Kings, Heat headed in opposite directions

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Kings, Heat headed in opposite directions

Programming note: Kings fans can catch all the action beginning today at 4:30 p.m. when the Kings meet the Heat in Miami, only on Comcast SportsNet California!KINGS (10-21) vs
MIAMI (25-7)
MIAMI (AP) - Dwyane Wade finished his workout Monday and approached about a dozen reporters, one of the smallest media turnouts at a Miami Heat practice this season.These days, the team with the NBA's best record almost seems like an afterthought."If it was packed in here right now, it would mean we were losing," Wade said. "When we look over and see a lot of people in here, we're not playing well."And that certainly isn't the case.Winners of six straight, all by at least 12 points, the Heat are in their best stretch of the season. The midpoint of the regular-season schedule awaits Tuesday when Miami (25-7) hosts Sacramento (10-21), losers of five straight. Here's one example of how wildly different things have gone for those clubs: Miami has led by at least 20 points in each of its last six games, while the Kings have only enjoyed that margin once this season - for all of 37 seconds.
RELATED: Kings schedule & results
If the spotlight is going to shine elsewhere these days, the Heat are fine with that arrangement."It's quiet as hell around here and we're doing pretty good," forward Chris Bosh said. "But that's to be expected. And we wouldn't have it any other way. That's just the name of the game. That's the business. That's how it's always going to be. You're more of a story when you have controversy."Or a phenomenon.Already in Miami - and to the team's chagrin, given that Sacramento is next on the schedule and therefore supposed to be the focus - there's no shortage of talk about Thursday night's home game against the New York Knicks, and none of that buzz is surrounding the years-old rivalry between the teams.No, the Jeremy Lin craze is going strong, with ticket demand for Thursday rivaling what was going on during last season's NBA finals against Dallas.So as Linsanity reigns, other NBA story lines like the Heat passing Chicago for the NBA's best record, San Antonio taking a 10-game winning streak into its game Monday night, even the looming All-Star weekend seem almost forgotten."We don't know if people get bored (with Miami winning) or not," forward LeBron James said. "We just know there's a lot more going on. I guess there's other, better story lines right now going on in the league, so we can go out and just play the game and just try to do it at a high level. Let everybody else get the headlines right now and just play Miami Heat basketball."Miami's numbers of late, including this six-game winning streak, are flirting with absurd.Wade has connected on at least half his shots in 10 straight games, his longest run since doing that 11 straight times as a rookie. The Heat are shooting 49.2 percent over their last six games - the second-best mark in the league since Feb. 10, 0.1 percent off Oklahoma City's pace - while holding teams to an NBA-best 39.3 percent mark from the floor over that span.Things are going so well for Miami, neither Wade nor James have been asked to play much in fourth quarters lately."Getting tired of sitting down in the fourth quarter, personally," James said Monday, the look on his face making it clear that he wasn't being entirely serious. "It's messing up my averages."James and Wade might not have to play much in the fourth Tuesday, either. Sacramento is 3-16 on the road - 0-4 thus far on a six-game trip - and has lost its last three against the Heat by at least 20 points.The Kings have lost six in a row and 14 of 15 in the series, and their nine consecutive losses in South Beach have been by an average of 17.8 points.James scored 31 points in 30 minutes in the Heat's 117-97 home win over Sacramento last Feb. 22.James has been talked about as an MVP frontrunner for weeks already and was at the center of a huge story last week when he said he would not rule out one day maybe returning to Cleveland as a player. The Heat are sending six representatives to All-Star weekend, where the second half of the season, the chase for the 2012 championship - and the loss in the 2011 finals - are sure to be popular topics.So when the all-about-Miami craze returns, the Heat say they'll be ready."We're comfortable in our world now," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Monday. "There can be a lot of noise. It can be relatively minimal noise. I think we're able now to compartmentalize and focus on what's real, our team and trying to improve and trying to get ourselves ready to play at our optimal level during the playoffs. That's the only thing that matters."Wade almost said he's welcoming the break, both in terms of getting some late-game minutes off, and without the levels of all-the-time scrutiny that has seemed to follow the Heat since he, Bosh and James teamed up in 2010."It's great," Wade said. "We're focusing on what we need to do. The only attention we're thinking about is giving each other the attention that we need as a team and making sure that everyone in here knows how they important they are to our success and what our goal is. Our goal is to be the best team in the NBA at the end of the year and not right now."

Instant Replay: Kings blown out by Bucks, Antetokounmpo at home

Instant Replay: Kings blown out by Bucks, Antetokounmpo at home

BOX SCORE

SACRAMENTO -- The Milwaukee Bucks are where the Sacramento Kings hope to be in two seasons - young, athletic and on their way to the playoffs. Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center, the visiting team jumped all of the Kings early on their way to a 116-98 win. 

The Greek Freak didn’t let up on his fellow countryman, Georgios Papagiannis. Giannis Antetokounmpo went at the Kings from the opening tip, finishing the night with 32 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, two steals and a block.  

Former Kings Jason Terry and Spencer Hawes heard boos every time they touched the ball. Unfortunately for Sacramento, they hit almost every shot they took, combining for 19 points on 6-for-9 shooting.

Greg Monroe added 15 points and five rebounds. Mirza Teletovic finished with 13 points off the bench and Khris Middleton hit 3-for-6 from long range to score 13. 

Rookie Buddy Hield put on a shooting clinic. The 22-year-old shooting guard dropped in 8-of-16 from the field on his way to 21 points and four rebounds

Darren Collison set up his teammates from the opening tip. The veteran point guard dropped in 10 points and a team-high seven assists, but it wasn’t nearly enough.

Garrett Temple stepped up his scoring, chipping in 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting and chipped in three rebounds in the loss. 

Willie Cauley-Stein stuffed the stat sheet with 10 points, seven rebounds, two assists and four blocks. 

Arron Afflalo started at the small forward position and added 12 on 5-of-9 shooting. Tyreke Evans came off the bench, posting 18 points in 20 minutes of action behind Afflalo.

Skal Labissiere managed to shake off a rough first half to drop in eight points and grab eight rebounds, and fellow rookie Georgios Papagiannis picked up four points, seven rebounds and two blocks in 23 minutes off Dave Joerger’s bench.  

STANDOUT PERFORMER

Antetokounmpo was as advertised and more. The 6-foot-11 forward gave the Kings fits from start to finish on his way to another huge performance.

TURNING POINT

The Bucks blew up in the first half, scoring 69 points on 61.4 percent shooting from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range. This game was over before the teams headed in for the break.

INJURY UPDATE 

Kosta Koufos and Ty Lawson both missed the game for scheduled rest. Rookie Malachi Richardson is out with a right hamstring thickness tear, but is expected back soon. Rudy Gay is out for the year with a torn left Achilles. 

WHAT'S NEXT 

The Kings hit the road again following the game against Milwaukee. They will face the Golden State Warriors on Friday evening at Oracle Arena, followed by a stop in Los Angeles on Sunday to visit the Clippers. 

NBA Gameday: Who on the Kings will defend Antetokounmpo?

NBA Gameday: Who on the Kings will defend Antetokounmpo?

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings return home to Golden 1 Center Wednesday night to face the upstart Milwaukee Bucks. After three games on the road, the Kings will play one in front of the Sacramento crowd before heading back out on the road Friday when they face the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena.

Dave Joerger and his young core of Kings have gone 3-10 since the All-Star break, but they compete on a nightly basis and are showing promise. Rookies Skal Labissiere, Buddy Hield and Georgios Papagiannis have each had breakout games and second-year big Willie Cauley-Stein is posting 13.4 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 32.5 minutes since the big roster shake up in late February.

The Bucks are 9-2 over their previous 11 games, surging into the playoff conversation after a rough start to the season. Giannis Antetokounmpo leads the way for a young Milwaukee team that has had to adjust on the fly after another devastating injury to forward Jabari Parker.

OPENING LINE:
Bucks by 5

MATCHUP TO WATCH:
? vs. Giannis Antetokounmpo -- It’s the same question we asked when these two teams met in the first two weeks of the 2016-17 season, only it’s a little more difficult to answer. Rudy Gay is done for the year, Matt Barnes is a Warriors and Omri Casspi plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves. What is left at the small forward position is a collection of undersized wings that will face one of the league’s best young small forwards. At 6-foot-11, Antetokounmpo plays like a guard, but can put you on a poster in the blink of an eye. If the Greek Freak gets loose, it’s going to be a long night for Sacramento.

WHERE THEY STAND:
Kings: 27-43, third place in Pacific

Bucks: 35-35, third place in Central

INJURY REPORT:
Kings: SF Tyreke Evans (ankle) will play, C Kosta Koufos (rest) is out, PG Ty Lawson (rest) is out, SG Malachi Richardson (hamstring) is out, F Rudy Gay (ruptured left Achilles) is out.

Bucks: F Jabari Parker (knee) out, F Michael Beasley (knee) out.

SERIES HISTORY:
Milwaukee leads the season series 1-0 over Sacramento after beating the Kings 117-91 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center on Nov. 5. The Kings own a 28-27 lead over the Bucks during the Sacramento-era.

QUOTE:
“I’m blessed and excited and happy to have this opportunity to have a beautiful young baby girl in my life right now. It changes a lot for me right now. I’m definitely in a state of shock and at a loss for words. At this point, I’m just like, man, I’m really a father. It’s a dream come true.” -Ben McLemore on the birth of his first child, Teagan Joyce McLemore