Kings stumble in Portland 101-89

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Kings stumble in Portland 101-89

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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.

Former Kings PG Jason Williams injured in BIG3’s inaugural game

Former Kings PG Jason Williams injured in BIG3’s inaugural game

NEW YORK -- Basketball's newest league started with a game-winning basket and an injured former NBA player.

Rashard Lewis made a three-point play with his team facing game point Sunday in the opening game of the Big3, the 3-on-3 basketball league co-founded by Ice Cube.

Jason Williams, the flashy point guard nicknamed "White Chocolate," went down with a right leg injury late in the game. His 3 Headed Monsters blew the late once he went out and were a point away from losing, but Lewis made his basket and free throw to edge the Ghost Ballers, 62-60.

The games are played to 60 points but teams have to win by two, so the Ghost Ballers couldn't quite get there when they went ahead 60-59.

Lewis scored 27 points and former No. 1 pick Kwame Brown had 17 points and 13 rebounds for the 3 Headed Monsters. Ricky Davis led the Ghost Ballers with 23 points.

Cube vowed the games would be competitive - players are vying for a revenue share based on final league standings - and there was a possession early when players on both teams dived on the floor for a loose ball. There was pushing and shoving in the post and a few hard fouls, and the trash talk appeared to heat up as the game went on.

The quality of play wasn't the strongest, but Barclays Center in Brooklyn had a good crowd for the first of four games on the day. Allen Iverson, the former NBA MVP who is the marquee attraction in the league, was scheduled to play in the third game.

The eight-team league will play on 10 weekends, culminating with the Aug. 26 championship in Las Vegas. Games are shown on Monday nights on Fox Sports 1.

How the four Kings rookies fit in heading into 2017-18 season

How the four Kings rookies fit in heading into 2017-18 season

SACRAMENTO - The Sacramento Kings swung for the fences during the NBA Draft Thursday night. They filled holes, took a gamble and might have even come away with a steal or two in their four selections. There are major roster questions that still have to be answered in free agency or through trade, but here is a look at how the new faces fit into the current situation in Sacramento.

De’Aaron Fox, point guard, University of Kentucky
Sacramento let it be known early that Fox was a target. The speedy point guard put on a show in his lone season in Kentucky, averaging 16.7 points, 4.6 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 29.6 minutes per game. He’ll need to improve his 3-point shooting (24.6 percent) to keep defenses from sagging off and clogging his running lanes, but his mechanics are sound.

According to Vlade Divac, “De’Aaron is our future.” Whether the team will look to add a veteran presence is still in question. Veterans Darren Collison and Ty Lawson have spoken about their willingness to return as a mentor, but Fox is expected to play major minutes in his rookie season as the Kings look to turn up the tempo.

Fox is a big time athlete with great size for the position. Standing a little over 6-foot-3 with a 6-foot-6.5 wingspan, the left handed point guard projects well on both ends of the floor. He’ll need to add weight to his 170-pound frame, but the Kings have a strong strength and conditioning team that has been working overtime all summer building on last season’s draft class.

With both Collison and Lawson entering free agency unrestricted, Fox is likely the Kings starter on Day 1.

Justin Jackson, small forward, University of North Carolina
Jackson tested the draft waters a year ago and decided to return to the Tar Heels for one more season. The gamble paid off as Jackson and his North Carolina teammates rolled through the NCAA tournament and were crowned champs.

In addition to winning it all, Jackson showed major improvement in his junior year under Roy Williams. The 22-year-old wing posted 18.2 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 32.2 minutes per game. Jackson’s biggest improvement came as a perimeter shooter where he converted 36.8 percent of his 3-point shots, compared to just 29.2 percent as a sophomore.

Like Fox, Jackson needs to add strength and weight to compete in the NBA for 82 games a season. He is a wiry athlete that stands 6-foot-8 with a 6-foot-11 wingspan, but he weighed in at just 201 at the Draft combine (up from his 192 a season ago).

As of today, Jackson is the only true small forward on the Kings roster. They have options in Garrett Temple and Malachi Richardson, but they will likely address the position in free agency or through trade. Jackson will play minutes as a rookie, but how many will be determined by how quickly he can adjust to the NBA level. He’s a mature scorer and he has defensive potential, but he will likely begin his career in a reserve role, at least initially.

Harry Giles, power forward/center, Duke University
There was a time when Giles ranked amongst the very best of high school player in the country. A series of bad breaks led Giles to tumble down the draft board where the Kings were more than willing to gamble at the 20th selection.

You can take his numbers at Duke and throw them out the window, he was never truly healthy in his time with Coach K. Standing 6-foot-10.5 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, the 232-pound big has an incredible frame. Unfortunately, the frame is supported by two surgically repaired knees.

Giles tore his ACL in both knees as a prep athlete in separate incidents and he needed a third procedure to clean up one of his knees last year. If there is good news here, it is that both knees were damaged in contact injuries, as opposed to the knee giving out in a non-contact situation. The scope that occurred later is also not out of the norm as the body attempts to adjust to the changes in the joint.

Like the Duke medical staff, the Kings will need to show patience in years one and two as Giles continues to heal from the series of surgeries. The Kings knew the risk of drafting the talented 19-year-old and they also know that players like Danny Manning, Amar’e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin went on to have very successful careers after bilateral ACL tears.   

Don’t expect Giles to play major minutes in year one, but the Kings fell in love with his talent in a pre-draft workout in Sacramento. The team has a bevy of bigs, including Skal Labissiere, Willie Cauley-Stein, Kosta Koufos and Georgios Papagiannis. This is a risk/reward pick for the future. If Giles can get right, he could be the best big man taken in the 2017 NBA Draft and maybe even a lot more than that.

Frank Mason III, point guard, Kansas University
Despite collecting a room full of trophies in his senior year at Kansas, Mason slid to the early second round where the Kings shunned trade offers and pounced. Like Fox, the high-flying guard was a major target of the Kings, even coming to Sacramento twice for visits before draft night.

The 23-year-old Wooden Award winner dominated in his final season under Bill Self, averaging 20.9 points, 5.2 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 36.1 minutes a night. He even shot 47.1 percent from behind the arc on 4.8 attempts per game. At 6-foot, 189-pounds, the biggest knock on Mason is his lack of size. He makes up for that with power and a 41-inch vertical.

Sacramento is in a tough situation when it comes to their point guard position. Fox was a no-brainer at number five and Mason is an NBA ready contributor at pick 34. But can they walk into a season with two rookies manning the point guard position? 

It’s possible. The Kings have Temple on the roster, who can steal some minutes, but Fox and Mason make an intriguing thunder and lightning pairing that should be a lot of fun to watch. Don’t be shocked if Mason earns a spot in the rotation in training camp and plays solid minutes in a sparkplug role off the bench as a rookie.