Kings look to snap skid as Cousins returns to face Hawks

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Kings look to snap skid as Cousins returns to face Hawks

The Sacramento Kings and Atlanta Hawks each struggled to overcome a short-handed rotation in their most recent games.While it's unknown if the Hawks will have a pair of players available, the Kings are expected to have DeMarcus Cousins back in the lineup for Friday night's matchup in Sacramento.Cousins was suspended for two games after he confronted San Antonio television analyst Sean Elliott in a "hostile manner" following a 97-86 defeat to the Spurs last Friday. The NBA players' association is attempting to recoup the center's lost pay from those contests.REWIND: Cousins suspended
Without their leading scorer and rebounder, the Kings (2-6) suffered two more losses, at the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday and to Portland on Tuesday."Despite believing the penalty (is) unwarranted, I want to apologize to the Sacramento Kings, our fans and especially to my coaches and teammates for this distraction of our goals," Cousins said in a statement. "As a leader of the team, I have to make the best decisions so my teammates can count on me. I am committed to continued growth and being the best player I can be."Starting guard Isaiah Thomas also missed the 103-86 loss to the Trail Blazers due to personal reasons and his replacement, Aaron Brooks, didn't return after injuring his left ankle in the first quarter. Thomas is expected to back, but Brooks' status is uncertain.The Kings got top draft pick Thomas Robinson back Tuesday after his own two-game ban for elbowing Detroit's Jonas Jerebko during a 105-103 victory Nov. 7. He had a career-high 12 points off the bench against Portland, but James Johnson was the only starter to score more than 10, registering a season-best 16 points on 7-of-13 shooting."The stuff that has happened to our team over the last few games, that's the frustrating part," coach Keith Smart said. "These guys that are playing right now are giving their all. Obviously when our team was intact, we were much better. We got to make sure that we don't have these kind of incidents anymore."RELATED: Lowly Kings full of surprises
The Hawks' Al Horford and Devin Harris had to deal with circumstances more out of their control as both were hit with a stomach illness before Wednesday's game at Golden State, the third in a four-game West Coast road trip.Already struggling to find consistent scoring, those absences hardly helped, but Atlanta proved competitive in a 92-88 loss. Lou Williams had 18 points off the bench, and Josh Smith provided 16 points and 10 rebounds."It was a gutsy performance by my guys," coach Larry Drew said. "After going down by 12 at one point, we fought back. A little short-handed tonight but still we had an opportunity."After topping 100 points in each of their first two games, the Hawks (3-4) have averaged 87.4 over their five. The Kings, meanwhile, have allowed an average of 100.7 over their last six contests.Atlanta has gotten the better of Sacramento's defense lately, averaging 110.3 points during an eight-game win streak in the series.Smith had 28 points in a 106-99 victory in northern California on March 11 while Cousins equaled that output and grabbed 12 rebounds.Cousins' 24.0-point average in three games against the Hawks is his best versus any opponent.

Report: Kings forward Matt Barnes accused of choking woman

Report: Kings forward Matt Barnes accused of choking woman

Trouble in New York. Not only did the Sacramento Kings drop a game to the Knicks Sunday evening at Madison Square Garden, but they found a way to land on TMZ as part of their postgame activities.

A report surfaced Monday morning that the NYPD was looking to question Matt Barnes after nightclub patrons accused him of choking someone. The veteran wing has since been in contact with authorities to give his account of the events.

"Matt is cooperating with NYPD's investigation," Matt Barnes' attorney Matt Spiro said in a statement to CSN California.

Barnes also posted a statement on the report to his Instagram account, writing "There's alaways two sides to a story.. The side the media consistently tries to paint of me.... And what actually happened! Don't believe everything you read."

A photo posted by matt_barnes9 (@matt_barnes9) on

Later Monday after afternoon, the Kings issued the following statement: "We have clear standards of conduct and behavior expected of the entire Kings organization – on and off the court. We are working with all parties involved to gather information in order to take any appropriate next steps."

Barnes and DeMarcus Cousins went out to a New York City nightclub following the game, which by all means is well within their rights. While information is still being gathered, it appears that Barnes got into an altercation after bumping into a woman and Cousins had to come to his aid.

According to TMZ, Barnes claims to be the victim in this incident and has taken pictures of his injuries that he believes support his account of the events.

“Barnes claims the woman reacted by slapping him in the face, hard -- and that’s when all hell broke loose.

Barnes claims the woman’s crew -- which included several men -- jumped in and began to get violent. Barnes was knocked to the ground in the melee and one of the men began to choke him.

We’re told Barnes got physical in an effort to protect himself. Cousins jumped in to defend Barnes.”

Spiro told TMZ, “We do not believe a crime was committed and are hopeful no charges will be pressed.”

The Kings are scheduled to fly to Dallas sometime on Monday where they will face the Mavericks on Wednesday evening.
 

Rewind: Cauley-Stein shows versatility in Kings' comeback attempt

Rewind: Cauley-Stein shows versatility in Kings' comeback attempt

Sometimes your shot won’t fall. The Sacramento Kings tried everything. Their 3-pointers went halfway down before popping out. Mid-range jumpers found the back iron of the rim. Fastbreak layups rolled out. Tip-ins bounced three times before jumping off the rim. 
 
Sacramento shot just 14-of-49 in the first half and 31-for-96 overall for a horrifying 32.3 percent from the field. And they still had a chance to win.
 
“I thought we got good looks all night,” coach Dave Joerger told media following the game.
 
The New York Knicks built a 21-point first half lead, but with 4:51 remaining in the fourth, the Kings trailed by just two. And then the shots stopped falling again for Sacramento.
 
“When you have to come back from that amount down, it takes a lot of energy and I think we ran out of legs,” Joerger added.
 
The Kings shot 7-of-29 from the field (24.1 percent) in the fourth quarter and 1-of-10 from deep as the Knicks clung to the lead. 
 
Carmelo Anthony dropped in six of his 20 down the stretch and Brandon Jennings hit all four of his free throw attempts in the final few minutes as the Knicks survived for the 106-98 win.
 
DeMarcus Cousins had a big night, scoring 36 points and grabbing 12 rebounds, but he shot just 9-of-30 from the field, including 4-for-10 from long range. 
 
While his team was struggling to hit anything in the first half, Cousins completely carried the team. But when the Kings drew near, be it Cousins or one of the other Kings players, they took ill-advised shots looking for the home run instead of methodically running their offense.
 
It’s nearly impossible to win an NBA game when you shoot 32.2 percent, but Sacramento had plenty of opportunities to complete the comeback and squandered them.
 
With the game out of control early, Joerger turned to unconventional lineups in an attempt to mix things up. Willie Cauley-Stein got an extended look in the second half and may have played himself into more time moving forward. 
 
The second-year big finished the game with nine points on 4-of-7 shooting and grabbed four rebounds in 23 minutes of action. He brought energy on the offensive end and played strong defense against the best the Knicks had to offer.
 
“I think his versatility and length to be able to have to step out and play Carmelo or step out and have to play (Kristaps) Porzingis, where maybe that’s not Kosta’s strength as much,” Joerger said. 
 
The former Kentucky star agreed with his coach’s assessment after the game.
 
“I like to play dudes like that anyways,” Cauley-Stein told reporters. “That kind of goes into to my strengths instead of trying to play a five man that’s just bigger than me and outweighs me by 30 or 40 pounds.”
 
Cauley-Stein has played more than 20 minutes in a game just once this season and he’s sat out three of the Kings' 20 contests as a healthy scratch. He came into the night averaging just 4.9 points and 1.7 rebounds in 11.9 minutes per game.  
 
“You’ve just got to remember this is my second year and a new coach, so it’s like being in a rookie year all over again,” Cauley-Stein said. “You’ve got to prove yourself to them that you can make plays, that you can knock down shots.”
 
There's no question the Kings can use a defensive-minded hustle player off the bench, but Joerger has often turned to 36-year-old Matt Barnes for those minutes instead of the Kings' first-As theround pick from a season ago.
 
With the loss, Sacramento fell to 1-3 on the road trip and 7-13 on the season. They have a two day break before facing off with the 4-15 Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night at the American Airlines Center.