Kings' skid hits four with close loss in Utah


Kings' skid hits four with close loss in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Gordon Hayward scored a season-high 21 points and C.J. Miles added 20 as the Utah Jazz snapped a two-game losing streak, defeating Sacramento 96-93 and spoiling Jimmer Fredette's return to the state where "Jimmermania" began.Fredette had a chance to give the Kings the win with 4.2 seconds left, but launched an air-ball 3-pointer.Hayward's free throw sealed it for Utah (11-7).Tyreke Evans led Sacramento (6-14) with 31 points on 12-of-20 shooting.Fredette, a former Brigham Young star and last year's national player of the year, finished with 14 points and 3 of 5 from beyond the arc. But he was just 5 of 13 overall.The Kings were down 13 points in the fourth quarter, but Evans and Isaiah Thomas brought them back.Evans' 5-footer with 30 seconds left cut the lead to one, and after Devin Harris made one of two free throws for a 95-93 lead, the stage for Fredette. He missed.Fredette received a standing ovation from many fans during pregame introductions, with a few scattered boos.The reaction was mixed once the game started. Many booed every time he touched the ball, but when he hit his first 3-pointer with 1:29 left in the first, an equal number jumped to their feet.Late in the game, fans chanted "We Want Jimmer," and he re-entered.He had a chance to come up big in the state where he finished last season with a 28.9-point scoring average in guiding the Cougars to a 32-5 mark and a trip to the NCAA round of 16.Instead, it was another example of his up-and-down rookie season.Fredette was just 1 of 5 shooting in the first quarter, with 3 points and a steal. He started the second quarter with a turnover, dribbling the ball out of bounds, and spent the next 5 minutes on the bench.He finished the half strong, with a 3-pointer that pulled Sacramento within 45-41 and a crossover dribble where he blew by Al Jefferson for a driving layup.He finished the first half with 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting, including 2 of 3 from beyond the arc.Fredette acknowledged before the game that consistency was an issue, and Saturday was no different.While he hit early 3s, he also drove into trouble. He was swatted by Jefferson and rookie Enes Kanter, and had the ball stolen away by Earl Watson, Devin Harris and Miles.Utah's top two scorers struggled in the first half, with Jefferson hitting just 3 of 8 shots for eight points and Paul Millsap shooting 2 of 6 for six points.Still, the Jazz led by as many as nine points in the first half thanks to a 6-0 run on consecutive baskets by Derrick Favors, Miles and Hayward.The Kings came back, finishing the half on a 9-4 run to pull within 49-47 at halftime. Fredette started the run with a 3-pointer, and DeMarcus Cousins scored a pair of baskets.The Kings tied it at 56 early in the third. But Miles, staying in for injured Raja Bell, fueled a 9-0 run. Miles scored seven straight points, and Hayward capped it with a dunk.The Kings responded with their own 9-2 run, started by John Salmons and capped by Fredette's third 3-pointer that cut the deficit to 69-65.Utah came right back with another 9-2 run as Kanter blocked Fredette, and guard Earl Watson drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer for a 78-67 Jazz lead going into the fourth.Notes: Former BYU wide receiver Austin Collie, now a member of the Indianapolis Colts, was in attendance Saturday. ... Big man Chuck Hayes, who had missed the previous 11 games with a dislocated left shoulder, returned to action Saturday for Sacramento and played 20 minutes but did not score. ... Jazz guard Raja Bell left in the second quarter with strained right adductor and did not return. He finished with three points.

Disgruntled Bulls PG Rondo throws shade on Kings

Disgruntled Bulls PG Rondo throws shade on Kings

After wearing out his welcome in Boston, Dallas and Sacramento, Rajon Rondo is doing the same in Chicago.

The veteran point guard, who was benched for five games at the end of December and beginning of January, opened up his situation in Chicago during a recent interview.

While talking about what could possibly be the problem with the Bulls, Rondo brought up his one season with the Kings.

“It’s just, maybe, the personnel in this situation. I mean, last year -- I hate to keep talking about last year -- but you couldn’t name three people on my team, the Sacramento Kings, and I led the league in assists. You know? I don’t know. I believe so (that his skill set still has value), given the right personnel and the flow of the game," Rondo told TNT's David Aldridge last week.

While the Kings were mired in a 33-49 season in 2015-16, Rondo racked up an NBA-leading 11.7 assists per game. Russell Westbrook was second with 10.4.

In four games since returning from being benched by coach Fred Hoiberg, Rondo is averaging 6.5 points and 6.0 assists in 22.6 minutes per contest.

Rondo is signed through the 2017-18 season and is scheduled to make just under $14 million next season.

'Undisciplined' Kings regressing at halfway point of 2016-17 season

'Undisciplined' Kings regressing at halfway point of 2016-17 season

SACRAMENTO -- Undisciplined. It’s a word that we haven’t heard much, but it is one of the better ways of describing the 2016-17 Sacramento Kings 40 games into the season.

“We’re not a good team right now - plain and simple,” veteran Matt Barnes said following another loss on Sunday night. “We have what it takes, but we’re undisciplined, we’re not consistent and we lose our focus too much.”

Turnovers, technical fouls, inconsistent offensive and defensive sets - this has become the Kings’ bread and butter. And it’s come to a head during the team’s 1-5 homestand, especially on the Kings’ 122-118 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“Tonight, turnovers killed,” DeMarcus Cousins said. “We didn’t execute well. I don’t think we were that great defensively.”

Cousins’ six turnovers was a team-high, but he had plenty of help. Only Garrett Temple failed to give the ball up on the night, leaving nine other players to share in the 22 total miscues for Sacramento.

“We just don’t pay attention to detail and it always comes back and bites us in the ass at the end of games,” Barnes said.

Despite all of the messy play, Sacramento still had a chance. The Kings had an outside shot to erase an enormous deficit and come back and beat OKC. But that has become their modus operandi.

During their six-game homestand, they have trailed by 14 or more points in every contest. On Sunday against the Thunder, they fell behind by 17 and still were able to cut the lead to just three with 26.5 seconds remaining. In a game that often comes down to a few opportunities that go one way or the other, the Kings are more often the team that makes the crucial error.

“It’s a few plays here and there that we think don’t matter early in the game and we end up losing a four point game,” Barnes said. “We’re a hell of a team in the last three minutes of a game. We make it exciting, but most of the time, by that time, it’s too late.”

Kosta Koufos picked up a tech in the second quarter. Barnes picked one up during a crucial moment in the fourth. Cousins had one as well, giving him 11 on the season, but it was the double-tech variety with Russell Westbrook, so it had no impact on the score.

“We complain too much to the refs, you know what I mean,” Barnes said. “We’ve got to worry about the other team. I think we worry about the refs too much.”

Those two points came back to play a major role in a close ball game and they carried no favor with the officiating crew either. It’s possible that the game would have had the same outcome, but it’s difficult to say for sure.

“Stop talking to the officials and let it go,” Temple said. “They’re going to call what they call; I’ve never seen a call changed because a person is talking to the official. It is what it is.”

There is no benefit of the doubt for a team like Sacramento. They have a reputation with the officials that they live up to on most nights. They are in the refs ear from start to finish. When technical fouls are called, it isn’t a surprise to anyone in the building.

“They’re human beings just like us, so if you constantly berate them about calls, that’s not going to help you,” Temple added. “So we’ve just got to leave them alone, try to control what we can control.”

At some point, the Kings need to learn from their mistakes. But at the halfway point of the season, they appear to be regressing. Frustrations are mounting as their playoff hopes once again dim in the month of January.

With the loss, Sacramento fell to 16-24 on the season. They have one game left at Golden One Center on Wednesday against the Indiana Pacers before embarking on a brutal eight game road trip.