The Kings came back, and then held on. After a gross defensive effort in the first half allowed the Cavaliers to drop 67 points, Sacramento got stops in the third and fourth periods while the offense sung and got the Kings back in front. Things were sticky at the end, but the Kings held on for a 107-104 victory.
Omri Casspi was the star, despite two missed free throws in the final seconds that gave Cleveland a final gasp. Casspi started for the second straight game and shot the lights out, going 7-10 from the floor and 6-7 from long-range, coming up with 20 points in a team-high 42 minutes. He was the reincarnation of Peja Stojakovic out there, and I want my Omri-on-a-stick, darnit.
Tyreke Evans also had a big second half, and finished the game with a classic 'Reke line: 21 points, seven rebounds and six assists. He also switched onto Anthony Parker and Ramon Sessions when needed in the second half -- each had shredded Beno Udrih for a while in the first -- and did a good job defensively. As a team, the Kings tightened the screws in the second half, holding the Cavaliers to 37 points. Of course, given how loose Sacramento's defensive screws were in the first half, it looked even more dramatic in action.
DeMarcus Cousins had his first career double-double, racking up 14 points and 10 rebounds. Boogie also had two steals -- one of them a big one in the open court on Anderson Varejao in the fourth, leading to a pair of Cousins free throws -- but a game-high five turnovers. Paul Westphal sat Cousins to start the third quarter, opting for Samuel Dalembert -- still limited to short minutes due to injury recovery. The team defense seemed to solidify around Dalembert, and the Kings made up ground in short order after trailing by 14 at the half. Sam had five rebounds and two blocks in his 16 minutes.
Cousins, Carl Landry and Jason Thompson also stayed out of foul trouble, with Cousins and Landry finishing with three apiece and Thompson tallying just one. There's an asterisk on Thompson's line, though, as J.T. didn't play in the second half and had a near-career low 12 minutes on the night. (J.T. played 11 minutes twice early in his rookie season.)
Speaking of short minutes: Donte Greene didn't take off his warm-ups until there were only 5.9 seconds remaining. Westphal sent Greene (who started the season opener) and Antoine Wright (who hadn't played all season) into the game for defensive purposes. On the possession, a Cavs in-bound in the halfcourt with the Kings up three, Sacramento ended up fouling intentionally. It has been a tremendous and quick fall from grace for Greene since being named the opening night starter late during preseason.
Beno Udrih had a remarkable and quiet 11 assists. Francisco Garcia finally quieted down, with four points and four rebounds in 16 minutes.
But the story was Casspi, who has seemingly sewn up not only the starting small forward spot (for now), but the potential to be the third titan of the future with Evans and Cousins. There's a long way to go before Casspi is anointed or confirmed as a star on this team, but tonight's game in Cleveland was a fantastic statement.