Report: Kings to stay in Sacramento next season; owners say no decision yet

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UPDATE: 8:03 pm: The Maloof brothers, the owners of the Kings, are denying the report. Sort of. Co-owner Joe Maloof spoke with the Associated Press and said they are still thinking about it.

Maloof told The Associated Press that no decision has been made and he’s “as anxious as anybody” to find out if Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson can deliver on his promises for more sponsorship support and finally finance a plan for a new arena.

“There’s been no decision made,” Maloof said. “As far as we’re concerned, we’re still looking at our options.”

The Maloofs have clearly wanted to make this move and reportedly were very frustrated that they didn’t get the rubber stamp they expected last week. But there were a lot of questions about both what was available in Sacramento and the details of their agreement in Anaheim (keep reading).

The Maloofs may not have decided if they want to apply for the move (they have until May 2 to file the application), but they still need a majority of the other owners to approve the deal. And that seems to what have dissolved. They could put that to the test, but the offer from Sacramento seems to be real enough to have other owners saying the city should have another year to make it a reality.

7:00 pm: Next season (whenever that is) teams will still travel to Sacramento to take on the Kings.

The move seemed a foregone conclusion a couple of weeks ago, but plans to move the Kings to Anaheim have crumbled in the wake of a new financial plan and the start of another stadium development effort in Sacramento. Behind a wave of public and private support, the Kings reportedly will stay put.

For now.

NBA officials have told the Los Angeles Times the news.

NBA officials now expect the Kings to play next season in Sacramento, league executives told The Times on Friday.

Whether the team, which was about to seek permission to move to Honda Center in Anaheim, stays in Sacramento beyond next season remains to be decided.

That will depend on city and county officials and local businesses redeeming the pledges made by Sacramento Mayor Kevin before the NBA’s relocation committee last week in New York, including support for a new downtown arena.

This would not be leaking out if Johnson and Sacramento officials did not impress Clay Bennett (the Oklahoma City owner and head of the relocation committee). What he says will sway a lot of owners, and apparently told Johnson that he delivered on what was promised.

Johnson was, by all reports, extremely impressive in a presentation to the NBA Board of Governors in New York last week, bringing in $9.2 million in new sponsorships and offering a better plan to get a new building for the team. Add that to Comcast officials saying they would be willing to take another look at and increase their television package with the Kings and there were hard financial reasons to stay.

The officials agree that there was no problem with Anaheim’s offer, or any questions about Honda Center’s suitability. Nevertheless, when Sacramento’s bid came in, Anaheim became, as one official put it, “immaterial.”

Despite what league officials told the Times, the financials that were made public about the move to Anaheim — including the lease for the Honda Center where the building operator got a healthy percentage of luxury box revenue and the television deal on a barely-existent channel in the Los Angeles market that would pay less than the Clippers get — made it all seem like a house of cards. It felt more like owners trying to deal with personal debt issues more than looking out for the best interest of the franchise.

But in the end, it all comes back to the building. Former ARCO now Power Balance Arena is not an NBA building. Not any more.

If by next year this time the plans to build a new arena in downtown Sacramento are not much farther along — including financing being lined up — talk of the Kings being on the move will be back.

But for now they stay.

Hawks battle back to knot series with Wizards, 2-2

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Paul Millsap shoved Markieff Morris out of the way, grabbed an offensive rebound in the middle of the paint and pushed through a shot while Marcin Gortat bumped him to the floor.

The Wizards knocked down Atlanta. They didn’t stop the Hawks.

Millsap and Atlanta showed plenty of fight, topping Washington 111-101 in Game 4 Monday to tie their first-round series 2-2 after falling behind 2-0.

Have the Hawks seized meaningful momentum? History says no.

Teams that have won the first two games of a best-of-seven series at home then lost the next two on the road have won 81% of the time. The Wizards’ regular-season superiority still speaks loudly, and up to two more home games – starting with Game  5 Wednesday – also help.

Still, credit Atlanta for making the series competitive after digging such a big hole.

Millsap (19 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and two steals) soundly outplayed Markieff Morris (nine points on 3-of-10 shooting, -10) in the latest round of their personal feud. Millsap also got plenty of help with seven Hawks scoring double digits.

Kent Bazemore (16 points, seven assists and three steals) played meaningful defense and hit a couple big shots. Jose Calderon (10 points, five assists, +29 in 20 minutes) provided a huge spark. Dwight Howard (16 points and 15 rebounds) asserted himself for the first time this series. Taurean Prince (11 points on 5-of-7 shooting) picked his spots well. Dennis Schroder (18 points on 6-of-15 shooting) had his ups and downs. Tim Hardaway Jr. (15 points) at least offset some of his defensive shortcomings.

This was a total team win.

Washington, on the other hand, got little outside its starting backcourt. Bradley Beal (32 points) thrived, and John Wall (22 points and 10 assists) was still good in an off-by-his-standards performance. But the Wizards crumbled when either sat – especially with both on the bench in the late third/early fourth quarters. Erasing those few minutes with staggering would’ve helped, though it wouldn’t have been the answer tonight.

This has become a far less certain series than Washington hoped, but the Wizards don’t need a wild fix. They just need their top players to play better. Maybe going home will help.

Raptors break out best game of postseason, rout Bucks 118-93 to take 3-2 series lead

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Norman Powell was draining threes, throwing down dunks that would have won the contest All-Star weekend, and he finished with a career playoff-high 25 points on just 11 shots. Plus defensively he caused Khris Middleton trouble.

The Raptors finished with 28 assists, the most in a playoff game since Dwane Casey took over as coach.

Toronto shot 57.7 percent overall, a franchise playoff best.

The Raptors bench played well pitching in 27 points and growing the lead when they were in, part of an overall strong night from the role players in Toronto.

Combine that all with the expected good nights from Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan and you get the Raptors best game of the playoffs. It looked like a different team than the one in Milwaukee.

Toronto raced out to an early lead and went on to rout the Bucks 118-93, giving the Raptors a 3-2 series lead.

This was a game where the Bucks tried to force the ball out of the hands of Lowry and DeRozan as much as they could, using their length and athleticism. However, Lowry had 10 assists, and DeRozan would get the ball off pindown screens and feel the double coming, move the ball, and another quick pass or two later the role-playing player Raptors were getting good looks and knocking them down. Or throwing it down like this.

Or this.

Toronto just looked more comfortable against the Bucks pressure, having seen it for so many games in a row, than they have all series.

Powell had 25 points for Toronto, Serge Ibaka had 19 and three blocks, Lowry had 16 points and 10 assists, DeRozan had 18 points and six assists, even DeMarre Carroll had 12 points on six shots.

The question for the young Bucks team is how does it bounce back from this kind of loss in the biggest NBA game most of them have ever played? Can they get their defensive edge back?

“We’re going to miss some shots, and we can’t let our offense dictate our defense,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said postgame. “And also the turnovers, again. Right off the bat we had three…

“Our defense kind of got hit there in the first quarter, we knew that they were going to come after us, we had to expect that. And we just couldn’t respond.”

The Bucks had some runs in the second quarter and got the lead to nine at one point, but the Raptors always seemed to be in control.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had another strong game with 30 points on 12-of-19 shooting, and rookie Malcolm Brogdon pitched in 19 points on 11 shots, but for the most part the Bucks struggled with their offense in this game. As their coach noted — and as often happens to young teams — they let their offensive woes impact the other end of the court.

At home, the Bucks will likely feel more comfortable, and they will fight for their playoff lives.

The question is, can the Raptors be this sharp again and close them out? Or will the yo-yo nature of this team continue?

 

Kevin Durant will play in Game 4 for Warriors vs. Trail Blazers

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In case you were curious how serious Golden State was about closing out Portland in four…

After missing the last two games with a strained calf, both Warriors wins to put them up 3-0 in the series, the Warriors are bringing back Kevin Durant for Game 4.

Steve Kerr is also out tonight for Golden State, Mike Brown will coach the team.

There was buzz that Durant could have gone in Game 3 if needed, but the Warriors felt confident they would win without him and they don’t want this injury to linger. There’s no more holding him back now.

Durant averaged 25.1 points a game, and thanks to the space created by the other stars on the team had his most efficient season, with a true shooting percentage of 65.1. He also pulled down 8.3 rebounds a game, dished 4.9 assists, and had his best defensive season in a long time as well. If not for an injury after the All-Star break that had him missing games, he would have made a lot of voters’ All-NBA team.

He adds to Golden State’s size advantage against Portland. The Warriors would like to close out the series tonight and get additional rest before facing the Clippers or Jazz in the next round.

Serge Ibaka is dunking and Giannis Antetokounmpo isn’t going to stop him. Twice. (VIDEO)

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The Toronto Raptors had their best half of their first-round series against the Bucks, taking an early lead and, despite a little shooting slump midway through the second they were up nine at the half.

That was all topped off by two emphatic Serge Ibaka dunks. Ones Giannis Antetokounmpo wasn’t going to stop.

Ibaka dunked around him more than over the Greek Freak, but still.