Kings run out of Denver 110-83

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Kings run out of Denver 110-83

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DENVER (AP) -- Leave it to the Denver Nuggets' reserves to steal the show.Al Harrington came off the bench to score 15 points, and reserve guard Rudy Fernandez had 12 points and eight assists in Denver's 110-83 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.Each of Denver's 12 players scored at least six points, including 11 apiece by Timofey Mozgov and Arron Afflalo as the Nuggets won their third in a row and improved to 4-0 at home. They beat the Kings in Denver for the sixth straight time."It's unique," said Kosta Koufos, who had his first career double-double (10 points, 10 rebounds) while helping to fill in for the injured Nene. "In every position, we're deep. One person gets tired and another person comes in and plays just as well, and having that is a luxury for us. At the same time, we have the mentality to win as many games as possible and keep working hard and getting better as a team."While the Nuggets may lack superstars - the team traded away Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups, its best known players - coach George Karl said Denver is fortunate to have a very deep roster. It has allowed him to shuffle his players in and out in waves and run the floor, often wearing down the opposition, as was the case against the Kings."We're going to go after teams with our intensity and, hopefully, the flow of flooding good players on to the court," Karl said. "I'm still kind of learning this team, too. It's fun to see them evolve and see where we go."Added Afflalo: "It's still early. We've been fortunate enough to gut-out some wins. We still have a lot of improving to do as a team and individually. Hopefully, we continue to stay on an upward pace and win at the same time."The Nuggets took the lead almost right away against a Kings team that was playing the second of three games in three days. Midway through the game, the Kings also lost guard Tyreke Evans after he became ill."That was a kick in our teeth. You can't hide from it," Kings coach Paul Westphal of his team's ragged performance. "I still think we have the makings of a good basketball team and I believe we will bounce back."They got on us early. I thought we were pressing. Our shooting, it's undescribable. The avalanche just fell on us."The Kings, who remained winless in three road games this season, got 26 points from DeMarcus Cousins and 23 from Marcus Thornton. Cousins was playing his second game since returning from a one-game ban for demanding a trade, according to the team. Cousins denies making any such demand.Up by 17 at the half, the Nuggets stretched the lead to 66-41 on a basket by Danilo Gallinari with 6:33 left in the third quarter. Sacramento scored 14 of the next 18 points, pulling to 70-55 on Thornton's 3-pointer, but wound up lagging behind Denver 85-64 going into the fourth quarter.Denver made it a runaway with a 9-0 burst to start the fourth. The run was punctuated by dunks from Chris Andersen, and rookie Kenneth Faried off a no-look alley oop pass from Fernandez.The Nuggets led 27-17 after the first quarter and began the second with a 14-2 run, pulling out to a 41-19 lead on a fast-break dunk by Corey Brewer with 7:14 remaining in the period. The Kings cut the deficit to 13 on a layup by Thornton but Gallinari pulled off a reverse layup and then got a steal to start a fast break that Harrington finished with a layup for a 56-39 lead at halftime.NOTES: The Kings conclude their only back-to-back-to-back set of the season at home on Thursday, when they host Milwaukee. ... Nuggets forward Nene missed a second straight game with a bruised left heel. ... Kings haven't won in Denver since April 5, 2008, a 118-115 decision. ... Thornton had his 44th career 20-plus point game. ... It was only the second time in franchise history that the Nuggets had 12 players score at least six points in a game.

Calipari sees Labissiere's progress during rookie season: 'I give Sac credit'

Calipari sees Labissiere's progress during rookie season: 'I give Sac credit'

Nothing has come easy for Skal Labissiere. He survived the earthquakes in Haiti. He moved to the United States speaking only only French and Haitian Creole as a young teenager. And his lone season at Kentucky he went from a top five prospect to a player that nearly fell out of the first round.

The knock on Labissiere coming out of Kentucky was that he didn’t like contact. Maybe it went farther than that, but there was no question that when he left for the NBA, he didn’t exactly walk away on the best of terms with head coach John Calipari.

When the Kings took on the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center in the final week of the regular season, Calipari sat in the stands watching a small group of his former players. During the telecast, NBC Sports California’s Kayte Christensen caught up with the legendary coach and he couldn’t stop gushing about his Wildcats alums, specifically the play of Labissiere.

“I look at Skal and the progress - I give Sac credit,” Calipari told Christensen. “These guys are working with him. He’s playing more confident. They’re putting him in positions he can have success. I didn’t do as good a job as they did.”

Labissiere went off for 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting against Los Angeles. He added three rebounds and two blocks, but the Kings stumbled down the stretch, allowing the Lakers to come away with the 98-94 victory.

In his freshman season at Kentucky, Labissiere scored more than 19 points just once, a 26 point outburst in his second game of the year against NJIT (New Jersey Institute of Technology). His highwater mark in his rookie season for the Kings was a 32-point, 11-rebound performance against the Phoenix Suns on March 15.

“He’s getting stronger, he’s growing, you can see him maturing physically, which was a big part of it,” Calipari said. “He had a good season with us, but, I used him wrong. Now I see him now, it’s amazing he’ll speak for me after I’m watching him play like this.”

The 21-year-old power forward has a smile that lights up a room. He even uses it as a defense mechanism when things get uncomfortable. Speaking about his time in Kentucky seems uncomfortable for the 6-foot-11 forward.

“Coach Cal, he does a really good job of getting guys ready for the next level,” Labissiere told NBC Sports California. “I appreciate him.”

Labissiere is looking ahead, not backwards. He is a an incredible talent and he is thankful for the job that Dave Joerger and his staff have done with him during his first season in the NBA.

“Coach Joerger, every since I was drafted here, he’s always believed in me,” Labissiere said. “He’s always putting me in the right positions, making me work on different things that normally I didn’t do in college. He’s making me do different things and believing in me. I love playing for him.”

Kentucky has produced some of the best big men in the game, including DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns. It’s a hotbed for talent, but specifically for centers and power forwards that take their game to the next level in the pros.

Labissiere would love to be included in that list, but he isn’t trying to be someone he’s not. His focus is on improving and helping his team win games.

“I don’t know, I’m just working for myself, doing what I’m supposed to do,” Labissiere said. “If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I’m just going to keep doing my thing.”

The Kings have big plans for Labissiere and the rest of their young core this summer. Labissiere will likely join the team’s three other 2016 first round picks in Las Vegas for Summer League in July. Another two or three rookies from the 2017 NBA Draft will likely join them as Sacramento attempts to build some early chemistry amongst.

Following Summer League, Labissiere is scheduled to travel to Haiti where he will hold a basketball camp in his home country. It’s the first time he’s been back to Haiti since moving to the US following the earthquake in 2010.

Labissiere wasn’t the only Kentucky product on display for Sacramento against the Lakers. Willie Cauley-Stein spent three seasons under Calipari before going sixth overall in the 2015 NBA Draft.

Cauley-Stein put up solid numbers in front of his former coach, finishing the game against the Lakers with 14 points, seven rebounds and three blocks in just 23 minutes of action.

“Willie is doing what he does,” Calipari said. “He’s flying up and down that floor, he’s blocking shots. He seems to have some freedoms to do some of the stuff he does well.”

Cauley-Stein is a completely different player two season removed from his time at Kentucky. He finished strong down the stretch for Sacramento, showing a newfound confidence in his scoring ability.

“It’s a great feeling, I don’t think he’s watched me play like that since I left,” Cauley-Stein said. “It was cool to get a chance to see him and show him things I’ve worked on and I’ve gotten better. It was really satisfying, [him] telling me I got better, so I know I’m [going] in the right direction.”

It’s clear that Labissiere and Cauley-Stein had a very different experience at Kentucky. The end result might work out just fine for the Sacramento Kings. The duo played alongside one another for plenty of games down the stretch as the team’s starting frontcourt. It’s a look Kings fans might get used to seeing going forward.

 

Source: Kings hire Perry as Executive VP of Basketball Operations

Source: Kings hire Perry as Executive VP of Basketball Operations

SACRAMENTO -- The changes keep coming in Sacramento. NBC Sports California has confirmed that the Kings have hired former Orlando Magic executive, Scott Perry, to fill the role of Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations.

Perry will report directly to Vlade Divac, who will retain final say in player personnel decisions.

Perry spent the last five seasons in Orlando as Vice President of Basketball Operations and Assistant General Manager. He was let go from the Magic last week following the dismissal of General Manager Rob Hennigan.

Perry, 53, began his career as an executive with the Detroit Pistons where he held the position of Director of Player Personnel from 2000-2007. He briefly left the Pistons, joining the Seattle Supersonics organization as an Assistant General Manager of the team for the 2007-08 season, before spending another four years as Detroit’s Vice President of Basketball Operations from 2008-2012.

Highly regarded around the league, Perry adds another experienced basketball mind to the Kings front office.

During his postseason media availability last week, Vlade Divac spoke openly about his willingness to accept additional help.

“We’re open always to improve - the team, the front office, everything is open for improvement,” Divac said. “I’m very happy and confident in what we have right now, but like I said, we should be open if something can you better.”

With the addition of Luke Bornn on Wednesday to head up the team’s analytics department, and Perry on Friday, the Kings appear to be building a stronger infrastructure as they move into a full youth movement.

Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical was first with the information.