Youth movement on full display in Kings' skid-busting win vs Magic

Youth movement on full display in Kings' skid-busting win vs Magic

SACRAMENTO -- With playoff chances a distant memory, fans want to see the young players take the court. That is exactly what they got Monday night at Golden 1 Center. The Kings rested four of their veterans, leaving two rookies and a second-year player to start. Somehow the still found a way to drop a sputtering Orlando Magic team by a final of 120-115.

“We needed it for sure,” rookie guard Buddy Hield said of the win. “Confidence, that’s all we needed, this helps with our confidence. As a young team, you just want to keep your head down all the time, you want to keep building.”

Hield scored 17 points with a variety of runners in the lane and a pair of 3-pointers. In 10 games with the Kings, he’s posted double-digit scoring all but once and he is averaging 14.2 points per game.

Second-year big Willie Cauley-Stein destroyed the Magic’s frontline in the pick-and-roll. The 7-footer finished with 18 points on 9-of-16 shooting and added seven rebounds. Since the All-Star break, Cauley-Stein is averaging 13.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game for Dave Joerger.

Forward Skal Labissiere’s length and athleticism were on full display as the 20-year-old big flew all over the court in his 20 minutes of action. He went toe-to-toe with one of the most athletic players in the game in Aaron Gordon and came away with 11 points, seven rebounds and a career-high four blocks.

“I like playing with him, he makes good plays and he’s young, so he’s going to learn not to make the bonehead plays,” Cauley-Stein said of his fellow Kentucky alum. “We all go through it. Once he gets that under his belt, he’s going to be a hell of a player in this league.”

Even seldom used rookie, Georgios Papagiannis held his own in a career-high 12 minutes of action.

With just nine players in uniform, it took a team effort for Sacramento to snap their eight-game losing streak. While the young players were on full display, the five healthy veterans that saw action also helped out.

“It’s a good group and they get along and they go play hard,” Joerger said during post game.”That’s kind of the identity that we’re hoping to have going forward. Whoever plays, this is how we do it here. We have great fans, a wonderful arena and we go out and and we play really hard.”

Seven players scored in double-figures for Sacramento. It was a free flowing offensive explosion, that included 16 made 3-pointers and a stellar 53.7 percent shooting percentage overall.

Darren Collison broke down the Magic defense and found Cauley-Stein for dunks at the rim. It was the second game of 10 or more assists in the last three contests for the Kings starting point guard. He’s building a chemistry with Cauley-Stein on the floor that wasn’t there early in the season.

“That’s that trust,” Cauley-Stein said. “Whenever you need an outlet, throw that thing to the rim, I’m going to go get it. I’m not going to let you get a turnover.”

When Orlando took away the roll option, Collison found the Kings’ perimeter players for open 3-pointers. The veteran point guard finished the night with 19 points, 13 assists and three steals.

“Offensively, we did a great job of spreading the ball around and helping each other score,” Garrett Temple said.

Veteran power forward Anthony Tolliver got hot from long range, hitting 5-of-7 from deep for 19 points. Temple knocked down two 3-pointers as well on his way to 14 points. Ben McLemore hit 3-of-6 from long range for 14 points and Langston Galloway came off the Kings bench to drop in two makes from behind the arc.

With the win, the Kings improved to 26-41 on the season. The losing streak is in the rear window and they take their show on the road beginning Wednesday in Phoenix. With only 15 games remaining in the season, the youth movement is in full-effect in Sacramento.

DeMarcus Cousins: 'Take all them motherf****** down'


DeMarcus Cousins: 'Take all them motherf****** down'

Some professional athletes take a stand by kneeling on the sidelines or raising a fist into the air. Some write succinct tweets expressing their dismay with the current political climate in the United States of America. Others just get right to the point with a poignant off the cuff statement to a waiting camera.

Former Sacramento Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins has certainly mastered the art of the cryptic tweet, but he’s also never been one to shy away from a direct question when asked. When an inquiry was thrown his direction about confederate statues in New Orleans and his home state of Alabama, Cousins was brief with his words, but very clear.

"Take all them mother****ers down," Cousins told TMZ while navigating a security line at the airport. "Take 'em all down.”

Cousins may not have chosen the most eloquent words, but his point of view is shared by plenty of others. He isn’t the first athlete to take a stand with regards to race in America over the last week as racial tensions have spilled out into the streets in Charlottesville, Virginia. Social media is filled with professional athletes adding their thoughts to the conversation.

The Warriors’ Kevin Durant has made it clear that he will not visit the White House and President Donald Trump, a visit most teams make following an NBA championship.

"Nah, I won't do that," the 8-time All-Star told ESPN on Thursday. "I don't respect who's in office right now.”

"I don't agree with what he agrees with, so my voice is going to be heard by not doing that,” Durant continued. “That's just me personally, but if I know my guys well enough, they'll all agree with me."

Garrett Temple has used Twitter to make his thoughts known as well. Recently named the Kings’ Players Voice Teammate of the Year by the National Basketball Players Association, Temple has used his position as an NBA player to speak out multiple times.

Over the last week, he’s fielded questions and had plenty of discussions through social media on the issues of race and equality. His Twitter timeline is littered with thoughtful replies and some not so thoughtful ideas as well. Plenty of fans thanking him for using his position to further the conversation and of course, there is the occasional, “stick to sports” comment.

Agree or disagree, today’s athletes have huge platforms to share their opinions. From Cousins to Temple, there are varying degrees of engagement, but the time of players staying out of the discussion is long gone.

The Maloofs' colossal charity bet on Mayweather-McGregor circus act


The Maloofs' colossal charity bet on Mayweather-McGregor circus act

Gavin and Joe Maloof have gambled plenty in their lives, which is in part how they ended up losing the Sacramento Kings. They ran big, they hit a dry well, and they ended up selling the works.

So their decision to bet $880,000 on Floyd Mayweather in his “thing” with Conor McGregor for a $160,000 payout seemed the perfectly daft idea for two guys who were painted as perfectly daft when they were running the Kings and their other businesses into a freeway abutment on I-80.

In fairness, they are planning to donate their winnings to a number of charities in the name of their hangover drink (Never Too Hungover, although I might have gone with the more lyrical HurlNoMore), so it’s not like their hearts aren’t a place close to the mythical “right place.”

But it does beg the question, “Why don’t they just give $160,000 and skip the scam?” Because it wasn’t about charity, it was about promotion, and while there’s nothing wrong with promotion, attaching it to one of the seediest carnival events of the modern era makes it seem, well, kind of creepy.

Or maybe “creepy” is too strong. Maybe’s it’s just opportunism, which is more, well, Vegas-y.

Kings fans will remember the Maloofs as the family that saved the foundering team from the clutches of owner Jim Thomas, and then remember them as the family whose clutches Vivek Ranadive had to save the team from 15 years later. It’s the nature of most ownerships – you do good to eliminate a prior evil, and eventually become evil yourselves when the fans turn on you.

But the Maloofs aren’t evil – even their most strident critics will say that. They just saw an opportunity to scratch a bunch of itches at once – good-heartedness, advertising, gambling and Vegas’ most important product – selling you things you could never imagine wanting.

It almost makes you wonder if they harbor a secret itch to take the $160,000 and double down on behalf of the charities for another of their pet projects – the Vegas Golden Knights. If they put it on the Knights to win the Stanley Cup at 200-1, that’s $32,000,000. Then if they took that and . . .

. . . and before you know it, they’re trapped in the fantasyland of Las Vegas at its weirdest. Maybe it’s just performance art with more money than most of us can eat.