Kings

NBA Gameday: Hield vs Ingram a battle of Top 6 picks

NBA Gameday: Hield vs Ingram a battle of Top 6 picks

The Sacramento Kings head into Staples Center to face the Los Angeles Lakers Friday night looking to take the season series. Sacramento has won two straight overall and four of its last six as they finish the season strong.

Ben McLemore went off in the second half of the Kings 98-87 win over Mavericks on Tuesday. The fourth-year guard knocked down 5-of-5 from behind the arc, scoring 21 of his 22 points after the intermission.

Los Angeles is coming off back-to-back wins over the Memphis Grizzlies and San Antonio Spurs. It’s the first taste of winning for the Lakers in a while. After starting the season 10-10, Luke Walton and his young core are 13-45 over the last 58 games and they currently hold the third worst record in the NBA.

OPENING LINE

Lakers by 2

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Buddy Hield vs. Brandon Ingram -- Outside of an occasional defensive switch, these two players are unlikely to see much time against one another, but both rookies are playing well down the stretch. Hield has come on strong since the mid-season trade that sent him to Sacramento. The first-year shooting guard is posting 14.4 points and 4.0 rebounds while knocking down 43.3 percent from long range as a King. After a slow start to the season, Ingram is averaging 9.2 points and 4.0 rebounds while shooting 40.6 percent from the field. It’s a battle of two top six picks from the 2016 NBA Draft.

WHERE THEY STAND

Kings: 31-47, third place in Pacific

Lakers: 23-55, fourth place in Pacific

INJURY REPORT

Kings: Arron Afflalo (lower back strain) and Anthony Tolliver (right hip strain) are probable; Kosta Koufos (rest), Ty Lawson (rest) and Garrett Temple (rest) are out.

Lakers: G Jordan Clarkson (knee) probable, SF Brandon Ingram (knee) probable, G D’Angelo Russell (knee) questionable, C Ivica Zubac (ankle) out, SF Luol Deng (no injury) out, SG Nick Young (no injury) out, C Timofey Mozgov (no injury) out.

SERIES HISTORY

The Kings hold a 2-1 advantage in the season series and currently own a two game win streak over Los Angeles. The Lakers are up on the Kings 90-44 during the Sacramento-era and a 268-153 advantage all-time.

QUOTE

“Everybody is having fun with the way we’re playing right now. We’re playing unselfish basketball. Everybody is passing the ball, we’re really enjoying playing with each other and the environment is great.” -Georgios Papagiannis

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.

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

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AP

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.