Kings

Kings look to stay hot vs. Love-less 'Wolves

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Kings look to stay hot vs. Love-less 'Wolves

It's been six seasons since the Minnesota Timberwolves had a winning record after 25 games. If they are to achieve that feat again, they must do it without their best player.

Looking to move above .500 with a third straight victory, the Timberwolves will be without suspended star Kevin Love on Tuesday night when they host the Sacramento Kings, who are riding a season-high three-game winning streak.

Sacramento (9-15) is coming off wins over the Trail Blazers, Warriors and Hornets the past three games; its highest margin of victory was eight.

NEWS: T'Wolves star Love suspended vs. Kings

Minnesota (12-12), likewise, is coming off consecutive victories over New Jersey and Houston, and is in position to surpass the .500 mark after 25 games for the first time since 2005-06. The Timberwolves have averaged 106.8 points while winning three of four overall.

"It does feel good to be .500 right now, but we still want to come out and keep this thing going in the right direction," Love said.

The Timberwolves must do that without Love, who will serve the first of his two-game suspension for stomping on Houston's Luis Scola as the Rocket forward was lying on the floor during Minnesota's 100-91 victory Saturday. Though Love (25.0 points, 13.7 rebounds per game) has grown frustrated because he believes game officials have failed to consistently police some overly physical play this season, he apologized to Scola both after the game and in a statement issued by the team on Monday.

"I don't want to be known for that," said Love, who admitted he needs to do a better job of handling his emotions. "I want to be known as a stand-up guy who happened to make a mistake with a size 19 shoe and just move on. So everybody knows there were no ill intentions there."

As Love tries to move on from this incident, his teammates must go forward without him. Love had 33 points and 11 rebounds in Minnesota's 99-86 home victory over Sacramento on Jan. 16. Luke Ridnour added 25 points with nine assists in that contest.

Ridnour scored 22 while backcourt mate Ricky Rubio added 13 with 11 assists against the Rockets.

"We're just keeping our composure this year," said Ridnour, averaging a career-high 12.3 points.

The Timberwolves also will have forward Michael Beasley and backup guard J.J. Barea on the floor for this contest after the pair missed last month's win over the Kings.

The Kings had one of its lowest scoring games of the season at Minnesota, but has averaged 103.0 points during its current three-game winning streak.

The Kings shot 47.4 percent while overcoming an 18-point deficit to win 100-92 at New Orleans on Monday. DeMarcus Cousins had 28 points with 19 rebounds and Tyreke Evans scored 11 of his 20 in the fourth quarter as Sacramento outscored the lowly Hornets 31-14 in the final period.

Sacramento snapped a four-game road skid to improve to 3-11 away from home.

"We're just playing great basketball right now," Evans said. "We want to keep that up and try to be in the race for the playoffs."

Cousins, who has totaled 49 points with 39 rebounds in the last two games, could benefit from Love's absence even though he's combined for 34 points and 18 boards in four career games versus Minnesota.

Evans has averaged 23.4 points and 7.2 assists in the last five games, but he was held to nine on 3-of-11 shooting while posting 10 assists and eight rebounds at Minnesota last month.

Kings finally get to unleash highly skilled weapon Bogdan Bogdanovic on NBA stage

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AP

Kings finally get to unleash highly skilled weapon Bogdan Bogdanovic on NBA stage

The legend of Bogdan Bogdanovic grows. After another deep run against European competition, the 25-year-old shooting guard is headed for the NBA with plenty of fanfare.

Bogdanovic and his Serbian teammates fell short of the ultimate goal of winning EuroBasket 2017. Goran Dragic and Team Slovenia took home the gold, pulling away from Serbia for the 93-85 victory in the finals on Sunday.

Dragic scored a game-high 35 points in 28 minutes of action, giving Bogdanovic a taste of what the competition will look like on a nightly basis in the NBA. Bogdanovic led Serbia with 22 points on 9-of-21 shooting, but he struggled from long range, knocking down 2-of-11 from behind the international 3-point line.

The Kings acquired Bogdanovic from the Phoenix Suns, along with the rights to Georgios Papagiannis and Skal Labissiere for Marquese Chriss on Draft night 2016. Phoenix had failed multiple times in their attempts to bring the sharpshooter over from his Turkish league team after taking him with the 27th overall selection in the 2014 NBA Draft.

Vlade Divac couldn’t get Bogdanovic to come over for last season, but he found traction early this summer and added the talented wing as part of his July shopping spree.

After dominating league action overseas, Bogdanovic became the highest paid rookie in NBA history, signing a three-year, $27 million deal with Sacramento. He’ll make close to $9.5 million in his first season in the league, more than double what fifth overall pick, De’Aaron Fox, is scheduled to make.   

Bogdanovic walks into a crowded situation in Sacramento. He’ll compete for minutes with Buddy Hield, Garrett Temple and Malachi Richardson at the shooting guard position. Both Hield and Temple worked under coach Dave Joerger for parts of last season, but the Kings front office is very high on their European import.

Listed at 6-foot-6, 205 pounds, Bogdanovic has great size for the two and he might even be able to shift to the small forward spot for short stints. He is not the defender that Temple is and Hield might have an edge on him as a volume scorer, but Bogdanovic has an advantage over both players in versatility.

He’s a highly skilled offensive weapon that should make an immediate impact on the floor. He spent plenty of time manning the point guard position for Serbia and can even act as the primary ball handler. Bogdanovic is blessed with an extremely high basketball IQ and he’s shown advanced playmaking skills, both with Fenerbahce and the Serbian national team.

Bogdanovic can light it up from distance, having knocked down 43 percent of 3-pointers this season for Fenerbahce, but he’s not just a catch and shoot player. He hit 50 percent from the field overall using a variety of moves to create space. He has a killer crossover and step back jumper, a nice floater in the lane and he is fearless going to the rack.

Where he has the biggest advantage over his competition is in the pick-and-roll. Bogdanovic uses hesitation dribbles and crafty maneuvering to create looks for both himself and his bigs moving to the hoop. He also has nice court vision and is an unselfish distributor.

If Bogdanovic’s European game translates to the NBA, Sacramento has a rotational player and possibly much more. He’ll likely struggle on the defensive end initially, like most rookies coming into the league, but he plays with effort and has solid instincts.

Joerger has a lot to work out during training camp and the early season. He has multiple bodies at every position and the competition for minutes is going to be intense. While it’s early to make predictions, it appears that Bogdanovic will have a substantial role as the Kings enter year one of their rebuild.

Kings miss potential competitive advantage while going floor crazy

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Twitter/@SacramentoKings

Kings miss potential competitive advantage while going floor crazy

Somebody has to warn me when sentences like this appear at random. From a tweet by Paul Lukas of UniWatch:
 
“International outreach: (Sacramento) Kings' new black alternate court includes graphics in Hindi and Mandarin, depending on team's promotional campaign.”
 
Now when did that become up for grabs?
 
Not the Hindi or Mandarin legends below the Kings’ logo, which were announced by the team on NBA.com Thursday. I think every nation that wishes to should feel a part of the Dave Joerger Experience – Mongolia, Kazakhstan, South Sudan, Placerville, you name it.
 
But what I didn’t know is that there is now a desperate marketing need for alternate floors.
 
I mean, you don’t get much more fundamental and frill-free than the ground. You can paint it, you can decal it, you can varnish it, you can stain it, you can scuff it, and it still stays pretty floor-y.
 
And it robs the Kings of a potential competitive advantage that they could desperately use.
 
The Boston Celtics made great use of their old parquet floor at the now spectral Bostonb Garden. There were hot spots and dead spots, seams and gaps that only the Celtics players knew, and they all used them to their benefit throughout the golden age of Celtic basketball.
 
And now that the Celtics are celebrating the Garden’s 20th year of rubblehood, they probably miss that old floor a bit. Even though they pretty much sold off most of the bits for great scads of cash and used others to be included in the current floor.
 
But the Kings need two. No, wait. They need three. Hmmm.
 
Now the Kings also have four different uniforms to go with their floors, meaning that every game prep will include a few minutes to figure what socks go with what grain of wood. This seems like an unproductive use of everybody’s time.
 
As for the languages on the floor . . . well, if I was from Bulgaria, I’d be pretty damned cheesed off right now that I can’t see my team’s name on one of my floors.
 
So I will do it for you. Go You царства на сакрамента!