Kings hold court at home with OT win over Warriors

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Kings hold court at home with OT win over Warriors

BOX SCORE
SACRAMENTO The Sacramento Kings held the Warriors scoreless for the first three minutes and 43 seconds of overtime and wound up snapping Golden States two-game winning streak. For the Kings, the victory avenged their 93-90 loss to the Warriors on Tuesday at Oracle.Kings 114, Warriors 106 (OT)Player of the game: DeMarcus Cousins finished with 21 points and 20 rebounds. He also knocked down a back-breaking straightaway 18-foot jumper which banked in with 2:06 left in overtime, giving the Kings a 109-102 lead.

We got manhandled on the boards, Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. Their four and five positions just dominated the glass. We didnt step up to the challenge. At times its individual and at times its collective. Awfully frustrating when a guy like Dominic McGuire can tie for our rebounding lead (5) in a little under 15 minutes. Its a mentality, a mindset.Key stretch: The start of overtime did the Warriors in and nobody struggled more than Stephen Curry. He missed three shots in the first two minutes of the extra period and also committed a turnover.Curry wouldnt have started the overtime according to Jackson had Nate Robinson been back in the locker room nursing a groin injury.Robinson sustained the injury early in the fourth quarter but ended up playing until the end of regulation. At the end of regulation, he went back into the locker room to get treatment.(Robinson) went in the back and got taped and then said he was ready, Jackson said. In fairness to Steph, I told him I shouldnt have gone back to him even if Nate was not ready. It wasnt fair to him especially coming off ankle issues and all that. Obviously he wasnt going to be loose and clearly he wasnt himself when he went back in. Thats on me.Said Curry: Im not used to it, but if he calls your number youve got to do the best you can. My legs werent normally where theyd be on the shots I did take, but its one of those situations where Nate was injured a little bit, and I had to go in there and play. Tried to do my best.

Huge shot: Rookie Klay Thompson hit the biggest shot of his career, burying a corner 3-pointer with nine seconds remaining to tie the game 102-102.That was the play if I could get a layup, get a layup, said Robinson, who finished with 20 points. But we wanted a three, Klay was wide open, baseline drift, wide open. works every time.

Bench again: For the second time in the past two games, Warriors coach Mark Jackson played primarily his substitutes in the fourth quarter. That unit rallied from an 11-point deficit to force overtime.Our bench was incredible, Jackson said. Their effort was outstanding and I look forward to the day where Im not a coach standing over there thinking: Do I stick with these guys or do I get my starters back in the game? Thats not a good feeling. Youre supposed to have guys you can rely on that can pick it up when needed.

Thorntons third: Thornton really got it going in the third quarter, and it helped the Kings gain some separation from Golden State. Thornton had 18 points in the period, which was the big reason the Kings turned a one-point halftime deficit into an 87-76 lead after three periods.Wright on: Dorell Wright had a spring in his step and it seemed obvious. He had a terrific put back dunk off a rebound and also had his long-range game going.Wright had 19 points in the first half, going 6-for-7 from the field, including 3-for-3 from beyond the arc. He finished with 24 points but didnt play in the fourth quarter or overtimeIts very frustrating because the No. 1 thing is Im a team player, Wright said. If guys are rolling theyre rolling. But me being a competitor I want to be in there. But youve got to roll with the coachs decision. Im a vet so Ive been there, seen it all. Im not worried. I just got to stay ready so that when he does call me Ill be ready. It is what it is.

Tight first half:Neither team led by more than five points through the first 24 minutes. The Warriors went into halftime up 54-53, and did so despite struggling on the glass.Sacramento had 27 rebounds to the Warriors 16. But the Warriors made up for that by shooting 50 percent to the Kings 40 percent.Bar raised: Jackson was asked before the game if he was concerned that by putting too much of an emphasis on Saturdays game he called it a big game on Friday that a loss would be more of a setback than a regular-old loss would be.Not all, Jackson said. It is a very important game for us and if we leave here with a loss we should feel like its a letdown, we should be disappointed, we should be upset and some of the air should be taken out of us. But were not looking forward to that feeling. We expect to accomplish what we came for.

Hield after rookie season with Kings: 'I’m never going to take a step back'

Hield after rookie season with Kings: 'I’m never going to take a step back'

The Sacramento Kings interrupted the NBA’s showcase weekend with the trade of DeMarcus Cousins. The three-time All-Star was stunned by the move, as were plenty of others around the association.

With all the focus on Cousins and what might have been, rookie Buddy Hield packed up his belongings in New Orleans and moved into a downtown Sacramento motel room. It’s a business. Players are reminded of that all the time, but for a first year player, it’s a tough pill to swallow.

“When you get traded, it’s like a wake up (call),” Hield told NBC Sports California. “First time it happened to me, first year it was like, okay, maybe what I was doing wasn’t good enough for the team to keep me. So you go into your own element and try to make yourself better.”

Hield, the sixth overall selection in the 2016 NBA Draft, wasn’t setting the world on fire with the Pelicans. Averaging 8.6 points and 2.9 rebounds in 20.6 minutes per game, the 23-year-old wing started the final 36 in a Pelicans uniform for head coach Alvin Gentry.

The Kings liked Hield in the draft and the jumped at the opportunity to add him as part of the mega-deal for Cousins. It took seven games for Dave Joerger and his staff to elevate Hield to the starting shooting guard position and he spent the remaining 18 games of the season looking more like the star scorer from Oklahoma University that fans had become accustom to.

In his 25 game audition in Kings uniform, Hield posted 15.1 points and 4.1 rebounds while shooting 48 percent from the field and a sparkling 42.8 percent from behind the arc. He set a new career-high in scoring multiple times, including a 30-point outburst late in the season against the Phoenix Suns.

When most first year players were hitting the rookie wall, Hield found himself in a new situation and excelled. The Freeport, Bahama native is known for his tireless work ethic. He could be seen out on the court before anyone else every game night hoisting hundreds of 3-point shots in pregame and behind the scenes, he was known to be in the gym two or three times a day.

“I wear down, but there’s a drive to keep me going,” Hield said. “Just knowing my struggles to get here, how long the process was of me getting to the NBA. That’s what keeps me going. I get tired, but I know where I came from and how hard it was to get here. I just can’t give up.”

Hield showed flashes of being a high-end scorer during his short time with the Kings, but he also showed his youth. He has a laundry list of items to work on over the summer, including improving his shot selection, ball handling and becoming a better defensive player.

“I need a lot of things, this summer is great for me because next year it will show how big of a jump I can make,” Hield said. “After that, we build off of that. Just keep building. I’m never going to take a step back. My motto is we always look ahead, we never look back.”

There is no question that Hield is driven to succeed. He plays with a chip on his shoulder, which was only amplified by his rookie season trade to the Kings. He’ll likely open the 2017-18 training camp as the favorite to win the starting shooting guard position, but the field is crowded and there is no room for regression.

“My rookie season was cool, it was okay, I wasn’t satisfied with it,” Hield added. “Many people might be satisfied with it, but I’m trying to build and make progress and try to get this franchise to the playoffs.”

This attitude is part of the reason the Kings coveted Hield in the draft and made the trade to get him. He has the want to be great and the commitment to do the work. Time will tell what his ceiling is as a player, but betting against him would foolish.

Calipari sees Labissiere's progress during rookie season: 'I give Sac credit'

Calipari sees Labissiere's progress during rookie season: 'I give Sac credit'

Nothing has come easy for Skal Labissiere. He survived the earthquakes in Haiti. He moved to the United States speaking only only French and Haitian Creole as a young teenager. And his lone season at Kentucky he went from a top five prospect to a player that nearly fell out of the first round.

The knock on Labissiere coming out of Kentucky was that he didn’t like contact. Maybe it went farther than that, but there was no question that when he left for the NBA, he didn’t exactly walk away on the best of terms with head coach John Calipari.

When the Kings took on the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center in the final week of the regular season, Calipari sat in the stands watching a small group of his former players. During the telecast, NBC Sports California’s Kayte Christensen caught up with the legendary coach and he couldn’t stop gushing about his Wildcats alums, specifically the play of Labissiere.

“I look at Skal and the progress - I give Sac credit,” Calipari told Christensen. “These guys are working with him. He’s playing more confident. They’re putting him in positions he can have success. I didn’t do as good a job as they did.”

Labissiere went off for 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting against Los Angeles. He added three rebounds and two blocks, but the Kings stumbled down the stretch, allowing the Lakers to come away with the 98-94 victory.

In his freshman season at Kentucky, Labissiere scored more than 19 points just once, a 26 point outburst in his second game of the year against NJIT (New Jersey Institute of Technology). His highwater mark in his rookie season for the Kings was a 32-point, 11-rebound performance against the Phoenix Suns on March 15.

“He’s getting stronger, he’s growing, you can see him maturing physically, which was a big part of it,” Calipari said. “He had a good season with us, but, I used him wrong. Now I see him now, it’s amazing he’ll speak for me after I’m watching him play like this.”

The 21-year-old power forward has a smile that lights up a room. He even uses it as a defense mechanism when things get uncomfortable. Speaking about his time in Kentucky seems uncomfortable for the 6-foot-11 forward.

“Coach Cal, he does a really good job of getting guys ready for the next level,” Labissiere told NBC Sports California. “I appreciate him.”

Labissiere is looking ahead, not backwards. He is a an incredible talent and he is thankful for the job that Dave Joerger and his staff have done with him during his first season in the NBA.

“Coach Joerger, every since I was drafted here, he’s always believed in me,” Labissiere said. “He’s always putting me in the right positions, making me work on different things that normally I didn’t do in college. He’s making me do different things and believing in me. I love playing for him.”

Kentucky has produced some of the best big men in the game, including DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns. It’s a hotbed for talent, but specifically for centers and power forwards that take their game to the next level in the pros.

Labissiere would love to be included in that list, but he isn’t trying to be someone he’s not. His focus is on improving and helping his team win games.

“I don’t know, I’m just working for myself, doing what I’m supposed to do,” Labissiere said. “If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I’m just going to keep doing my thing.”

The Kings have big plans for Labissiere and the rest of their young core this summer. Labissiere will likely join the team’s three other 2016 first round picks in Las Vegas for Summer League in July. Another two or three rookies from the 2017 NBA Draft will likely join them as Sacramento attempts to build some early chemistry amongst.

Following Summer League, Labissiere is scheduled to travel to Haiti where he will hold a basketball camp in his home country. It’s the first time he’s been back to Haiti since moving to the US following the earthquake in 2010.

Labissiere wasn’t the only Kentucky product on display for Sacramento against the Lakers. Willie Cauley-Stein spent three seasons under Calipari before going sixth overall in the 2015 NBA Draft.

Cauley-Stein put up solid numbers in front of his former coach, finishing the game against the Lakers with 14 points, seven rebounds and three blocks in just 23 minutes of action.

“Willie is doing what he does,” Calipari said. “He’s flying up and down that floor, he’s blocking shots. He seems to have some freedoms to do some of the stuff he does well.”

Cauley-Stein is a completely different player two season removed from his time at Kentucky. He finished strong down the stretch for Sacramento, showing a newfound confidence in his scoring ability.

“It’s a great feeling, I don’t think he’s watched me play like that since I left,” Cauley-Stein said. “It was cool to get a chance to see him and show him things I’ve worked on and I’ve gotten better. It was really satisfying, [him] telling me I got better, so I know I’m [going] in the right direction.”

It’s clear that Labissiere and Cauley-Stein had a very different experience at Kentucky. The end result might work out just fine for the Sacramento Kings. The duo played alongside one another for plenty of games down the stretch as the team’s starting frontcourt. It’s a look Kings fans might get used to seeing going forward.