Kings

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.

Patience needed for young and inexperienced Kings

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AP

Patience needed for young and inexperienced Kings

The Sacramento Kings are attempting to do something rarely seen in the NBA. They’ve paired four first round selections from the 2016 NBA Draft with another five rookies for the 2017-18 season. They’ll open the season with nine players with one year of NBA experience or less and three others with two years in the league or fewer if you include two-way contracts.

Veterans Vince Carter (40), Zach Randolph (36), George Hill (31), Garrett Temple (31) and Kosta Koufos (28) push the average age of the Kings to 26.1. According to RealGM, they’ll enter the 2017-18 season tied for the 15th youngest roster in the league.

If you remove the veterans, the Kings youthful core averages less than 22 years of age. But age doesn’t tell the entire story.

Entering his third NBA season, Willie Cauley-Stein has seen action in 141 of a possible 164 games. On the current roster, he might as well get lumped in with the veterans.

Buddy Hield donned a Kings uniform for 25 games last season after coming over in a midseason trade from the New Orleans Pelicans. He played 82 games in total between the two clubs, which is five more combined contests than his fellow 2016 draft mates Skal Labissiere (33 games), Georgios Papagiannis (22 games) and Malachi Richardson (22 games) played in.

Sacramento selected three first rounders in the 2017 NBA Draft, including De’Aaron Fox, Justin Jackson and Harry Giles. They also landed point guard Frank Mason III with an early second round pick and convinced 25-year-old former first rounder Bogdan Bogdanovic to leave the European game behind and join the club.

Without bringing two-way players Jack Cooley (16 games) and JaKarr Sampson (147 games) into the discussion, the Kings have a major experience issue. They’ll walk into the season with 10 players having a combined 300 games of NBA experience and 223 of those games were played by Cauley-Stein and Hield.  

Sacramento’s veteran group has appeared in 3718 regular season contests. Dave Joerger will have no choice but to turn to the group for plenty of minutes as the Kings’ young players learn on the fly.

Patience is necessary. Vlade Divac and his team have assembled a lot of talent, but they will need time to develop. Joerger has a strong staff in place, including Elston Turner, Bryan Gates, Duane Ticknor, Bob Thornton, Jason March and Larry Lewis. Phil Ricci was also added to the staff as a player development coach this season with the influx of young players.

Even with an expanded staff, there is no way Joerger can fit all 10 of his youngsters into the rotation. They’ll need playing time to develop and there is a good chance that some of these freshman and sophomore players will spend time with Darrick Martin and the Reno Bighorns.  

DeMarcus Cousins: 'Take all them motherf****** down'

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AP

DeMarcus Cousins: 'Take all them motherf****** down'

Some professional athletes take a stand by kneeling on the sidelines or raising a fist into the air. Some write succinct tweets expressing their dismay with the current political climate in the United States of America. Others just get right to the point with a poignant off the cuff statement to a waiting camera.

Former Sacramento Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins has certainly mastered the art of the cryptic tweet, but he’s also never been one to shy away from a direct question when asked. When an inquiry was thrown his direction about confederate statues in New Orleans and his home state of Alabama, Cousins was brief with his words, but very clear.

"Take all them mother****ers down," Cousins told TMZ while navigating a security line at the airport. "Take 'em all down.”

Cousins may not have chosen the most eloquent words, but his point of view is shared by plenty of others. He isn’t the first athlete to take a stand with regards to race in America over the last week as racial tensions have spilled out into the streets in Charlottesville, Virginia. Social media is filled with professional athletes adding their thoughts to the conversation.

The Warriors’ Kevin Durant has made it clear that he will not visit the White House and President Donald Trump, a visit most teams make following an NBA championship.

"Nah, I won't do that," the 8-time All-Star told ESPN on Thursday. "I don't respect who's in office right now.”

"I don't agree with what he agrees with, so my voice is going to be heard by not doing that,” Durant continued. “That's just me personally, but if I know my guys well enough, they'll all agree with me."

Garrett Temple has used Twitter to make his thoughts known as well. Recently named the Kings’ Players Voice Teammate of the Year by the National Basketball Players Association, Temple has used his position as an NBA player to speak out multiple times.

Over the last week, he’s fielded questions and had plenty of discussions through social media on the issues of race and equality. His Twitter timeline is littered with thoughtful replies and some not so thoughtful ideas as well. Plenty of fans thanking him for using his position to further the conversation and of course, there is the occasional, “stick to sports” comment.

Agree or disagree, today’s athletes have huge platforms to share their opinions. From Cousins to Temple, there are varying degrees of engagement, but the time of players staying out of the discussion is long gone.