Kings dominate Wizards in 4th, snap losing streak

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Kings dominate Wizards in 4th, snap losing streak

BOX SCORE
WASHINGTON (AP) -- With the pace off the charts and players driving to the basket at will, the first half of Wednesday night's game between the Sacramento Kings and Washington Wizards looked like an All-Star game preview - minus the All-Stars.Then a few things happened that weren't All-Star-like at all: The Kings started playing some defense, DeMarcus Cousins made the unselfish decision to keep himself on the bench, and the coach of the losing team angrily ripped his players for pursuing "style over substance."Cousins and Tyreke Evans sat the entire fourth quarter while Marcus Thornton, rookie Isaiah Thomas and Chuck Hayes took over, leading Sacramento to a 115-107 win that snapped a six-game losing streak."I was getting ready to put Cousins back in," Kings coach Keith Smart said. "And he said Let Chuck Hayes stay in the game.' That's gigantic for him. Tyreke Evans had a fabulous first half, came out of the game, didn't play in the fourth quarter and simply cheered his teammates on."That's the growth I'm trying for our team to have if we're ever going to have a chance to be good and turn our franchise around."It made for an interesting set of numbers as the game progressed. Evans scored 20 of his 22 points in the first half, and Cousins had 14 of his 16 before halftime as well as 10 of his 16 rebounds. Meanwhile, Thornton scored 18 of his 22 in the second half, and Thomas had 16 of his 18 in the final two quarters. Hayes finished with six points - all in the final 6 12 minutes."Chuck was doing an incredible job out there on the floor," Cousins said. "The group that was out there was going well, so there was no need for me to go in and change it."Right now, it's hard to imagine such examples of team play coming from the Wizards, who made 6-of-16 shots in the fourth quarter. Washington has lost four straight and enters the All-Star break 19 games under .500."Until our team is committed to playing winning basketball - until they're committed to doing that - we're going to be like this team was tonight," coach Randy Wittman said. "There wasn't anything done in that second half to win that game."I know the term has been used - style over substance. We got a guy going in for a layup and does a reverse 360 and misses the whole thing. Crowd oohed and aahed. We didn't get any points out of it. Until we're committed to making winning basketball plays the whole game, it's going to look like that."He kept going, referencing the Wizards' 14 second-half turnovers."Why did we have those turnovers? When I'm double-teamed, I continue to try to do something against the double team," Wittman said. "You're going to turn it over, plain and simple."The player guilty of the failed 360 move was Nick Young, who was 6 of 23 and scored 17 points."I was the only one who did it. I did that in the past. If I make it, everybody's on my side," Young said. "If I miss it, then it's a bad shot. ... I didn't know I had that many shots. I was just trying to get things going for my teammates. They brought me here for that and that's one of the parts of my game."Jordan Crawford scored a season-high 32 points, and John Wall had 21 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds for the Wizards."In that second half, we became selfish and didn't play team defense," Wall said, "and they picked us apart."The Kings said pretty much the same thing about themselves in the first half as the Wizards piled up 68 points at halftime, the most Washington has scored in any half this season. Neither of these losing teams will have a player in the All-Star game in Orlando on Sunday - the only representatives will be former Kentucky teammates Cousins and Wall in the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday - but that didn't keep both sides from getting in the spirit of fast-paced runs that met little resistance."There was no defense out there," Cousins said. "It was terrible."The game included 58 fast break points and 102 points in the paint. The Kings led 104-103 with 3:44 to play, but Thomas scored the next basket to start a game-ending 11-4 run as Sacramento matched its highest point total of the season.Thomas made 8 of his last 12 shots and has scored 78 points since taking the starting point guard spot four games ago, tying Otis Birdsong (1977) for the most points scored by a Kings rookie in his first four starts.The win also gave the Kings an upbeat ending to their six-game road trip."It was important for us to get a win and go home over this break," Smart said, "and not have to come back with all the world on our shoulders."Notes: In this lockout-shortened season, both the Kings (11-22) and Wizards (7-26) hit the break exactly halfway through their 66-game respective schedules. Sacramento improved to 4-17 on the road; Washington fell to 4-13 at home. ... The Wizards had won six in a row at home against the Kings. ... Washington F Jan Vesely was not on the bench at the start of the game because of a stomach virus, but he played in the second half. ... Sacramento F-G John Salmons missed his second straight game with a sore right hip. ... Players have been known to check out mentally in the final game before the All-Star vacation, and both coaches addressed it before the game. "I've been around it when I look in the tunnel and the limos are already there - ready to go to the next spot," Smart said.

NBA Gameday: Cauley-Stein vs Gobert the matchup to watch

NBA Gameday: Cauley-Stein vs Gobert the matchup to watch

SACRAMENTO -- Riding a two-game win streak, the Sacramento Kings host the playoff bound Utah Jazz Wednesday at Golden 1 Center.

Sacramento knocked off the Memphis Grizzlies Monday evening, relying heavily on their veterans down the stretch to pick up their 29th win of the season. Darren Collison posted a team-high 23 points and seven assists in 37 minutes.

The Jazz sit a game and a half ahead of the Los Angeles Clippers for the fourth seed in the Western Conference playoffs chase. While they are a lock for the playoffs, with just eight games remaining in their season a win against Sacramento would go a long way towards cementing homecourt advantage in round one of the postseason.

OPENING LINE

Jazz by 7.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Willie Cauley-Stein vs. Rudy Gobert -- The Sacramento Kings would love nothing more than for Cauley-Stein to turn into the next Rudy Gobert. Since the All-Star break, the 7-footer out of Kentucky is dropping in 12.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 32 minutes per game. In his fourth season in the league, Gobert is posting career-best numbers across the board. The 24-year-old Frenchman is averaging 13.8 points, 12.9 rebounds and a league-leading 2.6 blocks per game.

WHERE THEY STAND

Kings: 29-45, third place in Pacific

Jazz: 45-29, first place in Northwest

INJURY REPORT

Kings: SG Malachi Richardson (right hamstring partial tear) out for the season, F Rudy Gay (torn left Achilles) out for season.

Jazz: SF Gordon Hayward (quad) is questionable, PF Derrick Favors (knee), George Hill (groin strain) and Raul Neto (groin strain) are out.

SERIES HISTORY

Utah leads the season series 2-1 over the Kings, including a 110-109 overtime win at Golden 1 Center on March 5. Utah leads the all-time series 101-82 and holds a 78-49 advantage during the Sacramento-era.

QUOTE

“We’re competing and that’s the biggest thing - we’re not laying down. Even though we’re not in the playoff race, we’re playing like we’re in the playoff race and that’s bigtime.” -Willie Cauley-Stein following the win over the Grizzlies

Kings beat Grizzlies for Joerger: 'He really wanted that one'

Kings beat Grizzlies for Joerger: 'He really wanted that one'

SACRAMENTO -- Sometimes a game means a little bit more than just one of 82. For Dave Joerger, beating his former team is gratifying, whether he wants to admit it or not, especially when that team is in the middle of major playoff push.

“I know he really wanted that one, you could tell before and during the game,” veteran point guard Darren Collison said of his head coach after the Kings’ 91-90 over the Memphis Grizzlies. “Anytime you go against your former team it definitely means a lot.”

Everyone noticed the change in Joerger. Be it in film prep or in walk-through, something was different. Despite the playoff chase being over, Joerger turned to his veterans and they delivered in the clutch.

“Anytime you play against your former team, whether it be a coach or a player, you have a little more energy, you have a little more incentive to win,” Anthony Tolliver said.

Ten Kings players saw court time, but both Skal Labissiere and Langston Galloway played sparingly as Joerger tightened his rotation. All five starters played 30 minutes or more, with Collison seeing a team-high 37 minutes.

The veteran point guard finished with a game-high 23 points and seven assists in the win. His free throws with 5.7 seconds remaining pushed the Kings into the lead and Memphis’ last ditch effort to win the game at the buzzer rimmed out.

“The more games we win, it’s going to be better for these young guys,” Collison said. “It’s very hard to win in this league and winning is contagious.”

This was the second straight victory for Sacramento after dropping four in a row. The team is now 5-12 since the All-Star break and they are 4-4 over their last eight games.

“We’re competing and that’s the biggest thing - we’re not laying down,” Willie Cauley-Stein said. “Even though we’re not in the playoff race, we’re playing like we’re in the playoff race and that’s bigtime.”

Cauley-Stein continued his strong play since the break. The second-year big posted 12 points, grabbed nine rebounds and dished out three assists in 33 minutes. He played solid defense on veteran Zach Randolph down the stretch.

It was a team effort. Four players scored in double-figures, including rookie Buddy Hield, who scored 14 points and grabbed four rebounds. Big man Kosta Koufos added 11 points, five rebounds and three blocks, while Ty Lawson finished with 10 points in 19 minutes of action.

Following the game, Joerger alluded to this being the final time we will see many of the veterans playing major minutes together. With just eight games remaining in the season, it’s time to give the young core the reigns and let them show what they can do.

“This was maybe our last stand for the year as far as you’re probably not going to see all those veterans play together for the rest of the season,” said Joerger. “It’s at home, it’s a great opportunity. The guys went out there and laid it all on the line.”

The Kings return to their home court on Wednesday when the Utah Jazz roll through Golden 1 Center. Of their remaining eight games on the schedule, Sacramento has four home contests and four on the road. They’ll finish the 2016-17 season on April 12 in Los Angeles against the Clippers.