Kings take on surging Bucks


Kings take on surging Bucks

Programming note: Kings-Bucks coverage kicks off at 5 p.m. today on Comcast SportsNet California (territorial restrictions apply)

(AP) -- With another strong offensive performance from Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, the Milwaukee Bucks should have a good chance to match their longest winning streak of the season Wednesday night.

The backcourt duo can help the Bucks to a third consecutive victory as they try to avoid a third straight loss to the visiting Sacramento Kings.

Jennings scored 26 points and Ellis added 24 as the pair went 16 of 32 from the field Sunday to help Milwaukee (10-9) to a 97-88 win at Brooklyn. The guards outscored the Nets' star backcourt of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson by two striaght games. 26 points and combined to record eight steals.

"It was just another game," said Ellis, who shot a season-high 61.5 percent (8 of 13). "It just happened me (and Jennings) came out wanting to play hard."

While Ellis (18.7 points per game) and Jennings (17.2) are shooting a combined 40.2 percent, they remain the two most explosive offensive options for a Bucks team that has only one other player averaging double-figure points. Although their scoring has been comparable in wins and losses, the two are shooting 42.8 percent during the Bucks' victories and 37.7 percent in their defeats.

"It's the nature of our team; when Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings are playing well, we usually win," coach Scott Skiles said.

The Bucks are playing well enough for a shot at matching their three-game winning streak from Nov. 12-17. Milwaukee also is trying for a season-high third consecutive victory at the Bradley Center, where it has held its last two opponents to an average of 90.5 points on 42.9 percent shooting - 9 of 32 (28.1 percent) from 3-point range.

Jennings was held to six points in a 97-90 loss to the Kings in their last visit to Milwaukee on March 23, 2011, and his 31 weren't enough in a 103-100 defeat at Sacramento last season.

The Kings (7-13) had their season-high three-game winning streak end with a 119-96 loss at Dallas on Monday. That defeat came two nights after Sacramento posted its first road win, 99-80 at Portland.

Playing a third consecutive game without injured guard Tyreke Evans, the Kings trailed 65-43 at halftime and allowed the Mavericks to shoot 55.2 percent overall. DeMarcus Cousins and Francisco Garcia each scored 25 points for Sacramento, which had yielded 87.3 points per game on 39.0 percent shooting during the three straight victories.

Garcia has received sporadic playing time this season but has totaled 37 points over the last two games while starting in place of Evans, who remains day to day with a sore knee that has sidelined him for five of the last six contests. Garcia went 7 of 12 from 3-point range against the Mavericks.

"You find someone that works hard enough to try and steal minutes, and obviously he has done that," coach Keith Smart said. "He's shooting the ball well right now."

Sacramento guard Marcus Thornton has totaled 24 points in his last four games while shooting 7 of 29 (24.1 percent), but he's scored 27 in each of the last two meetings with Milwaukee.

Instant Replay: Cousins, Kings cruise in opener vs Suns

Instant Replay: Cousins, Kings cruise in opener vs Suns


The Sacramento Kings rolled into Phoenix’s Talking Stick Resort Arena and blew away the Suns on Wednesday night by a final of 113-94. The young upstart Suns tried to make a game out of it in the early fourth quarter, but Sacramento turned to their veterans who delivered down the stretch.

DeMarcus Cousins got into foul trouble early, but still found a way to drop in 24 points and grab six rebounds in 24 minutes manning the middle. Once he was in the flow of the defense, Cousins came to the aid of his teammates, stepping in and cutting off the baseline on multiple possessions.

Like Cousins, Rudy Gay didn’t look great early, but he still managed to score 22 points in the win. There was a sequence in the third quarter when Gay came alive on the defensive end, blocking back-to-back shots on the same defensive possession..

Starting for Darren Collison, Ty Lawson ran the offense better than expected, posting nine points, six rebounds and seven assists in 35 minutes of action.

Garrett Temple filled in as the reserve point guard spot and added 12 points on 6-for-8 shooting.

Matt Barnes provided a spark off the bench, tossing in 14 points and grabbing seven rebounds.

Eleven of 12 players that stepped on the floor for Sacramento scored and nine players players dropped in six points or more in the win.  

Eric Bledsoe had a nice night for the Suns, scoring 16 points on 5-for-11 shooting with five assists. T.J. Warren chipped in 14 points and five rebounds while playing solid defense on Gay early. Devin Booker added 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting, but he missed all three of his long range shots.  

STANDOUT PERFORMER -- Cousins couldn’t set the tempo early, but when he got it rolling in the third quarter, it was lights out for the Suns. There are plenty of nights that Cousins will be asked to do more, but with a big lead, the Kings didn’t need a typical showing from their All-Star center.

TURNING POINT -- Sacramento finished the first half on a 16-1 run and took a 57-38 lead into the intermission. The Suns kept it within 20 for most of the night and even made a run at the end of third, but the game was decided in the few minutes leading to the intermission.

INJURY UPDATE -- Sacramento enters the season with a full roster of healthy bodies. Matt Barnes struggled with a rib injury during camp, but played a big 27 minutes for the Kings  in the opener.

WHAT'S NEXT -- The Kings return home from Phoenix following the game where the the San Antonio Spurs are waiting for them. Thursday night’s home opener marks the first official game in the new Golden 1 Center as the Kings look to improve to 2-0 on the season.

NBA Gameday: Kings open campaign against young, talented Suns

NBA Gameday: Kings open campaign against young, talented Suns

The beginning is here. The Sacramento Kings open their 2016-17 campaign Wednesday night in Phoenix when they battle the young, but talented Suns.

Opening night marks the official start of the Dave Joerger era of Kings basketball. Joerger ran a 147-99 record with the Memphis Grizzlies over three seasons, including back-to-back-to-back playoff appearances. He’s taxed with ending the Kings decade long playoff drought, which has slayed the previous eight head coaches in Sacramento.

Eight new faces don the Kings’ purple and black, including two starters and five rotational players. A new coach. A new roster.  A new offense. A new defense. None of that matters when the ball gets tipped. The NBA schedule waits for no one.

[HAM: Player-by-player examination of the 2016-17 Kings]

The Suns have made subtle tweaks to a roster that won just 23 games last season. But they come into the season mostly healthy and ready to prove that 2015-16 was the beginning of a build in Phoenix.


Suns by 2.5


Ty Lawson vs. Eric Bledsoe -- Lawson is getting a career re-boot in Sacramento and a golden opportunity to shine during the team’s first eight games as a starter. He’ll face the high-scoring, but injury-prone Bledsoe that suited up in just 31 games last season. Bledsoe is an explosive and powerful athlete. Lawson is quick and will look to set up others.


Kings: G Darren Collison (league suspension) out.

Suns: F P.J. Tucker (back) questionable.


The Kings won the season series 3-1 last year, including the final three contests. Phoenix leads the all-time series 130-88 and they hold an 83-49 advantage during the Sacramento-era.


“I have one goal, that’s playoffs. That’s success for me right now.” -- DeMarcus Cousins