Kings escape with 95-92 win over Blazers

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Kings escape with 95-92 win over Blazers

BOX SCORE
SACRAMENTO -- John Salmons can't remember a worse shooting slump.He's hoping the 19 points he scored to help the Sacramento Kings to a rare win over Portland on Thursday night will help him forget it.Marcus Thornton scored 20 points the Kings, who snapped a five-game losing streak by beating Portland 95-92 Thursday night.The Blazers had beaten the Kings in 12 of the previous 13 games, but Sacramento ran off five straight points late in the game and held off Portland, which missed two 3-pointers in the final 10 seconds, including a nice look from Jamal Crawford just prior to the buzzer soundings.

Salmons entered the game shooting 35 percent from the field and 21 percent on 3-pointers. After making three 3-pointers and eight of 14 shots overall, Salmons was asked if he had ever shot this poorly for such a prolonged stretch."Not this bad. Not this bad," said Salmons, who also had eight rebounds. "It's human nature to be frustrated. But you've got to stay with it and keep going. But it hasn't been easy."Kings coach Keith Smart understood what this game meant to Salmons, a quiet veteran who normally speaks much louder on the court than he does in the locker room."He's too proud of a pro to have a season-long bad game," Smart said. "I always knew that from knowing him around the league as a pro, that somewhere down the line his game is going to come back to him. The guy is really working. I'm happy that he played well, and so is the team."LaMarcus Aldridge had 28 points and 14 rebounds for the Blazers, who have lost four straight on the road, where they are 3-9 this season. Jamal Crawford scored 17 points and Raymond Felton 15 points and 10 assists. Portland made just 8-of-16 free throws.Tyreke Evans scored 18 points, Marcus Thornton and Jason Thompson added 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Kings.Salmons broke an 88-88 tie with a jumper and Thompson put back a shot in traffic, giving the Kings a 92-88 lead with 1:53 left. A jumper by Evans gave Sacramento a 95-90 cushion with 15.2 seconds remaining."We've seen this team three times so far, that's how crazy this season has been," Thompson said. "We prepared for them, the extra practice this week helped. We definitely needed this win. It's nice to smile after a game and laugh."Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, who averaged nearly 21 points and 12 rebounds in the previous games, was in foul trouble early. He played 14 minutes, and didn't leave the bench in the fourth quarter, finishing with eight points and six rebounds.After squandering a six-point lead and allowing the Blazers to go ahead by a basket, Thornton hit a 3-pointer and next time down court made a fastbreak layup to put the Kings in front 84-81 with five minutes left."We really had control of this game and had a flow going," Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. "But in the second half it's pretty much what it has been for us - turnovers, a lot of one-on-one play, and lack of ball movement. We just self-destruct on the road."Salmons, who entered the game in a season-long slump and was shooting 35 percent, opening the fourth quarter with his third 3-pointer of the game. Isaiah Thomas quickly followed with a basket to give Sacramento a 76-69 advantage.Evans and Thompson both scored seven points in the third quarter. The Kings overcame nine-point halftime deficit, outscoring Portland 24-13 to take a 71-69 lead into the fourth.Trailing since early in the first quarter, the Kings pulled even when Evans got loose on a fastbreak and his emphatic dunk tied the game at 63 with 3:39 left in the third period. Evans later followed with a three-point play to give Sacramento a 68-65 lead.After shooting over 60 percent in the opening half, the Blazers went cold to start the third quarter. They had just two points in the first five minutes before Matthews connected on a 3-pointer for a 61-55 lead.The Kings had no answer for Aldridge in the opening half. The smooth-shooting forward continually got open for mid-range jumpers and made them, scoring 19 points to help Portland take a 56-47 lead into the half.The Blazers ran off 11 straight points early in the second quarter to build a 13-point lead. The Blazers received second-quarter points from an unlikely source - Kurt Thomas. The 39-year-old veteran forward scored eight points in the spurt.NOTES: Kings rookie Jimmer Fredette didn't play for the first time in 22 games. . Aldridge made his first six shots and had 12 points in the opening quarter when the Blazers led 30-27. . Nicolas Batum, a key person off the bench for Portland, missed his second straight game with a bone bruise in his left knee. . Salmons made four of five shots and had 10 first-quarter points.

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Hassan WhitesideGreat WIN 4 the kings tonight KingAllDay
Feb 03 via Echofon Favorite Retweet Reply

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.