Kings escape with 95-92 win over Blazers

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Kings escape with 95-92 win over Blazers

BOX SCORE
SACRAMENTO -- John Salmons can't remember a worse shooting slump.He's hoping the 19 points he scored to help the Sacramento Kings to a rare win over Portland on Thursday night will help him forget it.Marcus Thornton scored 20 points the Kings, who snapped a five-game losing streak by beating Portland 95-92 Thursday night.The Blazers had beaten the Kings in 12 of the previous 13 games, but Sacramento ran off five straight points late in the game and held off Portland, which missed two 3-pointers in the final 10 seconds, including a nice look from Jamal Crawford just prior to the buzzer soundings.

Salmons entered the game shooting 35 percent from the field and 21 percent on 3-pointers. After making three 3-pointers and eight of 14 shots overall, Salmons was asked if he had ever shot this poorly for such a prolonged stretch."Not this bad. Not this bad," said Salmons, who also had eight rebounds. "It's human nature to be frustrated. But you've got to stay with it and keep going. But it hasn't been easy."Kings coach Keith Smart understood what this game meant to Salmons, a quiet veteran who normally speaks much louder on the court than he does in the locker room."He's too proud of a pro to have a season-long bad game," Smart said. "I always knew that from knowing him around the league as a pro, that somewhere down the line his game is going to come back to him. The guy is really working. I'm happy that he played well, and so is the team."LaMarcus Aldridge had 28 points and 14 rebounds for the Blazers, who have lost four straight on the road, where they are 3-9 this season. Jamal Crawford scored 17 points and Raymond Felton 15 points and 10 assists. Portland made just 8-of-16 free throws.Tyreke Evans scored 18 points, Marcus Thornton and Jason Thompson added 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Kings.Salmons broke an 88-88 tie with a jumper and Thompson put back a shot in traffic, giving the Kings a 92-88 lead with 1:53 left. A jumper by Evans gave Sacramento a 95-90 cushion with 15.2 seconds remaining."We've seen this team three times so far, that's how crazy this season has been," Thompson said. "We prepared for them, the extra practice this week helped. We definitely needed this win. It's nice to smile after a game and laugh."Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, who averaged nearly 21 points and 12 rebounds in the previous games, was in foul trouble early. He played 14 minutes, and didn't leave the bench in the fourth quarter, finishing with eight points and six rebounds.After squandering a six-point lead and allowing the Blazers to go ahead by a basket, Thornton hit a 3-pointer and next time down court made a fastbreak layup to put the Kings in front 84-81 with five minutes left."We really had control of this game and had a flow going," Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. "But in the second half it's pretty much what it has been for us - turnovers, a lot of one-on-one play, and lack of ball movement. We just self-destruct on the road."Salmons, who entered the game in a season-long slump and was shooting 35 percent, opening the fourth quarter with his third 3-pointer of the game. Isaiah Thomas quickly followed with a basket to give Sacramento a 76-69 advantage.Evans and Thompson both scored seven points in the third quarter. The Kings overcame nine-point halftime deficit, outscoring Portland 24-13 to take a 71-69 lead into the fourth.Trailing since early in the first quarter, the Kings pulled even when Evans got loose on a fastbreak and his emphatic dunk tied the game at 63 with 3:39 left in the third period. Evans later followed with a three-point play to give Sacramento a 68-65 lead.After shooting over 60 percent in the opening half, the Blazers went cold to start the third quarter. They had just two points in the first five minutes before Matthews connected on a 3-pointer for a 61-55 lead.The Kings had no answer for Aldridge in the opening half. The smooth-shooting forward continually got open for mid-range jumpers and made them, scoring 19 points to help Portland take a 56-47 lead into the half.The Blazers ran off 11 straight points early in the second quarter to build a 13-point lead. The Blazers received second-quarter points from an unlikely source - Kurt Thomas. The 39-year-old veteran forward scored eight points in the spurt.NOTES: Kings rookie Jimmer Fredette didn't play for the first time in 22 games. . Aldridge made his first six shots and had 12 points in the opening quarter when the Blazers led 30-27. . Nicolas Batum, a key person off the bench for Portland, missed his second straight game with a bone bruise in his left knee. . Salmons made four of five shots and had 10 first-quarter points.

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Hassan WhitesideGreat WIN 4 the kings tonight KingAllDay
Feb 03 via Echofon Favorite Retweet Reply

How the four Kings rookies fit in heading into 2017-18 season

How the four Kings rookies fit in heading into 2017-18 season

SACRAMENTO - The Sacramento Kings swung for the fences during the NBA Draft Thursday night. They filled holes, took a gamble and might have even come away with a steal or two in their four selections. There are major roster questions that still have to be answered in free agency or through trade, but here is a look at how the new faces fit into the current situation in Sacramento.

De’Aaron Fox, point guard, University of Kentucky
Sacramento let it be known early that Fox was a target. The speedy point guard put on a show in his lone season in Kentucky, averaging 16.7 points, 4.6 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 29.6 minutes per game. He’ll need to improve his 3-point shooting (24.6 percent) to keep defenses from sagging off and clogging his running lanes, but his mechanics are sound.

According to Vlade Divac, “De’Aaron is our future.” Whether the team will look to add a veteran presence is still in question. Veterans Darren Collison and Ty Lawson have spoken about their willingness to return as a mentor, but Fox is expected to play major minutes in his rookie season as the Kings look to turn up the tempo.

Fox is a big time athlete with great size for the position. Standing a little over 6-foot-3 with a 6-foot-6.5 wingspan, the left handed point guard projects well on both ends of the floor. He’ll need to add weight to his 170-pound frame, but the Kings have a strong strength and conditioning team that has been working overtime all summer building on last season’s draft class.

With both Collison and Lawson entering free agency unrestricted, Fox is likely the Kings starter on Day 1.

Justin Jackson, small forward, University of North Carolina
Jackson tested the draft waters a year ago and decided to return to the Tar Heels for one more season. The gamble paid off as Jackson and his North Carolina teammates rolled through the NCAA tournament and were crowned champs.

In addition to winning it all, Jackson showed major improvement in his junior year under Roy Williams. The 22-year-old wing posted 18.2 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 32.2 minutes per game. Jackson’s biggest improvement came as a perimeter shooter where he converted 36.8 percent of his 3-point shots, compared to just 29.2 percent as a sophomore.

Like Fox, Jackson needs to add strength and weight to compete in the NBA for 82 games a season. He is a wiry athlete that stands 6-foot-8 with a 6-foot-11 wingspan, but he weighed in at just 201 at the Draft combine (up from his 192 a season ago).

As of today, Jackson is the only true small forward on the Kings roster. They have options in Garrett Temple and Malachi Richardson, but they will likely address the position in free agency or through trade. Jackson will play minutes as a rookie, but how many will be determined by how quickly he can adjust to the NBA level. He’s a mature scorer and he has defensive potential, but he will likely begin his career in a reserve role, at least initially.

Harry Giles, power forward/center, Duke University
There was a time when Giles ranked amongst the very best of high school player in the country. A series of bad breaks led Giles to tumble down the draft board where the Kings were more than willing to gamble at the 20th selection.

You can take his numbers at Duke and throw them out the window, he was never truly healthy in his time with Coach K. Standing 6-foot-10.5 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, the 232-pound big has an incredible frame. Unfortunately, the frame is supported by two surgically repaired knees.

Giles tore his ACL in both knees as a prep athlete in separate incidents and he needed a third procedure to clean up one of his knees last year. If there is good news here, it is that both knees were damaged in contact injuries, as opposed to the knee giving out in a non-contact situation. The scope that occurred later is also not out of the norm as the body attempts to adjust to the changes in the joint.

Like the Duke medical staff, the Kings will need to show patience in years one and two as Giles continues to heal from the series of surgeries. The Kings knew the risk of drafting the talented 19-year-old and they also know that players like Danny Manning, Amar’e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin went on to have very successful careers after bilateral ACL tears.   

Don’t expect Giles to play major minutes in year one, but the Kings fell in love with his talent in a pre-draft workout in Sacramento. The team has a bevy of bigs, including Skal Labissiere, Willie Cauley-Stein, Kosta Koufos and Georgios Papagiannis. This is a risk/reward pick for the future. If Giles can get right, he could be the best big man taken in the 2017 NBA Draft and maybe even a lot more than that.

Frank Mason III, point guard, Kansas University
Despite collecting a room full of trophies in his senior year at Kansas, Mason slid to the early second round where the Kings shunned trade offers and pounced. Like Fox, the high-flying guard was a major target of the Kings, even coming to Sacramento twice for visits before draft night.

The 23-year-old Wooden Award winner dominated in his final season under Bill Self, averaging 20.9 points, 5.2 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 36.1 minutes a night. He even shot 47.1 percent from behind the arc on 4.8 attempts per game. At 6-foot, 189-pounds, the biggest knock on Mason is his lack of size. He makes up for that with power and a 41-inch vertical.

Sacramento is in a tough situation when it comes to their point guard position. Fox was a no-brainer at number five and Mason is an NBA ready contributor at pick 34. But can they walk into a season with two rookies manning the point guard position? 

It’s possible. The Kings have Temple on the roster, who can steal some minutes, but Fox and Mason make an intriguing thunder and lightning pairing that should be a lot of fun to watch. Don’t be shocked if Mason earns a spot in the rotation in training camp and plays solid minutes in a sparkplug role off the bench as a rookie.

Purge of veterans continues as Kings waive Arron Afflalo

Purge of veterans continues as Kings waive Arron Afflalo

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings continued their purge of veteran contracts Friday afternoon. NBC Sports California has confirmed that the team opted out of the second year of Arron Afflalo’s 2-year, $25 million deal. They will instead pay the shooting guard a $1.5 million buyout, saving $11 million and allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Afflalo, 31, posted 8.4 points and 2.0 rebounds in 25.9 minutes per game. The 10-year NBA veteran played in 61 games, including 45 starts for the Kings last season while shooting 41.1 percent from behind the arc.

The former UCLA star is the second Kings veteran to have his option declined, joining Anthony Tolliver in the ranks of unrestricted free agents. Both Rudy Gay and Langston Galloway have chosen not to exercise player options with the team as the franchise turns to a youth movement.

Garrett Temple and Kosta Koufos are the only remaining players players on the Kings’ roster with more than two years experience in the league. Sacramento will enter free agency with upwards of $55 million to spend in free agency once they sign their four rookies from Thursday evening’s NBA Draft.