Kings look to brush eight-game skid against Celtics

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Kings look to brush eight-game skid against Celtics

Kevin Garnett and the Boston Celtics had been playing well even with the distraction of the trade deadline looming.Now that it's come and gone with his team still intact, Garnett will try to lead the Celtics to another win over the struggling Sacramento Kings on Friday night.After scoring 21 points in a victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday, Garnett had a team-leading 24 in a 105-103 win over Golden State on Wednesday, including the tiebreaking jumper with 5.1 seconds left.Brandon Bass added a season-high 22 points as the Celtics improved to 2-1 on their eight-game road trip, which ends March 23 in Philadelphia.Garnett scored 12 in the fourth quarter while finishing one shy of his season high. He's averaged 17.6 points and 9.4 rebounds while shooting 56.4 percent in 11 games since taking over as the starting center for the injured Jermaine O'Neal."He's been unbelievable this run," coach Doc Rivers told the league's official website. "Since he's been at the 5, he's been absolutely sensational for us."Rivers' team overcame 18 turnovers and a 52.6-percent shooting performance from the Warriors on Wednesday to win for the eighth time in 10 games."It's good for the team. It's good for our confidence," forward Paul Pierce said. "It shows we can win when we don't play well. We played defense when it mattered. That's what was most important."Boston (23-19) will get to build on that effort with its top players still on the team after the team stayed quiet at Thursday's trade deadline. Point guard Rajon Rondo was one of those who was in trade rumors, most notably with the Los Angeles Lakers.Rondo has averaged 11.3 assists over his past 10 games and has totaled 41 in the last three meetings with Sacramento, loser of three in a row after a 2-0 start to its nine-game homestand.Boston has prevailed in eight consecutive matchups with the Kings, winning by an average of 17.0 points, but the past two in Sacramento were decided by a combined eight.The Kings (14-29), though, were beaten by a combined 38 points in their last two games. They gave up 40 in the third quarter during a 124-112 loss to Detroit on Wednesday, the most in any period this season."You're not going to win a game if you give up 40 points," rookie guard Isaiah Thomas said.Three Sacramento players topped 20 points in that defeat, including Jason Thompson with a season-best 21 and 15 rebounds. Thomas also scored 21, three shy of his career high.Tyreke Evans had a team-best 23 points but left in the fourth quarter after injuring his ankle on a hard fall. He's listed as day-to-day.His potential absence could be a big problem for a Sacramento team which has averaged just 84.1 points in the last eight meetings with Boston.The Kings have allowed an average of 115.0 points during their three-game skid after giving up 98 or fewer during wins over New Orleans and Dallas to start their homestand.

Cousins reacts to playing with Davis: 'We can wreak havoc on this league'

Cousins reacts to playing with Davis: 'We can wreak havoc on this league'

METAIRIE, La. -- DeMarcus Cousins says his prayers have been answered, although not necessarily in the way he expected.

The New Orleans Pelicans' newest All-Star maintained on Wednesday that he liked Sacramento and initially wasn't happy about being traded Sunday night, but added he'd become frustrated waiting through six-plus losing seasons for the Kings to add more elite players.

"I would go home, just stressed out, pulling my hair out, you know, praying, praying, praying: Just send me some help."

Cousins is the one who wound up being sent away, but to a team where he joins fellow 6-foot-11 All-Star Anthony Davis.

"Our games complement one another and being together I think is going to make both of our jobs easier," Cousins said shortly before his first Pelicans practice. "We can wreak havoc on this league. Will it happen overnight? Probably not, but our potential is scary."

Davis and Cousins debut as Pelicans teammates at home Thursday night against Houston - a game Davis has been eagerly awaiting since learning of the trade on Sunday night. The deal excited him to the point he had trouble sleeping and texted Cousins around 3 a.m. Monday. Cousins' was up, too, an texted back.

"I was up all night just thinking about how far we could go and what we could do on the court together," Davis said. "We're both excited for the rest of the season, then next year."

Cousins is averaging 27.8 points and 10.6 rebounds this season and can become a free agent in 2018 unless the Pelicans can sign him to an extension commensurate to All-Star pay.

Cousins said he's not prepared to discuss his contract situation now, but stressed, "I'm all in. I'll make the best of this opportunity and see what the future holds."

Davis is averaging 27.7 points, 11.9 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game this season and is coming off his fourth straight All-Star game. On Sunday night, he scored an All-Star game record 52 points and was named MVP.

Without using the term "Big Three," general manager Dell Demps insinuated that he sees the two former Kentucky big men and point guard Jrue Holiday - a former Eastern Conference All-Star - in such a light.

"We just felt that those three guys, putting them together, it's exciting just to think about the possibilities," Demps said.

Holiday, who has struggled with injuries since being acquired in 2013, has been healthy this season and is averaging 16.3 points and 7.5 assists.

The key with Cousins is how he manages his notoriously combustible on-court disposition. Asked to describe how intense of a competitor he is, Cousins grinned and said, "about 17 technicals worth," referring to his league-leading technical foul total. His 16th technical foul resulted in a one-game suspension as would his 18th, 20th and every two technical after that for the duration of the season.

In describing how he and Davis would complement one another, Cousins said, "You've got a little fire; you've got a little ice."

Demps laughed and added, "I couldn't have said it better myself."

Still, Cousins said he was not averse to trying harder to reign in his emotions - a little.

"Being in the position I'm in right now, I'm going to have to turn it down a little bit, to find that balance," Cousins said. "I have to remain myself. That's the way I play. That's what makes me the player that I am, but I do have to find that fine line."

Davis said he knows Cousins is emotional and will be ready to step between him and officials or others to try to keep Cousins calm when tensions rise.

"I'm not afraid of him - at all," Davis said. "When you want to win, you've got to be comfortable telling whoever what they need to hear."

The Pelicans' can't afford any suspensions. The Cousins deal also brought New Orleans forward Omri Casspi in exchange guards Tryeke Evans, Buddy Hield, and Langston Galloway, along with first- and second-round draft picks this summer. The Pelicans need the move to pay immediate dividends. They are 2½ games out of the final Western Conference playoff spot with 25 games left.

"I'm extremely, extremely excited about the possibilities," Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. "It does take time. We're going to try to make it work quickly. That may not be the case but we don't have a whole lot of margin of error right now."

With trade deadline imminent, Darren Collison on pins and needles

With trade deadline imminent, Darren Collison on pins and needles

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings stunned the NBA world on Sunday went they sent three-time All-Star DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans. Now they have a roster filled with veterans that aren’t quite sure what the next 24 hours hold.

Players are waiting for the other shoe to drop. Will Vlade Divac and his staff stand pat, giving veteran players like Darren Collison, Anthony Tolliver, Arron Afflalo, Ty Lawson, Garrett Temple and Kosta Koufos a chance to prove that this team can still compete? Or is this a fire sale situation where no one is left standing when the clock strikes 12 pm PST Thursday afternoon.

“There’s really nothing you can do about anything,” Collison said Tuesday evening. “If your franchise player gets traded, what does that say about everybody else?"

Collison was emotional. He is married and has a young son in school. They have made Sacramento their home and the veteran point guard has kept open the option of staying with the Kings when his contract ends after the season, even with the major changes that have taken place.

“No question,” Collison said when asked if he would consider staying this summer. “I think these fans are unbelievable, you guys (speaking of media) are unbelievable. That’s something you don’t get everywhere else, you know what I mean. I’ve been on a few teams and I can honestly say these are some great people. That’s what makes it so hard to leave Sacramento.”

Before speaking to the media, Collison had already reached out to the Kings front office to see what his future held with the club.

“As far as I know, I spoke to Vlade, he said he had no plans of trading me,” Collison said. “But even before he said that, I’m a little shaken up with the situation with Cuz and Casspi, so we’ll see.”

According to a source with knowledge of the situation, the Kings like Collison and would consider re-signing him in the offseason. They also know that another NBA team could make an offer in the nexty day they can't refuse.

With hours remaining before the deadline, Collison is on pins and needles. Players, like everyone else, get caught up in the constant rumors and innuendo floating around on social media and other platforms. The difference is, it is their lives that are being discussed as if they were pawns on a chessboard.  

“There’s no mechanism of how to work around it, there’s no strategy of how to work around trade rumors,” Collison said. “Some are just rumors. Some have a little bit of facts to it, but at the end of the day, you’ll know when they tell you unfortunately. It’s even worse when you have a family.”

Collison was very clear that he wants to win. He’s not getting any younger and the Kings are clearly shifting gears and going towards a youth movement. But he also would like to stick around Sacramento and see this thing through.

Teams are looking for playmakers and scorers for the stretch run and Collison fits that bill. He’s averaging 13.7 points and 4.2 assists in 30.9 minutes per game. He’s also shooting 48.1 percent from the field and a career-best 42.1 percent from long range.

After a slow start to the season, including an eight game suspension to open the campaign, Collison is playing his best basketball in the month of February, posting 18.3 points on 44.8 percent shooting from 3-point range. The remaining balance on his $5.2 million salary for this season also makes him an easily moveable trade chip.

This is the ugly side of the NBA life. It’s a business, but a business that involves real people and their families. After watching the events of the weekend, nothing is off the table in Sacramento.