Kings snap skid with win over Lakers


Kings snap skid with win over Lakers


SACRAMENTO (AP)The Los Angeles Lakers had talked about bringing Showtime back to the franchise when they hired Mike D'Antoni to implement his fast and flashy offense.The curtains are still waiting to be raised on that act.Kobe Bryantscored an efficient 38 points butDwight HowardandPau Gasolstruggled inside, and the lethargic Lakers lost 113-97 to the struggling Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night to snap a three-game winning streak."If we're going to play Showtime, my God, they just closed the whole theatre on us," D'Antoni said. "Showtime, are you kidding? It was Muppet Time."Marcus Thorntonscored 23 points andTyreke Evanshad 18 to pace Kings, who had lost five straight games.Jason Thompsonadded 13 points and 10 rebounds to help Sacramento run away in the fourth quarter and cement the latest Lakers setback.Los Angeles seemed to be turning things around since hiring D'Antoni. Instead, the Lakers looked lost and listless against the Western Conference's worst team, showing all the same problems that got coach Mike Brown fired."The first half might have been the worst basketball I've seen in 10 years," D'Antoni said. Later, he added, "It was like we were wrestling in mud."Bryant finished 11-of-20 shooting andJodie Meekshad 15 points off the bench as D'Antoni lost for the first time on the Lakers bench. A night after beating Brooklyn in Los Angeles, the Lakers might've been bad enough to give D'Antoni a headache to go with the pain still throbbing in his surgically replaced knee.Bryant still almost willed his tired team back.After the Lakers went down by 10 points early in the fourth quarter, he converted a three-point play overDeMarcus Cousinsthat sliced Sacramento's lead to 96-92 with 3:06 remaining. Thornton thwarted the rally in a hurry, swishing a 3-pointer from the top of the key on the next possession.Officials whistled Gasol for a flagrant foul when he swatted Thompson in the face going for a rebound. Thompson made one of two free throws, Cousins added a pair of driving layups and a free throw to put Kings ahead 105-93, and the home fans chanting "Beat L-A! Beat L-A!" while Bryant finished the game on the bench with a towel over his head."It always feels good beating the Lakers," Thornton said. "Our fans were into it so we don't really want to let them down. So we came out and played hard, I don't know what for, but we played extremely hard against the Lakers."Though point guardsSteve NashandSteve Blakeare expected to be out with injuries for at least another two games, the limited Lakers talent was hardly an excuse in this matchup.The Lakers held Sacramento to 31 percent shooting in the first quarter. Kings big manChuck Hayesalso had to go back to the locker room to receive stitches after he was cut around his right eye and had blood dripping down his cheek, and yet Los Angeles still only led by six.Aaron Brooksstarted Sacramento's spurt in the third quarter when he floated an underhand layup over Howard and drew a foul for a three-point play on the new Lakers center, who tumbled hard into a row of photographers under the baseline. Brooks added a jumper and a 3-pointer to highlight the 17-5 run that put the Kings ahead 69-58."Our team went on a whirlwind," Kings coach Keith Smart said.D'Antoni kept yelling and motioning for the Lakers to sprint up court to match Sacramento's speed. Instead, they often kept the pace at a slow crawl.Howard finished with seven points on 2-of-4 shooting. Gasol scored eight points on 3 of 10 from the field, and the Lakers were outscored 50-22 in the paint."It seemed like we were a little lethargic for whatever reason," Bryant said. "We just have to push through it, particularly the second unit, especially while Dwight is in there. You don't have to go to as many pick-and-rolls, really, just dump the ball down to him and let him operate."Never happened.After the Lakers closed within a point,James Johnsonmade three straight layups during an 11-2 run that put the Kings ahead 88-78 early in the fourth quarter. D'Antoni called a timeout in the middle of Sacramento's surge to put his starters back in the game and give his listless Lakers a chance to refocus.No chance for that now.D'Antoni's knee - and the Lakers mettle - will be tested even more. Los Angeles plays at Memphis on Friday and at Dallas on Saturday to complete a quick three-game trip."I think you always have a little bit of shock when a guy comes in new, and so you start off all like puppies out there," D'Antoni said of his team's turnaround when he was hired. "Now it's back to reality a little bit."NOTES: The Kings won all three preseason games against the Lakers. The series is 1-1 in the regular season, with the home team winning each time. ... Howard made 3 of 4 free throws after going 7 for 19 from the line a night earlier against Brooklyn. His first attempts came with 7:07 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Mavericks waive DeMarcus Cousins' younger brother

Mavericks waive DeMarcus Cousins' younger brother

DALLAS — The Dallas Mavericks waived Jaleel Cousins, the younger brother of Sacramento All-Star DeMarcus Cousins, and four others Saturday to get their roster to the regular-season limit of 15.

Kyle Collinsworth, Keith Hornsby, Jonathan Gibson and CJ Williams also were waived.

Cousins didn't appear in a preseason game after signing Monday. The 6-foot-11 center was undrafted out of South Florida.

Gibson, a guard, played in all seven preseason games, averaging 7.1 points and 3.0 assists. Williams averaged 3.4 points and 1.4 rebounds in five games, and Hornsby scored 3.2 points per game in five appearances.

Collinsworth averaged 1.2 points and 1.4 assists in five games.

Kings aim to build solid foundation under Joerger once and for all


Kings aim to build solid foundation under Joerger once and for all

Matthew 7 verse 24-27: “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

Not to get biblical on anyone, but the parable above is a perfect metaphor for the the Sacramento Kings. For years, they have built their house on sand only to watch it all wash away when the rains come. And the rains always come, that is the NBA world.

The Kings have tried a new approach this season. They are counting on head coach Dave Joerger to build their new house on a rock. A foundation of defensive principles mixed with a structured offensive system built to withstand the ebbs and flows of a normal NBA season.

In order to create this new foundation in Sacramento, Joerger and his staff almost had to turn their sneakers and workout gear for loafers and blazers. This is basketball academia and the Kings are going to need plenty of time in the study hall.

“The one thing I noticed out of coach Joerger, was he was teaching,” former Kings guard turned CSN analyst Doug Christie told the Kings Insider Podcast. “He has the floor. He was going through things and talking through things and they would run through it. And all of the sudden they would stop, and he would teach again.”

What Christie describes from the first week of training camp is coaching 101. But for many of these players, they’ve never seen something like this. Center DeMarcus Cousins is entering his seventh NBA season and Joerger is his sixth head coach.

Whether the coaches before Joerger were quality or not, none of them have tried the robust task of introducing such a refined system. And so the Kings coach must start at the very beginning with a mixed bag roster that will look substantially different at the trade deadline, next summer and even the summer after that.

The hope is that the foundation will survive. A core must be developed to carry the system from one iteration of Kings players to the next. Whether the youth of the team -- Willie Cauley-Stein, Skal Labissiere, Malachi Richardson and Georgios Papagiannis -- are part of that core is yet to be determined.

But what is known, is that for the first time in a while, a head coach has been brought and given free run of the house. When Joerger signed a 4-year, $16 million deal this summer after leaving the Memphis Grizzlies, it was to build a program, not just take over the reigns from the outgoing George Karl.

To make matters more complex, Joerger is trying to go from a free flowing system to something very regimented. He is a system guy. And many of his players either played with Karl last season in Sacramento or under Karl in Denver. Right or wrong, Joerger has to break his players of their previous habits and install new directives.   

“You’re just trying to keep building and we just keep working at it and guys are trying to make a change from one system to another system and it’s always difficult no matter what the system,” Joerger told CSN California.

Joerger left a veteran team where four of his core players had played together for six seasons. That is not a luxury he has in Sacramento. Outside of Cousins, no player has been on the roster more than three seasons. Continuity of coaches aren’t the only issues that the Kings players have faced.

After losing to the Clippers Tuesday night at the Golden 1 Center, Joerger pointed to this exact issue.

“We’re not saying we want to be like the Clippers, we want to be like all those teams, where we can keep our guys together long-term and build that chemistry and build your system,” Joerger said. “We’re trying to run something that we’ve been working on for two-weeks. They’re running stuff they’ve been running for six years.”

Before coming to the Kings, Rudy Gay had spent time with Joerger in Memphis when he was an assistant coach. They know each other well, but this is different. This is the first time Gay has worked with Joerger as a frontman. While the experience is new, the veteran wing appreciates the system being implemented, even if he doesn’t know how long his stay in Sacramento will be.

“It’s not difficult at all, this is what I prefer,” Gay said following practice earlier this week. “I prefer structure. My whole career I’ve had structure and that’s what I prefer and what I excel in.”

Gay has made it known that he would like a new basketball home, but it has nothing to do with Joerger or his system. He has seen the value of structure in his previous stops and he has also seen what a free flowing system can do. He even had a message for his teammates on the subject.

“Whether they like it or not, it works,” Gay said.

Joerger ran a 147-99 record in three seasons in Memphis. He led the Grizzlies to the playoffs in all three seasons, a place the Kings haven’t been in a decade. He has a tried and true system that even the Kings’ young players are drawn to.

“Joerger’s (system) is all about reading, it’s just making your basketball IQ higher,” Cauley-Stein told CSN California. “It’s really teaching me the game.”

Cauley-Stein, who just had his third-year option picked up by the team on Friday, is trying to transition from John Calipari’s style at Kentucky, to Karl’s system in his rookie season, and now to Joerger’s game plan.

“It’s not tough, it’s just different,” Cauley-Stein said of the transition. “You just have to get used to it. I like it better honestly. More structure. A reason why you’re running something instead of just free playing pickup.”

The reaction from the rest of the roster has been similar. From Cousins’, “I love it, I love it, I love it,” quote to veteran Anthony Tolliver, who is new to the team, but fully on board with the structured system.

“If you’re used to playing free-flowing and not calling plays everytime, to calling plays every time and being more organized, honestly, I prefer being in a system like this,” Tolliver said. “I just feel like things are more predictable. I feel like everyone stays involved more and the ball moves better.”

Tolliver’s experience is similar to what Cauley-Stein is seeing. Free flowing can often mean isolation or exclusionary. As role players in this system, it’s important that you are prepared to be a viable part of the offense, not just a pawn.

“You’re alway touching the ball, you always get to make a pass, you get a chance to make plays, it’s fun to play like that,” Cauley-Stein said. “You don’t get stuck in the dunkers zone or stuck in on the baseline and watch them play 4-on-4.”

For Joerger, it’s a tough transition. He is used to rolling out a small group of newbies and have his veterans there to help drive home the point. He now has a collection of players that have either played in a completely different system or are new to the team.

“I just keep telling myself - ‘stay on task, stay on task, stay on task,’” Joerger said. “That means being demanding on what’s important to us, how we go about our business, how we practice everyday. Stay on task.”

There will be good nights and bad as the Kings move through the 2016-17 season. Some nights everything will click and they will have no issues competing. Other nights they will win on talent alone. Don’t discount how dominant a players like Cousins and Gay can be. Lastly, there will be those nights when fans boo and they get run out of the gym. This is the NBA and the level of talent is incredible. Chemistry and cohesion take time. A new system will take time. The Kings will once again ask for patience. They’ll ask you to look at the big picture.

Joerger will stay on task. Cousins will roam the high post. But nothing is guaranteed. They are trying to building on rock this time and not sand. It’s not exactly a new concept, but a novel one in Sacramento.