Kurt Helin

Jarrett Jack, Brook Lopez

Bogdanovic leads Nets to 1st win, 106-98 over Houston

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HOUSTON (AP) — Coach Lionel Hollins and the Brooklyn Nets have been working hard all season with nothing to show for it.

That work finally paid off Wednesday night with their first win of the season.

Bojan Bogdanovic came off the bench to score a season-high 22 points with nine rebounds and lead the Nets to a 106-98 victory over the Houston Rockets.

The Nets entered the game 0-7 and the Rockets had won four straight after opening the season 0-3.

“When you get a win it validates all the preaching and all the working that you’re doing,” Hollins said. “When you do get a victory you can say: `Hey, this is what we’re talking about.’ Because in that victory there’s a lot of things that I’ve been preaching and other coaches have been preaching.”

Brooklyn scored six straight points to turn a tie game into a 99-93 lead with 3 1/2 minutes remaining. Thomas Robinson led the way in that stretch, scoring four points highlighted by a dunk after a steal.

Marcus Thornton made a 3-pointer for Houston, but Bogdanovic hit one with 1:37 left to stretch the lead to 102-96.

“It was the first time we didn’t have black holes in our game,” Bogdanovic said. “That’s the biggest reason why we won.”

James Harden led Houston with 23 points, cooling off after scoring 43 and 46 in the last two games.

The victory was Brooklyn’s first in Houston since March 13, 2006, ending an eight-game skid.

Joe Johnson added 16 points and 10 assists for Brooklyn. Brook Lopez had 14 points and 12 rebounds.

“We responded to their runs,” Lopez said. “We played our most complete game of the season. Obviously it’s good to get that first one. It’s a breakthrough.”

The Nets scored nine consecutive points, capped by a 3-pointer by Wayne Ellington, to take a 91-87 lead with 6 1/2 minutes remaining. Dwight Howard missed two layups on consecutive possessions to leave Houston empty-handed.

Howard had 10 points, 17 rebounds and five blocks.

“I’m worried about our team right now,” Houston coach Kevin McHale said. “We haven’t caught a rhythm yet. I’ve said it all since we’ve been together. We haven’t been able to put together long runs of just good, solid basketball.”

A layup by Trevor Ariza ended a drought of more than three minutes for the Rockets after that. That was the start of a 6-2 run that tied it at 93-93 with less than five minutes left.

The Rockets trailed by six at halftime but used an 18-6 run to take a 79-68 lead with just more than three minutes left in the third quarter. Harden, Ariza, Thornton and Patrick Beverley all made 3-pointers for Houston in that span.

An 11-4 spurt by Brooklyn cut the lead to 83-79 entering the fourth quarter.

Brooklyn scored the last six points of the first half to lead 55-49.


Nets: Rookie Rondae Hollis-Jefferson started and played the first 7:49 of the game before sitting out until the fourth quarter. He finished with four rebounds and an assist. …. Thaddeus Young added 13 points.

Rockets: F Terrence Jones returned after missing the last five games with a cut on his right eyelid. He had four rebounds. … Beverley returned after missing the last two games with a concussion. … G/F K.J. McDaniels was assigned to Houston’s D-League Rio Grande Valley on Wednesday. … McHale said rookie Sam Dekker is dealing with a back problem, but will likely join McDaniels with Rio Grande Valley when he gets healthy.


Rockets’ Patrick Beverley arrested for unpaid traffic ticket

Patrick Beverley

The lesson here people: pay your car registration fees and your tickets.

The Rockets’ Patrick Beverley did not, and it led to a silly and avoidable arrest, which was announced by the team. The Rockets released a statement on the matter, which NBA.com’s John Schuhmann took with the appropriate level of seriousness.

As noted above, Beverley is not going to miss any time because of this.

In the words of Chief Wiggum, “Ok folks, show’s over, nothing to see here.”

Grizzlies’ Matt Barnes gets flopping warning for three vs. Clippers


The thing is, it worked.

The Grizzlies were down four with 13.3 seconds left and needed a three, and they got one in practice when Chris Paul was called for a foul on Matt Barnes on the play above. Barnes comes off the screen and sells contact that is barely there. (For the record, the NBA determined this was the correct call, there was a foul, but that Barnes flopped in exaggerating the contact to make sure he got the call.)

The bottom line is it worked; Barnes got three free throws, and the Grizzlies stayed in the game (they eventually lost the free throw battle at the end). And for this flop he got a warning, which means if he flops again this season and is caught he could will a $5,000 fine — or 0.001 percent of his salary this season. That will teach him.


Rumor: DeMarcus Cousins cussed out George Karl in front of team

Atlanta Hawks v Sacramento Kings

James Ham of CSNBayArea.com has repeatedly written that the vibe inside the Kings’ locker room after the team fell to 1-7 Monday, losing to San Antonio, was weird and off.

This would explain why if true — DeMarcus Cousins cursed out coach George Karl in front of the entire team, according to The Big Lead.

After Sacramento was hammered at home by San Antonio Monday night, the Kings’ star, DeMarcus Cousins, stormed into the locker room and cursed out head coach George Karl with a torrent of obscenities, a person close to the situation told The Big Lead.

After Cousins unleashed the F-bombs on Karl, all the head coach – who publicly feuded with the Kings best player last summer – could do was walk away, a source tells The Big Lead. Afterward, Cousins felt some remorse for his actions, asking a couple of teammates if he came down too hard on the coach. They calmly told him, “you can’t scream and curse like that at your coach in front of everyone.”

This is what led to the team meeting Tuesday before the team’s practice, a meeting that resulted in the usual “we’re all on the same page now” quotes, save for GM Vlade Divac admitting that the players have not yet bought into Karl’s system.

But the Big Lead had one other rumor out of that meeting, which I would take with a big grain of salt but speaks to the mess in that organization right now.

What hasn’t been reported is that after the players spoke, Sacramento general manager Vlade Divac and assistant GM Mike Bratz talked to the players and Divac asked the team, “We don’t know what to do with George [Karl], do you think we should fire him?”

I’m not sure Divac would do that. If Divac put that question to the players in a team meeting, he’s making more mistakes than we realized. If you’re not sure about a coach — and Divac the GM inherited Karl — you privately may talk about it with a franchise cornerstone player (like Cousins). But it’s not something where you want the players starting to lobby for or against a coach.

Looming over all of this is owner Vivek Ranadive, who has the patience of a four-year-old. DeMarcus Cousins, for all his flaws, has been undercut by ownership in Sacramento that is constantly changing the front office and with that constantly changing the style of play. The word consistency seems to be banned in Sacramento. Ranadive wanted Karl and got rid of Mike Malone, the guy Cousins’ liked. Ranadive wants an up-tempo team, but does not have a good up-tempo roster built. And looming over it all are the whispers around the league (mentioned by the Big Lead) Ranadive wants to bring in John Calipari and give him all the power. (I’m far from sold Calipari would take it.)

It’s a mess. And if the Kings don’t start picking up some wins, the pressure is only going to build.

Kings’ GM Divac admits players have not bought into Karl’s system. Yet.

Vlade Divac, Vivek Ranadive
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When you look at the Kings’ seven losses in eight games to start the season, they all have reasonable explanations. Four of the losses came with DeMarcus Cousins sidelined, and for years the Kings have sucked when he is not in the lineup. The other three losses were to the Warriors and Clippers (twice), two of the NBA’s elite.

Still, a 1-7 start for a team that had playoff aspirations is brutal, and it led to a team meeting just a couple weeks into the season. Out of that meeting most of the quotes were pabulum in the vein of “we had a frank talk and are in a better place,” the stuff heard after every team meeting. For example, there is this one from Kings GM Vlade Divac, via James Ham of CSNBayArea.com.

“It was good I think,” Divac said. “Going 1-7, you expect much better things. There’s a lot of frustrations among the group and it was pretty good and active. We addressed some issues and the most important thing is we are on the same page after that meeting.”

But Divac dropped one line that seemed to get at the heart of the problem.

“I’m not saying they don’t like the system,” Divac said. “They just aren’t buying in yet.”

The coaches and players are not on the same page. Things are messy. Cousins and other players like Mike Malone’s slower, more defensive system, but owner Vivek Ranadive did not — he wants an up-tempo team to open his new arena in downtown Sacramento next season. So enter George Karl. Who had a rocky summer with Cousins. They have said things are patched up, but plenty of people around the league question the stability of that relationship. That may be part of it.

This is going to be a big 48 hours for the Kings — how do they come out Wednesday night against a good Detroit team? Sacramento faces Brooklyn and Toronto after that, can they string some wins together, or do the losses keep piling up, putting pressure on the entire Kings’ organization.