Blake Griffin finds DeAndre Jordan for the reverse alley-oop slam (VIDEO)


The Clippers hosted the Kings in a matinee on Sunday, and as is usually the case when this L.A. squad takes the floor, there were plenty of highlight plays.

This one, an alley-oop pass from Blake Griffin to DeAndre Jordan in the fourth quarter, was important because it cut Sacramento’s lead to just two with 1:40 to play.

But a jumper from former Clipper Darren Collison with 52 seconds left made it a two-possession game, and the Kings sealed the 98-92 victory by hitting their free throws the rest of the way.

DeMarcus Cousins finished with a monster line of 34 points, 17 rebounds, five assists and three blocked shots, and the Kings bullied the Clippers on the boards and in the paint to earn this one.

Blake Griffin managed to shoot just 6-of-20 from the field, with nine of those attempts coming as jump shots from midrange or beyond. He added eight rebounds, and this pass to Jordan late was the prettiest of his four assists.

67RIEFNS No. 36: Isaiah Thomas vs. Sacramento Kings


The NBA is full of talent, personality and suspense. During the offseason, It’s easy to forget how wonderful the league can be. So, I’ve assembled 67 Reasons I’m Excited For Next Season (67RIEFNS). They’ll be presented in no particular order.

Would you rather have Player A or Player B?


stats via

You’re probably taking the younger and better Player B. I sure am, even though he costs a little more (less than $2 million per season).

If you agree, you’re not the Kings, who cast aside Player B (Isaiah Thomas) for Player A (Darren Collison).

Sacramento has indicated Thomas didn’t defend and distribute well enough, but Collison is the answer to those problems? Really?

At 5-foot-9, Thomas will always have limitations on the court. But, despite being the last pick in the draft, Thomas has repeatedly overcome obstacles in front of him. He’s somehow become an excellent finisher at the rim, which says something about his will to succeed.

Now, Thomas has even more motivation.

Thomas said he felt “very disrespected” by the Kings and that he plans to “kill” them . A point guard scorned is a point guard worth watching. Set your calendars:

  • Fri., Nov. 7: Kings at Suns, 9 p.m.
  • Fri., Dec. 26: Suns at Kings, 10 p.m.
  • Sun., Feb. 8: Suns at Kings, 9 p.m.
  • Wed., March 25: Kings at Suns, 10 p.m.

For what it’s worth, Collison is a fine player, and there’s a chance Sacramento doesn’t regret its decision. DeMarcus Cousins has already praised Collison’s willingness to pass.

But I want to see Thomas trying to prove the Kings wrong. Thomas became an insanely fun sparkplug by channeling the 59 times he was passed over in the draft.

Now, it’s more personal than ever, with one team – the team he sweat for his entire NBA career so far – telling him he wasn’t good enough for them. I can’t wait to see what he does with that information.

Kobe Bryant on Julius Randle playing with Kobe, for Byron Scott: ‘If you f— this up, you’re a really big idiot’


Lakers coach Byron Scott is trying to motivate rookie Julius Randle by publicly calling him out for not being in good enough shape. Repeatedly.

If that seems harsh, you should see Kobe Bryant’s words for the No. 7 pick.

Remember, this is the same Kobe who called ESPN voters who ranked him the NBA’s 40th-best player “idiots.”

Kobe on Randle playing with Kobe, for Scott:

If you f— this up, you’re a really big idiot. You know what I mean? ESPN are idiots, but you’re a really big idiot if you manage to f— this up.

Unfortunately, it really doesn’t work that way. The best players, even those with championship experience, don’t necessarily make the best mentors and coaches. They can’t just transfer their knowledge and skills through osmosis.

While Kobe has played for the Lakers, a dozen other first-round picks have made their debuts:

  • Javaris Crittenton
  • Jordan Farmar
  • Andrew Bynum
  • Sasha Vujacic
  • Brian Cook
  • Kareem Rush
  • Mark Madsen
  • Devean George
  • Tyronn Lue
  • Sam Jacobson

And here are first-round picks who made their debuts on teams Scott coached:

  • Tyler Zeller:
  • Dion Waiters
  • Tristan Thompson
  • Kyrie Irving
  • Christian Eyenga
  • Darren Collison
  • Julian Wright
  • Hilton Armstrong
  • Cedric Simmons
  • Chris Paul
  • J.R. Smith
  • Zoran Planinic
  • Brandon Armstrong
  • Jason Collins
  • Richard Jefferson
  • Kenyon Martin

Scott seems to have a much better record of player development than Kobe, both are far from perfect. Perhaps, all the busts just screwed it up themselves, but I think it’s more likely neither Scott nor Kobe provide a perfect Petri dish for rookies to grow.

Unquestionably, Randle can learn from Kobe and Scott. And, so far, it seems Randle has the talent to succeed.

But even if Randle takes every reasonable step, it’s still possible he fails as an NBA player. It’s far to soon to declare he’ll make it – even with Kobe and Scott around.

ProBasketballTalk 2014-15 Preview: Sacramento Kings


Last season: After Kings fans and mayor Kevin Johnson banded together to save basketball in Sacramento, new owner Vivek Ranadive brought in a new coach (Mike Malone) and a new GM (Pete D’Alessandro) and signed DeMarcus Cousins to a four-year max extension. The Kings proceeded to have a season that looked a lot like their last several — a lot of losing. A midseason trade for Rudy Gay rejuvenated the veteran forward’s career after a disappointing stint in Toronto, but it didn’t do much for the win column. The Kings finished 28-54.

Signature highlight from last season: In the most disappointing announcement-turned-April Fool’s-joke in NBA history, Cousins did not actually record an R&B album under the name “Boogie Smooth.”

Key player changes: The Kings took sharpshooter Nik Stauskas with the No. 8 pick in the draft and parted ways with point guard Isaiah Thomas, who went to Phoenix. They replaced Thomas by giving Darren Collison a three-year, $16 million deal, and signed veterans Ramon Sessions and Ryan Hollins on the cheap.

Keys to the Kings’ season:

Which of the young wings will pan out? The Kings have drafted a shooting guard in the top 10 each of the last two years. Ben McLemore was inconsistent in his rookie season and Stauskas, while a great shooter, could take time to develop other aspects of his game. In order for the Kings to progress, at least one of them has to become a dependable starter.

Will Boogie make “the leap”? Cousins played for Team USA in the FIBA World Cup this summer, and there was plenty of talk about his maturation as a leader. Plenty of players take gigantic leaps forward after playing in international competitions. Think Derrick Rose, Kevin Love and Kevin Durant after the 2010 tournament. Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson and Kenneth Faried are expected to do the same this year, and so is Cousins. This Kings team is still rebuilding but it’s easier to do that when you have a superstar to build around.

What, exactly, is the plan here? This team is not untalented. Cousins is an All-Star-caliber player, Gay is a proven scorer, and Collison and Sessions are competent NBA point guards. Derrick Williams may still be salvageable, and second-year point guard Ray McCallum has some upside. What the Kings lack is cohesion, or any sense of what the direction of the franchise is. Obviously, Cousins is the building block, and they’d like to re-sign Gay if he keeps performing like he did after being traded to Sacramento. But other than that, so far it seems like a lot of just throwing stuff at the wall and hoping something sticks.

Why you should watch the Kings: There’s a reasonable chance Cousins could go for 30 points and 15 rebounds or get himself ejected (or both!) on any given night.

Prediction: 27-55. The Kings play in a division with at least two and maybe three playoff teams and don’t have a lot of proven talent or a roster coherent enough to make them a playoff threat of any kind. But at least they won’t be as bad as the Lakers.

DeMarcus Cousins on Kings’ switch from Isaiah Thomas to Darren Collison: ‘The ball is moving a lot better’


Not long ago, DeMarcus Cousins was squarely in Isaiah Thomas’ corner.

But Thomas left for the Suns this summer, and his split with the Kings was somewhat acrimonious.

Sacramento signed Darren Collison to replace him, and the Kings are moving on. They’re touting Collison as an upgraded passer and defender over Thomas even though the players’ history indicate otherwise.

I don’t know where Cousins and Thomas stand personally, but the center is now praising Collison and – intentionally or not – throwing shade on Thomas.

Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee:

Cousins has a point.

Thomas possessed the ball 22 percent of the time he played last season compared to 14 percent for Collison.

But the discussion can’t end there as if all movement is equal and good.

When Thomas possessed the ball, good things happened. He’d either score efficiently or set up a teammate for a good look. Thomas’ passing numbers (32.2 assist percentage, 14.3 turnover percentage) dwarf Collison’s (21.9 assist percentage, 14.3 turnover percentage).

Expect Collison’s time of possession to come up too now that he’s not playing with Chris Paul.

I don’t know whether Cousins meant to take a shot at his former teammate, but that quote seems a bit over the top if it were meant just to praise Collison. If Thomas were seeking any additional motivation – he’s not, because he’s already covered – this would provide it.

The ball probably is moving better in Sacramento with Collison replacing Thomas. But if that doesn’t make the Kings better, I wonder if Cousins will still be raving about Collison at midseason.