Kings face Bucks in first game without Westphal

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Kings face Bucks in first game without Westphal

PROGRAMMING ALERT: We will have a Live Video Feed of the team's press conference tonight at 5:45 -- both on CSNCalifornia.com and Chronicle Live. Watch the news as it happens.
Milwaukee (2-3) vs. Kings (2-5) at 6:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California and Comcast SportsNet Plus
With DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans, the Sacramento Kings appear to have a promising nucleus for the future.Appearances, however, aren't always what they seem as the Kings hope a coaching change can spark the duo heading into Thursday night's game versus the Milwaukee Bucks.Paul Westphal was fired after a 2-5 start dropped the Kings into last place in the Pacific Division and replaced by assistant Keith Smart on Thursday afternoon. Even before the lockout, the season has been viewed as a crossroads for the franchise, which may again consider relocating from Sacramento if a financing deal for a new arena cannot be reached.RELATED: Kings fire Westphal as coach
"I want to thank Paul for all of his effort on behalf of the Kings," said team president of basketball operations Geoff Petrie. "Unfortunately, the overall performance level of the team has not approached what we felt was reasonable to expect. I wish him the best in his future endeavors."Westphal's falling out with forward DeMarcus Cousins may have been too much to overcome. He suspended the mercurial second-year pro for Sacramento's game on Jan. 1, criticizing Cousins' commitment to the team and claiming he asked to be traded, something the player's agent denies.
The firing represents the fastest coaching changes to start an NBA season since 1976-77. Billy Cunningham was axed by the 76ers after seven games in 1977-78.Petrie tabbed Smart, who went 36-46 as Golden State Warriors coach last season, to take over the team. Yet Smart may be hard-pressed to fix the defensive shortcomings of a team which currently ranks second-to-last in both defensive scoring at 102.4 points per game and defensive field goal percentage (48.5 percent).The Warriors were tied for 27th in scoring defense at 105.7 points per game - one full point worse than Sacramento - in Smart's lone season.The fifth overall pick in 2010, Cousins had a season-high 26 points off the bench in a 110-83 loss at Denver on Wednesday but is shooting just 38.6 percent overall while averaging 13.7 points and 9.3 rebounds. Evans, the 2010 NBA rookie of the year after averaging 20.1 points, is contributing 14.3 per game on 42.0 percent shooting.Even without three key players and struggling offensively, the Bucks (2-3) may be catching the Kings at the right time. Milwaukee has dropped the first two games on its five-game western trip but has won its last three games at Sacramento.Ratto: Westphal swamped by the tide
Without star Andrew Bogut (personal reasons), swingman Mike Dunleavy Jr. (groin) and former King Beno Udrih (shoulder), the Bucks shot a paltry 30.5 percent from the field - including 2 of 21 from 3-point range - in an 85-73 loss to the Jazz on Tuesday."It's tough," said forward Drew Gooden, the lone bright spot with 24 points and 12 rebounds. "We can't win scoring 70-80 points. We've got to be in the high 90s to beat these teams. That comes with executing the offense."Milwaukee has averaged 109.0 points during its three-game winning streak at Sacramento that follows a four-game road skid to the Kings. However, with Bogut (14.3 points per game, 10.0 rebounds per game), Dunleavy (10.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and Udrih (9.0 ppg) all likely to miss this season's annual visit, the Bucks' run in Sacramento could be in jeopardy.They certainly need more production from guard Brandon Jennings, who has totaled 20 points in the last two games while shooting 9 of 35 overall and 0 for 11 from 3-point range. He averaged 22.7 on 46.0 percent shooting in the season's first three contests.Jennings went 8 of 13 from beyond the arc and finished with 35 points in his only previous game at Sacramento, a 114-108 double-overtime victory March 19, 2010.

NBA Gameday: New-look Kings get first shot at I-80 bragging rights

NBA Gameday: New-look Kings get first shot at I-80 bragging rights

The Sacramento Kings make the 90 mile commute to Oakland for a match up against the first place Golden State Warriors Friday evening. The Kings have lost three straight and are just 2-11 over their previous 13 games as they transition to a youth movement.

Buddy Hield tied his career-high with 21 points versus the Milwaukee Bucks last time out. He’ll face a different beast against the Warriors. Klay Thompson is one of the best two-way shooting guards in the league. He can light you up from long range and shut you down with physical play on the other side of the ball.

Matt Barnes joined the W’s after being waived by the Kings during the All-Star break. The 37-year-old forward has played nearly 20 minutes per night for Golden State, averaging 5.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 11 games.  

OPENING LINE

Warriors by 17.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Buddy Hield vs. Klay Thompson -- Hield is averaging 14.2 points and 3.4 rebounds in 27.6 minutes over 14 games with the Kings. The rookie shooting guard is shooting 50 percent from the field, 44.9 percent from 3-point range and posted double-figure scoring in all but two games since coming over via trade during the All-Star break. Thompson is one of the premiere player at his position, posting 22.3 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. The Kings have been on the receiving end of plenty of his scoring outbursts over the years.

WHERE THEY STAND

Kings: 27-44 third place in Pacific

Warriors: 57-14, first place in Pacific

INJURY REPORT

Kings: SG Malachi Richardson (torn hamstring) status unknown at this time, F Rudy Gay (torn left Achilles) out for season.

Warriors: SF Kevin Durant (tibial bruise, knee) out.  

SERIES HISTORY

The Warriors lead the season series at 2-1 with a 109-86 victory at Oracle Arena. Golden State holds a 199-186 lead over the Kings all-time and a 71-65 advantage during the Sacramento-era.

QUOTABLE

“I’m trying to kill ‘em, plain and simple. Things didn’t go well there. They’re the enemy now, so we’re trying to kill ‘em - beat them by 50.” -Matt Barnes on his approach against his former team

 

Kings PG Lawson entered denial of alleged probation violations

Kings PG Lawson entered denial of alleged probation violations

Sacramento Kings point guard Ty Lawson spent time in a Colorado courtroom Thursday to face allegations of potential probation violations. Lawson was granted a six-week stay in case and will reappear in court on May 4, CSN California has learned through a league source.

According to Jesse Paul of the Denver Post, Lawson, through his attorney Harvey Steinberg, entered a denial of probation violations. Lawson tested positive for alcohol three times in the past year, according to published reports. If true, it would be a violation of his probation. 

Lawson’s legal troubles stem from a 2015 DUI arrest in Denver. The eight-year NBA veteran signed a one-year deal with the Kings on Aug. 31, 2016. Through 63 games, including 21 starts, the 29-year-old guard has posted averages of 9.2 points and 4.7 assists in 25.1 minutes per game. 

He sat out Wednesday’s loss to the Milwaukee Bucks for “planned rest.” Lawson is expected back in a Kings uniform Friday night when they take on the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena.