Kings

Kings set sights on Warriors, Bay Area bragging rights

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Kings set sights on Warriors, Bay Area bragging rights

The Golden State Warriors got the job done in their first home game in more than two weeks.

A stop in Sacramento could produce similar results.

Off to their best start in 21 years, the Warriors will try to win for the 15th time in 19 games Wednesday night against the lowly Kings.

Playing in Oakland for the first time in 15 days, Golden State (17-8) held off Western Conference-worst New Orleans on Tuesday with a 103-96 victory. The Warriors closed on an 11-4 run in their first game back from a 6-1 stretch against the East - their first trip with that many victories.

"One of the hardest games in the NBA to play is your first game back at home after a road trip," forward David Lee said after scoring 26 points with nine rebounds. "I've been through too much losing to be disappointed in a win."

The Warriors, off to their best start since the 1991-92 team opened 21-8, will now try to improve their 10-5 road record and avoid a sweep in California's capital. Going for its first 3-0 road start since 1994-95 - and trying to spoil Sacramento's home opener - Golden State lost 94-92 on Nov. 5.

The Kings (7-17) were able to avoid an 0-4 start with that victory, but they're riding a season high-tying five-game skid into this contest.

Sacramento has lost by at least 10 points each time during that stretch following Monday's 101-90 defeat at Phoenix. The Kings led by as many as 19.

"I thought this was a night to steal one on the road after a game last night (a 122-97 home loss to Denver)," Sacramento coach Keith Smart said. "I thought they did everything the right way up until things started to go haywire in the second half."

The third quarter has been especially troublesome in the last two games as the Kings have been outscored by an average of 14.5 points.

"It's kind of disheartening," point guard Aaron Brooks said Monday after the Suns went on a 26-4 run that started late in the first half.

Another concern for Sacramento is the health of Tyreke Evans, who has missed six of the last 10 games with a pair of different knee injuries. It's uncertain if he'll return after sitting out Monday's contest.

The Kings, though, should have guard Marcus Thornton back after he was away from the team for four games to be with his ill mother in Louisiana.

Thornton had 16 points in the Nov. 5 victory while Evans shot 1 of 9 to finish with three points.

Whoever is in Sacramento's backcourt could have their hands full with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, who lead all NBA duos with 129 3-pointers.

Thompson hit three 3s and scored a team-high 22 points against the Kings last month, while Curry hit two from long range and finished with 12 and eight assists. Curry missed a 3-point attempt as time expired as Golden State lost for the seventh time in 10 trips to Sacramento.

Lee, who had 20 points and a season-low six rebounds in that contest, will try to start a new double-double streak after he just missed his eighth straight Tuesday. He did, however, finish with at least 20 points for a ninth consecutive game.

Kings center DeMarcus Cousins could set a career high with a fifth consecutive double-double at home. Cousins has averaged 22.8 points and 16.3 rebounds in his last four in this series after finishing with 23 and 15 last month.

Patience needed for young and inexperienced Kings

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AP

Patience needed for young and inexperienced Kings

The Sacramento Kings are attempting to do something rarely seen in the NBA. They’ve paired four first round selections from the 2016 NBA Draft with another five rookies for the 2017-18 season. They’ll open the season with nine players with one year of NBA experience or less and three others with two years in the league or fewer if you include two-way contracts.

Veterans Vince Carter (40), Zach Randolph (36), George Hill (31), Garrett Temple (31) and Kosta Koufos (28) push the average age of the Kings to 26.1. According to RealGM, they’ll enter the 2017-18 season tied for the 15th youngest roster in the league.

If you remove the veterans, the Kings youthful core averages less than 22 years of age. But age doesn’t tell the entire story.

Entering his third NBA season, Willie Cauley-Stein has seen action in 141 of a possible 164 games. On the current roster, he might as well get lumped in with the veterans.

Buddy Hield donned a Kings uniform for 25 games last season after coming over in a midseason trade from the New Orleans Pelicans. He played 82 games in total between the two clubs, which is five more combined contests than his fellow 2016 draft mates Skal Labissiere (33 games), Georgios Papagiannis (22 games) and Malachi Richardson (22 games) played in.

Sacramento selected three first rounders in the 2017 NBA Draft, including De’Aaron Fox, Justin Jackson and Harry Giles. They also landed point guard Frank Mason III with an early second round pick and convinced 25-year-old former first rounder Bogdan Bogdanovic to leave the European game behind and join the club.

Without bringing two-way players Jack Cooley (16 games) and JaKarr Sampson (147 games) into the discussion, the Kings have a major experience issue. They’ll walk into the season with 10 players having a combined 300 games of NBA experience and 223 of those games were played by Cauley-Stein and Hield.  

Sacramento’s veteran group has appeared in 3718 regular season contests. Dave Joerger will have no choice but to turn to the group for plenty of minutes as the Kings’ young players learn on the fly.

Patience is necessary. Vlade Divac and his team have assembled a lot of talent, but they will need time to develop. Joerger has a strong staff in place, including Elston Turner, Bryan Gates, Duane Ticknor, Bob Thornton, Jason March and Larry Lewis. Phil Ricci was also added to the staff as a player development coach this season with the influx of young players.

Even with an expanded staff, there is no way Joerger can fit all 10 of his youngsters into the rotation. They’ll need playing time to develop and there is a good chance that some of these freshman and sophomore players will spend time with Darrick Martin and the Reno Bighorns.  

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

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AP

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.