Basketball: Sacramento Kings punish Cleveland Cavaliers

AFP

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The NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers’ struggles continued with an overtime loss to the Sacramento Kings.

Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kay Felder drives against Sacramento Kings’ Matt Barnes during their game. (Photo: AP)

Los Angeles: The NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers’ struggles continued with an overtime loss to the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday as the Golden State Warriors got back on track with a victory over the Charlotte Hornets. Not even a second straight triple-double from superstar LeBron James could lift the Cavs, who fell 116-112 and have lost their last three games and six of their last eight. “Just try to get better,” was James’s prescription. “We’ve got to get better that’s all.

The comments were tame compared to the tirade James delivered after Monday’s loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, calling the squad “top-heavy” and questioning management’s commitment to retaining the title. Cavs general manager David Griffin met with James about the outburst, saying it “certainly wasn’t appropriate from a teammate perspective”. After Aaron Afflalo’s three-pointer with 30.8 seconds left in overtime put Sacramento up 115-112, James missed a three-pointer with 10 seconds remaining and Kings star DeMarcus Cousins capped the scoring with a free-throw with five seconds to play.

Cousins scored a game-high 28 points with 11 rebounds, nine assists and three steals for the Kings. James scored 24 points with 13 rebounds and 11 assists in defeat. Warriors rally past Hornets. The Golden State Warriors, in contrast, wasted no time in righting the ship after a shock loss to the Miami Heat on Monday. Led by Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry, the Warriors rallied in the fourth quarter to beat the Hornets 113-103 in Charlotte.

The Warriors haven’t lost two regular-season games in a row since April of 2015 — the longest such streak in NBA history. Durant scored 16 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter. NBA Most Valuable Player Curry added 28. Spanish big man Marc Gasol scored a career-high 42 points to lead the Memphis Grizzlies to a 101-99 victory over the Toronto Raptors.

Gasol scored his team’s first 16 points of the contest, connecting on 14 of 25 shots from the field including a career-best five three-pointers. After setting an early tone, Gasol sealed the contest with two free throws with 36.3 seconds remaining, with the Raptors’ Kyle Lowry missing a potential game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer.

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