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Sacramento Kings Fail To Execute Plays "Down The Stretch," Lose 106-98 To Clippers

THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Sacramento, Calif. — The Sacramento Kings have not been one of those teams that get so far behind where it’s a lopsided loss as an end result. That appears not to be head coach Dave Joerger’s style. Thank goodness.

What is becoming more apparent in the last three minutes of close games, the Kings cannot find a way to pull them out. In the game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Golden 1 Center, the scenario repeated itself.

The Clippers (25-14) beat the Kings 106-98 in a game where Sacramento trailed 100-98 with 56.2 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Still plenty of time to get a victory.

But the Clippers sealed the victory with six-straight free throws by point guard Chris Paul, who returned to the lineup after dealing with a sore left hamstring.

Paul also got a steal from DeMarcus Cousins with 23.9 ticks left that allowed the Kings to replicate a bad history of bumbling up in the waning minutes when the game is on the line. Cousins and Garrett Temple missed consecutive 3-pointers in the last 17.9 seconds of the game that also could have made a difference.

“It’s something we need to talk about,” Kings point guard Darren Collison said of the team’s last 180 seconds of tight basketball games. “If we’re talking about making the playoffs these are some things we need to learn from. If we’re gonna make a run we gotta beat teams like the Clippers down the stretch. They are not going to beat themselves down the stretch. We gotta beat them by executing those last points.”

Sacramento Kings players Ty Lawson, No. 10, and Garrett Temple, No. 17, battle Los Angeles Clippers' Chris Paul, No. 3, Raymond Felton, and Luc Mbah a Moute for a rebound. Publicity Agents photo art by T. Ray Harvey. Jan. 6, 2017.

Cousins had 25 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists, three steals and two-blocked shots for the Kings (15-21). Rudy Gay returned to the court after dealing with a hip injury. He had 18 points and seven rebounds while Collison added 20 points, six assists and four rebounds.

Paul had 14 points, 12 assists, and six rebounds, and three steals for the Clippers, who are on a three-game winning streak. JJ Reddick scored 19 points and Austin Rivers, starting as the third guard, had 24 points, six rebounds and two assists.

The son of the Clippers coach, Doc Rivers, had 18 points in the first half, 12 points in the second quarter when Los Angeles outscored the Kings 34-12. The Kings mounted a 14-point margin, but the Clippers’ second-quarter scoring spurt led to a 53-41 halftime lead.

“He’s good. He’s been hot lately,” Joerger said of Rivers. “He’s a good player and a couple of times he just lined us up. Just hit ’em with people on him. He’s got a nice rhythm to him where sometimes he catches and goes. He had a great night and he’s playing at a high level.”

DeAndre Jordan did his part for the Clippers, too. Cousins’ gold-medal, Team-USA teammate had 20 points, nine rebounds, two assists, and completed an import 3-point play with 2:26 remaining to put the Clippers up 99-93. The Clippers were on a six-game losing streak before starting one in the win column.

“There’s no excuses or nothing like that,” Paul said. “But we haven’t been healthy and stuff like that. I don’t know what our record is now, but for us it’s about making sure we’re playing the right way and piling up the wins.”

Cousins had four of the Kings’ six turnovers. Ty Lawson had 17 points, six assists, and four rebounds for the Kings. Sacramento’s bench only scored 14 points, seven by Kosta Koufos.

Now the Kings will have to deal with the Golden State Warriors on Jan. 9 at G1C. Up Interstate 80, The Warriors lost 128-119 in overtime in Oakland to the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Kings are 0-2 on a seven-game homestand.

“Coach Joerger has been drawing up some good plays for us. So now it’s on us to go out there and execute it,” Collison said. “Coach is definitely putting us in positions to succeed. We just got to focus, practice and have the willingness to execute that play over and over. And then we gotta do it a 100 times.”

T. Ray (Antonio) Harvey is a Public Information Officer and Photographic Artist for Publicity Agents. Harvey is also the author of The HOMICIDAL HANDYMAN OF OAK PARK: MORRIS SOLOMON JR.

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