The Phoenix Suns have made the most of their longest homestand of the season.With that six-game stretch about to end, the Suns look to match a season high with a third consecutive victory Sunday night against the Sacramento Kings.Phoenix (16-20) was mired in a four-game losing streak when it opened this homestand, which surrounded the All-Star break, with a 102-90 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 19. The Suns have won four of five in a stretch that concludes Sunday."We have got to take advantage of every situation as far as playing at home," coach Alvin Gentry told the Suns' official website.Jared Dudley scored 22 points and Marcin Gortat added 18 with 14 rebounds as the Suns rallied from an early 11-point deficit to beat the Clippers 81-78 on Friday despite shooting 35.0 percent. It was the Suns' lowest field-goal percentage in a win since shooting 33.3 percent during a 78-74 victory over Cleveland on Nov. 1, 2002.While the offense struggled, Phoenix held Los Angeles to 36.8 percent shooting. Channing Frye had just six points and missed all but two of his 18 shots, but he posted 14 rebounds and helped hold Clippers star Blake Griffin to season-worst 6-of-19 shooting."If we are not going to shoot the ball well then the only thing that can keep us in the game is our defense," said Gentry, whose team is 9-9 at home.The Suns have held their last five opponents to 91.4 points per game on 42.0 percent shooting, including 27.6 percent from 3-point range. That is a major improvement for a Phoenix club that had allowed visitors to US Airways Center to make 40.7 percent of their 3s before that.Sacramento (12-24) has shot 29.8 percent from beyond the arc while going 4-18 on the road in 2011-12. The Kings, however, went 6 of 13 on 3s while ending a 10-game skid at Phoenix with a 113-108 win in their most recent visit Feb. 13, 2011.The Suns snapped a three-game losing streak in the series with a 98-84 road win Feb. 11, holding Sacramento to 35.1 percent from the field.Dudley has scored 41 points over his last two games against the Kings - both on the road. He's been limited to 39 versus Sacramento in six home games for the Suns.Gortat has averaged 19.7 points and 12.2 rebounds in his last six overall, and had 20 with 12 boards in the home loss to the Kings last season.Though Sacramento has dropped two in a row and eight of 10, it cut a 20-point, fourth-quarter deficit to five before falling 115-107 to the Lakers on Friday."These guys could have folded," coach Keith Smart said. "That's why this group is going to be OK. This group is going to come around as we continue to get familiar with each other, and they're going to play hard every single night."DeMarcus Cousins had 26 points versus Phoenix last month. The second-year big man has averaged 23.7 in three career home contests against the Suns, but in his only game at Phoenix he was held to nine during a 103-89 loss Nov. 12, 2010.
Gavin and Joe Maloof have gambled plenty in their lives, which is in part how they ended up losing the Sacramento Kings. They ran big, they hit a dry well, and they ended up selling the works.
So their decision to bet $880,000 on Floyd Mayweather in his “thing” with Conor McGregor for a $160,000 payout seemed the perfectly daft idea for two guys who were painted as perfectly daft when they were running the Kings and their other businesses into a freeway abutment on I-80.
In fairness, they are planning to donate their winnings to a number of charities in the name of their hangover drink (Never Too Hungover, although I might have gone with the more lyrical HurlNoMore), so it’s not like their hearts aren’t a place close to the mythical “right place.”
But it does beg the question, “Why don’t they just give $160,000 and skip the scam?” Because it wasn’t about charity, it was about promotion, and while there’s nothing wrong with promotion, attaching it to one of the seediest carnival events of the modern era makes it seem, well, kind of creepy.
Or maybe “creepy” is too strong. Maybe’s it’s just opportunism, which is more, well, Vegas-y.
Kings fans will remember the Maloofs as the family that saved the foundering team from the clutches of owner Jim Thomas, and then remember them as the family whose clutches Vivek Ranadive had to save the team from 15 years later. It’s the nature of most ownerships – you do good to eliminate a prior evil, and eventually become evil yourselves when the fans turn on you.
But the Maloofs aren’t evil – even their most strident critics will say that. They just saw an opportunity to scratch a bunch of itches at once – good-heartedness, advertising, gambling and Vegas’ most important product – selling you things you could never imagine wanting.
It almost makes you wonder if they harbor a secret itch to take the $160,000 and double down on behalf of the charities for another of their pet projects – the Vegas Golden Knights. If they put it on the Knights to win the Stanley Cup at 200-1, that’s $32,000,000. Then if they took that and . . .
. . . and before you know it, they’re trapped in the fantasyland of Las Vegas at its weirdest. Maybe it’s just performance art with more money than most of us can eat.
The Sacramento Kings released their 2017-18 schedule Friday afternoon. While the league has added 10 days to the calendar, the Kings schedule is still packed with 16 sets of back-to-backs and a season-long six game road trip during the month of January. It’s a whirlwind of excitement that begins October 18 with at the Golden 1 Center. Here are seven games to look forward to as the Kings embark on their 33rd season in Sacramento.
Opening night 2017-18 - October 18 - Kings v. Rockets - Hope spring eternal with the tip off of another season of Kings basketball. Of the 17 players expected on the opening day roster, 10 are new to the team, including De’Aaron Fox, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Vince Carter and George Hill. It’s a young an exciting squad with only five players with more than two seasons of NBA experience. The Kings open their schedule at home against James Harden, Chris Paul and high-powered Houston Rockets.
DeMarcus Cousins comes home - October 26 - Kings v. Pelicans - After 6-plus seasons in a Kings uniform, the 3-time All-Star returns to Sacramento for his first game from the visitors locker room. He’ll bring along another familiar face in former Kings point guard Rajon Rondo, who inked a one-year deal in New Orleans over the summer. Expect a ton of emotion, both from Cousins and a packed full house of Kings fans.
The Process vs. The Rebuild - November 9 - Kings v. 76ers - The 76ers have spent the last decade working on a plan to accumulate great young players while piling up losses at an alarming pace. Sacramento pulled the plug on the DeMarcus Cousins experience, instead choosing to go with a full youth movement. Fultz vs. Fox will headline the night, but there is plenty of intrigue as two of the youngest teams in the NBA battle it out.
Fox vs. Ball - November 22 - Kings v. Lakers - The rivalry between these two young guards is only going to get better with age. Fox likely won’t start the season with the first unit, like Ball, but he’ll get plenty of opportunity to shine. For better or worse, it’s Ball’s show in LA. Let the trash talking begin.
Rudy Gay makes his return - December 23 - Kings v. Spurs - Rudy Gay took a huge gamble and an even bigger pay cut when he opted out of the final year of his contract with the Kings. He and his rebuilt Achilles tendon landed in San Antonio on a two-year, $17 million deal. He’ll likely play for a playoff spot for only the second time in his 11-year career.
Dennis Smith visits Sacramento - February 3 - Kings v. Mavericks - The Kings jumped all over the chance to draft De’Aaron Fox with the fifth overall selection and in doing so, they passed on another incredibly talented young guard in Dennis Smith. Dallas may have stumbled on a superstar and Smith likely has a list of all of the teams that passed him over in the 2017 NBA Draft.
The Champs come to play - February 4 - Kings v. Warriors - The Warriors and Kings have taken turns being awful over the last 30-plus years. While the Kings are predicted to miss the playoffs for the 12th straight season, Golden State is the odds on favorite to take home their third ring in four years.With just 90 miles separating the two fanbases, it should be an interesting mix of purple and yellow in the crowd.
Here's the Kings' full 2017-18 schedule: