Well there goes our winning streak.
In a mostly competitive, definitely sloppy, game of basketball, the Kings managed to hang with a very good Boston team for a large portion of the game. In the end though, Boston's experience and excellent defense won out as they were able to pull away in the fourth quarter for a pretty comfortable victory.
The Kings biggest problem was turnovers, as they racked up 23 . Credit Boston's defense all you want for making life tough for Sacramento on offense, but several of those turnovers were unforced or simply bad decisions down the stretch. Boston also did a much better job of rebounding the ball, especially on the offensive glass. Several plays in the final quarter saw the Kings play some good defense to force a Boston miss, but then the Celtics got the 2nd opportunity and a basket thanks to an offensive rebound.
Another problem for the Kings lay in the fact that unlike the Lakers and Hornets, the Celtics backcourt featured two guys who you have to account for in Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo. There was no place to hide Beno Udrih on defense. Tyreke ended up drawing Rondo duty which left Beno on Allen. Either way the Celtics have an advantage. Unsurprisingly Ray Allen had a big game, scoring a game high 22 on 9-15 shots, and 4-7 from three as he continuously got wide open off of screens. Tyreke and co. didn't do a much better job guarding Rondo, who seemingly got wherever he wanted to go whenever he wanted, and he also was hitting his jumpers too. Rondo finished with 17 points and 10 assists.
The Kings best stretch came in the 2nd quarter as the bench unit led by Pooh Jeter and Donté Greene sparked a big run playing against Boston's reserves. Greene scored almost all of his 15 points in the quarter, and Jeter contributed by setting up his teammates for easy opportunities and pushing the tempo. As a bonus he hit his shots as well, going 4-5 from the field for 8 points. The Kings finished off the half up 9 after being down by 7 at the end of the first.
Sacramento was definitely looking to get DeMarcus Cousins going early but Kevin Garnett was giving him fits on that end. It was clear Boston was intentionally trying to get into his head and frustrate him. At one point Rajon Rondo pushed him during a dead ball near the end of the half. Westphal quickly pulled DeMarcus from the game to make sure he was calm (he was) and Rondo got a technical. DeMarcus responded in the 2nd half with solid numbers, finally getting into a bit of a groove, especially in the 3rd quarter, and he finished with 20 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks in a game/career high 39 minutes.
DeMarcus's frontcourt partners did not fare as well offensively. Dalembert got the start for the injured Jason Thompson. Defensively he still was as good as ever, especially in the first half when he had 4 of his 5 total blocks. But perhaps fueled with confidence from the past two games when he was scoring so well, Sammy only shot 2-9. These are the same shots he was taking the last two games too, but this time they weren't falling. It's the law of averages at work.
Carl Landry didn't get anything going, scoring only 3 points in 16 minutes. He was playing a bit out of position at the SF spot with DMC and Sammy in, and it was clear he was out of his comfort zone, especially on defense, where Pierce took advantage and got Carl into foul trouble quickly. Carl ended up with 4 fouls in those 16 minutes.
Darnell Jackson had 3 turnovers in 3 minutes and didn't play at all in the second half. He was down on the court at halftime clutching his chest. Apparently he's fine and was suffering from shortness of breath. Let's hope that it isn't anything worse.
In the end, the Kings lost to a much better team, but they remained competitive throughout. A win would have been nice, really nice in fact, but I can't complain with the effort the Kings showed tonight. Good game.