Kings

In midst of skid, young Kings learning how to win games all over again

In midst of skid, young Kings learning how to win games all over again

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings spent a good part of the season learning how to win games. That process started all over again with the trade that sent DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans.

After falling to the Washington Wizards 130-122 in overtime Friday night, the Kings have lost seven in a row. They are competitive, but for the second straight game, they blew a monster lead late.

“It doesn’t feel good when you miss shots down the stretch, it doesn’t feel good when you’re up 25 or 15 or whatever, but we’re maturing,” Arron Afflalo said. “We’ve got a lot of young guys and we’re still trying to learn how to win.”

Sacramento opened the fourth quarter with a 15-point lead over Washington, but John Wall and Bradley Beal kept playing. With Wall breaking down the Kings defense, Beal got fat on the perimeter, scoring 16 of his 38 points in the fourth and another five in the extra frame.  

“We’ve just got to find a way to hold our leads, we’ve been giving up these big leads,” Darren Collison said. “You figure we close these teams out early, they may just throw in the towel.”

The Wizards outscored the Kings 34-19 in the fourth to force an overtime session. Collison and Willie Cauley-Stein kept the Kings in the game with a series of pick-and-roll dunks. But the defensive stops never came.

“We’re not getting blown out,” Afflalo said. “We’ve lost six or seven in a row now, but we’re coming in here every game thinking we should have won. It doesn’t mean much in the standings, but we are getting better and trying to do the right thing.”

Since the Cousins trade, the Kings are 1-7. They’ve lost twice in overtime over that stretch and they have held leads in plenty of those games.

“It’s really tough, it’s really tough,” rookie Buddy Hield said. “We’ve just got to keep working, keep learning. In this league, you’ve got to learn how to win. It doesn’t come easy.”

You have to have a short memory in the NBA. The Kings return to the court looking to snap their skid on Saturday evening against the Denver Nuggets. It’s a work in progress, but at least they are competing while they transition to a young group of players.

 

DeMarcus Cousins: 'Take all them motherf****** down'

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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.

The Maloofs' colossal charity bet on Mayweather-McGregor circus act

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The Maloofs' colossal charity bet on Mayweather-McGregor circus act

Gavin and Joe Maloof have gambled plenty in their lives, which is in part how they ended up losing the Sacramento Kings. They ran big, they hit a dry well, and they ended up selling the works.

So their decision to bet $880,000 on Floyd Mayweather in his “thing” with Conor McGregor for a $160,000 payout seemed the perfectly daft idea for two guys who were painted as perfectly daft when they were running the Kings and their other businesses into a freeway abutment on I-80.

In fairness, they are planning to donate their winnings to a number of charities in the name of their hangover drink (Never Too Hungover, although I might have gone with the more lyrical HurlNoMore), so it’s not like their hearts aren’t a place close to the mythical “right place.”

But it does beg the question, “Why don’t they just give $160,000 and skip the scam?” Because it wasn’t about charity, it was about promotion, and while there’s nothing wrong with promotion, attaching it to one of the seediest carnival events of the modern era makes it seem, well, kind of creepy.

Or maybe “creepy” is too strong. Maybe’s it’s just opportunism, which is more, well, Vegas-y.

Kings fans will remember the Maloofs as the family that saved the foundering team from the clutches of owner Jim Thomas, and then remember them as the family whose clutches Vivek Ranadive had to save the team from 15 years later. It’s the nature of most ownerships – you do good to eliminate a prior evil, and eventually become evil yourselves when the fans turn on you.

But the Maloofs aren’t evil – even their most strident critics will say that. They just saw an opportunity to scratch a bunch of itches at once – good-heartedness, advertising, gambling and Vegas’ most important product – selling you things you could never imagine wanting.

It almost makes you wonder if they harbor a secret itch to take the $160,000 and double down on behalf of the charities for another of their pet projects – the Vegas Golden Knights. If they put it on the Knights to win the Stanley Cup at 200-1, that’s $32,000,000. Then if they took that and . . .

. . . and before you know it, they’re trapped in the fantasyland of Las Vegas at its weirdest. Maybe it’s just performance art with more money than most of us can eat.