolves on Saturday, but then take off on a five game road trip back east.

“Two weeks from now I’ll be begging for a practice, right now we’re all kind of begging for a game,” Joerger said.

The action will come fast and furious over the next few weeks. Eight games in 12 nights, including six road games is tough for any team. For a group that is just learning each other, the trial by fire begins Wednesday.

Lawson survives cut day, ready to help Kings: 'Go hard or go home'

Lawson survives cut day, ready to help Kings: 'Go hard or go home'

SACRAMENTO -- Cut day came and went in Sacramento without any major surprises. That is, unless you consider veteran point guard Ty Lawson’s inclusion as a shock. Lawson is packed with talent, but he’s struggled to stay out of his own way over the last few seasons, including a missed flight to Kentucky earlier in the preseason.

It was fitting that the seven-year NBA vet joined the media for a chat after practice on Monday. While it was a forgone conclusion that Lawson would make the roster for the better part of two weeks, he came into camp in a fight with four other players for the 15th and final spot.

“It’s tough, it’s been a month, we’ve grown a bond with each other,” Lawson said of cut day. “We’ve been playing with each, practicing with each other, just getting to know everybody. Cut day is always the toughest.”

Now that he’s assured a roster spot, it’s go time for Lawson. The 28-year-old lead guard is trying to resurrect his career in Sacramento. He’ll get an 8-game run as the starter while Darren Collison sits out.

“I’m ready to go, games start tomorrow, our first game is Wednesday, you know, the season’s here,” Lawson said. “Go hard or go home, I’m excited.”

After playing sparingly down the stretch last season for the Indiana Pacers, Lawson will be counted on to play huge minutes early on. He’ll have Garrett Temple backing him up, but the focus will be on the speedy guard out of North Carolina.

“I’m going hard in practice to get my wind up,” Lawson said. “Coach is telling me I’m going to play a lot of minutes - 30 to 40.”

With Lawson in, that means that three other players are out. Jordan Farmar, Isaiah Cousins and Lamar Patterson received pink slips on Monday. It’s never an easy time in the NBA world as players of all ages are faced with their NBA mortality.

“We have a full roster, it’s pretty difficult (to make the team),” coach Joerger said. “Guys are doing it for different reasons - to get experience, to get exposure back to the league, to get familiarity with our organization and with what we’re doing here.”

It appears that Farmar came into camp as Plan B, incase Lawson wasn’t up for the task. He performed well in his limited time off the Kings’ bench and he could become an option down the road if Sacramento is in the market for a seasoned NBA guard with 3-point shooting skills.

As for the Kings’ two young players, both Isaiah Cousins and Lamar Patterson are eligible to join Sacramento’s D-League affiliate in Reno if they choose to join the NBA’s minor league program.

Taken with the 59th pick in the second round of the 2016 NBA Draft, Cousins is a big physical guard that might find success with the Bighorns under head coach Darrick Martin. He can play both the one and the two, but it was clear early on that he was lost in a numbers game.

After four seasons at Oklahoma, Cousins has the physical maturity to play at the NBA level, but he needs more seasoning. When Sacramento waived him, they gave up his rights after signed him to a partially guaranteed deal over the summer. If he goes unclaimed over the next 48 hours, he will decide between playing overseas or joining the D-League.

Patterson is an interesting player. The 25-year-old wing has already experienced the D-League, playing 19 games last season between the Austin Spurs and the Canton Charge. Patterson posted 12.8 points, 4.3 assists and 3.8 rebounds in 26.9 minutes per game in his two stops.

He was waived on Wednesday by Sacramento, but resigned on Friday afternoon, which helped the Kings retain his D-League rights moving forward.  

The Kings will practice one more time on Tuesday before boarding a plane for Phoenix in the afternoon. They’ll face a young Suns team on Wednesday night in their opener, followed by a the first official game in the Golden 1 Center against the Spurs on Thursday night. Preseason is officially over and now it gets real for a newly formed team looking to get off to a fast start.