Tyreke's return not enough for Kings in loss to Bucks


Tyreke's return not enough for Kings in loss to Bucks


MILWAUKEE (AP) Brandon Jennings scored 19 points, Monta Ellis had 17 points and 11 assists and the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Sacramento Kings 98-85 on Wednesday night.

Ersan Ilyasova added 16 points and a season-high 14 rebounds, and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute scored a season-high 17 points in his first start of the season for Milwaukee (11-9), which has its best 20-game start since 2005-06.

Tyreke Evans had 17 points in his return to Sacramento's lineup after missing three straight games - and five of six - with a sore left knee. John Salmons added 16 points.

The Kings were without center DeMarcus Cousins, suspended one game by the NBA earlier in the day striking Dallas' O.J. Mayo in the groin area in their road loss Monday night.

The Bucks never trailed and used a 12-2 run bridging the third and fourth quarters to take a 79-64 lead and put the game away.

Both teams were short-handed. Besides Cousins, the team's leading scorer and rebounder, the Kings were without key reserve forward Marcus Thornton (personal reasons). The Bucks were missing their two starting forwards, Larry Sanders (illness) and Epke Udoh (left wrist sprain), and key reserves Mike Dunleavy (bruised left knee) and Beno Udrih (right ankle sprain).

The offenses struggled as the Bucks shot 41 percent (39 for 96) from the field to Sacramento's 37 percent (32 for 86), and the Kings were just 3-of-19 (16 percent) on 3s.

The missed shots led to a lot of rebounds and Milwaukee finished with a 60-50 edge. Drew Gooden finished with 10 boards in his first extended playing time (22 1/2 minutes) of the season. He was inactive much of the year before making his debut last Friday.

Jason Thompson had a season-high 15 rebounds for Sacramento.

The Bucks jumped to an early 20-10 lead and led 29-19 after the first quarter, as Ellis sank a half-court shot to beat the buzzer. Sacramento used a 10-0 run to tie it at 32.

Two Bucks players picked up technical fouls with 2:04 left in the second quarter after exchanging words with referee Ken Mauer. Tobias Harris was whistled after arguing over a no-call following a layup attempt.

Then, as Harris was getting taped up near the bench, Mauer whistled Gooden, who was sitting on the bench. The technical free throws made it 43-39, but Milwaukee scored the last six points of the half to lead by 10 at the break. Mbah a Moute had 13 in the half.

Ellis added eight rebounds in his bid for his third career triple double.

NOTES: Milwaukee started 12-8 in 2005-06 en route to a 40-42 season. . Dunleavy has missed four straight games, and Udrih has missed six straight. . The teams' last meeting came on Jan. 5, when the Kings came from a 21-point halftime deficit to beat Milwaukee 103-100 in Keith Smart's coaching debut.

Rewind: Kings display depth in convincing season-opening victory

Rewind: Kings display depth in convincing season-opening victory

It’s just one game, but an outline is taking shape. The Sacramento Kings might be a newly assembled group with plenty of room to improve, but their 113-94 win over the Phoenix Suns in Wednesday night’s opener showed a quality lacking from previous seasons. This team is deep with NBA level talent and whether they win or lose, they look like a team that will give a fight night in and night out.

The Suns won just 23 games last season and they boast a roster with four teenagers and five total players under the legal drinking age. This isn’t a 67 win Spurs team like the Kings will face Thursday night at the Golden 1 Center, but they are still an NBA squad.

For most of the night, the Kings completely overmatched their young opponents on both ends of the floor. Sacramento took a 57-38 lead into the third quarter and looked like they might walk away with a huge blowout win to start the season. They pushed to lead to 26 multiple times, but then let off the gas.

“We didn’t stay consistent with what we’re doing to have the lead that we had, we broke down,” DeMarcus Cousins said following the game.

Phoenix made a run in the late third quarter and early fourth, cutting the Kings’ lead to 10 before Sacramento responded with a 12-1 run to put the game away.

“The funny thing about tonight, we had a spot that was kind of familiar from the past years, where we were up, but we let another team back in and gave them some energy and gave them some momentum going forward,” Cousins told CSN’s Kayte Christensen. “Usually it will turn into a game. But the difference this year is we poised ourself, shut the water off and got some stops”

The Kings didn’t play 48 minutes of quality basketball. They might not have even made it to the 36 minute plateau, but when they needed a big shot to break the Suns momentum someone stepped up. And when they needed a defensive stop, they had the ability to make one.

“We’re helping each other,” Rudy Gay said following the game. “That’s one of the things in camp that we wanted to make known - that we have to help each other, we have to be a team and play team defense and we did that today.”

It’s a mindset that head coach Dave Joerger has brought with him from his time in Memphis. It’s a grit and grind system that has proven to be very effective for the Kings’ new head coach.

“Defensively, when you get after people, 48 minutes is a long game to be locked and have that focus,” Joerger said. “When you just keep banging away at it and banging away at it, it becomes who you are.”

The Kings are working on the defensive identity that Joerger is preaching. It’s a work in progress, but one that has been missing from Sacramento for quite some time. While the starting unit looked a bit lost on the defensive end to start the game, they made adjustments to stop the Suns interior attack. They also held a quality perimeter shooting Phoenix team to just 4-of-16 from long range.

On the offensive end, Sacramento shared the ball as 11 of the 12 players that took the floor scored a basket and nine players scored six or more points.

“I think the biggest difference is everybody is part of the offense,” Gay said. “Obviously we have our guys who can go get buckets, but when everybody has the freedom to attack and be aggressive and know that there’s time when we get ours, but for the most part, they need to be aggressive too.”

Cousins led the way with 24 points on just 6-of-10 shooting from the floor and Gay added 22. Veterans Matt Barnes (14 points) and Garrett Temple (12 points) helped lead a bench unit that outscored the Suns second team 48-34.

The Kings will face a different beast Thursday night in their home opener. San Antonio is fresh off a drubbing of the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday and have been in Sacramento awaiting the return of the home team. Back-to-backs are never easy, but this one feels especially cruel by the NBA schedule makers.

Instant Replay: Cousins, Kings cruise in opener vs Suns

Instant Replay: Cousins, Kings cruise in opener vs Suns


The Sacramento Kings rolled into Phoenix’s Talking Stick Resort Arena and blew away the Suns on Wednesday night by a final of 113-94. The young upstart Suns tried to make a game out of it in the early fourth quarter, but Sacramento turned to their veterans who delivered down the stretch.

DeMarcus Cousins got into foul trouble early, but still found a way to drop in 24 points and grab six rebounds in 24 minutes manning the middle. Once he was in the flow of the defense, Cousins came to the aid of his teammates, stepping in and cutting off the baseline on multiple possessions.

Like Cousins, Rudy Gay didn’t look great early, but he still managed to score 22 points in the win. There was a sequence in the third quarter when Gay came alive on the defensive end, blocking back-to-back shots on the same defensive possession..

Starting for Darren Collison, Ty Lawson ran the offense better than expected, posting nine points, six rebounds and seven assists in 35 minutes of action.

Garrett Temple filled in as the reserve point guard spot and added 12 points on 6-for-8 shooting.

Matt Barnes provided a spark off the bench, tossing in 14 points and grabbing seven rebounds.

Eleven of 12 players that stepped on the floor for Sacramento scored and nine players players dropped in six points or more in the win.  

Eric Bledsoe had a nice night for the Suns, scoring 16 points on 5-for-11 shooting with five assists. T.J. Warren chipped in 14 points and five rebounds while playing solid defense on Gay early. Devin Booker added 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting, but he missed all three of his long range shots.  

STANDOUT PERFORMER -- Cousins couldn’t set the tempo early, but when he got it rolling in the third quarter, it was lights out for the Suns. There are plenty of nights that Cousins will be asked to do more, but with a big lead, the Kings didn’t need a typical showing from their All-Star center.

TURNING POINT -- Sacramento finished the first half on a 16-1 run and took a 57-38 lead into the intermission. The Suns kept it within 20 for most of the night and even made a run at the end of third, but the game was decided in the few minutes leading to the intermission.

INJURY UPDATE -- Sacramento enters the season with a full roster of healthy bodies. Matt Barnes struggled with a rib injury during camp, but played a big 27 minutes for the Kings  in the opener.

WHAT'S NEXT -- The Kings return home from Phoenix following the game where the the San Antonio Spurs are waiting for them. Thursday night’s home opener marks the first official game in the new Golden 1 Center as the Kings look to improve to 2-0 on the season.