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.

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.