Rose-less Bulls hand Kings 121-115 loss

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Rose-less Bulls hand Kings 121-115 loss

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CHICAGO -- Luol Deng figures the Chicago Bulls will have to find creative ways to win as long as Derrick Rose is sidelined.This wasn't what he had in mind. The Bulls will take it, though.Deng came through with 23 points and a career-high 11 assists, and the Bulls escaped with a 121-115 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night after a 19-point, fourth-quarter lead dwindled to two."Missing Derrick, even though we're winning games, it's huge," Deng said. "He makes the game so much easier. When he's not there, you've got to work extra."Joakim Noah added 22 points and 11 rebounds. Kyle Korver scored 18, hitting four free throws in the final 17.6 seconds. Carlos Boozer scored 16, Taj Gibson added 15 points, and the Bulls came away with the win - barely - even though Rose missed his third straight game with lower back spasms.The victory clinched the Eastern Conference coaching spot at the All-Star game for the Bulls' Tom Thibodeau.DeMarcus Cousins led Sacramento with 28 points and 17 rebounds. Tyreke Evans scored 27, and Marcus Thornton added 23 points for the Kings, who made things extremely interesting down the stretch.Two free throws by Evans with 19 seconds left made it 115-112. Korver answered with two of his own, but the drama wasn't over.Thornton nailed a 3 to make it a two-point game with 14.8 seconds left, but Korver immediately hit two more foul shots to boost the lead to 119-115. Deng then hit two free throws with 8.8 seconds left to seal the win."I've yet to fear this team being down," Kings coach Keith Smart said. "This team has shown throughout the year that they have the ability to get back in games."Winning them is a different story. Sacramento is last in the Pacific Division at 10-18 and is just 3-13 on the road.This seemed like a mismatch despite Rose's absence, but the Kings hung with the Eastern Conference leaders even when it looked like Chicago had put this one away.Sacramento was within eight in late in the third when Deng buried a corner 3 with just under a minute left. That started a 12-1 run that bumped Chicago's lead to 97-78, but the Bulls couldn't breathe too easily.They did, however, let out a big sigh of relief in the end."They're a tough team," Evans said. "They play together. They run that high pick-and-roll good with the bigs. They ran it all night on us and got a lot of fouls. That's what killed us."The dramatic win came on the heels of a 6-3 trip that matched their longest since the 1992-93 season, and they did it without their superstar point guard."I think our team has gotten used to guys being out," Thibodeau said. "It happened last year with our big guys and this year, it is more perimeter guys, so we have that all covered. We feel very good about our depth, and when we are down a man, the next guy steps up and does the job."The question is: Will the injuries take a toll eventually?Rose didn't have a target date for his return. Boston visits Thursday, and he wasn't sure if he'd be ready to play against Rajon Rondo and the Celtics. One thing was clear, though. Rose was certainly breathing a little easier.A specialist confirmed Monday that there was no structural damage, and that was a big relief for him and a team eyeing a championship. This hasn't been an easy season for Rose even though he's averaging 22.0 points and 7.8 assists. Between the bad back and a problem with his left big toe, he's missed eight games this season after sitting out six over his first three years."I think the best thing you can do is try to get better from it," Deng said. "If we had a choice, we wouldn't want him to be hurt, but that's the situation. We really think that it will help us. Guys are stepping up. Guys are getting playing time. We'd rather have this problem now than later in the year."Notes: Veteran G Richard Hamilton, who remains sidelined by a right thigh injury, rejoined the Bulls after tending to a family issue. He posted on Twitter that his grandmother died. ... G Mike James signed a 10-day contract. He appeared in three games for Chicago before being waived on Jan. 28. ... Kings rookie Jimmer Fredette, nursing an upset stomach, did not play.

Casspi thanks Kings after trade to Pelicans: 'Definitely isn't easy'

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Casspi thanks Kings after trade to Pelicans: 'Definitely isn't easy'

The Kings traded Omri Casspi to the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday, prompting the forward to post a heartfelt message on his Instagram account.

I want to thank the Sacramento Kings organization for the opportunity to play basketball in front of the great fans of Sacramento. My wife and I felt in Sacramento like being home and this is something we both will cherish for ever. This definitely isn't easy for me and my family to leave, and you all know how much I love our city, organization and fans but the time has come. I want to wish nothing but success to my Kings. I will definitely will follow and cheer from afar. 
Always a big part of my heart, 
Omri #18

Casspi, 28, averaged 5.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 18 minutes per game for the Kings this year.

For Vlade Divac, trading DeMarcus Cousins difficult but necessary

For Vlade Divac, trading DeMarcus Cousins difficult but necessary

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings had an epiphany. After seven years of trying things with DeMarcus Cousins, it was time to give it a go without him.

Vlade Divac stood in front of a firing squad of reporters Monday afternoon, fielding questions as to how the Kings not only moved on from their franchise player, but carefully maneuvering around why they received so little in return.

“I decided to make a decision at the best time, best offer we had,” Divac said. “Moving forward was very important for us to think about our culture and try to win. You can’t win if you don’t have a culture.”

[RATTO: The Ranadive Paradox: Every choice Kings face almost guarantees failure]

Culture was the word of the day and Divac knows a thing or two about that. The sharp move away from both Cousins and veteran Matt Barnes, who was waived to make room for the incoming Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans and Langston Galloway, set the Kings on a new path.

Divac was quick to point out that Sacramento had a better offer on the table the day before they pulled the trigger to send their star big to New Orleans. But the offer was rescinded, presumably when, according to league sources, teams around the league were informed that Cousins would not sign an extension with a new team, making him a short term rental.

Sacramento went with what they deemed was the best possible offer after collecting information from teams around the league over the past few months. The Kings kept the door open to a potential long term extension with Cousins, but in the end, another six seasons with the talented, but unpredictable big left them with serious questions.

Despite his status as a three-time All-Star and gold medal Olympiad, Cousins still found the waters treacherous with regards to officiating.

According to a league source, the team grew tired of the constant issues on the court. After promising the star big that they had no intentions of moving him during a private meeting on Feb 2, he went out two days later in an overtime win against the Golden State Warriors and picked up his 14th technical foul.

[RELATED: Report: Vivek Ranadive thinks Buddy Hield has Steph Curry potential]

Following the win, Cousins was also fined $25,000 by the league for making an inappropriate statement and gesture towards a Warriors fan in the tunnel.

Two days later he added technicals 15 and 16 against the Chicago Bulls and was suspended for the Kings’ matchup with the Boston Celtics.

Sacramento would go on to beat the Celtics with a massive team effort without Cousins. While it wasn’t the deciding factor, these events helped set the stage for his exit.

The trade comes at a time when the Kings sit just a game and a half out of the playoff picture. Kings fans have waited more than a decade for their team to get into the postseason and losing Cousins will likely end most of that talk.

“We’re going to play hard, we’re going to play with a lot of fun and improve everyday and try and compete and try to make the playoffs,” Divac said when asked what the fans should know about this move. “If not, we’re setting up ourselves in a good place to move forward to make a winning culture.”

Following the scrum, CSN California had an opportunity to discuss some of the topics with Divac in more depth.

Midway through his second season running the team, Divac had made building a relationship with Cousins a high priority. The two could often be seen having conversations both on and off the court.

“It was very difficult, I like him, he’s such a talented guy,” Divac told CSN. “I was really think hard about where we are going, where we are now, what we want to achieve and I made the decision to go other way.”

According to a league source, the entire basketball operations side was part of the discussion on the situation, including head coach Dave Joerger.

The Kings have built their team around the talented big each of the last seven season with the hope of turning the franchise around. Despite being in the conversation for the eighth seed, the Kings sit nine games under .500 with 25 contest left. Even if they found postseason paydirt, the Golden State Warriors would be waiting in round one.

The franchise was ready for a change. The dramatic shift in direction is jarring for everyone involved, but the Kings are confident they made the right decision for what is best for the franchise.

“I wouldn’t do it if I don’t feel comfortable,” Divac said. “Now we have a clear direction (of) what we want to do. I wouldn’t make a deal if I don’t feel comfortable.”

Sacramento returns to the court on Thursday evening when Michael Malone and the Denver Nuggets come through town. The team hasn’t shut the door on making more moves, but nothing is pending. It could be a wild couple of days in Kingsland.