Kings look to avoid season sweep by Pacers

953267.jpg

Kings look to avoid season sweep by Pacers

Programming note: Pacers-Kings coverage begins tonight at 7 p.m. on Comcast SporstNet California. Territory restrictions apply.

Still trying to find their way without All-Star Danny Granger, the Indiana Pacers appear to have taken a big step forward.The Pacers look to keep their momentum going Friday night when they try to sweep the season series with the Sacramento Kings for the first time since 2008-09.After fighting through a slow start without Granger, who is targeting a February return from a left knee injury, Indiana (7-8) has a chance to win for the fourth time in five games.The Pacers put together perhaps their biggest win of the season Tuesday night when George Hill banked in a shot over Dwight Howard with 0.1 seconds left to give Indiana a 79-77 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in the opener of a four-game road trip.Hill scored in double figures for the fourth consecutive game with a team-high 19 points for the Pacers, who had lost six of their first eight away from home."We need road wins to build our togetherness, our belief in ourselves and our new identity, and to build confidence," coach Frank Vogel said. "This is a big one, and one that we were looking for."David West added 16 points, 10 rebounds and a season-high eight assists. The power forward has played well recently, averaging 21.0 points and 8.3 rebounds while shooting 55.2 percent in his last four games.Indiana, though, has had its struggles offensively. The Pacers shot under 40.0 percent (36.7) for the seventh time Tuesday and scored less than 80 for the fourth time, but they made up for it with another impressive performance on the defensive end.Indiana held the Lakers to a season low in points and their lowest field-goal percentage at home (31.6) since April 8, 2000. The Pacers lead the NBA in defensive shooting percentage (40.2) and rank third in points allowed per game(91.2).Now, Indiana faces a Kings team that had averaged 107.7 points while shooting 52.8 percent from the field - 23 of 48 (47.9) from 3-point range - in three games before a 97-89 home loss to Minnesota on Tuesday.After falling into a tie with New Orleans for the worst record in the Western Conference, Sacramento (4-10) will try to wrap up its three-game homestand with its third win in five games.Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins each scored 20 against the Timberwolves. Evans has come on strong of late, averaging 21.0 points on 54.8 percent shooting over his last five games.While the Kings have the third-lowest turnover average in the West at 14.6, they committed five miscues in the fourth quarter Tuesday."We make plays throughout the whole game and then it's either a turnover or a couple of stops we didn't get," guard Isaiah Thomas said. "We've just got to learn from it and we've got to fix it or, like I said, we're not going to win these close games."Cousins has enjoyed some success against an Indiana team that ranks near the top of the league in rebounds (48.5) and blocks (7.4) per game. He's recorded three straight double-doubles versus the Pacers and averaged 18.0 points and 13.5 rebounds in four career meetings.Indiana has won six of nine against the Kings, including 106-98 in double overtime Nov. 3. West and Hill each scored 18 points while Paul George chipped in 16 and a career-high 17 rebounds for the Pacers.The Kings were led by Marcus Thornton's season-high 26 points off the bench and Cousins' 21 points and 13 boards.

Kings beat Grizzlies for Joerger: 'He really wanted that one'

Kings beat Grizzlies for Joerger: 'He really wanted that one'

SACRAMENTO -- Sometimes a game means a little bit more than just one of 82. For Dave Joerger, beating his former team is gratifying, whether he wants to admit it or not, especially when that team is in the middle of major playoff push.

“I know he really wanted that one, you could tell before and during the game,” veteran point guard Darren Collison said of his head coach after the Kings’ 91-90 over the Memphis Grizzlies. “Anytime you go against your former team it definitely means a lot.”

Everyone noticed the change in Joerger. Be it in film prep or in walk-through, something was different. Despite the playoff chase being over, Joerger turned to his veterans and they delivered in the clutch.

“Anytime you play against your former team, whether it be a coach or a player, you have a little more energy, you have a little more incentive to win,” Anthony Tolliver said.

Ten Kings players saw court time, but both Skal Labissiere and Langston Galloway played sparingly as Joerger tightened his rotation. All five starters played 30 minutes or more, with Collison seeing a team-high 37 minutes.

The veteran point guard finished with a game-high 23 points and seven assists in the win. His free throws with 5.7 seconds remaining pushed the Kings into the lead and Memphis’ last ditch effort to win the game at the buzzer rimmed out.

“The more games we win, it’s going to be better for these young guys,” Collison said. “It’s very hard to win in this league and winning is contagious.”

This was the second straight victory for Sacramento after dropping four in a row. The team is now 5-12 since the All-Star break and they are 4-4 over their last eight games.

“We’re competing and that’s the biggest thing - we’re not laying down,” Willie Cauley-Stein said. “Even though we’re not in the playoff race, we’re playing like we’re in the playoff race and that’s bigtime.”

Cauley-Stein continued his strong play since the break. The second-year big posted 12 points, grabbed nine rebounds and dished out three assists in 33 minutes. He played solid defense on veteran Zach Randolph down the stretch.

It was a team effort. Four players scored in double-figures, including rookie Buddy Hield, who scored 14 points and grabbed four rebounds. Big man Kosta Koufos added 11 points, five rebounds and three blocks, while Ty Lawson finished with 10 points in 19 minutes of action.

Following the game, Joerger alluded to this being the final time we will see many of the veterans playing major minutes together. With just eight games remaining in the season, it’s time to give the young core the reigns and let them show what they can do.

“This was maybe our last stand for the year as far as you’re probably not going to see all those veterans play together for the rest of the season,” said Joerger. “It’s at home, it’s a great opportunity. The guys went out there and laid it all on the line.”

The Kings return to their home court on Wednesday when the Utah Jazz roll through Golden 1 Center. Of their remaining eight games on the schedule, Sacramento has four home contests and four on the road. They’ll finish the 2016-17 season on April 12 in Los Angeles against the Clippers.

Instant Replay: Kings shock Grizzlies late for second straight win

Instant Replay: Kings shock Grizzlies late for second straight win

BOX SCORE

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings aren’t done fighting yet. In front of their home crowd, they pulled off their second consecutive shocker, this time dispatching the Memphis Grizzlies in dramatic fashion by the final of 91-90.

Darren Collison battled Mike Conley Jr. all night long at the point guard position. After scoring 19 against the Clippers on Sunday, Collison hit the Grizzlies for 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting and added a team-high seven assists. His free throw with 5.7 seconds remaining proved to be the game winner.

Rookie Buddy Hield continued his hot shooting, scoring 14 points on 5-for-12 shooting. The 23-year-old shooting guard is quickly establishing himself as a big time scoring option for the Kings moving forward.

Willie Cauley-Stein chipped in 12 points, nine rebounds and three assists. 7-footer Kosta Koufos found success against his former team, finishing with 11 points, five rebounds and three blocks before fouling out late.

Ty Lawson led the second unit with 10 points, while Anthony Tolliver went 4-of-7 from the field for nine points.

Conley Jr. received the biggest contract in NBA history during the offseason and he showed why Monday against the Kings. The veteran point guard dropped in 22 points and dished out nine assists as the Grizzlies fell to 40-34 on the season.

35-year-old big man Zach Randolph went to work in the post. The 16-year NBA vet dropped in 17 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, schooling the Kings frontline with the left-handed flip early in the game.

Brandan Wright came off the bench to score 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting and Troy Daniels added 10 points.  

STANDOUT PERFORMER:
Collison is heating up. Over his last two games, the veteran guard has scored 42 points on 16-for-24 shooting and kept his team in the ballgame.

TURNING POINT:
Despite leading by eight on multiple occasions in the fourth quarter, Sacramento couldn’t close the door on the Grizzlies. Collison drew a foul with 5.7 remaining and his team trailing by one. He knocked down both freebies and Randolph missed a 3-point attempt at the buzzer to help the Kings improve to 29-45 on the season.   

INJURY UPDATE:
Arron Afflalo missed the game due to a personal matter and Tyreke Evans sat for scheduled rest. Rookie Malachi Richardson is officially out for the season with a right hamstring thickness tear. Rudy Gay is out for the year with a torn left Achilles.

WHAT'S NEXT:
The Kings are back at it Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center when the Utah Jazz roll through Sacramento. Following the matchup with Utah, the Kings travel to New Orleans to face former King DeMarcus Cousins on Friday evening.