Wade, Heat too much for Kings in 120-108 win

678206.jpg

Wade, Heat too much for Kings in 120-108 win

BOX SCORE
MIAMI -- The Miami Heat knew what was coming from Sacramento. Eventually, they handled the Kings' challenge.Dwyane Wade had 30 points and 10 assists, Mario Chalmers and Chris Bosh each scored 20 points and the NBA-leading Heat stretched their winning streak to seven games with a 120-108 win over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night."It was a good game for me, just trying to be aggressive and was able to get my teammates some shots," said Wade, who shot 11 for 16 and has tied his career-best with 11 straight games of shooting 50 percent or better, matching a run from his rookie season. "And I was also able to continue do what I've been doing the last couple games, just taking high-percentage shots and making them."

LeBron James scored 18 points, Norris Cole had 12 and Udonis Haslem added 10 for Miami (26-7), which has won each of its games during this streak by at least 12 points.Next up for Miami: The New York Knicks and Jeremy Lin come to town Thursday."It's going to be fun," James said. "It's going to be electrifying. ... It could be one of the most-watched games that we've had in a long time."Isaiah Thomas scored 20 of his 24 points in the third quarter for Sacramento, which dropped its sixth straight. Marcus Thornton scored 23, Tyreke Evans finished with 21 points and 10 assists, and Jason Thompson had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Kings.The Kings were without guard John Salmons, a late scratch with a sore right hip."You needed to play a perfect game to win this game against this team and we were pretty close to the perfect game," Kings coach Keith Smart said. "We had moments, but when you give up 25 points off turnovers, you're not going to beat many teams."Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said he didn't expect Sacramento to come out and play like a team with one of the NBA's worst records, and he was right. Thompson had 10 points and six rebounds in the opening quarter and Evans' buzzer-beating 3-pointer from near midcourt gave Sacramento a 32-26 lead after 12 minutes.Maybe the biggest surprise of the first half was that it took Miami - a team that had led by 20 points at some time in each of its six previous outings, but never enjoyed better than an 18-point margin Tuesday - nearly a full hour after tipoff to get the highlight reels cranking."I don't think we came out flat," said Chalmers, who matched a career-best with six 3-pointers. "I just think they knew how to get out early on us."Late in the second quarter, James blocked a drive by Thomas, the Heat controlled the rebound, and took off running. James got the ball to Wade, who leaped, stayed airborne long enough to draw contact from Cousins and then made an acrobatic layup while falling to the floor. The three-point play put Miami ahead 49-47 and the Heat kept the lead - such as it was - the rest of the half.Another spectacular James-to-Wade connection helped.Wade forced Donte Greene into a miss, and Francisco Garcia grabbed the rebound and tried to lay the ball in, all in the same motion. James blocked Garcia's shot - the Kings wanted goaltending - and moments later threw a 70-foot chest pass to Wade for an alley-oop layup at the other end, part of a late mini-flurry that sent Miami into halftime leading 57-53."They played very well and they have some weapons, some young weapons on that team that you saw," Spoelstra said.The Heat kept the lead for the entirety of the third quarter, despite Thomas' best efforts.Thomas' 20 points came in a 10-minute span of that quarter, a 5-for-6 effort from 3-point range and 5-for-5 from the foul line, the last three there coming when he was fouled by Cole while trying about a 25-footer in the final seconds of the third and getting Sacramento to 93-88."I've always been a scorer my whole life," Thomas said. "I score in bunches but we didn't get the win. That's the most important thing."Early in the fourth, the Heat seemed to decide enough was enough.A 15-5 run, mostly from the Heat reserves, provided the long awaited breathing room. Cole had four points and an assist in the early stages, and after Mike Miller missed a 3-pointer, Haslem capped the flurry with a one-handed putback dunk that sent Wade running about 15 feet onto the court at the other end in celebration."We know teams are going to play better than they usually play against us and that's OK," James said. "If it takes four quarters, which we're capable of playing, we just continue to weather the storm and continue to do what we need to do."NOTES: Haslem (now with 4,549) passed Rony Seikaly (4,544) for second place on Miami's all-time rebounding list. At his current pace, Haslem would have a chance to catch Alonzo Mourning (4,807) by the end of the season. ... Thomas' third-quarter barrage was the biggest one-quarter scoring effort by a Kings player since Kevin Martin scored 24 in the fourth against New Orleans on Feb. 23, 2009. ... A number of fans chanted throughout the night that they wanted to see Jimmer Fredette in the game. Fredette did not play. ... Boxer Floyd Mayweather was in attendance, seated near the Kings' bench.

With gaping holes to fill, 2017 NBA Draft offers Kings several options

With gaping holes to fill, 2017 NBA Draft offers Kings several options

The Sacramento Kings walk into the 2017 offseason with gaping holes in their roster. Free agency will play a role, but before they get to spending their $60-plus million in cap space, Vlade Divac, Scott Perry, Ken Catanella and the rest of the front office will try to fill some of their needs via the draft.

While the first batch of draft prospects rolled through Sacramento late last week, Vlade Divac, along with European scout Predrag Drobnjak spent the weekend in Istanbul, Turkey at the European Championships. Sharpshooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic led Fenerbahçe to its first title, further building the hype around one of Europe’s best young stars.

Divac acquired the rights to Bogdanovic in a draft day trade last summer when the 6-foot-6 Serbian was tossed in along with picks 13 and 28 for the 9th overall selection in the 2016 NBA Draft. Divac would love to entice the 24-year-old wing to play in the NBA next season.

Even if Bogdanovic buys in, the Kings need more.

Both Darren Collison and Ty Lawson are unrestricted free agents, leaving Langston Galloway as the only point guard on the roster. Rudy Gay has already informed the team that he intends to opt out of his $14.3 million player option for next season, opening a massive need at the small forward position.

The needs are clear. Sacramento has to find a point guard and small forward of the future. They also need a point guard and a small forward of the right now. If a player fits both now and in the future, so be it.

Lady luck shined brightly on the Kings during the draft lottery. A move from No. 8 to No. 3 would have guaranteed a point guard, but a pick swap to No. 5 still has Sacramento in the running to fill one of their biggest voids.

While plenty of mock drafts have a variety of players in the top five of the 2017 NBA Draft, there is a clear group that Sacramento will likely focus on. Barring a major trade, point guard Markelle Fultz out of the University of Washington is projected to go with the first overall selection, but then it’s wide open how the next four picks will unfold.

UCLA’s Lonzo Ball is projected to go to the Los Angeles Lakers at No. 2 in most mocks, but nothing is a sure bet. Small forwards Josh Jackson and Jayson Tatum are top five selections as well, while Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox is an early draft climber.

Sacramento would love nothing more than to see Fox sitting on the board when they select at five. He’s slight of build, but the 6-foot-3 speedster is a high character player with tons of potential. He would step in and instantly compete for a starting job with the Kings’ young core.

There are concerns that Fox won’t make it to five and the Kings have a few options if they want to move up, but the real question is, should they?

If Fox is gone, Sacramento will still have a player on the board at a position of need. Be it Ball, Jackson or Tatum, the talent pool is rich. Finding a floor general is important, but finding a star should be the top priority. All five have potential to become more than just a starter in the league and all five fit one of the team’s two most glaring weaknesses on the current roster.

Drafting either Jackson or Tatum would instantly bump the talent level of the team. Both are considered top tier prospects and for Sacramento, likely starters on Day 1.

Jackson is a catalyst type player and personality that brings energy, as well as a tremendous skill set. He can pass, rebound, play defense at a high level and score above the rim. He’ll be an instant fan favorite wherever he lands.

Tatum has potential as a two-way player, but his offensive game should instantly translate to the NBA level. A polished scorer, Tatum would step in and give the Kings a scoring option to fill the shoes of Gay, who is on the verge of becoming an unrestricted free agent.

The Top 10 has plenty of other high end prospects. Sacramento could chase a shooting big in Lauri Markkanen. The 7-footer out of Arizona would help to stretch the floor at the four, but their other needs are more obvious.

Fox’s backcourt mate at Kentucky, Malik Monk, is also an intriguing player, but with Buddy Hield, Garrett Temple, Malachi Richardson and the potential for Bogdanovic to join the team, the Kings are heavy at the shooting guard spot.

Point guard Dennis Smith has a high ceiling and would likely challenge for top five consideration if it wasn’t for a torn ACL in high school and some questions about his attitude.

If Sacramento selects a small forward with the fifth pick and Smith was still available when they choose again at No. 10, he becomes a lower risk proposition the Kings might have to consider.

Point guard Frank Ntilikina out of France would fit the bill as well in the right situation. If the Kings land Jackson or Tatum at five, they could come back with Ntilikina at 10. He’s young and inexperienced, but he also stands at 6-foot-5 with a 7-foot wingspan. His defensive potential at the point is tremendous, but he is a project on the offensive end, not a polished player like the four point guards expected to go ahead of him in the draft.

Combo forward Jonathan Isaac is an appealing prospect, but he’ll need plenty of time to develop and he’s a better target if he somehow slips to 10. Like Smith and Ntilikina, this would be a nice addition if the Kings fill their other need with the fifth overall selection.

Regardless of how they got to No.’s 5 and 10, the Kings are in a good spot. They have options and plenty of players at positions of need and there is potential to land a future star. Once the draft rolls around on June 22, the focus will quickly shift to shoring up the remainder of the squad. With two high picks, the potential addition of Bogdanovic and plenty of cap space, the Kings are primed for a big time roster overhaul this summer.

Joerger: Rebuilding Kings hope to make the playoffs in...

Joerger: Rebuilding Kings hope to make the playoffs in...

The Kings' playoff drought is at 11 years and according to head coach Dave Joerger, it's going to last a few more years.

Speaking on Sirius XM NBA Radio on Tuesday, Joerger was asked about the differences between his coaching gigs with Sacramento and Memphis, and outlined the Kings' timeline for reaching the postseason.

"It's different. It's been a great learning experience for me. It's going to be an interesting process. You know, three years from now we hope to be in the playoffs. And so how do we do that? We were just talking about Memphis and it's the same thing. So if you're management, there's a couple times a year, two or three times that are really hot. Trade deadline, draft, free agency, boom, boom, boom. We're in Memphis sitting there getting 50 wins a year. Okay, maybe the trade deadline came and went, maybe we got a guy, maybe not, not too stressful. Get the 23rd, 24th pick in the draft," Joerger said.

"It's different now. In this situation, it's a higher pick, now free agency has a little bit more focus on it. So how we execute in free agency, how we execute our draft picks and how we execute at the trade deadline as this thing builds, you try to go too fast, you can make mistakes. But I think slow and steady wins the race," Joerger concluded.

So Kings fans can look forward to the 2019-20 season when the team returns to the playoffs.

Joerger is at the helm of a Kings team that is in full rebuild mode. The team traded center DeMarcus Cousins during the All-Star break and turned the team over to several first and second-year players. They posted a 32-50 record during the 2016-17 season, good for a third-place finish in the Pacific Division.

The Kings hold the No. 5, 10 and 34 picks in the upcoming 2017 NBA Draft and will add to their stable of young players.