Kings

Kings seek fifth win in six tries facing Suns

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Kings seek fifth win in six tries facing Suns

(AP) -- After a win over the Western Conference leaders in their last game, the Sacramento Kings are feeling positive about the direction their young team is headed.The Kings look to win their fourth straight at home Saturday night when they take on the Phoenix Suns.Sacramento is in the midst of its best stretch of the season, winning four of five, and is coming off a 106-101 victory over West-leading Oklahoma City on Thursday.Tyreke Evans scored 22 points while DeMarcus Cousins added 19 points and nine rebounds.

The Kings (10-16) scored 28 points off 23 turnovers and had 17 offensive rebounds. It was the third time in four games they topped 100 points after reaching that mark just twice in the previous 22 games."We've improved as a team, we're on the right path now," Cousins said. "We're a lot better than our record shows. We've grown so much from the team we used to be."Cousins and Evans have both taken steps forward under coach Keith Smart. Cousins, who clashed with Paul Westphal before he was fired Jan. 5, is averaging 19.5 points and 14.8 rebounds over the last four games. Evans has averaged 21.4 points in the last seven games after putting up 15.9 per game to start the season."We're trying to build. These two guys are the stones right now," Smart said. "Now they're young and they get excited, but ... if they can keep this process up, we're going to get there."Sacramento, which improved to 7-4 at home with Thursday's win, has won three consecutive home games for the first time since a four-game run Nov. 25-Dec. 2, 2009.The Kings have yet to face Phoenix this season but have won three straight meetings after losing 17 of the previous 19.While Sacramento is feeling confident about its direction, the Suns (11-15) may have come away from their last game feeling like they took a step back.After winning three straight while averaging 100.3 points, Phoenix lost 96-89 at home to Houston on Thursday. The Suns were held to 13 points in the fourth quarter and were outrebounded 44-31."Such a winnable game for us," said Steve Nash, who had 13 assists and averages a league-best 10.1. "We didn't convert in so many areas, so it makes it a really disappointing loss. You're going to have cold patches but you've got to find other ways to stay in the game."The loss spoiled an otherwise good day for Nash, who was named to the All-Star team for the eighth time and became just the fourth player at age 38 or older to make it.Sacramento has certainly been witness to Nash's consistency over the years. In the last 10 games between the teams, he's averaged 23.9 points and 12.6 assists.While the Suns have struggled at home, they are playing better on the road, winning two straight and three of four. Phoenix will play its next three on the road."We're going to continue to work hard, go on this road trip and do the best we can," said Channing Frye, who had a season-high 21 points and 10 rebounds Thursday.Frye has made nine 3-pointers over the past three games after an eight-game stretch during which he went 4 for 23 from beyond the arc.

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.

The Maloofs' colossal charity bet on Mayweather-McGregor circus act

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AP

The Maloofs' colossal charity bet on Mayweather-McGregor circus act

Gavin and Joe Maloof have gambled plenty in their lives, which is in part how they ended up losing the Sacramento Kings. They ran big, they hit a dry well, and they ended up selling the works.

So their decision to bet $880,000 on Floyd Mayweather in his “thing” with Conor McGregor for a $160,000 payout seemed the perfectly daft idea for two guys who were painted as perfectly daft when they were running the Kings and their other businesses into a freeway abutment on I-80.

In fairness, they are planning to donate their winnings to a number of charities in the name of their hangover drink (Never Too Hungover, although I might have gone with the more lyrical HurlNoMore), so it’s not like their hearts aren’t a place close to the mythical “right place.”

But it does beg the question, “Why don’t they just give $160,000 and skip the scam?” Because it wasn’t about charity, it was about promotion, and while there’s nothing wrong with promotion, attaching it to one of the seediest carnival events of the modern era makes it seem, well, kind of creepy.

Or maybe “creepy” is too strong. Maybe’s it’s just opportunism, which is more, well, Vegas-y.

Kings fans will remember the Maloofs as the family that saved the foundering team from the clutches of owner Jim Thomas, and then remember them as the family whose clutches Vivek Ranadive had to save the team from 15 years later. It’s the nature of most ownerships – you do good to eliminate a prior evil, and eventually become evil yourselves when the fans turn on you.

But the Maloofs aren’t evil – even their most strident critics will say that. They just saw an opportunity to scratch a bunch of itches at once – good-heartedness, advertising, gambling and Vegas’ most important product – selling you things you could never imagine wanting.

It almost makes you wonder if they harbor a secret itch to take the $160,000 and double down on behalf of the charities for another of their pet projects – the Vegas Golden Knights. If they put it on the Knights to win the Stanley Cup at 200-1, that’s $32,000,000. Then if they took that and . . .

. . . and before you know it, they’re trapped in the fantasyland of Las Vegas at its weirdest. Maybe it’s just performance art with more money than most of us can eat.