Kings

Kings running towards a freight train?

demarcus_cousins_blake_griffin_kings_clippers_v11.jpg

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.

Report: Kings meeting with former Magic, Warriors exec

otis-smith-magic-2011-ap.jpg
AP

Report: Kings meeting with former Magic, Warriors exec

In their search for Scott Perry's replacement, the Kings have spoken with the former GM of the Orlando Magic.

Otis Smith, who served as the Magic GM from 2006 to 2012, reportedly met with the Kings about their recently-vacated VP of basketball operations job.

News of the meeting for was first reported by ESPN.

Perry left the Kings this month to become the GM of the Knicks.

Smith has ties to Northern California. As a player, Smith's rights were sold by the Nuggets to the Warriors in 1987. He played in 137 games over two seasons with the Warriors.

After his playing days were over, Smith joined the Warriors' front office as the executive director of basketball operations.

Currently, Smith is the director of player development and an assistant coach for the Detroit Pistons.

Report: Deal in China for ex-Kings guard worth more than his NBA minimum

fredette-honeycutt-isaiah-presser.jpg
AP

Report: Deal in China for ex-Kings guard worth more than his NBA minimum

Jimmer Fredette is reportedly going back to China.

Fredette agreed to terms on a two-year deal with the Shanghai Sharks worth $1.8 million annually, according to David Pick.

Fredette has accrued five years of NBA service.

The minimum NBA salary for Fredette in 2017-18 would be...

$1,709,538.

The Kings selected Fredette with the 10th overall pick in the 2011 draft.

He averaged 7.6 points per game as a rookie and 7.2 points in Year 2.

Sacramento waived Fredette in February 2014.

Over 50 games with the Pelicans in 2014-15, he averaged 3.6 points per game and shot below 19 percent from deep.

He did not see any action against the Warriors in the opening round of the 2015 playoffs.

In China last year, Fredette averaged 37.6 points and 8.2 rebounds per contest.

He scored 73 points on Feb. 19.