Tyreke scores 27, but Kings fall 103-89 in Houston

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Tyreke scores 27, but Kings fall 103-89 in Houston

BOX SCORE
HOUSTON -- Samuel Dalembert had the best game in his short career as a Houston Rocket on Friday night.The fact that he did it against former team probably wasn't a coincidence.Dalembert had 21 points and 16 rebounds to help the balanced Rockets beat the Sacramento Kings 103-89."He was possessed or something, I don't know," Houston's Kyle Lowry said. "He really looked like the old Sam Dalembert back in the 76ers days and he played really good."Dalembert, who was signed by the Rockets on Dec. 26, spent his first eight seasons in Philadelphia before playing for the Kings last season."He just had great energy tonight," Houston coach Kevin McHale said. "It was just fantastic. That was just the Sammy we've been hoping to see."Lowry led the team with 25 points and had nine assists, and Luis Scola added 21 points and 11 rebounds.Dalembert's previous scoring high with Houston was 10 points. He wouldn't acknowledge that his offensive outburst had anything to do with the opponent, but instead said he wanted to give Houston a second inside scoring threat to go with Scola."I was telling the guys that I'm trying to be a presence because Scola is the only one there inside who is doing a lot for us," he said. "I said that I needed to be a presence offensively."The Kings led at halftime, but Houston used a strong third quarter to take the lead and Sacramento never really threatened after that.Tyreke Evans scored 27 points for Sacramento, which has lost five of seven. Evans has scored at least 25 points in four of the last five games.DeMarcus Cousins' streak of four straight double-doubles was snapped with a tough night. He finished with four points and four rebounds, going 1 of 7 after missing all of his six field goal attempts in the first half.He was coming off a career-high 19 rebounds in Wednesday night's win over Toronto and it was the first time in six games that he had scored fewer than 16 points.After the game both he and Sacramento coach Keith Smart said Cousins wasn't feeling well on Friday."I don't know what's going on," Cousins said. "I couldn't stop coughing and I can't seem to get over it."Houston led by nine points at the end of the third quarter and scored the first six points of the fourth to stretch the lead to 87-72. The Kings scored the next six points, but Houston used back-to-back 3s from Lowry and Kevin Martin to make it 93-78 midway through the quarter.Martin chipped in 13 points for Houston and Chandler Parsons had 11.The Kings played sloppy at times, and at one point late in the fourth quarter they turned it over three times in just more than 30 seconds."We have to do a better job of running plays and making shots," Evans said. "The bench came in with a lot of energy and did a good job. We just have to finish better."The Rockets were up by three points in the third quarter before a quick six-point spurt, that included four free throws by Lowry to make it 75-66. Sacramento cut the lead to six points after an alley-oop dunk by J.J. Hickson, but Lowry hit a 3-pointer seconds later to extend Houston's advantage to 81-72.Sacramento outscored Houston 15-7 to open the second quarter take a 39-31 lead. Donte Greene scored five straight points, including a 3-pointer in that span. The Rockets responded with a 10-2 run to tie it at 41-all. Scola scored five quick points to get that going.The Kings had gone back on top by five points when Dalembert had a monster dunk over Greene that left the defender on the court and Houston down 48-45.The Kings led 52-50 at halftime.The Rockets were up by 10 points with 3 12 minutes left in the first quarter before Sacramento went on a 12-2 run, fueled by seven points by Evans, to tie it at the end of the period.NOTES: The Rockets honored their all-decade team for the 1970s at halftime. Elvin Hayes, Moses Malone, Calvin Murphy and Mike Newlin participated in the ceremony, but fifth member Rudy Tomjanovich couldn't attend. ... Smart said he expects NBA Hall of Famer Alex English, who was hired Friday as an assistant, to join the team on Monday at Minnesota. ... Chuck Hayes, who is in his first year with the Kings after playing in Houston for six seasons, was honored with a video tribute of his time with the Rockets after the second quarter. Hayes, who isn't playing because of a dislocated left shoulder, received a standing ovation from the crowd.

Kings fall flat after emotional win last time out

Kings fall flat after emotional win last time out

SACRAMENTO -- Managing expectations. The Sacramento Kings are neither the team that blasted the Denver Nuggets by a final of 116-100 on Thursday night, nor the group that was flattened 99-85 on Saturday afternoon by the Charlotte Hornets. They are likely somewhere in between.

As Dave Joerger searched for combinations that work together, the Kings struggled with massive bouts of inconsistency Saturday. They are a team of veteran role players and young talent, none of which have ever been a focal point of an NBA offense in their careers.

It’s a work in progress for all involved. Sacramento has 23 games remaining on the schedule and it will take plenty of those games to once again balance out the lineups.

“It’s tough right now, trying to acclimate everyone in and trying to move forward,” point guard Darren Collison said.

Willie Cauley-Stein had a breakout 29-point, 10-rebound game against Denver just two days ago, but things change when a team has time to gameplan. The second-year big scored just two points and grabbed two rebounds in 28 minutes of action against Charlotte as they clogged the middle and took away the pick-and-roll.

“I think teams are definitely going to start doing that now, playing the pick-and-roll where we’re not getting layups and dunks,” Cauley-Stein said. “They’re going to challenge us from the 3-point line. But me personally, I’ve just got to find other ways to make an impact.”

On top of the lack of scoring and rebounding, both Cauley-Stein and Kosta Koufos struggled to stay with mobile big man Frank Kaminsky on the perimeter. The 23-year-old center doubled his season average, finishing the night with 23 points and 13 rebounds.

Kaminsky knocked in 5-of-9 from long range as the Kings’ big chose to take away All-Star Kemba Walker and sagged off the University of Wisconsin product. The rotations were slow, which is to be expected from a team that is just starting to come together.

“Tonight was a situation where you had a team that is a veteran team, a very physical team,” Joerger said in his postgame comments. “They pushed us around the court most of the night with their size and their experience at all positions.”

There were still some positives to take away from the lopsided loss. Skal Labissiere is finding a way to produce since making his way into the rotation. The 20-year-old rookie played 23 minutes off Joerger’s bench, scoring eight points on 4-of-10 shooting while grabbing 13 rebounds.

“Obviously, he’s got a lot of potential,” Anthony Tolliver said. “For him, I just tell him every day, ‘just go out there and play hard, man, everything else will take care of itself.’ As he starts to get more comfortable, that’s when he’s going to start to make a big impact.”

Taken with the 28th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Labissiere has played very sparingly over the first two-thirds of the season, but with very little depth at the power position, he has received an opportunity and taken advantage of it. His length and athleticism were on full display against the Hornets.

Rookie Buddy Hield added 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting, but 13 of those came in the fourth quarter when the game was long out of hand. He struggled to find a rhythm early, like most of the Kings perimeter players.  

Ben McLemore chipped in 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting. Like Hield all but two of those points came after the intermission and after the Kings had already fallen behind by double-digits.

Tyreke Evans started in his second game back with the Kings, finishing with 11 points, five rebounds and five assists. The veteran wing played well defensively, but he’s still searching for his place with this team.

Sacramento gets a shot to redeem themselves on Monday when the young and talented Minnesota Timberwolves drop by Golden 1 Center. With the loss they fell a game and half behind the Nuggets in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Instant Replay: Flat Kings routed by Kaminsky, Hornets

Instant Replay: Flat Kings routed by Kaminsky, Hornets

BOX SCORE

SACRAMENTO -- It’s going to be a process. After a big win on Thursday night over the Denver Nuggets, the Sacramento Kings looked every bit the part of a team that had just completely revamped its roster on the fly. The result was a disappointing 99-85 loss to the Charlotte Hornets at Golden 1 Center.

Sacramento left big man Frank Kaminsky open all night and he torched them from the perimeter. The second-year center scored 23 points on 5-of-9 shooting from 3-point land while grabbing 13 rebounds and handing out three assists.

Nic Batum couldn’t buy a bucket, shooting just 4-of-17 from the field on the night. He stall managed to impact the game in a positive way for Charlotte, finishing with 15 points and six rebounds.

Marvin Williams chipped in 16 points and six rebounds. All-Star Kemba Walker scored just 12 points and dished out six assists and Marco Belinelli added 13 points and six rebounds in the win.

Rookie Skal Labissiere put up solid numbers for the second straight game. After bouncing back and forth between Sacramento and the Reno Bighorns all season long, the athletic big dropped in eight points and grabbed 13 rebounds in 22 minutes of play.

Ben McLemore rallied late to score 18 points on 3-of-7 shooting from deep.

Buddy Hield went for 15, although most of his points came when the game was out of hand. Darren Collison added 10 points and five assists

Anthony Tolliver was one of the few players to find their range as the Kings fell behind early. The veteran knocked down 3-for-6 from long range on his way to 11 points.

Tyreke Evans turned back the clock and showed flashes of the player that averaged 20-5-5 as a rookie. The 27-year-old wing dropped in 11 points, five rebounds and five assists in 22 minutes starting at the small forward spot for Sacramento.

STANDOUT PERFORMER:
Kaminsky lit the Kings up. More of a stretch four than a true center, the second-year big looked very comfortable all night long.

TURNING POINT:
Charlotte finished the first half strong to take an 11 point lead into the break. Coming out of the intermission, the Hornets jumped all over the Kings, using a 12-0 run to start the third and push their lead to 23.

INJURY UPDATE:
Arron Afflalo, Garrett Temple and Malachi Richardson sat again with varying degrees of hamstring issues. Afflalo continues to be listed as day-to-day with hamstring stiffness. Temple is out for another few games with a left hamstring tear and rookie Richardson is out 4-6 weeks with a right hamstring thickness tear, but hopes to return before the season is finished. Rudy Gay is out for the year with a torn left Achilles.

WHAT'S NEXT:
The Kings are back in action Monday evening when Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns and the Minnesota Timberwolves roll through Sacramento.