Kings ice cold from field in 96-88 loss to Suns

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Kings ice cold from field in 96-88 loss to Suns

BOX SCORE

PHOENIX (AP) -- Falling behind has become a habit for the Phoenix Suns. In the last three games, so has winning.Steve Nash had 19 points, Marcin Gortat scored 14 and matched his season high with 17 rebounds, and the Suns won their third in a row with a 96-88 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night.In all three wins, the Suns rallied from double-digit deficits, something the franchise hadn't done since November 2002.Jared Dudley scored eight of his 14 in the fourth quarter, when Phoenix pulled away. Shannon Brown added 13, including consecutive 3-pointers in the decisive run to open the final period.Marcus Thornton scored 23 and Tyreke Evans 17 for Sacramento. DeMarcus Cousins added 16 points and 14 rebounds, but the Kings shot just 33 percent in the second half to fall to 4-19 on the road.The three consecutive victories since the All-Star break, all at home, matched Phoenix's longest win streak of the season.Nash said the team's first-half struggles trace to its long layoff during the break."We had seven days off, a lot longer than a lot of people," he said, "and I just feel like we're still trying to shake the rust off in the first half of games. We feel a little better, a little more comfortable and make more plays in the second half."Overall, the Suns have won five of six."We still aren't starting great, but at least we are not starting ridiculously slow," Gortat said. We don't have this outstanding pace that we usually have in the third quarter, but we're getting better."Brown's 3s, followed by one from Dudley, capped a 15-3 Suns outburst to start the fourth quarter and Phoenix led 85-74 with 7:45 remaining. Sacramento scored the next eight to cut it to 85-82 on Cousins' dunk from the baseline with 3:32 to play.Nash, though, followed with his second 3 of the night in as many tries to boost the lead back to 88-82. The teams traded baskets, then Evans sank a 12-footer to slice the lead to 90-86 with 2:29 to go. Grant Hill made a pair of mid-range jumpers and Dudley's 18-footer with 51.4 seconds left sealed it."I think the thing that killed us was Shannon Brown, those 3s that he hit," Evans said. "After that we could never really find a rhythm."Sacramento coach Keith Smart praised his team's defense."You're going to give up something," he said. "You've got a great point guard who's going to make plays and find people. I thought our guys did a great job to maintain and do the things necessary, but we had a few breakdowns late."Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry liked the Suns' defense, too."But we didn't come up with the loose balls," he said. "We were right there defensively but we just need to complete the defensive possession."The Kings took a 32-29 lead after one quarter, then opened the second with a 10-2 run to go up 42-31 on Isaiah Thomas' 16-footer with 9:15 left in the half. Phoenix cut it to 48-44 on Nash's runner in the lane with 2:24 to go and was down 52-47 at the break.Cousins had 12 points and 10 rebounds in the first half but managed only four points and four rebounds after that. He finished 7 of 20 from the field, 1 of 4 after halftime.Phoenix caught the Kings at 52-all with 9:59 to play when Cousins was called for a flagrant foul for throwing an elbow into Channing Frye on a layup attempt. Frye made both free throws.Sacramento took a 61-59 lead on Evans' three-point play, but the Suns scored the next nine. Nash made a left-handed layup, was fouled by Evans and completed the three-point play to put the Suns ahead 68-61 with 4:01 left in the third quarter.The Kings outscored Phoenix 10-2 the rest of the quarter, though. Travis Outlaw blocked Sebastian Telfair's shot, then dunked the rebound at the other end of the court at the buzzer to give Sacramento a 71-70 lead entering the fourth.NOTES: The Suns played their sixth in a row at home, dating to before the All-Star break, and are in a stretch of 10 of 11 at US Airways Center. ... Thomas, who had averaged 17.1 points in seven games since becoming a starter, scored eight on 3-of-13 shooting. ... Referee Tre Maddox called a technical on Gentry in the second quarter. ... Sacramento got a technical on its second delay-of-game warning with 9:56 to play. ... Frye shot 3 of 12 for Phoenix. His backup at power forward, Markieff Morris, was 0 of 7.

Disgruntled Bulls PG Rondo throws shade on Kings

Disgruntled Bulls PG Rondo throws shade on Kings

After wearing out his welcome in Boston, Dallas and Sacramento, Rajon Rondo is doing the same in Chicago.

The veteran point guard, who was benched for five games at the end of December and beginning of January, opened up his situation in Chicago during a recent interview.

While talking about what could possibly be the problem with the Bulls, Rondo brought up his one season with the Kings.

“It’s just, maybe, the personnel in this situation. I mean, last year -- I hate to keep talking about last year -- but you couldn’t name three people on my team, the Sacramento Kings, and I led the league in assists. You know? I don’t know. I believe so (that his skill set still has value), given the right personnel and the flow of the game," Rondo told TNT's David Aldridge last week.

While the Kings were mired in a 33-49 season in 2015-16, Rondo racked up an NBA-leading 11.7 assists per game. Russell Westbrook was second with 10.4.

In four games since returning from being benched by coach Fred Hoiberg, Rondo is averaging 6.5 points and 6.0 assists in 22.6 minutes per contest.

Rondo is signed through the 2017-18 season and is scheduled to make just under $14 million next season.

'Undisciplined' Kings regressing at halfway point of 2016-17 season

'Undisciplined' Kings regressing at halfway point of 2016-17 season

SACRAMENTO -- Undisciplined. It’s a word that we haven’t heard much, but it is one of the better ways of describing the 2016-17 Sacramento Kings 40 games into the season.

“We’re not a good team right now - plain and simple,” veteran Matt Barnes said following another loss on Sunday night. “We have what it takes, but we’re undisciplined, we’re not consistent and we lose our focus too much.”

Turnovers, technical fouls, inconsistent offensive and defensive sets - this has become the Kings’ bread and butter. And it’s come to a head during the team’s 1-5 homestand, especially on the Kings’ 122-118 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“Tonight, turnovers killed,” DeMarcus Cousins said. “We didn’t execute well. I don’t think we were that great defensively.”

Cousins’ six turnovers was a team-high, but he had plenty of help. Only Garrett Temple failed to give the ball up on the night, leaving nine other players to share in the 22 total miscues for Sacramento.

“We just don’t pay attention to detail and it always comes back and bites us in the ass at the end of games,” Barnes said.

Despite all of the messy play, Sacramento still had a chance. The Kings had an outside shot to erase an enormous deficit and come back and beat OKC. But that has become their modus operandi.

During their six-game homestand, they have trailed by 14 or more points in every contest. On Sunday against the Thunder, they fell behind by 17 and still were able to cut the lead to just three with 26.5 seconds remaining. In a game that often comes down to a few opportunities that go one way or the other, the Kings are more often the team that makes the crucial error.

“It’s a few plays here and there that we think don’t matter early in the game and we end up losing a four point game,” Barnes said. “We’re a hell of a team in the last three minutes of a game. We make it exciting, but most of the time, by that time, it’s too late.”

Kosta Koufos picked up a tech in the second quarter. Barnes picked one up during a crucial moment in the fourth. Cousins had one as well, giving him 11 on the season, but it was the double-tech variety with Russell Westbrook, so it had no impact on the score.

“We complain too much to the refs, you know what I mean,” Barnes said. “We’ve got to worry about the other team. I think we worry about the refs too much.”

Those two points came back to play a major role in a close ball game and they carried no favor with the officiating crew either. It’s possible that the game would have had the same outcome, but it’s difficult to say for sure.

“Stop talking to the officials and let it go,” Temple said. “They’re going to call what they call; I’ve never seen a call changed because a person is talking to the official. It is what it is.”

There is no benefit of the doubt for a team like Sacramento. They have a reputation with the officials that they live up to on most nights. They are in the refs ear from start to finish. When technical fouls are called, it isn’t a surprise to anyone in the building.

“They’re human beings just like us, so if you constantly berate them about calls, that’s not going to help you,” Temple added. “So we’ve just got to leave them alone, try to control what we can control.”

At some point, the Kings need to learn from their mistakes. But at the halfway point of the season, they appear to be regressing. Frustrations are mounting as their playoff hopes once again dim in the month of January.

With the loss, Sacramento fell to 16-24 on the season. They have one game left at Golden One Center on Wednesday against the Indiana Pacers before embarking on a brutal eight game road trip.