Tagged in: 12th

Sacramento Kings fire Luke Walton, name Alvin Gentry interim coach

The Sacramento Kings promoted associate head coach Alvin Gentry to interim head coach after firing coach Luke Walton on Sunday, the team revealed.

“After a thorough evaluation of the season thus far, I decided to make a change to the head coach position,” Kings general manager Monte McNair said in a statement.

“I want to thank Luke for his efforts and contributions to our team.” The Kings have lost seven of eight matches and dropped to 6-11 on season — leaving them 12th in the Western Conference.

Several recent losses came versus struggling teams like the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder and Minnesota Timberwolves.

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Gentry will be taking over his sixth NBA team. He will get a pay raise and already was under contract for the 2022-2023 season on his assistant coaching contract, sources said. The Kings are discussing possible benchmarks of success for Gentry the rest of the season that could serve as possible parameters on keeping the job on a longer-term basis than the rest of this year, sources said.

Still, this is an interim coaching job and the struggling Kings could be opening another coaching search process in the offseason.

Walton was 68-93 in two-plus seasons as Kings coach.

The Kings have been one of the league’s worst defensive teams under Walton, ranking 26th in defensive efficiency this season and last in 2020-21.

This season, Sacramento also ranks 26th in defensive rebounding percentage, 29th in paint points per game allowed and last in second-chance points per game allowed, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Sacramento has the longest active playoff drought in the NBA (since 2006). In those 15 years, they have had 10 head coaches; Walton’s interim replacement will be the 11th since Rick Adelman led the Kings to their last playoff berth.

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Schwarber’s 12th homer in 10 games helps Nats over .500

Kyle Schwarber led off the first inning with his 12th home run in 10 matches, and the Washington Nationals defeat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-3 Tuesday night to move above .500 for the first time since the opening week of the season.

Schwarber tied Albert Belle in 1995 for the most home runs over a 10-game span since at least 1901. He has 16 home runs in 18 games since being moved into the leadoff spot in the Nationals’ batting order on June 8.

Schwarber drove Rich Hill’s first pitch, an 83 mph fastball, 434 feet off the upper-deck facade in right for his major league-leading seventh leadoff home run — all in June. Schwarber’s 16 home runs this month are the second-most in any June behind Sammy Sosa’s 20 in 1998.

The 28-year-old Schwarber is batting .253 with 25 homers and 53 RBI. He is tied in home runs with San Diego’s Fernando Tatis Jr., three shy of the major league-leading total of the Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani and one back of Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

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Schwarber became a free agent Dec. 2 when the Chicago Cubs failed to offer a 2021 contract.

He agreed in January to a $10 million, one-year contract with the Nationals calling for a $7 million salary, a deal that contains an $11.5 million mutual option for 2022 with a $3 million buyout.

Juan Soto followed two batters later with a two-run drive, and Victor Robles added a solo homer in the second for a 4-0 lead off Hill (6-3).

Washington has won three consecutive and 12 of 15 and at 39-38 has a winning record for the first time since beating Atlanta on opening day.

Joe Ross (5-7) gave up two runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings for his third victory in his four outings.

Brad Hand allowed Mike Zunino’s 17th homer leading off the ninth, then got three straight outs for his 18th save in 20 chances.

Brandon Lowe hit his 16th homer in the fifth, and Kevin Kiermaier doubled in a run in the sixth. Hill gave up four runs and eight hits in six innings.

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