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How Kings responded to being eliminated from the NBA playoff battle



HOUSTON – The visitor locker room was gloomy on Saturday night at the Toyota Center. There were no tears and certainly no holes knocked through the walls, but the frustration and disappointment of what could have been hung in the air.

Sacramento Kings season is not over, but their hopes and dreams of ending the franchise's 12-year playoff drought are. Start-up Kings have officially been eliminated from the NBA season.

While the locker room was stupid and gloomy, one can expect from a group of young players with much greater ambitions. The management had a slightly different perspective on the team's elimination.

"I'm very proud," general manager Vlade Divac told NBC Sports California after Kings' 1

19-108 loss to the Rockets. "I think it's a good step forward. I like the way they still compete because it's good for next year. I'm very proud of them."

Shooting guard Buddy Hield is not good at saving her feelings. He is an emotional player who wears his heart on his sleeve.

"You go through things like this in life," said Hield. "You will never get it how you want it. You have to go through the ups and downs. Right now it's downs.

" But I think this team will get better. Everyone is pissed off because we didn't finish games. If we were finished with games, we would talk about something else. "

In the middle of Willie Cauley-Stein, the longest patient player at Kings & # 39; roster, this season was different from the previous three. Although he may be a lightning rod for disputes, Cauley-Stein has lived through some very difficult times while selling a king's uniform.

"We have a good group of guys who just came to work and did fun every day, made every day, you want to get better, you will get better For yourself, for the city, for team, "Cauley-Stein told NBC Sports California." You wanted to prove that we were different this year, we are moving in the right direction. "

Although the team has been smaller than its ultimate goal, it does not mean that the kings should hang their heads, the NBA has standard improvement benchmarks, and the kings jumped one or two steps in the usual bow this season.

"It was a good season for us, "said Bogdan Bogdanovic." I think no one expects this kind of season, but there e r many good things, a lot of positivity. We just have to figure out this summer to step up next (season) even more. "

How often has a Kings team had a true path to success? Not often. An eternal reconstruction for over a decade, Divac and his group have built a strong foundation of talent in Sacramento.

They're not done with There is no long-term ceiling on this club, they have to add a few, but the core of a longtime playoff contender is in place.

"We just have to continue to grow, man, look forward next year and end the season strong, "said Hield." We still need to grow. "

With another game coming Sunday against the San Antonio Spurs, there is no time for the kings to consider what might have been. They will have less than 24 hours to prepare for a team that is now guaranteed a postseason berth for the 22nd business cycle of Gregg Popovich coach.

[ RELATED : What We Learned From kings' losses to rockets]

The kings still hope to finish the season strong. possibility to reach the mark of .500, but that would require a 4-2 finish of the year. If they want a legitimate shot to make it 41 victories, it's important to take care of business in San Antonio.


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