Kings seek 20th win facing Clippers

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Kings seek 20th win facing Clippers

A good way for the Los Angeles Clippers to bounce back from their first loss in almost two weeks might be a trip north to Sacramento.

With their longest winning streak in 20 seasons in the past, the Clippers hope to regroup by continuing their success against the Kings on Thursday night in the first of a home-and-home set between the Pacific Division foes.

The Clippers (32-22) were riding a season-high six-game winning streak when they fell 113-108 to their co-Staples Center tenant Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday. The loss was the Clippers first since they dropped three games in three nights on the road March 20-22.

Caron Butler scored 28 points and Chris Paul added 22 with 16 assists but the Clippers allowed their city rival to shoot 51.8 percent and fell 2 12 games behind the first-place Lakers in the Pacific.

"We have to learn how to win these games," Paul said. "I think it was a good learning process for us. This is how the playoffs are. It will help us in the future.

"Ain't no moral victories around here."

The Clippers are currently fourth in the competitive Western Conference.

"The Western Conference, as usual, is bunched up right there at No. 4 through 11," coach Vinny Del Negro told the Clippers' official website.

The Clippers have a good chance to bounce back Thursday at Sacramento, where they won 108-100 on March 1. Paul had 22 points and nine assists as Los Angeles went 12 of 23 from 3-point range while forcing 18 turnovers to beat the Kings for the fourth time in five games.

Paul has averaged 24.0 points in his last four games against the Kings (19-35), who fell to 1-2 on their current four-game home stretch with a 109-100 loss to Phoenix on Tuesday.

Despite rallying from a 17-point first-half deficit and a career-high 41 points and 12 rebounds from DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento allowed 30 fourth-quarter points while losing for the sixth time in eight games.

"We have to look at games like this as our playoffs," said Sacramento coach Keith Smart, whose team has allowed an average 109.4 points over the last nine games.

Cousins, however, continues to play well by averaging 26.4 points and 12.2 rebounds over that same nine-game stretch.

"He's good because he doesn't care," Phoenix forward Marcin Gortat said of the second-year forward. "He doesn't care if he turns the ball over, doesn't care if he misses on a bad shot, he just keeps playing. He's really talented."

After combining to score nine points on 3-of-17 shooting in two home games against the Clippers as a rookie in 2010-11, Cousins made 9 of 17 shots and finished with 23 points and 10 boards versus Los Angeles last month.

Sacramento guard Isaiah Thomas scored 10 points off the bench in that contest, but the rookie has averaged 20.0 points and 6.8 assists in the last five games.

These teams meet again Saturday night in Los Angeles.

Kings finish 2017 NBA Draft with night that can turn franchise around

Kings finish 2017 NBA Draft with night that can turn franchise around

SACRAMENTO -- The Kings had a big draft night. The kind of night that might turn a franchise around. They entered the evening with three picks, including two in the top 10. With their first selection, they filled the franchise’s biggest need when they drafted De’Aaron Fox and then they went to work.
 
Vlade Divac and his team of front office execs jumped on an early trade, dealing the No. 10 overall selection to the Portland Trail Blazers for No. 15 and No. 20. North Carolina’s Justin Jackson was too appealing to pass on, and like Fox, he fit a major position of need. 
 
Sacramento came back with the 20th selection, taking one of the biggest risk/reward picks in the draft. Duke’s Harry Giles is playing on rebuilt knees, but before that, he was one of the top prospects in all of basketball. If he can stay healthy, the Kings may have drafted the biggest steal of the night. 
 
They topped off the evening with the selection of Wooden and Naismith Award winner Frank Mason III with the 34th overall pick. The Kings entered the night without a single point guard and they ended it with two very exciting options. 
 
“I’m very excited about the talent that we brought here tonight,” Divac said. “They’re going to just be an addition to what we’re trying to build here in the second half of the season.”
 
The Kings turned down overtures to move up to draft Fox. The 19-year-old speedster will step in and immediately compete for the starting point guard spot and he’s very excited to be a King.
 
“It’s just the vibe that I got when I was out there,” Fox told local Sacramento media via phone. “I felt like they really wanted me.” 
 
John Calipari is known for his bevy of All-Star bigs throughout the league, but he’s also produced a long line of big-time guards. Sacramento is hoping that Fox can live up to the billing of other former Calipari guards like Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans and John Wall. According to Divac, the Kings were so high on Fox, they would have taken him higher. 
 
“Screaming,” Divac said about the reaction in the room to Fox falling in their lap. “It was a guy that we all loved and in some way, if we had the number 1 pick, he would’ve been our guy.”
 
“De’Aaron is our future,” Divac added.
 
Without a perfect fit at 10, Divac made an adjustment on the fly to add more assets. The decision to trade 10 for 15 and 20 was very similar to the last season when the Kings dealt the eighth overall pick for No. 13, 28 and the draft rights to Bogdan Bogdanovic. By splitting the pick in two, the Kings were able to land two talented pieces that mesh with the current roster build.
 
Jackson and Fox know each other well. The duo played AAU ball together and Fox says he considers Jackson an older brother.  He is friends with Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere from their Kentucky connection.
 
“I feel like we can grow together,” Fox said of the Kings’ young core. “Of course, it’s going to take some time, but every franchise takes time.”
 
Fox is the jewel of the night and Jackson will compete for time at the wing, but Giles is the wildcard. The 19-year-old big can play the four and the five and has elite potential. 
 
“I’m so excited he was there for us at the 20,” Divac said. “That kind of talent you can’t pass.”
 
The Kings have done their homework on Giles. The type of knee injury that he sustained is similar to former NBA players Danny Manning, Amaré Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin. Manning and Martin each played 15 years in the league and Stoudemire lasted 14 seasons before retiring in 2016. After meeting him in person in Sacramento and working him out, they are very confident that he will be able to overcome his injuries and have a successful career in the NBA. 
 
Mason III will remind Kings fans of Isaiah Thomas, another undersized point guard that fell to the second round. The Kansas star posted 20.9 points, 5.2 assists and 4.2 rebounds for the Jayhawks last season. He’s a hard-nosed leader that can jump out of the gym and will instantly become a fan favorite in Sacramento. 
 
It’s a huge haul. Sacramento added two points guards, a wing and a big from some of the best basketball schools in the country. More than that, they added high character winners to a changing culture. 
 
For the first time in a while, the Sacramento Kings have accumulated assets. They have hit the ground running in their attempted rebuild and for one night, they are the talk of the NBA.

Kings select PG Frank Mason III No. 34 overall in the 2017 NBA Draft

Kings select PG Frank Mason III No. 34 overall in the 2017 NBA Draft

With the No. 34 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, the Kings selected the 2016-17 Player of the Year in point gaurd Frank Mason III.

Mason averaged 20.9 points and 5.2 assists per game as a senior at Kansas. 

The Kings wrapped up the 2017 NBA Draft with point guard De'Aaron Fox at No. 5, small forward Justin Jackson at No. 15, power forward Harry Giles at No. 20 and Mason at No. 34.