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.

Rewind: Kings start fast in Dallas, snap losing streak

Rewind: Kings start fast in Dallas, snap losing streak

Sometime you just have to take care of business. That is exactly what the Sacramento Kings did Wednesday night when they walked into the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas and handed the Mavericks a 120-89 smackdown.

For one of the few times in recent memory, the Kings got off to a quick start. Sacramento took a 26-23 lead into the second quarter. They pushed their advantage to as many as 13 before the break, before settling for a 56-52 lead heading into halftime.

And then the Kings dropped the hammer.

Dallas was on the ropes from the start of the third. The Kings opened the second half with an 11-0 run to get separation and then kept pounding away on the Mavericks to take a 85-64 lead into the fourth where the Mavs waived the white flag early.

“I felt like we were good on both ends,” Omri Casspi told reporters following the game. “We were covering for one another on the defensive end and we were sharing the ball on offense and when we play like this, we’re tough to beat, not just in Dallas, but on any given night.”

The Kings held the Mavs to 41 percent shooting for the game, but in the second half, Dallas hit just 13-of-37 from the field (35.1 percent) and they turned the ball over 10 times.

Sacramento took advantage of the Mavericks miscues, scoring 34 points off of 23 total turnovers for the home team. They ran at every opportunity, outscoring Dallas 33-13 on fastbreak points on their way to the 31-point victory.

“I think we did a good job of playing together, good team defense, good ball movement, everybody got involved, so it was a good team effort all around,” DeMarcus Cousins told CSN California’s Kayte Christensen following the game.

Cousins got it going early, drawing fouls on the injury depleted frontline of the Mavericks. With starting center Andrew Bogut unavailable, Dallas had no choice but to send multiple bodies at Cousins and the big man made them pay.

With all of the attention focused his way, Cousins’ teammates cut to the hoop or found open spots on the perimeter leading to a team-high seven assists for the All-Star center. But he wasn’t the only one sharing the ball.

Six Kings players finished the night with three or more assists as Sacramento totalled 28 dimes in the drubbing. Not only did the Kings move the ball, but they hit their shots as well, finishing the night at 56 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from long range.

Cousins dropped in a team-high 24 points on 10-of-16 shooting. Rudy Gay and Darren Collison each finished the night with 19 and Garrett Temple went a perfect 4-of-4 from behind the arc on his way to 17 points off the bench.

The win snapped Sacramento’s three game losing streak and helped them finish the five-game trip at 2-3. While the Mavericks are a last place team missing plenty of rotational players, there are no easy games for the Kings, who are still in search of an identity on the court.

“Honestly, we’re just focused on playing the best basketball as a team,” Cousins said. “We’ve got our own problems on, we can’t really be focused on the next team, we’ve got to focus on ourselves right now.”

The team flew home following the game, landing in Sacramento overnight. They face the New York Knicks on Friday night at Golden 1 Center before heading back out on the road Saturday to face the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena.

Ben McLemore sighting

It has been an up and down season for plenty of the Kings players as new head coach Dave Joerger searches for the right combination of players. Coming into Wednesday’s game against the Mavericks, fourth-year guard Ben McLemore had been buried on the bench, receiving three straight DNP-CDs and five in Sacramento’s first 20 games.

In an attempt to mix things up, Joerger turned to the 23-year-old guard to start the game, leaving veteran Arron Afflalo out of the rotation for the first time this season.

“It’s just an opportunity, I think he’s been waiting patiently, he’s worked his tail off, he’s kept his confidence,” Joerger said of McLemore. “He’s a pretty good athlete. He deserved this opportunity.”

McLemore struggled to find his rhythm, but still managed to score nine points on 3-of-11 shooting in 21 minutes of action. The high-flying shooting guard is averaging career-lows across the board, posting just 6.6 points and 1.3 rebounds in 15.9 minutes per game this season, but it appears he’s going to get another shot to figure things out on the court.

“Let’s take a look at him with this group for a little bit,” Joerger said of McLemore following the game.
 

Instant Replay: Kings crush depleted Mavs, snap skid

Instant Replay: Kings crush depleted Mavs, snap skid

BOX SCORE

The losing streak is no more. After dropping three straight on the road, the Sacramento Kings took down an injury-riddled Dallas Mavericks team Wednesday night, coming away with the 120-89 victory to improve to 8-13 on the season.

Rudy Gay aggressively attacked the depleted Mavericks frontline. The veteran wing finished the night with 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting and grabbed four steals.

With Gay putting up big numbers, DeMarcus Cousins went into the post and cleaned the glass. The Mavericks double-teamed the Kings’ star center for much of the night and he found open shooters and cutters exploding to the hoop. The two-time All-Star posted 24 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists in the win.

Darren Collison got it going early, scoring eight of his 19 points in the first quarter. The speedy point guard shot 5-for-10 from the field and handed out three assists.

Garrett Temple and Omri Casspi led a strong effort from the second unit. Temple dropped in 17 points in 26 minutes of action off Dave Joerger’s bench, including a perfect 4-of-4 from behind the arc, and Casspi added in 10 points on 5-for-7 shooting.

After starting 18 of Sacramento’s first 20 games, Arron Afflalo received the dreaded DNP-CD as Joerger went with Ben McLemore as the starter alongside Collison in the backcourt and came away with nine points.

Deron Williams got it going in the second half, scoring 20 points on 6-of-8 shooting. The veteran point guard dished out six assists, but turned the ball over four times in the loss.

Wes Matthews turned down an opportunity to join the Kings two summers ago. On Wednesday in Dallas, he blasted Sacramento from long range early, finishing with 16 points on 6-for-10 shooting from deep.

Harrison Barnes added 11 on 5-for-16 shooting.

STANDOUT PERFORMER:
Gay dominated the action. He had a bounce in his step and helped hold Harrison Barnes in check all night.

TURNING POINT:
Sacramento used an 11-0 run in the third quarter to build a 15-point lead and put Dallas away early. The Kings outscored the Mavs 29-12 in the third to take a 85-64 lead into the fourth.

INJURY UPDATE:
The Kings return home with 12 healthy roster players and another three rookies hanging out in Reno with the Bighorns.

WHAT'S NEXT:
After nearly two weeks away, the Kings come home to face the New York Knicks Friday night at Golden 1 Center.