Tyreke's 28 points not enough for Kings against Magic

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Tyreke's 28 points not enough for Kings against Magic

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SACRAMENTO -- Having foul-plagued star Dwight Howard sitting on the bench for much of the first three quarters wasn't funny to Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy during the game.Afterward, the veteran coach could laugh about it.Jason Richardson scored a season-high 22 points, Glen Davis added a season-best 20 and Orlando beat the Sacramento Kings 104-97 on Sunday with Howard playing only a minor role.The All-Star center, who entered the game averaging 20.3 points and 15.9 rebounds, had five points and four rebounds in 20 minutes and spent most of the first three quarters in foul trouble. He didn't get his first rebound until 4 minutes into the fourth and was scoreless before converting a three-point play with 6:35 remaining, putting the Magic ahead 87-85."I got Dwight a lot of rest in the first half. That was a (good) coaching move," laughed Van Gundy, who received 42 points from his productive bench.Davis earned a big share of the credit. Nicknamed "Big Baby" for his 289-pound frame and style of play, Davis consistently hit jumpers from the perimeter and used his muscle to score inside and grab eight rebounds, including five on offense. He shot 8 of 13 and had two assists in 28 minutes."These types of games are a tell-all for a team when you have your best player in foul trouble," said Orlando forward Ryan Anderson, who had 19 points and 11 rebounds. "We had a lot of guys back (Howard) up tonight. Glen did an amazing job off the bench."Tyreke Evans had a season-high 28 points and eight assists for the Kings. DeMarcus Cousins, also hampered by fouls, had 16 points and 10 rebounds. J.J. Hickson added 14 points and 11 rebounds, and Marcus Thornton scored 13 points.Guarding Cousins, Howard picked up his second foul at the 10:14 mark of the first quarter and promptly left the game. He was called for a third foul midway through the second quarter and had zero points and rebounds in 6 first-half minutes.Howard was whistled for his fourth foul at 9:57 of the third quarter. He also had a second-quarter technical for what he termed a harmless comment to the referees."I didn't curse and I didn't show them up," he said.Although Howard would have preferred playing with foul trouble, he said he understood Van Gundy's decision to sit him for more than half the game."It's smart. He didn't want me to pick up any more cheap fouls, especially early in the game," Howard said. "He would rather have me sitting than in the game and having to be tentative."With Howard on the bench, the Kings shot 52 percent to stay close throughout. But 17 turnovers and only 16 assists were partly to blame for the end to their modest two-game home winning streak."Obviously, he's the focal point of the team, an All-Star," Kings coach Keith Smart said. "It makes the game a little bit easier when the paint opens up and you don't have a guy shot-blocking and rebounding. So that was one of the keys to us staying in the game and having the lead. We just really couldn't hold onto it and extend it."Von Wafer made three 3-pointers and scored 12 points, and Hedo Turkoglu added 11 points for the Magic, who had 14 more field goal attempts than the Kings and committed only 10 turnovers.Turkoglu banked in a 3 with the shot clock running down to give Orlando a 93-89 lead with just less than 3 minutes remaining. Anderson's 3-pointer from the corner and Turkoglu's layup gave the Magic a 102-95 cushion with 35 seconds left.Even with Howard sidelined for a large portion of the game, Cousins also got into foul trouble. He picked up two fouls in just more than a minute in the third quarter and went to the bench at the 6:54 mark with five fouls."We've just got to get better with late-game situations," said Cousins, who had only four points and four rebounds in the second half when he was saddled with foul problems. "It's not something we can get overnight, but we have to continue to get better. We are taking steps forward."The game was the start of a four-game road trip for the Magic, which ends Jan. 16 against the Knicks.The Kings' next game is Tuesday in Philadelphia, the start of a five-game road trip in seven days.After struggling for much of the game, Anderson got going in the third quarter, scoring 11 points. Davis replaced Howard and proved to be trouble for the Kings again, scoring nine points as Orlando took an 81-79 lead into the fourth.Despite playing almost the entire first half without Howard, the Magic led 49-47. Davis and Richardson both scored 11 points, while Evans had 15 for the Kings and Cousins added 12. The Orlando bench had 28 first-half points.A slow starter much of the season, Cousins scored 10 points in helping the Kings to a 21-19 lead in the opening quarter.Notes: Anderson, who missed his first six shots, grew up in nearby El Dorado Hills, about 30 miles northeast of Sacramento. He got tickets for a group of family and friends. ... Turkoglu argued a first-quarter foul and was given a technical. ... Thornton missed all seven shots in a scoreless opening half, but finally scored on a jumper early in the third quarter, when he had 10 points.

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.