Kings

Kings look to carry momentum into Nets game

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Kings look to carry momentum into Nets game

DeMarcus Cousins is a far different player now from what the New Jersey Nets saw of him as a rookie.The second-year forward is putting together his best stretch of basketball and will try for a career-best sixth straight double-double Saturday night when the Sacramento Kings host the Nets.Cousins was bypassed by New Jersey (18-35) in the 2010 draft, falling to Sacramento (18-33) at No. 5. The Nets used the third overall pick on Derrick Favors, who is no longer on their team and missed all 13 shots for Utah on Friday.

That contest featured another dominant performance by Cousins, who had 27 points and 14 rebounds for his fifth straight double-double as the Kings ended a four-game slide with a 104-103 win over the Jazz. Cousins had a tying three-point play with 2:20 left and made the eventual game-winning free throw with 3.8 seconds to go."It feels good, especially playing through the type of adversity we played through (Friday)," Cousins said. "It was definitely a big win for us."Cousins is averaging 28.0 points and 15.0 rebounds over his last five games. His two games against New Jersey last season came within the first 11 of his career. The inexperience showed, as Cousins averaged 10.0 points on 31.3 percent shooting, though he did post 7.0 rebounds per game.His toughness has been his trademark, with more proof of it Friday. Cousins suffered a gash in a physical third quarter and was whistled for a technical foul as he left the court for stitches before coming back."I prefer a guy with fire," Kings coach Keith Smart said. "We have guys that you've got to pump up and put air in them to make them play hard and play with passion. (Cousins) is going to grow out of that and know how to manage. He'll settle down and his skills will continue to develop."Friday's Sacramento victory came without guard Tyreke Evans, out because of back spasms. Evans' status is uncertain for Saturday. He's averaging 20.5 points in two career home wins over the Nets.New Jersey has dropped 11 of its last 12 visits to Sacramento, but has been better on the road than at home all season. The Nets rallied from 19 points down in the second half Friday to win 102-100 at Golden State.Deron Williams had 20 assists - matching the NBA season high by Boston's Rajon Rondo against New York on March 4. Gerald Wallace finished with 24 points, 18 rebounds and six steals, and scored 10 points over the final 6 minutes as the Warriors crumbled down the stretch."The future looks good, if we had everybody healthy," Wallace said. "We have an elite point guard, we have one of the up-and-coming centers ... so our future looks great."Wallace, who has a player option with New Jersey in 2012-13, was drafted in the first round by Sacramento in 2001 and spent his first three seasons with the Kings. He's averaging 19.9 points on 53.1 percent shooting against the Kings - career highs against any opponent.

Patience needed for young and inexperienced Kings

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AP

Patience needed for young and inexperienced Kings

The Sacramento Kings are attempting to do something rarely seen in the NBA. They’ve paired four first round selections from the 2016 NBA Draft with another five rookies for the 2017-18 season. They’ll open the season with nine players with one year of NBA experience or less and three others with two years in the league or fewer if you include two-way contracts.

Veterans Vince Carter (40), Zach Randolph (36), George Hill (31), Garrett Temple (31) and Kosta Koufos (28) push the average age of the Kings to 26.1. According to RealGM, they’ll enter the 2017-18 season tied for the 15th youngest roster in the league.

If you remove the veterans, the Kings youthful core averages less than 22 years of age. But age doesn’t tell the entire story.

Entering his third NBA season, Willie Cauley-Stein has seen action in 141 of a possible 164 games. On the current roster, he might as well get lumped in with the veterans.

Buddy Hield donned a Kings uniform for 25 games last season after coming over in a midseason trade from the New Orleans Pelicans. He played 82 games in total between the two clubs, which is five more combined contests than his fellow 2016 draft mates Skal Labissiere (33 games), Georgios Papagiannis (22 games) and Malachi Richardson (22 games) played in.

Sacramento selected three first rounders in the 2017 NBA Draft, including De’Aaron Fox, Justin Jackson and Harry Giles. They also landed point guard Frank Mason III with an early second round pick and convinced 25-year-old former first rounder Bogdan Bogdanovic to leave the European game behind and join the club.

Without bringing two-way players Jack Cooley (16 games) and JaKarr Sampson (147 games) into the discussion, the Kings have a major experience issue. They’ll walk into the season with 10 players having a combined 300 games of NBA experience and 223 of those games were played by Cauley-Stein and Hield.  

Sacramento’s veteran group has appeared in 3718 regular season contests. Dave Joerger will have no choice but to turn to the group for plenty of minutes as the Kings’ young players learn on the fly.

Patience is necessary. Vlade Divac and his team have assembled a lot of talent, but they will need time to develop. Joerger has a strong staff in place, including Elston Turner, Bryan Gates, Duane Ticknor, Bob Thornton, Jason March and Larry Lewis. Phil Ricci was also added to the staff as a player development coach this season with the influx of young players.

Even with an expanded staff, there is no way Joerger can fit all 10 of his youngsters into the rotation. They’ll need playing time to develop and there is a good chance that some of these freshman and sophomore players will spend time with Darrick Martin and the Reno Bighorns.  

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

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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.