Kings

Kings host Jazz looking for back-to-back wins

655478.jpg

Kings host Jazz looking for back-to-back wins

After a surprising start, the Utah Jazz went into the All-Star break having fallen to last place in the Northwest Division.They'll look to snap a three-game losing streak - and improve their atrocious road record - when they visit the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night.Utah opened the season with three losses in its first four games, but impressively won eight of nine to turn things around.However, the Jazz (15-17) fell back under .500 before the break after losing 10 of 13, including three straight heading into the break.

A 100-98 loss at Minnesota on Wednesday was especially discouraging. Paul Millsap scored 25 points - his most in 16 games - but Utah blew a 16-point fourth-quarter lead before losing on Luke Ridnour's buzzer-beater.That loss dropped the Jazz to 3-11 on the road, the worst record among the league's 22 teams currently within three games of a playoff spot.It was the third straight contest they failed to protect a second-half lead. Utah led by 10 in the third quarter against San Antonio before falling 106-102 on Feb. 20, a night after watching a one-point halftime lead in Houston turn into a 16-point loss."It's disheartening to us, but you have to learn through it," coach Tyrone Corbin said. "We play well enough to win these games, but we have to learn how to finish. It's real painful now and it should hurt. Coming out of the All-Star break we have to learn our lessons so we don't make these mistakes."The inability to protect leads was hurt by the Jazz's struggles to defend beyond the arc. In the last three games, opponents connected on 31 of 62 shots from 3-point range.Prior to that stretch, the Jazz were third in the league in 3-point defense (31.3 percent).After stumbling into the break, Utah will try to bounce back against the Kings (11-22), who beat Washington 115-107 on Wednesday to snap a six-game losing streak.The victory came in the finale of a six-game road trip. Marcus Thornton and Tyreke Evans scored 22 points apiece, DeMarcus Cousins had 16 points and 16 rebounds and Sacramento came from 10 down in the second half.Cousins finished the first half strong after opening the season by drawing the ire of former coach Paul Westphal, who was fired in early January.Cousins has averaged 19.9 points and 11.0 rebounds over his last seven games, though he's shot 30.0 percent over his past three.Even with the occasional inconsistency on the court, coach Keith Smart has been pleased with Cousins' improved maturity, citing his willingness to stay on the bench late during the comeback against the Wizards."I was getting ready to put Cousins back in and he said 'Let Chuck Hayes stay in the game,'" Smart said. "That's gigantic for him. Tyreke Evans had a fabulous first half, came out of the game, didn't play in the fourth quarter and simply cheered his teammates on."That's the growth I'm trying for our team to have if we're ever going to have a chance to be good and turn our franchise around."Evans had a season-high 31 points and nine assists in a 96-93 loss in Utah on Jan. 28. His 24.0 career points per game against the Jazz are his most versus any opponent.Sacramento has dropped four of the past five meetings in the series.

DeMarcus Cousins: 'Take all them motherf****** down'

cousins-demarcus-davis-anthony-arms.jpg
AP

DeMarcus Cousins: 'Take all them motherf****** down'

Some professional athletes take a stand by kneeling on the sidelines or raising a fist into the air. Some write succinct tweets expressing their dismay with the current political climate in the United States of America. Others just get right to the point with a poignant off the cuff statement to a waiting camera.

Former Sacramento Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins has certainly mastered the art of the cryptic tweet, but he’s also never been one to shy away from a direct question when asked. When an inquiry was thrown his direction about confederate statues in New Orleans and his home state of Alabama, Cousins was brief with his words, but very clear.

"Take all them mother****ers down," Cousins told TMZ while navigating a security line at the airport. "Take 'em all down.”

Cousins may not have chosen the most eloquent words, but his point of view is shared by plenty of others. He isn’t the first athlete to take a stand with regards to race in America over the last week as racial tensions have spilled out into the streets in Charlottesville, Virginia. Social media is filled with professional athletes adding their thoughts to the conversation.

The Warriors’ Kevin Durant has made it clear that he will not visit the White House and President Donald Trump, a visit most teams make following an NBA championship.

"Nah, I won't do that," the 8-time All-Star told ESPN on Thursday. "I don't respect who's in office right now.”

"I don't agree with what he agrees with, so my voice is going to be heard by not doing that,” Durant continued. “That's just me personally, but if I know my guys well enough, they'll all agree with me."

Garrett Temple has used Twitter to make his thoughts known as well. Recently named the Kings’ Players Voice Teammate of the Year by the National Basketball Players Association, Temple has used his position as an NBA player to speak out multiple times.

Over the last week, he’s fielded questions and had plenty of discussions through social media on the issues of race and equality. His Twitter timeline is littered with thoughtful replies and some not so thoughtful ideas as well. Plenty of fans thanking him for using his position to further the conversation and of course, there is the occasional, “stick to sports” comment.

Agree or disagree, today’s athletes have huge platforms to share their opinions. From Cousins to Temple, there are varying degrees of engagement, but the time of players staying out of the discussion is long gone.

The Maloofs' colossal charity bet on Mayweather-McGregor circus act

maloof-courtside-kings.jpg
AP

The Maloofs' colossal charity bet on Mayweather-McGregor circus act

Gavin and Joe Maloof have gambled plenty in their lives, which is in part how they ended up losing the Sacramento Kings. They ran big, they hit a dry well, and they ended up selling the works.

So their decision to bet $880,000 on Floyd Mayweather in his “thing” with Conor McGregor for a $160,000 payout seemed the perfectly daft idea for two guys who were painted as perfectly daft when they were running the Kings and their other businesses into a freeway abutment on I-80.

In fairness, they are planning to donate their winnings to a number of charities in the name of their hangover drink (Never Too Hungover, although I might have gone with the more lyrical HurlNoMore), so it’s not like their hearts aren’t a place close to the mythical “right place.”

But it does beg the question, “Why don’t they just give $160,000 and skip the scam?” Because it wasn’t about charity, it was about promotion, and while there’s nothing wrong with promotion, attaching it to one of the seediest carnival events of the modern era makes it seem, well, kind of creepy.

Or maybe “creepy” is too strong. Maybe’s it’s just opportunism, which is more, well, Vegas-y.

Kings fans will remember the Maloofs as the family that saved the foundering team from the clutches of owner Jim Thomas, and then remember them as the family whose clutches Vivek Ranadive had to save the team from 15 years later. It’s the nature of most ownerships – you do good to eliminate a prior evil, and eventually become evil yourselves when the fans turn on you.

But the Maloofs aren’t evil – even their most strident critics will say that. They just saw an opportunity to scratch a bunch of itches at once – good-heartedness, advertising, gambling and Vegas’ most important product – selling you things you could never imagine wanting.

It almost makes you wonder if they harbor a secret itch to take the $160,000 and double down on behalf of the charities for another of their pet projects – the Vegas Golden Knights. If they put it on the Knights to win the Stanley Cup at 200-1, that’s $32,000,000. Then if they took that and . . .

. . . and before you know it, they’re trapped in the fantasyland of Las Vegas at its weirdest. Maybe it’s just performance art with more money than most of us can eat.