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

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

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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.

Calipari sees Labissiere's progress during rookie season: 'I give Sac credit'

Calipari sees Labissiere's progress during rookie season: 'I give Sac credit'

Nothing has come easy for Skal Labissiere. He survived the earthquakes in Haiti. He moved to the United States speaking only only French and Haitian Creole as a young teenager. And his lone season at Kentucky he went from a top five prospect to a player that nearly fell out of the first round.

The knock on Labissiere coming out of Kentucky was that he didn’t like contact. Maybe it went farther than that, but there was no question that when he left for the NBA, he didn’t exactly walk away on the best of terms with head coach John Calipari.

When the Kings took on the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center in the final week of the regular season, Calipari sat in the stands watching a small group of his former players. During the telecast, NBC Sports California’s Kayte Christensen caught up with the legendary coach and he couldn’t stop gushing about his Wildcats alums, specifically the play of Labissiere.

“I look at Skal and the progress - I give Sac credit,” Calipari told Christensen. “These guys are working with him. He’s playing more confident. They’re putting him in positions he can have success. I didn’t do as good a job as they did.”

Labissiere went off for 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting against Los Angeles. He added three rebounds and two blocks, but the Kings stumbled down the stretch, allowing the Lakers to come away with the 98-94 victory.

In his freshman season at Kentucky, Labissiere scored more than 19 points just once, a 26 point outburst in his second game of the year against NJIT (New Jersey Institute of Technology). His highwater mark in his rookie season for the Kings was a 32-point, 11-rebound performance against the Phoenix Suns on March 15.

“He’s getting stronger, he’s growing, you can see him maturing physically, which was a big part of it,” Calipari said. “He had a good season with us, but, I used him wrong. Now I see him now, it’s amazing he’ll speak for me after I’m watching him play like this.”

The 21-year-old power forward has a smile that lights up a room. He even uses it as a defense mechanism when things get uncomfortable. Speaking about his time in Kentucky seems uncomfortable for the 6-foot-11 forward.

“Coach Cal, he does a really good job of getting guys ready for the next level,” Labissiere told NBC Sports California. “I appreciate him.”

Labissiere is looking ahead, not backwards. He is a an incredible talent and he is thankful for the job that Dave Joerger and his staff have done with him during his first season in the NBA.

“Coach Joerger, every since I was drafted here, he’s always believed in me,” Labissiere said. “He’s always putting me in the right positions, making me work on different things that normally I didn’t do in college. He’s making me do different things and believing in me. I love playing for him.”

Kentucky has produced some of the best big men in the game, including DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns. It’s a hotbed for talent, but specifically for centers and power forwards that take their game to the next level in the pros.

Labissiere would love to be included in that list, but he isn’t trying to be someone he’s not. His focus is on improving and helping his team win games.

“I don’t know, I’m just working for myself, doing what I’m supposed to do,” Labissiere said. “If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I’m just going to keep doing my thing.”

The Kings have big plans for Labissiere and the rest of their young core this summer. Labissiere will likely join the team’s three other 2016 first round picks in Las Vegas for Summer League in July. Another two or three rookies from the 2017 NBA Draft will likely join them as Sacramento attempts to build some early chemistry amongst.

Following Summer League, Labissiere is scheduled to travel to Haiti where he will hold a basketball camp in his home country. It’s the first time he’s been back to Haiti since moving to the US following the earthquake in 2010.

Labissiere wasn’t the only Kentucky product on display for Sacramento against the Lakers. Willie Cauley-Stein spent three seasons under Calipari before going sixth overall in the 2015 NBA Draft.

Cauley-Stein put up solid numbers in front of his former coach, finishing the game against the Lakers with 14 points, seven rebounds and three blocks in just 23 minutes of action.

“Willie is doing what he does,” Calipari said. “He’s flying up and down that floor, he’s blocking shots. He seems to have some freedoms to do some of the stuff he does well.”

Cauley-Stein is a completely different player two season removed from his time at Kentucky. He finished strong down the stretch for Sacramento, showing a newfound confidence in his scoring ability.

“It’s a great feeling, I don’t think he’s watched me play like that since I left,” Cauley-Stein said. “It was cool to get a chance to see him and show him things I’ve worked on and I’ve gotten better. It was really satisfying, [him] telling me I got better, so I know I’m [going] in the right direction.”

It’s clear that Labissiere and Cauley-Stein had a very different experience at Kentucky. The end result might work out just fine for the Sacramento Kings. The duo played alongside one another for plenty of games down the stretch as the team’s starting frontcourt. It’s a look Kings fans might get used to seeing going forward.

 

Source: Kings hire Perry as Executive VP of Basketball Operations

Source: Kings hire Perry as Executive VP of Basketball Operations

SACRAMENTO -- The changes keep coming in Sacramento. NBC Sports California has confirmed that the Kings have hired former Orlando Magic executive, Scott Perry, to fill the role of Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations.

Perry will report directly to Vlade Divac, who will retain final say in player personnel decisions.

Perry spent the last five seasons in Orlando as Vice President of Basketball Operations and Assistant General Manager. He was let go from the Magic last week following the dismissal of General Manager Rob Hennigan.

Perry, 53, began his career as an executive with the Detroit Pistons where he held the position of Director of Player Personnel from 2000-2007. He briefly left the Pistons, joining the Seattle Supersonics organization as an Assistant General Manager of the team for the 2007-08 season, before spending another four years as Detroit’s Vice President of Basketball Operations from 2008-2012.

Highly regarded around the league, Perry adds another experienced basketball mind to the Kings front office.

During his postseason media availability last week, Vlade Divac spoke openly about his willingness to accept additional help.

“We’re open always to improve - the team, the front office, everything is open for improvement,” Divac said. “I’m very happy and confident in what we have right now, but like I said, we should be open if something can you better.”

With the addition of Luke Bornn on Wednesday to head up the team’s analytics department, and Perry on Friday, the Kings appear to be building a stronger infrastructure as they move into a full youth movement.

Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical was first with the information.