Suns snap Kings' home winning streak

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Suns snap Kings' home winning streak

BOX SCORE
SACRAMENTO -- No longer are the Phoenix Suns a fast-paced team that wins games solely with its run-and-gun style.They can play a little defense now, too.The Suns were effective in slowing down Sacramento, and Jared Dudley had 20 points and 10 rebounds for Phoenix, which never trailed in defeating the Kings 98-84 on Saturday night.The victory was the fourth in five games for the Suns, who have won their last three on the road. Phoenix took a double-digit lead in the second quarter and maintained a comfortable margin for the remainder of the game.Phoenix shot 50 percent and hit eight 3-pointers, which are numbers that seem typical of Suns teams in the past. What wasn't typical in previous seasons was holding a team to 35 percent shooting and blocking 11 shots, including four by center Marcin Gotat and three by reserve forward Markieff Morris."We did a good job of keeping a man in front of them and made the Kings take bad shots," Dudley said. "We've been playing a lot better lately, especially on the road."One emphasis entering the game was controlling Kings guard Tyreke Evans, who leads Sacramento in both scoring and assists. That job was handed to Grant Hill, the oldest player on the court at age 39, and a veteran of 17 NBA seasons. Hill made it difficult on the Kings' explosive guard, who shot 1 of 9 and finished with four points and five assists."He's a great player," Hill said. "I tried to use my size and length against him, and make him take tough shots. I'm sure the next time we play them it might be different."Morris had 18 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter. Channing Frye had 17 points and Gortat had 15 points and seven rebounds.DeMarcus Cousins had 26 points and nine rebounds, and Marcus Thornton made four 3-pointers and had 21 points for the Kings.Sacramento, which had won four of its previous five games, hardly resembled the team that two nights earlier defeated the Western Division-leading Oklahoma City Thunder 106-101."We were going up against a team that was pretty solid and highly trained to guard," Kings coach Keith Smart said. "I thought Grant Hill did a great job of trying to create space and keep us out of the paint. We couldn't finish some plays in the paint."The Suns made three 3-pointers over a three-minute span, and the final one by Michael Redd put them ahead 86-69 midway through the fourth quarter.Suns point guard Steve Nash, who turned 38 earlier this week, took a shot in the mouth on the final possession of the first quarter and spent much of the second quarter getting four stitches to sew up a wound in his lower lip.The sensitive lip didn't slow down Nash. He shot sparingly all game and scored four points, but handed out 15 assists in 29 minutes."He can dominate a game and not have a basket," Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. "He came back in the third quarter and helped us get separation. We never let them back in the game."Phoenix controlled the tempo in the third quarter, scoring inside frequently and making the cold-shooting Kings take contested shots. Gortat scored six points and the Suns shot 61 percent in outscoring the Kings 22-16 and taking a 75-60 lead into the final quarter."Our offense was kind of stagnant. We broke down defensively on some plays and we didn't get the stops when they were needed," Kings reserve forward Chuck Hayes said. "But you've got to give the Suns credit. They had a great game. They moved the ball very well. They know how they want to play and they do it."With Nash leading the way with his pinpoint passing, the Suns scored numerous baskets in transition in the third quarter when the Kings committed six turnovers. Nash was scoreless until tossing in a short floater with 39 seconds remaining in the third quarter.Dudley scored 13 points and Frye had 10 to help give the Suns a 53-44 halftime lead. Both Thornton and Cousins had 11 points for Sacramento, which shot 38 percent but committed only three turnovers.With the injured Nash in the locker room getting stitches and missing the entire second quarter, the Suns were still able to maintain its lead. The Suns' much-maligned bench combined for 12 points in the quarter when Phoenix outscored the Kings 22-20.Notes: The Kings won't play another home again until Feb. 28. On Tuesday, they start a six-game road trip, playing exclusively Eastern Conference teams, followed by the All-Star break. ... Nash had six assists in the game's first eight minutes, helping the Suns take a 31-24 lead after one quarter. ... Cousins had 11 points in the opening quarter, but picked up three quick fouls in the second period and only played two minutes.

Rudy Gay 'ahead of schedule' in recovery from ruptured Achillies

Rudy Gay 'ahead of schedule' in recovery from ruptured Achillies

Rudy Gay has been MIA since leaving the locker room on crutches following the Kings loss to the Indiana Pacers on Jan. 18. He’s posted a few instagram videos of his recovery from a devastating left Achilles rupture, but until Friday night in Oakland, he had been away from the team.

“I’m out of the boot, second stage of my rehab, ahead of schedule and feeling good,” the 30-year-old wing told CSN California’s Kayte Christensen.

According to Gay, he is able to due weight bearing exercises, including some light squats. The 11-year NBA vet is still a ways away from returning to the court, but if he’s ahead of schedule, that means he might be ready for training camp come late September.

It’s not the same group he left behind. DeMarcus Cousins is gone, as is Matt Barnes and Omri Casspi. If he were still playing, Gay would likely be sitting out games for planned rest like most of the Kings’ veterans, but he doesn’t have that luxury.

Gay is entering the final year of his contract in Sacramento. He is due $14.3 million next season, but he has a player option and can become an unrestricted free agent if he so chooses. His recovery will likely dictate whether he opts in to his contract or whether he looks for a long-term deal either with the Kings or elsewhere.

Before the injury, Gay was the Kings’ second leading scorer, posting 18.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 33.8 minutes per night.

 

With weight off his shoulders, Lawson returns to form vs Warriors

With weight off his shoulders, Lawson returns to form vs Warriors

With legal issues hanging over his head, veteran point guard Ty Lawson hasn’t been himself over the Kings’ last eight games. He sat out Wednesday night’s loss to the Bucks and he appeared in a Denver courtroom on Thursday to discuss possible probation violations.

Lawson’s attorney disputed the claims against his client and was granted a six week stay in the case. Lawson will appear back in court on May 4, roughly three weeks after the end of the 2016-17 season.

Starting for the resting Darren Collison, Lawson went off against the Warriors Friday night, scoring 18 of his 20 points in the first half. He shot an impressive 8-of-9 from the field in just 24 minutes of action as he broke down Golden State’s defense.

“Honestly, I think Ty’s had a weight on his shoulders for the last four weeks or so and he just hasn’t been himself,” Joerger said after the 114-100 loss. “I think he looked much more relieved today, he smiled and he was the Ty that we know that he is still.”

Lawson, 29, signed a one-year deal with the Kings in late August and is an unrestricted free agent come July 1.