Kings yield Clippers' twelfth straight win

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Kings yield Clippers' twelfth straight win

BOX SCORE

LOS ANGELES -- Chris Paul had 24 points and 13 assists to help the Los Angeles Clippers, for decades synonymous with long losing streaks, break a 38-year-old franchise record with their 12th consecutive victory Friday night, 97-85 over the Sacramento Kings.

The previous mark was set by the Buffalo Braves during the 1974-75 season, when current Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro was 8 years old. The head coach back then was Jack Ramsay, whose formidable roster included Bob McAdoo, Garfield Heard, Randy Smith, Jim McMillian, Jack Marin and Bob Weiss.

That team won 49 games - still a record for a beleaguered organization that has called three different cities home, wasted first-round draft picks on Benoit Benjamin, Terry Dehere, Michael Olowokandi and Darius Miles, and was labeled "the worst franchise in sports history" by Sports Illustrated in an April 17, 2000, cover story.

Blake Griffin had 21 points and 13 rebounds for the Clippers, who have had 20 double-digit losing streaks since their 11-game winning streak in Buffalo - including a dozen of 12 or more. They lost their first 16 in 1994-95, their first 17 of the lockout-shortened 1988-89 season, and the final 14 in 1986-87. The club record for consecutive defeats is 19, set in 1981-82 and equaled in 1988-89.

But those dark days are history thanks to the arrival of Griffin, the blockbuster trade that brought Paul from the New Orleans Hornets last December, and a bench that is arguably the deepest in the NBA. The Clippers, who have the league's longest active winning streak, also own the NBA's second-best record at 20-6 and trail Oklahoma City by just one game.

This is the earliest the Clippers' franchise has ever reached the 20-win mark, and only the sixth time they did it with a winning record - including a 20-11 start last season. The previous club record in that department also was set in 1974-75, when the Braves started out 20-8. Just four seasons ago the Clips finished 19-63 under Mike Dunleavy.

Los Angeles beat Sacramento for the fifth straight time - including all three meetings last season. The Clippers haven't lost to anyone since Nov. 26 at Staples Center, when New Orleans beat them 105-98 and held Griffin to four points and one field goal - both career lows.

Reserve guard Jimmer Fredette had 16 points for Sacramento, which is 1-11 on the road. DeMarcus Cousins was benched for the entire second half by coach Keith Smart, who ordered him to remain in the dressing room after he scored nine points in 20 minutes.

The Kings, who had their highest-scoring game of the season Wednesday night in a 131-127 home win against Golden State, have dropped six of seven. Tyreke Evans missed his third straight game and eighth in the last 12 because of a sore left knee. He also was sidelined for the Kings' 116-81 loss at Los Angeles on Dec. 1, when the Clippers posted their largest margin of victory since the franchise left Buffalo.

Caron Butler's 3-pointer gave Los Angeles its biggest lead, 58-41, with 10:05 left in the third quarter. The Kings narrowed the gap to 63-57 with a 16-5 run capped by Fredette's 3-pointer with 4:25 left in the quarter, but that was as close as they got. Paul helped put the game away with a pair of 3-pointers in the final 4 minutes.

Griffin powered the Clippers to a 53-39 halftime lead with 16 points and eight boards. Power forward Jason Thompson, the only player to start all 26 games for Sacramento, fouled him twice during a 1:23 span and went to the bench with 7:48 left in the first quarter. The Clippers then pulled ahead 20-11 with a 9-1 spurt that included a pair of 20-footers by Griffin, and Paul drained a 3-pointer with a second on the clock for a 29-21 advantage.

Ronny Turiaf, who earlier in the game shot an air ball on a free throw and got some good-natured ribbing from his Clippers teammates on the bench, extended the lead to 43-28 with a fast-break dunk right after 6-foot-1 guard Eric Bledsoe blocked a layup by 6-10 Kings forward Thomas Robinson at the other end.

NOTES: The teams the Clippers have beaten during this streak have a combined winning percentage of .401 (116-173). The Kings (8-18) are the only team they have faced twice in that stretch. ... The Clippers are at Phoenix on Saturday night, trying to break a franchise-record road winning streak of five - by those same `74-75 Braves. ... The Buffalo Braves' winning streak included neutral-site games against the Boston Celtics at Providence, R.I., and the Philadelphia 76ers at Toronto. ... The Los Angeles Lakers, who share Staples Center with the Clippers, haven't won 12 or more games in a row during one season since 1999-00, when they had streaks of 16 and 19. ... Matt Barnes, who played high school ball in Sacramento and spent part of the 2004-05 season with the Kings, had 13 points. The Clippers are 14-0 when he scores in double digits off the bench. ... Los Angeles is 17-0 when leading after three quarters, and 15-0 when holding an opponent under 43 percent shooting. The Kings shot 41.8 percent. ... Fredette missed a free throw with 3:48 remaining, ending his streak at 33 in a row.

Cousins thanks Sacramento: 'Wouldn't trade it for anything'

Cousins thanks Sacramento: 'Wouldn't trade it for anything'

The Kings traded DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday, prompting the All-Star big man to post a heartfelt message on his Instagram account.

Words can't even express how hard it is for me to have to leave the city of Sacramento and all of the amazing people that I have met while out here. I gave it my all for you and you gave it right back. The most amazing fans on the planet and I just want you to know that your support has meant everything to me. It's hard to believe that it was seven years ago that this young kid from Alabama showed up in Sacramento scared and not knowing a soul. As I look back upon my time here, I wouldn't trade it for anything. I have met so many amazing people, many of whom went out of their way to make me feel right at home from day one. Each and every one of you have played such an important part in my life and helping me become the person I am today. I don't just consider you all as fans, you all are my family...and a couple thousand miles aren't going to change a thing. Thank you Sacramento. 
#LoyaltyisLove #sactownkingforever

Cousins, 26, averaged 27.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.3 blocks and 34.4 minutes per game for the Kings this year.

Words can't even express how hard it is for me to have to leave the city of Sacramento and all of the amazing people that I have met while out here. I gave it my all for you and you gave it right back. The most amazing fans on the planet and I just want you to know that your support has meant everything to me. It's hard to believe that it was seven years ago that this young kid from Alabama showed up in Sacramento scared and not knowing a soul. As I look back upon my time here, I wouldn't trade it for anything. I have met so many amazing people, many of whom went out of their way to make me feel right at home from day one. Each and every one of you have played such an important part in my life and helping me become the person I am today. I don't just consider you all as fans, you all are my family...and a couple thousand miles aren't going to change a thing. Thank you Sacramento. #LoyaltyisLove

A post shared by DeMarcus Cousins (@boogiecousins) on

Player-by-player breakdown of the DeMarcus Cousins trade

Player-by-player breakdown of the DeMarcus Cousins trade

SACRAMENTO -- The transactions came fast and furious over the last 48 hours for the Sacramento Kings and with the trade deadline still two days away, they might not be done. Gone are DeMarcus Cousins, Omri Casspi and Matt Barnes. Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans and Langston Galloway have joined the fray in a huge roster shakeup.

Dave Joerger learned last season in Memphis that your roster is never set in stone and he will have his hands full trying to put together a makeshift lineup when games resume Thursday night.

ADDITIONS

Buddy Hield

Sacramento tried to move up in the 2016 NBA Draft to get their hands on the flashy shooting guard out of Oklahoma. Hield will eventually move into the starting lineup, with Ben McLemore either shifting to the three or coming off the bench with the second unit.

The 23-year-old wing has plenty of upside and he’s under team control for the next four seasons. After averaging 25 points per game during his senior year with the Sooners, Hield has struggled a bit with the transition to the pro game.

Through 57 games, including 37 starts, the rookie is posting 8.6 points on 39.2 percent shooting from the field and 36.9 percent from 3-point range. In addition to the scoring, he’s also posted 2.9 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 20.4 minutes per contest.

Hield, along with a 2017 first round pick, is the centerpiece of the deal for Cousins. Defensively, he is a work in progress, but the Kings landed an intriguing player that is known as a hard worker off the court and a solid locker room guy.

Tyreke Evans

Kings fans know Evans well from his four-year stretch in Sacramento beginning in 2009. The former Rookie of the Year has struggled with injuries over his last two seasons, playing a total of 51 games combined and has been on a minutes restriction in New Orleans.

He is still an effective scorer, rebounder and assist man, averaging 9.5 points, 3.5 assists and 3.3 rebounds in just 18.2 minutes per game. And at just 27-years-old, there is a chance he can bounce back and become the multi-positional stat stuffer from a year or two ago.

Evans is in the final year of his deal. If he’s healthy enough to play, he can step in and help the Kings at the small forward position that has been gutted by injury and the string of transactions.

Langston Galloway

Galloway joined the Pelicans over the summer after two seasons with thee Knicks. The 25-year-old point guard likes to shoot it, averaging 8.6 points on 37.7 percent from long range in 20.4 minutes per game.

The early talk had the Kings buying Galloway’s contract out, but it appears he is part of the short-term plan. Barring another trade, he will play behind Darren Collison and Ty Lawson at the point guard position.

SUBTRACTIONS

DeMarcus Cousins

There is no question that Cousins’ 27.8 points, 10.7 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game will be missed in Sacramento. He has been the major cog in the Kings system for the last seven seasons and Joerger has limited options at the power forward position.

Sacramento can go big with second-year 7-footer Willie Cauley-Stein, who is coming into his own. Veteran Anthony Tolliver is also an option to step in and start as a stretch four next to center Kosta Koufos and rookie Skal Labissiere might get a look as well, depending on what the Kings record looks like in a weeks or two.

The 13th overall selection, Giorgios Papagiannis, is also available to play minutes, although his readiness to contribute this season has been a question mark.

Replacing Cousins as an upper echelon NBA star is impossible this season for Sacramento. It might be years before they stumble on a player this good and that’s if they are lucky.

Omri Casspi

Casspi was a key reserve last season for Sacramento, but lost his minutes early in this year to Barnes and Tolliver. Injuries also played a role in Casspi’s limited opportunity this year. He played in just 22 games for Sacramento this season.

If he’s given the opportunity in New Orleans, Casspi could be a really nice fit on the frontline with Cousins and All-Star Anthony Davis. He’s shooting 37.9 percent from 3-point range this year after knocking down better than 40 percent from deep over the last two seasons.

Matt Barnes

Barnes became Joerger’s go to guy at both forward positions and his influence in the locker room was tremendous. A lightning rod for controversy, Barnes was posting 7.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 25.3 minutes per game.

Evans can step in and fill some of that role as a jack-of-all-trades wing, but he doesn’t have the size to play the power position. Garrett Temple will likely see increased action at the small forward as well once he returns from a torn hamstring.

CAP SITUATION 

The Kings saved money long-term with the deal. Cousins was due $18.1 million next season, not to mention the $219 million extension he was ready to sign. Casspi is a free agent this summer.  

Hield is on his rookie scale deal that pays him $3.7 million next season. Evans is an unrestricted free agent and Galloway will likely opt in to his $5.4 million contract for the 2017-18 season.

The deal frees up roughly $9 million in salary and cap space. In addition, the Kings used the stretch provision to extend Barnes’ $6.4 million salary next season, breaking it up into three-years at $2.13 million and clearing up another $4.2 million in room for the summer of 2017.