Rodney Motte, DeMarcus Cousins

Kings hold players-only meeting after loss to Hawks


The Sacramento Kings fell to 2-7 on the season after dropping a lopsided game at home to the Hawks on Friday.

The team’s record isn’t a surprise to the league pundits who predicted yet another rough season in Sacramento, but the players who have to live with it day in and day out are already growing tired of the team’s losing ways.

A players-only meeting was held after this latest loss, one that was called by two of the team’s oldest members.

Cowbell Kingdom has the details:

After another embarrassing loss in front of their home crowd, the Sacramento Kings are beginning to show major cracks. Just nine games into the 2012-13 season, veterans Chuck Hayes and Francisco Garcia called a players’ only meeting last night while media members waited anxiously outside their locker room door.

“Very frustrated,” Hayes told Cowbell Kingdom following the loss to Atlanta. “We came in with a good mindset, but things are going bad right now and we’re starting to break and we can’t have that.”

“Obviously we want people to know that we’re not satisfied with what’s going on,” forward Jason Thompson told a group of hungry reporters. “So we thought it was only right to make each other accountable and say what was on our minds because at the end of the day, when we put our hands together, we say ‘family’ and we mean it.”

Players-only meetings can be a good sign that a team is aware of its issues, and is concerned about taking the necessary steps to do something about them in the hopes of enacting some change. But they’re usually reserved for clubs with a lot higher legitimate aspirations than those of this Kings team, so we’ll have to see exactly how this will end up playing out.

DeMarcus Cousins getting suspended two games for an avoidable incident certainly didn’t help matters, and the team is still trying to come together under second-year head coach Keith Smart. But a team in its rebuilding phase needs to play harder than most just to compete, in order to compensate for the overall lower level of talent — and that consistent level of effort is really all the fans in Sacramento are hoping to see.

Gallinari ready to take big role in new Nuggets offense

Danilo Gallinari, Jimmy Butler
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DENVER (AP) — Danilo Gallinari wants everyone to know this: His surgically repaired left knee, the one that took three procedures to fix and nearly two seasons to fully trust, no longer bothers him.

The Denver Nuggets forward doesn’t need to be on any sort of minutes restriction. He doesn’t need days off during the season. And he certainly doesn’t need to be coddled.

He’s Gallo again, the hard-to-guard Italian playmaker who can knock down the 3-pointer just as easily as drive to the hoop or even post up. He believes he will fit in quite nicely into new coach Michael Malone’s system.

“The thing I’m focused on is trying to get (this team) back to the same level that the Nuggets were when I got to Denver, when we were going to the playoffs easy. When we were clinching a playoff one or two weeks before the season was over,” said Gallinari, who was acquired in the 2011 blockbuster deal that sent Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks. “We need to get back to that level.”

Almost seems so long ago, given that the Nuggets have missed the playoffs two straight seasons after consistently making it for nearly a decade.

Gallinari returned last season for the first time since blowing out his knee in a game on April 4, 2013. His minutes were closely monitored early in the season. He never really got completely on track until late last season, when he averaged 20.5 points over the final 10 contests, including a career-high 47 against Dallas. He’s hoping to carry that kind of confidence this season.

“I’m good to go. I was good to go as soon as the beginning of last year,” Gallinari said. “I was not on the same page with the coach that we had.”

That would be Brian Shaw, who was fired last March after 1 1/2 seasons in charge and going 56-85. Exactly why he wasn’t on the same page with Shaw, well, Gallinari preferred the past remain the past.

“I’m ready to play the new season,” he said. “We need to win games, and get back to the same level we were before.”

Gallinari thinks the Nuggets have the personnel to do just that, especially with a rookie point guard in Emmanuel Mudiay and Gallinari’s knee feeling better than it has in a while. He feels like he has some ground to make up, too, since he said that knee robbed him of some of his prime.

“Playing my best basketball right before I got injured,” the 27-year old said. “Now, we’re back to the same level, hopefully better.

“My knee has been feeling great. It felt great last year. Feeling great during the summer. Feeling great now. I just feel good.”

He spent the summer playing for the Italian team at the EuroBasket tournament, where he averaged nearly 18 points a game. In those games, Gallinari saw quite a bit of time at the four spot on the floor, forcing teams to either use a bulkier big man to cover him and risk getting burned on a drive or a smaller player that Gallinari could simply shoot over.

Malone plans to employ a similar type approach, something they discussed over gelato when the coach visited Gallinari in Italy soon after he was hired.

“He’s 6-foot-10. He can handle the ball. He can play pick-and-roll. He can stretch the floor and shoot the 3,” Malone said. “There’s not a lot he can’t do offensively.”

Gallinari wants the responsibility of being the go-to player for the Nuggets this season, especially at crunch time.

“I’ve always been trying to do that, since I came to Denver,” Gallinari said. “That’s what I like to do. I feel good filling those shoes.

“I want to have the ball in my hands. I do want to have the ball in my hands a lot more.”

Knicks’ Rookie Jerian Grant gets up, throws it down (VIDEO)

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The Knicks did well trading for Jerian Grant on date night — he’s going to be able to walk in this year and play quality minutes off the bench.

And, he can get up and throw it down.

Carmelo Anthony had 18 points to lead the Knicks to a 94-88 win over the Sixers.