Kings running towards a freight train?

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Kings running towards a freight train?

LOS ANGELES (AP) - These are heady days for the long-suffering Los Angeles Clippers. They've tied a franchise record with an 11-game winning streak and at 19-6 are tied for the second-best record in the NBA.

Still, Chris Paul wants to keep the fans' euphoria in check, saying, "We're not trying to peak now. We're trying to build something."

While the Lakers, their Staples Center co-tenants, continue to stumble with a losing record and an early-season coaching change, the Clippers are flying high led by All-Stars Paul and Blake Griffin. Bolstered by one of the league's deepest benches, which was remade in the offseason, Paul and Griffin haven't been seeing much playing time in the fourth quarter.

That's when they become cheerleaders for free agent additions Jamal Crawford and former Laker Matt Barnes, along with Eric Bledsoe, Lamar Odom and Ronny Turiaf, the latter two being the other former Lakers on the team.

"They have their identity and it starts on defense," Griffin said.

The Clippers have shown they're capable of winning without big numbers from Griffin. They are 13-3 in games when he scores less than 20 points. He's averaging 18.0 points and 8.6 rebounds.

Veterans Chauncey Billups and Grant Hill, another free-agent pickup, have been vocal with their leadership and support while rehabbing injuries.

"We're all playing for one goal and not individual accolades," Paul said.

The Pacific Division leading-Clippers have taken advantage of a soft stretch in their schedule to win those 11 straight games, with victories over some of the league's worst teams, including New Orleans, Charlotte, Toronto, Detroit, Phoenix and Sacramento, their next opponent on Friday night.

"Eleven in a row. Not bad, is it?" owner Donald Sterling said before leading a locker room cheer after a 93-77 victory against the Hornets on Wednesday night.

Before the streak began, they knocked off some of the league's best. They have wins over Memphis, the Lakers, San Antonio (twice), Atlanta and defending NBA champion Miami.

"They have a chance to win it all," Toronto coach Dwane Casey said.

Even the team's veteran announcer, Ralph Lawler, is on his own winning streak. His "Lawler's Law," which dictates that the team reaching 100 points first will win, is 19-0 this season.

Paul and Griffin have clearly clicked on and off the court in their second season together. They frequently kid each other during their dual postgame interview sessions held in a separate room next to the locker room.

Paul regularly rallies his teammates for outings on the road, including dinners and trips to a mall or movie theater. The team took in the new Tom Cruise flick "Jack Reacher" on their last trip, a 4-0 venture as part of the current winning streak.

There's a family feeling in the locker room, too, with Paul's 3-year-old son and Barnes' twins among the kids cracking up the players after games. Big man DeAndre Jordan has a drawing of himself done by Caron Butler's 8-year-old daughter taped to his locker.

"I've never been on a team this close," said Crawford, averaging 16.6 points off the bench. "Everybody here is pulling for each other, whether it's your night or somebody else's night. Everybody has a role to play."

Willie Green, who has started 22 games in place of Billups, sat when the veteran guard recently returned for three games before getting hurt again.

"He didn't complain and he didn't play a minute," Paul said, giving an example of the attitude permeating the team.

The last time this franchise won 11 in a row was as the Buffalo Braves in 1974-75.

"Most of the guys weren't even born then," coach Vinny Del Negro points out. "We want to make our own history and that's only going to happen if we have the right mentality."

Del Negro preaches defense first and the Clippers have bought into it.

"We can score on any given night," Paul said. "As long as we defend, we give ourselves opportunities to win."

They should have a great opportunity to beat the Kings, who have won only one of their 11 road games. That includes a 116-81 drubbing at the hands of the Clippers on Dec. 1.

Sacramento (8-17) did manage to end a five-game losing streak with a 131-127 home win over Golden State on Wednesday, getting 24 points from DeMarcus Cousins and 23 from Aaron Brooks to help hold off a late Warriors rally.

"We showed a little bit of character and fired back," Brooks said.

Tyreke Evans missed his second straight game with a knee problem and his status is unclear for Friday.

Instant Replay: Kings' bid for revenge against Knicks falls short

Instant Replay: Kings' bid for revenge against Knicks falls short

BOX SCORE

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings had plenty of chances Friday night at Golden 1 Center, but they just can’t figure out how to win the close ones. Needing a 3-pointer to tie the game late, DeMarcus Cousins hoisted a half court shot at the buzzer that rimmed out, as Sacramento fell to the New York Knicks by a 103-100.

Carmelo Anthony was incredible for New York, scoring 23 of his 33 points before the intermission. When he gets hot, the 11-time All-Star is tough to stop. Joerger tried plenty of different looks on the 32-year-old forward, but he was relentless.

The Kings had Kristaps Porzingis’ number for most of the night, but the second-year big got loose to start the fourth. The high-scoring 7-footer, scored 17 points on 6-for-19 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Knicks.

With Derrick Rose out with a knee issue, backup point guard Brandon Jennings pulled the start. Jennings proved worthy of the challenge, finishing the night with 13 points and seven assists.  

With scorers all around him, Kyle O’Quinn went did the dirty work, finishing with eight points, 11 rebounds and five assists.

Cousins continued his early-season dominance. The two-time All-Star came into the night averaging 28.8 points and 10.6 rebounds per night and matched those numbers against New York. Cousins dropped in a team-high 28 points and added 12 rebounds and six assists in the loss.

Darren Collison came up huge in the fourth, dropping in a big 3-ball and finishing at the rim on the break. The veteran point guard finished the game with 14 points and three assists.

Omri Casspi gave Dave Joerger a spark off the bench, hitting the Knicks for 12 points on 4-for-5 shooting and Ben McLemore added 10 points and four rebounds in his second straight game as a starter.

Rudy Gay struggled on the defensive end, allowing Anthony to get hot early. On the offensive end, Gay managed to post 13 points and grab five rebounds.  

After playing sparingly over the last few weeks, Anthony Tolliver was the first sub for coach Joerger. The veteran forward gave quality minutes, finishing with 10 points and five rebounds in 26 minutes.

STANDOUT PERFORMER -- Anthony got it going early and often for the Knicks, scoring 15 in the opening quarter on his way to a 33-point night. Sacramento tried different looks all night, but with little success.

TURNING POINT -- Cousins grabbed a rebound with 2.5 seconds remaining and barely missed a 60-footer at the buzzer to tie the game.

INJURY UPDATE -- Matt Barnes sat out the game for what Dave Joerger deemed “scheduled rest.”

WHAT'S NEXT -- One and done. After a five-game road trip, the Sacramento Kings played a single game at Golden 1 Center before heading out on the road again for a back-to-back Saturday night in Utah.

NBA denies Raptors protest over November loss to Kings

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USATSI

NBA denies Raptors protest over November loss to Kings

NEW YORK – The National Basketball Association announced today that it has denied the Toronto Raptors’ protest of their 102-99 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Nov. 20, 2016. 

The Raptors’ protest asserted that the game officials incorrectly called for an instant replay review of whether the Raptors’ Terrence Ross released a three-point shot prior to the expiration of actual time remaining in the game.  The Replay Center official reviewed video of the play using a digital timer and determined that the actual time remaining in the game expired before Ross released his shot, and the shot therefore did not count.  

The league found that calling for an instant replay review in this case was consistent with the playing rules because the game officials determined that there was a clock malfunction on the play. 

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