Kurt Helin

DeMarcus Cousins dropped career-high 48 points on Pacers (VIDEO)

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In his last five games, DeMarcus Cousins has averaged 32.6 points per game shooting 50.5 percnet (and 71.4 percent from three), plus is pulling down 14.8 rebounds a contest. He looks like a guy who should be going to Toronto as an All-Star, a big man putting up numbers and pushing the Kings into the playoffs in the West.

He did it again Saturday night, dropping 48 on the Indiana Pacers while pulling down 13 boards in a Kings’ win. He made 17-of-29 shots, and 21 of those were within eight feet of the rim as Jordan Hill could not begin to slow Cousins down. What he did to the Pacers he’s been doing to everyone.

Report: Kobe Bryant rips into Lakers after team’s sixth straight loss

Associated Press
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The Lakers fell in Portland Saturday night 121-103. Los Angeles was unable to slow down Damian Lillard (36 points) or C.J. McCollum (28), and the game was never really in doubt by the middle of the second quarter. it was the Lakers’ sixth consecutive loss.

Kobe Bryant has seen enough — he ripped the Lakers in the locker room after the loss, singling out their star rookies in particular, reports Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News.

Bryant, who posted 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting and five turnovers in 25 minutes through three quarters, became upset both with the Lakers (9-37) for losing their sixth consecutive game and for some on the team smiling after the loss, sources said. Bryant took particular aim at Lakers rookie point guard D’Angelo Russell and second-year forward Julius Randle and even called them out by name, sources said….

But multiple sources confirmed that Bryant spoke for about two minutes after Lakers coach Byron Scott addressed the team.

The Lakers are going to lose a lot of games this season because of their talent level and lack of experience, but the problems in the loss Saturday went beyond that — the Lakers were outworked by Portland at every turn. The Lakers were sloppy and did not take care of the ball. In the midst of a rough season, this was one of the Lakers’ poorest efforts.

So Kobe did what a veteran leader should do — rip the team. Tell them this level of play is not acceptable. He’s not capable of taking the game over with his play often anymore (or not for meaningful stretches), but he still carries weight in the locker room.

We’ll see if Kobe’s words have any impact on the Lakers’ effort. It’s not likely to change what is going on in the win column, with L.A.’s next three games being against Dallas, Chicago, and the L.A. Clippers.

DeMarcus Cousins scores career high 48 as Kings beat Pacers 108-97

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — DeMarcus Cousins had a career high 48 points and 13 rebounds to help the Sacramento Kings beat the Indiana Pacers 108-97 Saturday night for their season-high fifth straight win.

Rajon Rondo had 11 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for his second straight triple-double and sixth of the season for Sacramento. Darren Collison had 11 points and rookie Willie Cauley-Stein had 12 rebounds.

The Kings, winners of eight of 11 in January, used a strong third quarter to build an 11-point lead and never relinquished it in the fourth. Sacramento has beaten Indiana four straight times, sweeping the season series the last two years.

Paul George had 24 of his 34 points in the second half for the Pacers, who have lost two straight and five of six. Jordan Hill had 17 points and 13 rebounds, Monta Ellis scored 16 and rookie Myles Turner added 11 points and five blocks.

Sacramento has won five straight for the first time since Oct. 31-Nov. 7, 2014. The Kings, currently in eighth place in the Western Conference, are legitimate playoff contenders at midseason for the first time in 10 years.

The Pacers had a great difficulty containing Cousins from the start. The Kings’ talented center had 13 points in eight first-quarter minutes and 24 points and eight rebounds by halftime. Cousins has 15 30-plus point games this season, including eight in the last 11 games.

Cousins scored 15 points in the fourth quarter, including a stretch of 11 straight Kings points that put Sacramento ahead 97-89 at the 4:04 mark. Consecutive baskets by Collison increased the lead to 10 points with just under three minutes remaining.

George also had a huge fourth quarter as well, also scoring 15 points.

TIP INS

Pacers: Starting PG George Hill rejoined the Pacers and came off the bench following a three-game absence. He left the team to be at the birth of his son, who was born Jan. 16. He had eight points and four assists in 32 minutes. … Starting C Ian Mahinmi, who suffered a sprained ankle in Tuesday’s win over Phoenix, missed his second straight game and reserve G Rodney Stuckey (foot sprain) was also out.

Kings: An irate coach George Karl picked up a technical early in the third quarter and had to be restrained by several assistant coaches. … Rudy Gay, the team’s second leading scorer, missed his second straight game with a bruised heel.

 

Report: Cavaliers’ almost fired David Blatt around Christmas

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David Blatt lost the Cavaliers’ locker room. Well, that’s not accurate, because to lose something you must have once had it. Blatt never had LeBron James, never really was given a chance by LeBron, and without him the battle would never be won. Blatt came with a big ego, and lacked the personal skills of someone like Steve Kerr (a respected former player who followed a popular coach and did it perfectly) to help him win over LeBron and the rest of the team. Plus, Blatt made some poor coaching decisions (ones we saw LeBron overrule, most famously in the playoffs last season). LeBron was blowing off Blatt’s play calls this season, and if the team’s star isn’t listening to the head coach, the rank and file will follow suit.

Blatt was fired on Tuesday, replaced by Tyronn Lue.

But he was almost fired back while your Christmas tree was still up, reports Chris Haynes at the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

This season, Blatt almost didn’t make it past 2015. The 29-point road trouncing at the hands of the Damian Lillard-less Portland Trail Blazers on Dec. 26 was close to being his next-to-last game. If it wasn’t for a unimpressive win over Phoenix two days later, Blatt would have been shown the door the following morning, cleveland.com has learned.

It was not just LeBron who wanted Blatt out and Lue in (although his voice carries the most weight), reports Marc Berman at the New York Post.

“Ty wanted the job from the beginning, and LeBron wanted him to have it,’’ an industry source told The Post. “There was a division within the players, but J.R. [Smith], [Iman] Shumpert, even [Kevin] Love sided with LeBron. Kyrie [Irving] was supportive of Dave, but there were a group the last two weeks trying to get him fired.’’

The Cavaliers are 30-11 and are arguably the third best team in the NBA (the Thunder would want to have that argument), and no coach this successful has ever been fired mid-season. But there may be no more win-now team in the league than the Cavaliers, and while they have won 11-of-13 those two losses are to the Spurs and Warriors, showing the Cavs exactly how far from contending they really are.

With that the players got what they wanted, GM David Griffin pulled the trigger Friday.

The question is now will the players buy into the system, willingly make the needed sacrifices, and play smarter and harder for Lue? Can he put players like Kevin Love in better positions to succeed, and will LeBron and Irving willingly sacrifice the touches needed to compete for a title.

This removes an excuse — the players have to take their game to the next level, to make those sacrifices now, or we will know it’s not the coach that is the issue.

 

DeMar DeRozan makes All-Star case, drops 33 on Miami (VIDEO)

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The host Toronto Raptors will have one player in the All-Star Game next month for sure — fans rightfully voted Kyle Lowry in as a starter.

Can the Raptors get a second player? DeMar DeRozan is on the bubble as a reserve (battling other guards such as John Wall, Kyrie Irving, Isaiah Thomas for a slot), something the coaches are voting on this week. With that in mind, DeRozan made his case the past couple games, including dropping 33 on the Miami Heat in a comfortable Raptors win Friday night.

DeRozan had 15 in the first quarter, and he got a number of buckets with the Heat’s best defender — Justise Winslow — on him.

DeRozan and Lowry have found a natural balance, with both guys taking turns as the playmaker and working off the ball. That kind of connectivity would be fun to see in the All-Star Game. We’ll see if the coaches agree and send DeRozan to the dance.