Kings seek season-high win streak vs. Clips

687986.jpg

Kings seek season-high win streak vs. Clips

While struggling to close out games recently, the Los Angeles Clippers have watched their lead in the Pacific Division shrink.Visiting the team at the bottom of the division might not help.The Clippers will try to get a six-game road trip off to a good start Thursday night when they begin their season series with the Sacramento Kings, who have played well at home lately.Los Angeles suffered its third loss in four games Tuesday, 109-97 to Minnesota.

The Clippers led by seven late in the third quarter but faded, unable to keep up with the Timberwolves depth. Minnesota, which opened the fourth quarter on a 17-6 run, received 72 bench points compared to 11 for Los Angeles.Blake Griffin had 18 points and five rebounds in the first quarter before finishing with 30 points - one in the fourth - and seven boards. Chris Paul had 27 points, his average during the Clippers' 1-3 slump.Caron Butler was 1 of 10 from the field for two points and is averaging 7.0 on 29.8 percent shooting over the last five games.Trying to fend off the Los Angeles Lakers in the Pacific, the Clippers (20-12) look to end their late-game struggles. They were held to nine points through the first eight minutes of the fourth quarter Tuesday, went scoreless in the final three minutes of a 104-97 defeat to Golden State on Feb. 20 and blew a 13-point lead in a loss to San Antonio two nights earlier."That's something we've got to learn, how to put teams away," Paul said.Los Angeles allowed at least 103 points in each of those three defeats - about seven above its average - and now faces a Kings team which has scored more than 100 in a season-high three straight games.The Clippers have lost seven of eight and 23 of 26 in Sacramento, where they'll play the first of six road games in nine nights."We'll see what we're made of now," coach Vinny Del Negro said. "We have a tough road trip coming up. We're going to have to play on a higher level, especially on the road now, but maybe that will help us come together more."Los Angeles may not enjoy playing in Sacramento, but it's looking like the Kings won't be leaving in the near future. On Monday, the Kings and the NBA announced a tentative deal to keep the team in Sacramento, quieting rumors about a potential move.The Kings are in last place in the Pacific but have won four of five at Arco Arena, including a victory over West-leading Oklahoma City, and are 7-3 there since the calendar flipped to 2012.Now they'll try to match a season high with a third straight win overall."All I want to do is keep this team in close games because in close games anything can happen," coach Keith Smart said.Sacramento (12-22) had dropped six straight before winning at Washington last Wednesday, then came out of the All-Star break with a 103-96 victory over Utah on Tuesday.DeMarcus Cousins had 22 points and 18 rebounds, including eight offensive boards. He's averaged 19.9 points and 12.8 rebounds in his last 12 games."I think as he grows as a pro there's going to be a lot of nights where people won't have an answer for him," Smart said.Cousins, though, averaged 7.8 points on 30.0 percent shooting in four matchups with the Clippers last season.

Rudy Gay 'ahead of schedule' in recovery from ruptured Achillies

Rudy Gay 'ahead of schedule' in recovery from ruptured Achillies

Rudy Gay has been MIA since leaving the locker room on crutches following the Kings loss to the Indiana Pacers on Jan. 18. He’s posted a few instagram videos of his recovery from a devastating left Achilles rupture, but until Friday night in Oakland, he had been away from the team.

“I’m out of the boot, second stage of my rehab, ahead of schedule and feeling good,” the 30-year-old wing told CSN California’s Kayte Christensen.

According to Gay, he is able to due weight bearing exercises, including some light squats. The 11-year NBA vet is still a ways away from returning to the court, but if he’s ahead of schedule, that means he might be ready for training camp come late September.

It’s not the same group he left behind. DeMarcus Cousins is gone, as is Matt Barnes and Omri Casspi. If he were still playing, Gay would likely be sitting out games for planned rest like most of the Kings’ veterans, but he doesn’t have that luxury.

Gay is entering the final year of his contract in Sacramento. He is due $14.3 million next season, but he has a player option and can become an unrestricted free agent if he so chooses. His recovery will likely dictate whether he opts in to his contract or whether he looks for a long-term deal either with the Kings or elsewhere.

Before the injury, Gay was the Kings’ second leading scorer, posting 18.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 33.8 minutes per night.

 

With weight off his shoulders, Lawson returns to form vs Warriors

With weight off his shoulders, Lawson returns to form vs Warriors

With legal issues hanging over his head, veteran point guard Ty Lawson hasn’t been himself over the Kings’ last eight games. He sat out Wednesday night’s loss to the Bucks and he appeared in a Denver courtroom on Thursday to discuss possible probation violations.

Lawson’s attorney disputed the claims against his client and was granted a six week stay in the case. Lawson will appear back in court on May 4, roughly three weeks after the end of the 2016-17 season.

Starting for the resting Darren Collison, Lawson went off against the Warriors Friday night, scoring 18 of his 20 points in the first half. He shot an impressive 8-of-9 from the field in just 24 minutes of action as he broke down Golden State’s defense.

“Honestly, I think Ty’s had a weight on his shoulders for the last four weeks or so and he just hasn’t been himself,” Joerger said after the 114-100 loss. “I think he looked much more relieved today, he smiled and he was the Ty that we know that he is still.”

Lawson, 29, signed a one-year deal with the Kings in late August and is an unrestricted free agent come July 1.