Kings

Kings stumble in Portland 101-89

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Kings stumble in Portland 101-89

BOX SCORE

PORTLAND (AP) -- Jamal Crawford knew what had been holding him back: too much thinking and not enough shooting. His coach and teammates agreed.

Crawford scored a season-high 26 points and the Portland Trail Blazers returned home from a six-game road trip with a 101-89 win over the Sacramento Kings on Monday night.

"All these guys said, just play'," said Crawford, who joined the Blazers last month as a free agent. "(They said) you've got to be the person you were before you came here. You can't try to fit it in."

Gerald Wallace had 20 points and eight rebounds and LaMarcus Aldridge added 13 points and 16 rebounds for the Blazers, who were coming off a 2-4 trip. Portland improved to 7-1 at the Rose Garden, playing there for the first time since Jan. 11.

"It felt good being home with the fans - we got some home cooking in," said Craig Smith, who had 10 points and seven rebounds for Portland.

A 13-year veteran, the 6-foot-5 Crawford has been tentative and inconsistent at times since joining Portland.

He is shooting 34 percent for the season, well below his career average. While Crawford is most comfortable at shooting guard, the Blazers have played him much of the time at point guard where he has had problems with turnovers. But there had been signs he was finding his range. He had 24 points Jan. 11 against Orlando and 22 against Atlanta on Wednesday.

"Coming into the game I just felt good," he said. "It was a fresh start. I just cleared my head and said this is day one all over again."

DeMarcus Cousins had 18 points and 13 rebounds, his 12th double-double of the season, for the Kings. Jimmer Fredette scored 13 points and Francisco Garcia added 12. Sacramento dropped to 2-9 on the road.

The Blazers beat the Kings 101-79 on Dec. 27 and have taken 11 of the last 12 in the series.

The last time the two teams met, the Kings were coached by Paul Westphal. He was fired after seven games and replaced with assistant Keith Smart, who is 4-7 since taking over.

Sacramento was missing second-leading scorer Marcus Thornton with a thigh bruise. The Kings had won two in a row but fell 128-95 to the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday, despite Fredette's career-high 20 points.

Against the Blazers, Sacramento led early in the game but couldn't sustain it. Returning from missing a game with a hand injury, Wallace had 15 points and eight rebounds in the first half for the Blazers. Portland went on a 20-7 run at the end of the second quarter, briefly opening a 20-point lead and took a 53-38 advantage into the break.

"The second quarter got away from us toward the end," Smart said. "It only takes a couple moments in a game, or a quarter, for it to separate."

Portland went up 76-56 and the Kings didn't get any closer than 13 down until Isaiah Thomas and Fredette made 3-pointers in the last minute.

Notes: Portland was beginning its first back-to-back-to-back stretch of the season. The Blazers play Memphis Tuesday and Golden State Wednesday. ... Kings G John Salmons played after being hospitalized over the weekend in Memphis with food poisoning. He played 18 minutes and didn't score. ... Blazers C Marcus Camby played just 12 minutes. He sat much of the first half with three fouls and then left the game in the third quarter with a mild groin strain. He had just returned from missing three games with a sprained ankle.

Patience needed for young and inexperienced Kings

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AP

Patience needed for young and inexperienced Kings

The Sacramento Kings are attempting to do something rarely seen in the NBA. They’ve paired four first round selections from the 2016 NBA Draft with another five rookies for the 2017-18 season. They’ll open the season with nine players with one year of NBA experience or less and three others with two years in the league or fewer if you include two-way contracts.

Veterans Vince Carter (40), Zach Randolph (36), George Hill (31), Garrett Temple (31) and Kosta Koufos (28) push the average age of the Kings to 26.1. According to RealGM, they’ll enter the 2017-18 season tied for the 15th youngest roster in the league.

If you remove the veterans, the Kings youthful core averages less than 22 years of age. But age doesn’t tell the entire story.

Entering his third NBA season, Willie Cauley-Stein has seen action in 141 of a possible 164 games. On the current roster, he might as well get lumped in with the veterans.

Buddy Hield donned a Kings uniform for 25 games last season after coming over in a midseason trade from the New Orleans Pelicans. He played 82 games in total between the two clubs, which is five more combined contests than his fellow 2016 draft mates Skal Labissiere (33 games), Georgios Papagiannis (22 games) and Malachi Richardson (22 games) played in.

Sacramento selected three first rounders in the 2017 NBA Draft, including De’Aaron Fox, Justin Jackson and Harry Giles. They also landed point guard Frank Mason III with an early second round pick and convinced 25-year-old former first rounder Bogdan Bogdanovic to leave the European game behind and join the club.

Without bringing two-way players Jack Cooley (16 games) and JaKarr Sampson (147 games) into the discussion, the Kings have a major experience issue. They’ll walk into the season with 10 players having a combined 300 games of NBA experience and 223 of those games were played by Cauley-Stein and Hield.  

Sacramento’s veteran group has appeared in 3718 regular season contests. Dave Joerger will have no choice but to turn to the group for plenty of minutes as the Kings’ young players learn on the fly.

Patience is necessary. Vlade Divac and his team have assembled a lot of talent, but they will need time to develop. Joerger has a strong staff in place, including Elston Turner, Bryan Gates, Duane Ticknor, Bob Thornton, Jason March and Larry Lewis. Phil Ricci was also added to the staff as a player development coach this season with the influx of young players.

Even with an expanded staff, there is no way Joerger can fit all 10 of his youngsters into the rotation. They’ll need playing time to develop and there is a good chance that some of these freshman and sophomore players will spend time with Darrick Martin and the Reno Bighorns.  

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.