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George Karl to have cancer-related procedure, he says after Kings’ loss

LeBron James is "looking forward to going against one of the greats," Kobe Bryant

LeBron James said he's "looking forward to going against one of the greats," when his team plays Kobe Bryant for the last time.
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LeBron James said he's "looking forward to going against one of the greats," when his team plays Kobe Bryant for the last time.

Kings coach George Karl said he’s having a medical procedure Thursday related to cancer in his throat and that he will miss the day’s practice.

Karl, a two-time cancer survivor, addressed his health in an interview with The Bee after Wednesday’s 120-111 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers at Sleep Train Arena. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2005 and with treatable neck and throat cancer in 2010.

“I’m having a procedure for a cancer in my throat,” Karl said.

When asked if the procedure was serious, Karl said “no” twice.

When Kings general manager Vlade Divac was asked if he was concerned about Karl, he said “of course, of course.”

“Coach told me the other day,” Divac said. “I told him to take as much time as he needs. … We probably won’t know the results for a couple days.”

Divac had told Karl before the season if he ever needed to take time to rest that would be OK; that discussion was not related to cancer.

Divac reiterated the team would not rush Karl back.

“He doesn’t know how long (the procedure is) going to take, whether it’s one hour, two hours, three hours,” Divac said. “We have practice, and I told him, ‘I’ll be there. You have to just do your thing, and if you need more time, don’t worry about it, I’ll take care of it.’ 

Karl has missed just one game this season. He did not coach the Kings’ loss at New Orleans on Jan. 28 due to food poisoning.

The Kings host the Orlando Magic on Friday night and the Utah Jazz on Sunday.

The Kings loss to the Cavaliers on Wednesday was their third in a row. Sacramento started strong and led 60-54 at halftime.

But in the second half, Cleveland’s top two players began to assert themselves and helped the Cavaliers overcome the 11-point lead the Kings built early in the third quarter.

Cleveland closed the game on an 11-3 run to finally pull away.

Kyrie Irving finished with 30 points for the Cavs, while LeBron James had 25 points, 11 rebounds and six assists.

For the Kings, it was another case of playing well but not for long enough to win.

Even though they held Cleveland to 43.3 percent shooting, the Kings were outrebounded 51-38. That included a 15-5 advantage in offensive rebounds for Cleveland.

The Cavs had a 24-12 edge in second-chance points.

“The thing is, the great teams play 40 to 45 minutes of solid-to-good basketball,” Karl said. “The teams that are floundering a little bit probably play 32 to 36 minutes, and that four-minute stretch is usually the difference in a close game.”

The Kings have dropped 15 of their last 20 games since their five-game winning streak in January put the team at 20-23 and in eighth place in the Western Conference.

Karl said the Kings have played better of late, but continue to hurt themselves with mistakes. Teams’ efficient shooting and the Kings’ turnovers have been the usual culprits.

This time the rebounding by the bigger Cavs proved too much to overcome along with the Kings’ miscues.

“We missed free throws, we missed layups,” Karl said. “I thought our transition defense was good for three-and-a-half quarters, and then we lost them some in transition.”

DeMarcus Cousins led the Kings with 29 points and 11 rebounds, but had an off-shooting night, going 8 for 22.

“You have nights like that,” Cousins said. “I wish it hadn’t been tonight against such a tough team. I was just trying to find a way to play through it, trying to find other ways to affect the game, and it’s unfortunate it happened tonight. We still had a great chance to win.”

He was also called for his 15th technical foul of the season. One more would lead to an automatic one-game suspension by the NBA.

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The Kings (25-38) have 19 games left in the season, and at this stage, Cousins isn’t pleased with simply competing against good teams like Cleveland (45-18).

“It’s tough, man,” Cousins said. “Terrible feeling. It’s frustrating.”

The Bee's Jason Jones breaks down what you need to know from the Sacramento Kings 120-111 loss to Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Jason Jones: @mr_jasonjones, read more about the team at sacbee.com/kings. Bee columnist Ailene Voisin contributed to this report.

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