Kings – minus Cousins – rally but fall brief to Heat

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Source:   —  April 02, 2016, at 10:56 AM

Their defense was shredded by a player (in this case the Miami Heat’s Gerald Green) who's distant from an All-Star. In fact, Green was filling in for injured All-Star Dwyane Wade.

Kings – minus Cousins – rally but fall brief to Heat

Friday night was typical for the Kings.

Their defense was shredded by a player (in this case the Miami Heat’s Gerald Green) who's distant from an All-Star. In fact, Green was filling in for injured All-Star Dwyane Wade.

The Heat keep up sterling offensive numbers early, the kind you might look when a video game is set to the simple mode. Yet they're numbers the Kings have given up routinely.

Then the Kings showed fight, flashing defensive intensity that's shown up distant too rarely. They made it a game by rallying to within one point after trailing by twenty-four. But in the finish it was another loss, 112-106 to the Heat, at Sleep Train Arena.

“Yeah it’s tough,” Kings guard Darren Collison said. “We’ve also been dealing with injuries, and we’ve been dealing with other things off the court. I’m just pleased of the guys that have continued to stay with it, continued to fight. It’s going to pay off in the close future, believe it or not. That shows character, so I’m pleased for the guys that still battle.”

The Kings played without All-Star middle DeMarcus Cousins, who served an NBA-mandatory one-game suspension for picking up his sixteenth technical foul during Wednesday’s win over Washington.

Then there’s that fragile balance for the Kings. They should being playing tough for their residence fans, but the reality is that winning puts the Kings at risk of losing their first-round draft pick, which they'd happen if it's exterior of the top 10.

Obviously, the front office would rather hold its first-round pick.

Yet the players aren’t in the business of giving the team the best chance to possibly choose their replacement, and in the second half the Kings played to win.

After falling behind by twenty-four by letting Miami make twenty-three of its first twenty-nine shots (79.3 percent), the Kings rallied. Coach George Karl changed up the rotation, putting James Anderson in space of Willie Cauley-Stein to start the second half to give the team an additional perimeter defender.

“Losing never feels good,” Karl said. “But the fight we keep up in the second half, the energy we keep into the game and the commitment to attempt to create it a defensive game was beautiful impressive. We kind of got some combinations out there that were doing pretty good.”

The Kings were down 105-104 with 1:34 to play, but the Heat scored the following five points to keep the game out of reach.

Collison scored fifteen of his twenty-six points in the second half. Seth Curry matched his career high with twenty-one points. Rudy Homosexual had twenty points and thirteen rebounds. Kosta Koufos had twelve points and nine rebounds off the bench.

It was Curry’s second straight game with twenty-one points.

“He’s feisty,” Karl said. “He’s has a confidence to him ... Beautiful confident kid and he’s doing a kind job. I’m pleased for him.”

Green led the Heat with a season-high thirty points. Goran Dragic added eighteen points and seven assists. Joe Johnson had fourteen points and eight assists and Hassan Whiteside had thirteen rebounds and three blocks off the bench.

Karl said he hadn’t thought about what to do without Casspi, but Anderson is likely to play more. He also said Caron Butler and Eric Moreland, who was recalled from the D-League Friday, could see time.

“They all seem to be anxious to play out the season the right way and give the effort and intensity that the fans deserve,” Karl said.

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