Kings snap skid with win over Lakers

947051.jpg

Kings snap skid with win over Lakers

BOX SCORE

SACRAMENTO (AP)The Los Angeles Lakers had talked about bringing Showtime back to the franchise when they hired Mike D'Antoni to implement his fast and flashy offense.The curtains are still waiting to be raised on that act.Kobe Bryantscored an efficient 38 points butDwight HowardandPau Gasolstruggled inside, and the lethargic Lakers lost 113-97 to the struggling Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night to snap a three-game winning streak."If we're going to play Showtime, my God, they just closed the whole theatre on us," D'Antoni said. "Showtime, are you kidding? It was Muppet Time."Marcus Thorntonscored 23 points andTyreke Evanshad 18 to pace Kings, who had lost five straight games.Jason Thompsonadded 13 points and 10 rebounds to help Sacramento run away in the fourth quarter and cement the latest Lakers setback.Los Angeles seemed to be turning things around since hiring D'Antoni. Instead, the Lakers looked lost and listless against the Western Conference's worst team, showing all the same problems that got coach Mike Brown fired."The first half might have been the worst basketball I've seen in 10 years," D'Antoni said. Later, he added, "It was like we were wrestling in mud."Bryant finished 11-of-20 shooting andJodie Meekshad 15 points off the bench as D'Antoni lost for the first time on the Lakers bench. A night after beating Brooklyn in Los Angeles, the Lakers might've been bad enough to give D'Antoni a headache to go with the pain still throbbing in his surgically replaced knee.Bryant still almost willed his tired team back.After the Lakers went down by 10 points early in the fourth quarter, he converted a three-point play overDeMarcus Cousinsthat sliced Sacramento's lead to 96-92 with 3:06 remaining. Thornton thwarted the rally in a hurry, swishing a 3-pointer from the top of the key on the next possession.Officials whistled Gasol for a flagrant foul when he swatted Thompson in the face going for a rebound. Thompson made one of two free throws, Cousins added a pair of driving layups and a free throw to put Kings ahead 105-93, and the home fans chanting "Beat L-A! Beat L-A!" while Bryant finished the game on the bench with a towel over his head."It always feels good beating the Lakers," Thornton said. "Our fans were into it so we don't really want to let them down. So we came out and played hard, I don't know what for, but we played extremely hard against the Lakers."Though point guardsSteve NashandSteve Blakeare expected to be out with injuries for at least another two games, the limited Lakers talent was hardly an excuse in this matchup.The Lakers held Sacramento to 31 percent shooting in the first quarter. Kings big manChuck Hayesalso had to go back to the locker room to receive stitches after he was cut around his right eye and had blood dripping down his cheek, and yet Los Angeles still only led by six.Aaron Brooksstarted Sacramento's spurt in the third quarter when he floated an underhand layup over Howard and drew a foul for a three-point play on the new Lakers center, who tumbled hard into a row of photographers under the baseline. Brooks added a jumper and a 3-pointer to highlight the 17-5 run that put the Kings ahead 69-58."Our team went on a whirlwind," Kings coach Keith Smart said.D'Antoni kept yelling and motioning for the Lakers to sprint up court to match Sacramento's speed. Instead, they often kept the pace at a slow crawl.Howard finished with seven points on 2-of-4 shooting. Gasol scored eight points on 3 of 10 from the field, and the Lakers were outscored 50-22 in the paint."It seemed like we were a little lethargic for whatever reason," Bryant said. "We just have to push through it, particularly the second unit, especially while Dwight is in there. You don't have to go to as many pick-and-rolls, really, just dump the ball down to him and let him operate."Never happened.After the Lakers closed within a point,James Johnsonmade three straight layups during an 11-2 run that put the Kings ahead 88-78 early in the fourth quarter. D'Antoni called a timeout in the middle of Sacramento's surge to put his starters back in the game and give his listless Lakers a chance to refocus.No chance for that now.D'Antoni's knee - and the Lakers mettle - will be tested even more. Los Angeles plays at Memphis on Friday and at Dallas on Saturday to complete a quick three-game trip."I think you always have a little bit of shock when a guy comes in new, and so you start off all like puppies out there," D'Antoni said of his team's turnaround when he was hired. "Now it's back to reality a little bit."NOTES: The Kings won all three preseason games against the Lakers. The series is 1-1 in the regular season, with the home team winning each time. ... Howard made 3 of 4 free throws after going 7 for 19 from the line a night earlier against Brooklyn. His first attempts came with 7:07 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Kings head into free agency with money to burn, but limited roster spots

Kings head into free agency with money to burn, but limited roster spots

Draft night is over and done with and the Sacramento Kings filled plenty of holes in their roster for the 2017-18 season. They added a pair of young point guards and a small forward to help fill their two biggest roster needs. They also took a gamble on Duke’s Harry Giles with the 20th overall selection which adds depth in the post long term.

Step one of the summer calendar is done and now the focus shifts to free agency which begins July 1. The Kings have limited roster space, but truckloads of cap space to work with. The NBA has reduced their projected cap for the 2017-18 season to $99 million and the Kings are way below that figure. While the cap is more complicated than just a raw spreadsheet, here is a look at where the Kings currently stand.

2017-18 Salaries - $28.9 million
Projected Rookie Salaries - $9.7 million
Dead Money - $6.1 million
Total - $44.7

Sacramento opted out of both Anthony Tolliver’s $8 million contract ($2 million buyout) and Arron Afflalo’s $12.5 million ($1.5 buyout). They also waived Matt Barnes mid-season, stretching his salary for the 2017-18 season over the next three years ($2.1 million per season).

In addition to Tolliver, Afflalo and Barnes, Rudy Gay informed the team earlier this month that he opted out of his $14.3 million contract for this season and Langston Galloway walked away from a guaranteed $5.4 million to become an unrestricted free agent.

The Kings begin free agency roughly $54.3 million under the cap and after adding four rookies, they have just four standard NBA roster spots and two two-way contracts with the NBA’s G-League. They are also required to spend 90 percent of the $99 million, but they have the entire season to do so and they are allowed to redistribute any shortage back to their own players.

There is hope that European sharpshooter Bogdan Bogdanovic will join this team this summer as well. Although he hasn’t played in the league, his contract is not restricted by the rookie scale. Early projections have him making anywhere from $5-10 million per season with Sacramento.

If Bogdanovic signs for the upper end of his projection - $10 million - the Kings would still have upwards of $44 million to spend, but just three roster spots to work with.

The team still has deficiencies to fill with the roster. Sacramento has two rookie point guards, but no veteran to show them the ropes. Garrett Temple can play in a pinch, but he is better at both wing positions.

Sacramento added Justin Jackson at the small forward spot, but they have little depth behind him and he could use time to develop. Temple can eat some minutes at the position and both Malachi Richardson and Bogdanovic can likely steal time at the three as well. A starting level player is needed, but the market is thin at the position.

There is hope that Skal Labissiere is the answer at the power forward spot, but with Tolliver waived, the team needs more at the position. Willie Cauley-Stein can play in spot duty, but a veteran stretch four is needed.

In addition to position of need, the Kings need more talent and veteran leadership on the roster. Temple is the only player over 30. Big man Kosta Koufos is 28 and everyone else on the roster is 24 and under when the season opens in October.

Expect the Kings to be active on the open market. They also make an attractive trade partner with their ability to absorb contracts. It should be a wild couple of weeks in Sacramento as the Kings look to improve their roster.

Kings' Buddy Hield named to 2016-17 NBA All-Rookie First Team

Kings' Buddy Hield named to 2016-17 NBA All-Rookie First Team

A rollercoaster rookie season for Buddy Hield has ended on a high note.

A very high note.

The Kings shooting guard was named to the 2016-17 NBA All-Rookie First Team on Monday.

Hield is joined by Milwaukee's Malcolm Brogdon, New York's Willy Hernangomez and Philadelphia's duo of Dario Saric and Joel Embiid.

The Kings acquired Hield in February as part of a trade that sent All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins to New Orleans.

Before the trade, Hield averaged just 8.6 points in 57 games with the Pelicans. But he stepped up his game once he got to Sacramento as he averaged 15.1 points in just 25 games with the Kings. In total, the No. 6 overall pick out of Oklahoma averaged 10.6 points and 3.3 rebounds during his rookie campaign.

Fellow Kings rookie Skal Labissiere received one First Team vote and five Second Team votes, finishing with seven total points.

The NBA All-Rookie First and Second Teams are shown below.