Kings Improving Despite Record

By Rob Small,

In the past month the Sacramento Kings have had nothing to be proud of. Now, they’re the owners of the worst record in the NBA at 4-15.

It’s hard to imagine that this team was 3-1 to start off the season, only to lose the next 14 out of 15 games. Their last win came against the New Jersey Nets on Nov. 19.

Although the Kings hold the league’s worst record , the Kings did show progress this week toward becoming a better team. However, it didn’t come before the Los Angeles Lakers hosted a 113-80 blowout of the Kings last Friday.

The Kings hung with the Lakers for the first 14 minutes, but the Lakers, who were riding a four-game losing streak, decided to play like the defending champions they are and never looked back.

After the embarrassing 33-point loss, Kings Head Coach Paul Westphal took center Samuel Dalembert and guard Luther Head out of the line-up. The next night at home against the Dallas Mavericks, he re-inserted rookie center DeMarcus Cousins and guard Beno Udrih back into the starting line-up.

Tyreke Evans said it was time for him to change how he’s been playing. “I think if I’ll be more aggressive that’s the only we we’ll have a chance,” he said after the loss. “I was coming in, thinking to pass first, but now I’m going look to be more aggressive and just try to take over the game.”

While previous Rookie of the Year winners’ scoring averages go up, Evans’ has gone down from 20.1 points per game to 17.6 points.

The Kings came out against the Mavs like they were a different team and outplayed the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference for most of the game. Evans did come out aggressive, scoring 14 points in the first quarter and finishing 25 points, five rebounds and eight assists.

Unfortunately for the Kings, the Mavs pulled off a 13-6 run at the end of the game to win by a score of 105-103. The Kings scored over 100 for the first time since Nov. 14.

When the Kings played the Clippers last night, it was a battle between the two worst teams in the league. After trailing by as much as 17 points in the third quarter, the Kings, led by rookie point guard Pooh Jeter, helped the Kings take a three-lead halfway through the fourth quarter.

In the end, Clippers guard Eric Gordon single-handedly dismantled the Kings, scoring 11 of the Clippers’ last 13 points en route to a 98-91 loss for the Kings. Omri Casspi, who has been in his sophomore season for the Kings, had 21 points and 10 rebounds.

Now, there’s speculation that the Kings will make some moves to acquire some talent and there’s no reason to believe why they would not. They’ve been making moves for the past couple of seasons now.

The Kings failed to trade Jason Thompson to the Atlanta for point guard Jeff Teague and have had interest in Houston Rockets guard Aaron Brooks.

Former Kings beat writer Sam Amick, who now works for AOL FanHouse, reported that the Rockets may want Carl Landry back after trading him to the Kings for Kevin Martin.

Landry hasn’t consistently played well this season recently moved back to the sixth man role, a role he played well with Houston. He was a strong contender for Sixth Man of the Year last season.

After averaging 18.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in 28 games with the Kings, Landry has averaged 12.5 points and 4.9 rebounds in 19 games this season.

Many expected the Kings to improve dramatically. No one expected them to be this bad, this early.

Rookie Performance

In the past three games, Cousins is averaging 13.67 points, eight rebounds and two assists. He got into foul trouble against the Lakers and let opposing rookie and undersized big man Derrick Caracter have his way in the blowout.

The next night, he played what was arguably the best game of his young career. He had 17 points, 11 rebounds, two assists and a block in the Kings’ narrow loss. Cousins also played a career-high 31 minutes.

Last night against the Clippers, Cousins picked up two fouls in the first quarter but managed to stay out of foul trouble the rest of the way, finishing with 15 points, seven rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block.

Jeter has shown how valuable he is to the team. He was given time on the floor against the Lakers long after the game had been decided, scoring 11 points in 12 minutes.

Against the Mavs he didn’t score but he pushed the ball up the court and dished out four assists with no turnovers in 10 minutes.

Jeter helped the Kings set the pace again in the fourth quarter, erasing the Clippers’ 17-point lead. He scored 11 points in 17 minutes. He also achieved something he was looking forward since the preseason. He got to play against Baron Davis.

Jeter is shooting 50 percent from the floor for the season.

While Hassan Whiteside is not with the Kings he’s getting his chance to play with the team’s NBDL affiliate, the Reno Bighorns. Recently, the team’s six-game winning streak was snapped.

Whiteside averaged 5.7 points 3.3 rebounds and two blocks in his first three games. The Bighorns host back-to-back games against the Rio Grande Vipers on Dec 11 and Dec. 12.

What’s Next?

As the worst team in the league right now, nothing will come easy for the Kings. Tomorrow night they will host another Rookie of the Year candidate John Wall and the Washington Wizards.

Cousins and Wall were teammates at the University of Kentucky and tickets are on sale for $49.50 in the lower level. Wall was on hand to watch yesterday’s game in L.A. and will suit up tomorrow night.

The Kings will host the LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the Miami Heat this Saturday for the only time this season.

Off the court, if you happen to be in Stockton on Dec. 9, Dalembert and Darnell Jackson will be in Stockton for the Dalembert Foundation Bookfair at Barnes and Noble Booksellers at Weberstown Mall to help build a stock library in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Dalembert is a native Hatian and has donated at least $100,000 to Haiti relief efforts. Both Dalembert and Jackson will be available for autographs at 6 p.m. and the fair will take place all day.

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