Kings stop Blazers' winning streak


Kings stop Blazers' winning streak


SACRAMENTO -- It appears the Sacramento Kings can play well without their controversial leading scorer and rebounder, DeMarcus Cousins.

With Cousins not in the arena due for disciplinary reasons, the Kings were an effective, unselfish team.

Now the question is whether they can keep it up.

Marcus Thornton scored 18 of his 22 points in the second half to help the slumping Kings snap Portland's five-game winning streak with a 108-96 victory over the Trail Blazers on Sunday night.

Cousins, who is the starting center, was suspended indefinitely Saturday for unprofessional behavior and conduct detrimental to the team. The third-year player and Kings head coach Keith Smart had a confrontation during halftime of Friday's 97-85 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. Smart told Cousins to stay in the locker room and not join the team for the second half.

Sacramento had six players in double figures and recorded a season-high 31 assists against Portland. The Kings pulled away in the second half, shooting nearly 71 percent after the break. Using its eighth different starting lineup this season, Sacramento had a season-best 45 field goals.

"We were missing DeMarcus, so we had a different lineup out there and it worked out tonight," said James Johnson, who made a rare start at power forward while Jason Thompson moved to center. "We were a small team tonight so we ran fast and played very unselfish."

Both Thornton and Salmons helped spark the second-half surge after both were relative non-factors in the opening half. The pair combined for 31 second-half points, helping the Kings pull away.

Thornton made 8 of 11 shots in the second half and finished with four rebounds and four assists. Salmons had 13 of his 15 points in the second half and also added seven rebounds and seven assists.

"John is a very unselfish player and can get his own shots," Thornton said. "He got going in the second half. Me and the first half didn't do so well. But I came on at the right time and got hot in the second half."

Already ahead by nine points, the Kings opened the fourth quarter with a 7-0 run, including a 3-pointer by Thornton, to build their lead to 87-71. The Blazers trailed by at least 12 the rest of the way.

"I just think it was one of those games where the other team played better than us," Portland rookie guard Damian Lillard said. "There probably were some defensive mistakes we made that we shouldn't have and they took advantage of it."

Former Blazer Travis Outlaw had a season-high 15 points and Isaiah Thomas added 11 for the Kings, who had lost six of their previous seven games. Both Thompson and Johnson chipped in 10 points.

"It's definitely fun playing against some former teammates," Outlaw said. "I wish I could go out and do it against other teams that well. Everybody got great looks at the rim tonight. We played very unselfish."

LaMarcus Aldridge had 22 points and 11 rebounds for the Blazers, who have lost two of three meetings with the Kings this season. Lillard had 15 points and seven assists, Nicolas Batum scored 17, and JJ Hickson had 14 points and 11 rebounds.

The Kings haven't said when Cousins will be allowed to rejoin the team again. He was told not to attend the game. Cousins is averaging team bests of 16.6 points and 9.5 rebounds.

"There are a few things we need to sit down and talk about," Smart said. "We have a couple of days before our next game and our executive staff will discuss things and go from there."

Sacramento also played without starting guard Tyreke Evans, who missed his fourth straight game with a sore left knee. Evans, the Kings second-leading scorer, has missed 8 of the past 12 games.

"I thought they played very well without their key players," Portland coach Terry Stotts said. "In this league when players are missing for whatever reasons the other players take that as an opportunity to play well."

The scoring of Thornton kept the Kings on top in the third quarter. The streak-shooting Thornton had 11 points and Brooks hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer, helping Sacramento carry an 80-71 lead into the fourth.

Outlaw keyed a second-quarter effort by Sacramento's reserves. He had 13 points and Thomas had eight points and five assists, helping the Kings outscore Portland 28-15 and take a 49-42 lead into halftime.

Trailing by 10 early in the second quarter, the Kings responded with a 15-0 run to take a 36-31 lead.

Notes: Portland made just 7 of 24 from 3-point range. ... Blazers starting guard Wesley Matthews has a left hip injury and didn't travel with the team. Seldom-used Victor Claver started in the Blazers backcourt. ... Outlaw's 13 points in the second quarter was two more than his season high entering the game. He scored 11 points against the Blazers in a Kings victory in Portland on Dec. 8. ... The two teams don't play again until Dec. 26 in Portland.

Lawson survives cut day, ready to help Kings: 'Go hard or go home'

Lawson survives cut day, ready to help Kings: 'Go hard or go home'

SACRAMENTO -- Cut day came and went in Sacramento without any major surprises. That is, unless you consider veteran point guard Ty Lawson’s inclusion as a shock. Lawson is packed with talent, but he’s struggled to stay out of his own way over the last few seasons, including a missed flight to Kentucky earlier in the preseason.

It was fitting that the seven-year NBA vet joined the media for a chat after practice on Monday. While it was a forgone conclusion that Lawson would make the roster for the better part of two weeks, he came into camp in a fight with four other players for the 15th and final spot.

“It’s tough, it’s been a month, we’ve grown a bond with each other,” Lawson said of cut day. “We’ve been playing with each, practicing with each other, just getting to know everybody. Cut day is always the toughest.”

Now that he’s assured a roster spot, it’s go time for Lawson. The 28-year-old lead guard is trying to resurrect his career in Sacramento. He’ll get an 8-game run as the starter while Darren Collison sits out.

“I’m ready to go, games start tomorrow, our first game is Wednesday, you know, the season’s here,” Lawson said. “Go hard or go home, I’m excited.”

After playing sparingly down the stretch last season for the Indiana Pacers, Lawson will be counted on to play huge minutes early on. He’ll have Garrett Temple backing him up, but the focus will be on the speedy guard out of North Carolina.

“I’m going hard in practice to get my wind up,” Lawson said. “Coach is telling me I’m going to play a lot of minutes - 30 to 40.”

With Lawson in, that means that three other players are out. Jordan Farmar, Isaiah Cousins and Lamar Patterson received pink slips on Monday. It’s never an easy time in the NBA world as players of all ages are faced with their NBA mortality.

“We have a full roster, it’s pretty difficult (to make the team),” coach Joerger said. “Guys are doing it for different reasons - to get experience, to get exposure back to the league, to get familiarity with our organization and with what we’re doing here.”

It appears that Farmar came into camp as Plan B, incase Lawson wasn’t up for the task. He performed well in his limited time off the Kings’ bench and he could become an option down the road if Sacramento is in the market for a seasoned NBA guard with 3-point shooting skills.

As for the Kings’ two young players, both Isaiah Cousins and Lamar Patterson are eligible to join Sacramento’s D-League affiliate in Reno if they choose to join the NBA’s minor league program.

Taken with the 59th pick in the second round of the 2016 NBA Draft, Cousins is a big physical guard that might find success with the Bighorns under head coach Darrick Martin. He can play both the one and the two, but it was clear early on that he was lost in a numbers game.

After four seasons at Oklahoma, Cousins has the physical maturity to play at the NBA level, but he needs more seasoning. When Sacramento waived him, they gave up his rights after signed him to a partially guaranteed deal over the summer. If he goes unclaimed over the next 48 hours, he will decide between playing overseas or joining the D-League.

Patterson is an interesting player. The 25-year-old wing has already experienced the D-League, playing 19 games last season between the Austin Spurs and the Canton Charge. Patterson posted 12.8 points, 4.3 assists and 3.8 rebounds in 26.9 minutes per game in his two stops.

He was waived on Wednesday by Sacramento, but resigned on Friday afternoon, which helped the Kings retain his D-League rights moving forward.  

The Kings will practice one more time on Tuesday before boarding a plane for Phoenix in the afternoon. They’ll face a young Suns team on Wednesday night in their opener, followed by a the first official game in the Golden 1 Center against the Spurs on Thursday night. Preseason is officially over and now it gets real for a newly formed team looking to get off to a fast start.

Source: Lawson makes Kings' roster; draft pick among cuts

Source: Lawson makes Kings' roster; draft pick among cuts

SACRAMENTO -- The roster is set. With opening night just days away, the Sacramento Kings made their final cuts on Monday morning. Despite a rocky camp that included a missed flight to Kentucky, a source has confirmed to CSN California that point guard Ty Lawson has made the team, leaving Jordan Farmar, Lamar Patterson and rookie Isaiah Cousins on the outside looking in.

At 28-years-old, Lawson was able to show enough during the preseason to warrant a longer look. He is expected to start the first eight games of the season at the point while Darren Collison serves his league mandated suspension. He enters the 2016-17 campaign with career averages of 13.1 points and 6.2 assists in seven seasons in the league.

Farmar, 29, played for Joerger last season in Memphis. He has suited up for four different teams over his nine-year NBA career before signing with Sacramento this summer.

He posted solid numbers in his four preseason appearances averaging 6.5 points on 47.1 percent shooting from the floor and 45.5 percent from long range in 14 minutes per game.

Cousins came into camp a long shot to make the roster. Taken with the 59th selection in the 2016 NBA Draft, the 6-foot-5 guard out of Oklahoma has the physical tools to play in the league, but his path to the NBA will likely go through the D-League.

He appeared in just two games for the Kings during the preseason, recording just two points in 12 minutes of action. As one of the final cuts by the Kings, Cousins is eligible to go to the Reno Bighorns, if he chooses to play in the D-League this season.

Lamar Patterson re-signed, waived
Sacramento started their roster cutdown on Wednesday when they waived wing Lamar Patterson. But according to a league source, the Kings re-signed Patterson on Friday after he cleared the NBA’s waiver system.

The 25-year-old out of the University of Pittsburg practiced with the team on Sunday. But he was waived before Monday’s 2pm PST league cutdown time, as expected, and he is now eligible to join the Bighorns if he chooses to sign a D-League contract.

Patterson joined the Kings earlier this summer as a waiver claim after being dropped by the Atlanta Hawks. The high-flying guard/forward averaged 5.8 points in 9.3 minutes over four preseason games.