April 9, 2016, 2:32 pm
For Saturday’s ‘must watch’ game of the night, I’m going to make things a little different. There will be no ‘honorable mentions’ and there will be no guiding you to a game that may have playoff implications on the line. No. Today’s piece is about a city saying goodbye to a bittersweet season; goodbye to all of the great memories and hello to the future.
I’m a Sacramento local and the team I’ve grown up watching my whole life has been the Sacramento Kings. Now, I have not lived a long life at 23-years-old, but I have seen some amazing things inside Sleep Train Arena (better known as Arco).
The memories of what was known as ‘the greatest show’ on the hardwood with Jason Williams, Doug Christie, Peja Stojakovic, Chris Webber and Vlade Divac were some of the best times inside of the infamous building. The heartbreaking, polarizing and controversial playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2001-2002 season was something that Kings fans will never forget.
It was just two years ago when Sacramento saw their team heading toward the exit doors and we saw our long time announcers (Grant Napear and Jerry Reynolds) tear-up on live television as everyone thought this team was all but gone. However, instead of admitting defeat, the residents of Sacramento rallied together behind Mayor Kevin Johnson as they fought to keep their beloved team. After today they say goodbye to the old barn and hello to the future of the new Golden 1 Center.
Now, let’s look at the tale of the tape for this matchup between the Thunder and Kings.
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Sacramento Kings
Tip Time: 10:30 pm (est)
Where: Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, CA
Player Matchup: Kevin Durant and Rudy Gay
It has been a disappointing season for the Kings and that’s putting it gently. Entering the season, there was a feeling of change and optimism that this Kings team could finally break out of their decade-long slump of not making the playoffs. That has now been thrown away by bad coaching or bad leadership from their star player – that decision is up for you to decide, but ultimately it’s a mixture of both.
Sacramento (31-48) enters this game looking to avoid a three-game losing streak and get a win for their hometown crowd one last time. Surprisingly, the Kings have actually played well against the Thunder this season, even sneaking away with a win in OKC earlier this season. The players and the coaches know how important this game is, not necessarily for their season, but for the fans.
“This is more of a college atmosphere, college loyalty, and college love than most NBA cities,” head coach George Karl said. “Saturday will be a moment that the basketball fan will feel good about. Even me, though I’ve only been here for 15 months. It’s historically a part of my career.”
Two-time All-Star DeMarcus Cousins has been a monster this season. Through 64 games, Cousins has averaged a career-high 27.1 points, 11.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.5 steals per game while shooting 45.4 percent from the floor. The former Kentucky Wildcat has also placed himself in the top five in scoring and rebounding this season.
After stating that Cousins would play the remaining three games at home this week, the organization collectively decided to rest Cousins on Thursday against the Timberwolves. Boogie got a technical foul against Portland on Tuesday night and one more tech would have resulted in a one-game suspension for Cousins. With the rage Cousins plays with on a nightly basis, it was probably the safer bet to make sure he was available for the final home game.
The Thunder (54-24) sit comfortably three games ahead of the Los Angeles Clippers for the third seed in the Western Conference. OKC is an offensive powerhouse that can beat you in so many different ways, but with just two players. When you have Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook as your ‘Batman and Robin’, you know the team is going to be hard to beat.
Surprisingly, Oklahoma City enters this game on a bit of a slump going 1-4 over their last five games. However, it should be noted that the Thunder’s Big 3 of Durant, Westbrook and Serge Ibaka were all rested on Wednesday night against the Blazers.
“My thinking on holding everyone out is just to rest our guys,” Thunder head coach Billy Donovan said. “It was a great opportunity to get some extra rest and have two days before going to Sacramento.”
(All of the stars from both teams are expected to be in uniform tonight. However, be sure to stay close to Hoop Ball for any updates before tip-off)
Westbrook has been spectacular to watch all season long and he is without a doubt my favorite point guard in the league today. He plays with a controlled aggression on both sides of the floor and is one of the few players that plays each game with the same energy as the last.
Over his last 10 games, the seven-year veteran has averaged 21.2 points, 9.4 rebounds and 10.7 assists per game. Westbrook also finds himself one triple-double shy of passing Magic Johnson for the most triple-doubles in a single-season over the past 30 years.
“Whenever you’re mentioned in the same sentence as Magic, it’s always great,” Westbrook said. “That’s something you never take for granted.”
This game is all about living in the moment for the Kings and their fans. 30 years of memories in this building will be coming to a close but not without a bang. Former players and coaches from the past 30 years are expected to be in attendance for what is sure to be an unforgettable night.
August 17, 2019, 9:05 amKhem BirchC, Orlando Magic
Khem Birch led all scorers with 18 points as Canada lost to Australia in the second game of their mini-series exhibition.
Birch also chipped in four rebounds, two steals and a block in 23 minutes. He recently signed a two-year extension with the Magic but he currently sits as their third string center so he is off the fantasy map for now. For Australia, captain Joe Ingles put up eight points on 2-of-10 shooting with six assists and three steals in 31 minutes while Jonah Bolden chipped in 12 points, five rebounds, a steal and two triples in 18 minutes off the bench.
August 17, 2019, 8:24 amJuancho HernangomezPF, Denver Nuggets
Juan Hernangomez was back in action on Friday after undergoing core surgery in May.
Hernangomez did not do much in his 20 minutes of action in Spain's exhibition against the US on Friday but at least he has recovered from his surgery. He is entering a contract year but it will be difficult for him to get much playing time with the Nuggets at full health. He played only 8.4 minutes per game over the last two months of last season.
Source: Nick Kosmider on Twitter
August 17, 2019, 8:03 amJayson TatumSF, Boston Celtics
Jayson Tatum's intent is to increase his scoring this season according to Keith Smith.
Tatum has been working on being stronger with the ball, drawing fouls and finishing through contact which should result in an increase in free throws, points and efficiency. He was already a top-60 player in only his second year in the league by providing a little bit of everything from a fantasy perspective and should only continue to grow going into his third season.
Source: Keith Smith on Twitter
August 17, 2019, 7:36 amDaulton HommesSF, San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs have signed rookie Daulton Hommes.
This is likely a camp deal for Hommes as the Spurs already have 15 guaranteed contracts on their roster. The NABC Division II Player of the Year averaged 8.4 points, 1.6 rebounds, 1.4 triples and 1.0 threes in in 17.7 minutes for the Bucks in summer league action. He is unlikely to play in the NBA this season.
Source: Jeff Garcia on Twitter
August 17, 2019, 12:01 amMarcus SmartPG, Boston Celtics
In the NBATV broadcast on Friday night, Marcus Smart said he is "100% confident" that his health won't be an issue to start the World Cup.
With the news of PJ Tucker having to drop out due to an ankle injury, it's good to see Smart won't have to do the same. His presence will be a key factor on defense for Team USA.
Source: Jay King on Twitter
August 16, 2019, 9:31 pmPatty MillsPG, San Antonio Spurs
Patty Mills scored 20 points along with three rebounds, four assists and four treys in 24 minutes in Australia's 70-90 loss to Canada in Friday's World Cup exhibition game.
Mills lead Australia in scoring in their first World Cup exhibition game. With Dejounte Murray returning this coming season from injury and Derrick White's rise, Mills is only a deep-league player at best in 2019-20. Fellow countryman Joe Ingles scored 11 points, six rebounds, two assists and a steal.
August 16, 2019, 8:50 pmJaylen AdamsPG, Milwaukee Bucks
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Bucks are signing Jaylen Adams to compete in training camp.
Adams has his work cut out for him to make the roster as Eric Bledsoe, George Hill and Frank Mason are already securely ahead of him. He is likely to return to the G-League and is not a fantasy target this coming season.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter
August 16, 2019, 8:34 pmJarell MartinPF, Cleveland Cavaliers
Jarell Martin has signed a one-year, non-guaranteed deal with the Cavs.
Martin only played 7.8 minutes per game with the Magic last season in 42 games. If he can manage to stick on the roster, he can stretch the floor, as he averaged 35.1 percent from three last season. Martin is only a streaming option at best if their frontcourt is decimated by injuries, especially if Kevin Love has another injury-plagued season.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter
August 16, 2019, 8:08 pmPJ TuckerSF, Houston Rockets
P.J. Tucker has withdrawn from consideration for Team USA's Wold Cup roster due to a minor left ankle issue.
Tucker has twisted his ankle twice in the last several days and he is taking a side of caution to let it completely heal before going into training camp with the Rockets next month. Tucker is one of the most durable players in the league as he has played at least 78 games in the past seven NBA seasons. You can expect more of the same from Tucker next season, as he averaged 7.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.6 steals and 0.5 blocks last season.
August 16, 2019, 10:26 amGuerschon YabuselePF, International
Guerschon Yabusele has signed with Nanjing Tongxi of the CBA according to Ennio Terrasi Borghesan of Sportsnado.
Yabusele will return to China where he last played for the Shanghai Sharks. He failed to prove much during his short stint with the Celtics after being taken 16th overall in 2016. It will take a big season and leap in development for him to regain interest from NBA teams.