Sacramento, CA – As teams get better the Kings are falling further behind in the playoff race. What appeared to be an easy task has become more of an obstacle. After yesterday’s 120-111 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Sacramento’s head coach George Karl announced he will miss Thursday’s practice for a minor procedure for a “cancer” in his throat.
Karl has battled prostate cancer in the past but has had no reoccurring symptoms. He replied “no’ when asked if the procedure was serious. Uncertain of how long the procedure will last, General Manager Vlade Divac has said that Karl can take all the time he needs to recover.
“We do a lot of good things for extended periods of time, then we hit a black hole,” Karl said. “They didn’t miss a lot of shots but it was the offensive rebounds, scramble situations, where we didn’t come up with loose balls. It’s kind of frustrating.”
The Kings drop three straight overall and four at home. Despite DeMarcus Cousins 39th double-double of the season, Sacramento had 10 turnovers, just shy of their season-low of 9. The Kings have turned the ball over 20 or more times in 3 of the last 4 contests.
In the meantime, the Cavs pick up a win after a loss in Memphis the other night. Cleveland improve to 45-18 overall, 18-12 on the road. Cleveland has won 4 of its last 5 games. On their current 4-game road trip, Cavaliers are 1-0. Kyrie Irving tallied a game-high 30 points, reaching the 30-point plateau for the 5th time this season.
All five Cleveland starters scored in double-figures, including LeBron James, who played his first NBA game at this arena (known as ARCO Arena at the time), finished with 25 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists. (Coincidentally, LeBron scored 25 points and recorded 6 rebounds, 9 assists, 4 steals in the Cavaliers’ 106-92 loss on Oct. 29, 2003).
“It was a big win. We just kept fighting,” said James. “When we compete we’re a very good team and we did that tonight.”
James who is passionate about winning often takes to social media to announce his displeasure when the team struggles. But last night, he quoted his coach on it being a big team win. Sacramento trailed 109-100 with under 5 minutes to go in the game before they went on an 8-0 run to close the gap to one.
Kevin Love made a clutch shot with 1:32 remaining after a pair of free throws that gave Cleveland the spark they needed down the stretch to secure their win. J.R Smith followed with a 3-pointer and James had a pair of free throws to close it out. James finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds.
“It was a big shot but I’ve done it in my career, shooting from the outside, so I’m not going to act like it’s the biggest thing in the world,” Love said. “But it was a big shot for us tonight.”
Rudy Gay added 19 points, scoring in double-figures in 21 of the last 24 games played in. Darren Collison made his 5th start of the season and finished with 15 points, 5 rebounds and 8 assists. Collison started in place of Ben McLemore who had a right ring finger tip non-displaced fracture.
“No, we’re not even close to cashing in,” said Collison. “For what, you know what I mean? Until we’re automatically out of the playoffs for good, I don’t know – but even then we’re still going to give what these fans deserve and that’s just going out there, playing hard every night.”