Kings come back to win 103-100 over Milwaukee in Smart's debut

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Kings come back to win 103-100 over Milwaukee in Smart's debut

Box Score

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) Tyreke Evans made four free throws in the final minute to finish with 26 points, and Sacramento overcame a 21-point halftime deficit to stun the Milwaukee Bucks 103-100 on Thursday night hours after the Kings fired coach Paul Westphal.Evans hit the go-ahead free throws with 18.1 seconds remaining and followed with two more to make former assistant and Golden State Warriors coach Keith Smart a winner in his Kings head coaching debut. Sacramento ousted Westphal following a slow start and an escalating feud with young center DeMarcus Cousins.Marcus Thornton scored 27 points and Cousins finished with 19 points and 15 rebounds for the Kings, completing a stretch of three games in three nights with the lone victory.Brandon Jennings scored 31 points, and Drew Gooden had 18 points and nine rebounds for the Bucks in place of center Andrew Bogut, who missed his second straight game for undisclosed personal reasons.A day that began with turmoil in California's capital ended in jubilation.The Kings fired Westphal in the morning after two-plus seasons as coach, cutting ties amid a slow start and an escalating dispute with Cousins that threatened to consume the locker room. Smart, let go by the Warriors in April after one season at the helm, signed a deal to become the team's new head coach.Sacramento gave Smart the perfect start with a frantic fourth-quarter rally.Thornton made consecutive running layups to bring the Kings within two, and former Bucks standout John Salmons sliced the deficit to a point with a steal and a free throw with 1:20 remainingAfter Jennings made a jumper, Salmons matched him with another. Evans grabbed the next Milwaukee rebound and sprinted up court, getting fouled by Stephen Jackson with 18.1 seconds left. He made both free throws to put the Kings ahead 101-100 and converted another pair to extend the cushion.Jennings missed an open 3-point attempt at the buzzer, and Smart waived to the crowd and pumped his fist in celebration. Jennings pulled out his jersey and walked to Milwaukee's locker room in disgust.With so much attention on Sacramento's young center following Westphal's firing, Cousins came out ready to hustle and start Smart's tenure strong.He scored five points in the first 5 minutes, including a three-point play on a layup over Carlos Delfino, and sprinted and soared for several loose balls. Cousins also picked up two quick fouls and sat for the final 7 minutes of the quarter after Gooden drew a charging call on a layup attempt.The Bucks busted out big in the second quarter, outscoring Sacramento 28-12 in the period behind Jennings and Gooden in what turned out to be a stampede past the usually quicker and more athletic Kings. Milwaukee shot 60 percent from the floor in the first half to take a 58-37 lead at the break.As if Smart's debut in Sacramento didn't have enough hurdles to clear, big man Chuck Hayes also dislocated his left shoulder reaching in to foul Gooden in the quarter. He's out indefinitely.Smart's squad did show some promise.A sudden and surprising run by the Kings sliced Milwaukee's lead to eight late in the third quarter, capping a 26-13 spurt when Cousins rebounded his own miss and curled in a put-back shot off the backboard from under the rim. After the Bucks began to pull away, Cousins grabbed a rebound and converted a three-point play over Larry Sanders to bring Sacramento within eight with 8:51 left to star the comeback.Notes: The Kings went 4 for 21 from 3-point range but held a 55-31 rebounding advantage, including 23 on the offensive glass ... Milwaukee had 20 turnovers that led to 24 points for Sacramento.

Fight finally pays off for Kings: 'Like we won Game 1 of the playoffs'

Fight finally pays off for Kings: 'Like we won Game 1 of the playoffs'

The Sacramento Kings are young and lack experience. They have plenty of holes in their roster and they even sat three veterans when they rolled into the Staples Center for a 12:30 start on Sunday afternoon. 

Sacramento also has talent and they play hard. The Clippers just learned the hard way what plenty of other teams already knew - there is no quit in this team.

From start to finish, the Kings played a gritty style of defense. They closed out strong on the Clippers shooters and did their best to quash the alley-oop that Chris Paul is so famous for. Los Angeles coasted through the game assuming that they won before the opening tip. And then Sacramento flipped the table late, shutting the Clippers down in the fourth while riding a 22-3 run to finish the game with a 98-97 come from behind victory.

“I thought the whole game, the guys didn’t lose effort and they deserve it,” veteran point guard Darren Collison told media following the game. “Look at our last couple of weeks, even though the results haven’t been what we want it to be, so many guys that kept fighting, they were able to deserve this win.”

Trailing by 18 at the 5:16 mark of the fourth quarter, this game looked like so many others that we have seen over the last month. Sacramento had fought to stay in the contest, but in the end, the experience of their opponent wins out. But the Kings kept fighting.

“They didn’t lose hope, not one bit,” Collison said. “They kept pulling and pulling and pulling. Eventually they got some big threes, some big shots.”

So many contributed to the victory, but at the 2:19 mark, rookie Buddy Hield knocked down a 3-pointer to draw the Kings within six. Moments later he stole the inbounds pass and dropped in a second straight three in a nine second stretch.

“You just have to stay confident, trust yourself and trust what got you here,” Buddy Hield said.

Through three quarters, Hield had shot just 1-of-7 from the field and looked overwhelmed by the Clippers star players. He came alive in the fourth, hitting 3-of-3 from behind the arc to finish the quarter with 11 points and five rebounds. Hield scored 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds on the night, showing fans that he is ready to compete in crunch time.

“We kept playing and made some plays and the little things matter,” coach Dave Joerger said. “I’m really proud, it’s like we won Game 1 of the playoffs.”

With their teammates rallying on the court, the Kings bench looked like a cheerleader troup. All they needed was some pom-poms and a lot of eye liner.

Regardless of the record, Sacramento has remained a close knit group. Youth and veterans have meshed well as they forge towards another lottery selection. 

“I’ve been on a lot of teams, some winning teams and the chemistry is not as good as this team,” Collison added. “People don’t understand how hard it is to be in our shoes and come to work every single day with the circumstances that we have dealt with. But to be together still and fun, it shows a lot about this team. I’m real happy to be a part of this team. We’re not winning games, but the way we’re going about our business - we’re losing games together, we’re winning games together.”

Collison went off against his former team, scoring 19 points and handing out four assists in 28 minutes of action. Anthony Tolliver hit 5-of-6 from 3-point range to finish with 15 points and rookie Georgios Papagiannis but up 12 points, four rebounds, four assists and blocked two shots.

With the win, the Kings snapped their four-game losing streak and improve to 28-45 on the season. They play again on Monday when the Memphis Grizzlies drop by the Golden 1 Center on the second night of a road-and-home back-to-back. 

Instant Replay: Kings close game on 22-3 run, stun Clippers

Instant Replay: Kings close game on 22-3 run, stun Clippers

BOX SCORE

Wins are getting harder to come by for the Sacramento Kings. On Sunday afternoon, they battled all the way down the stretch and it looked like they were headed for a fifth straight loss. And then Buddy Hield and his young teammates fought back to shock the Los Angeles Clippers by a final of 98-97.

Hield caught fire late, scoring 11 of his 15 points in a wild outburst during the fourth quarter. The Kings shooting guard added seven rebounds and brought his team back with a steal and pair of 3-pointers late.

Willie Cauley-Stein hit the glass hard, grabbing 14 rebounds while scoring eight points at the center position. His bucket with 1.8 seconds remaining proved to be the game-winner.

Darren Collison went to work against his former Clipper teammates. The veteran point guard went in attack mode early, knocking down his first eight shots. He finished the night with 19 points on 8-for-11 shooting and four assists.

Anthony Tolliver sat in the corner and waited for the kick out from his teammates. The result was a 5-for-6 shooting night from long range and a solid 15-point performance.

Georgios Papagiannis came off the bench to support Cauley-Stein in the pivot and continued to show improvement. The rookie 7-footer out of Greece altered plenty of shots in his 21 minutes on the floor and finished the night with 12 points, four rebounds and four assists.

Tyreke Evans started at the small forward spot and chipped in eight points and four rebounds and Ben McLemore added eight points in limited minutes.

The Clippers stars shined brightly Sunday at the Staples Center. Chris Paul set up his teammates from start to finished, dropping in 17 points and dishing out nine assists in the loss.

DeAndre Jordan went for 20 points and 11 rebounds. Blake Griffin shot 6-for-11 from the field for 17 points added six rebounds and Austin Rivers hit 2-for-7 from deep to finish with 10 points.

STANDOUT PERFORMER:
Hield was the hero. He struggled for the first three quarters, but came up big in the fourth to push his team over the top.

TURNING POINT:
Cauley-Stein grabbed a rebound and put it back in with 1.8 seconds remaining and Sacramento held on for the huge win.

INJURY UPDATE:
Ty Lawson was a late scratch with a knee issue and both Arron Afflalo and Kosta Koufos sat for scheduled rest. 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:
Following the game in Los Angeles, the Kings hopped a plane back to Sacramento where they’ll face the Memphis Grizzlies Monday night at Golden 1 Center.