There's no place like home.
Sacramento beat the Boston Celtics for their second straight win in a row, and their sixth win in seven at home. They did it by playing as a team, on both ends of the floor, something that is becoming more and more common. Sacramento hit the 28 assist mark for the fourth straight game, and scored over 100 points for the third time in four games.
The Kings definitely took advantage of both their youth and the fact that Boston was on the second night of a back-to-back. Isaiah Thomas pushed the tempo as the lead guard and the Kings were able to get out in transition. Sacramento outscored Boston 20 to 9 on fast breaks. They also got into the paint very easily and outscored Boston 56 to 38 there. Aside from Kevin Garnett, the Celtics don't exactly have an interior presence. That's one of the reasons why the Kings actually outrebounded their opponent for once. The other is simply that Boston missed more, but the Kings did an alright job keeping them off the offensive glass.
Isaiah Thomas torched Boston's vaunted defense through repeated drives to the basket and shots from outside. Thomas scored a season-high 27 points on 10-15 shooting and added 5 assists and 4 rebounds. His counterpart, Rajon Rondo was just 1 for 6 from the floor, although he did have 10 assists. While Isaiah abused the still recovering Rondo on offense, he can't take too much of the credit for Rondo's offensive struggles. Coach Smart made the rather shrewd decision to put a longer player on him for much of the night. John Salmons and James Johnson spent a lot of time on Rondo, preventing him from penetrating at will and setting up his teammates easily.
The Kings got to the basket at ease all night and thanks to their newfound unselfishness, were able to get easy shots through passing where in the past they might have forced something that was not there. Nowhere was this more evident than in the play of DeMarcus Cousins, who racked up a career-high 10 assists for his first triple-double. Cousins would get into the paint and draw attention and instead of jacking up a poor percentage shot, he'd pass out of it to the open man. Sacramento got a ton of quality looks this way, and it's a strategy I want them to continue to use. It benefits both the team, and Cousins himself.
John Salmons and Jason Thompson both had exceedingly efficient nights, missing just a combined 6 shots out 23 taken. Thompson utilized his length and excellent half hook against the smaller Boston defenders of Brandon Bass and Jared Sullinger. Salmons got his way against Boston both inside and out, spotting up or attacking the basket.
James Johnson wasn't the hero like he was against the Knicks, but he was pretty good anyway. He did a little bit of everything on his way to 10 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and 3 blocks. He even hit another three! Johnson also helped slow down both Jeff Green (who abused Sacramento early) and Rajon Rondo. More and more it looks like we're finally seeing Johnson mesh, as he figures out how to make an impact and the team better figures out how to utilize him.
One guy who has been clicking all season is Jimmer Fredette though, and he continued his good play with 10 points and 5 assists in 22 minutes off the bench. Jimmer struggled when he first came into the game as the lineup he came in with (Hayes, Robinson, Johnson, Garcia) was rather offensively deficient. During the stretch with that lineup, the Celtics were able to take the lead and keep it for a while. John Salmons came in for Garcia and changed the dynamics though. Now Fredette wasn't the sole ball handler on the floor or the sole offensive threat and Sacramento surged back. The pace picked up, the spacing was there, and Jimmer was able to operate under less pressure and thrive.
It didn't all come up roses though. Already missing Tyreke Evans and Aaron Brooks (who apparently sprained his ankle against New York), Marcus Thornton went down with a nasty sprain. He was fouled shooting a three, and came down on Jason Terry's foot.
The Kings were hoping to get Tyreke Evans back for tonight's game but his return has been delayed as he's seeking a second opinion on his bruised knee on Wednesday and will not play before then.
Now the Kings need to take these lessons that they've learned and apply them on the road. This upcoming road trip is among the softest I've ever seen. While I wouldn't call any of the teams "easy wins" (this being the Kings and all), three of the four teams Sacramento will face have worse winning percentages than the Kings and two have already lost to the Kings this season.
- Jared Sullinger impressed me tonight, already has a very advanced post-game.
- Has there ever been a player as statistically ineffective (he does play above average defense which doesn't show in stats) as Jason Collins that has lasted as long as he has in the NBA? He's in his 11th year and has career averages of 3.7 PPG and 3.9 RPG and a PER of 7.1.
- If there's one guy in the NBA who I will always think his shot is going in at the most inopportune moment, it's Kobe Bryant. But Jason Terry is right there.
- Pro-Tip to a couple of Sacramento Kings defenders: Do NOT leave your man to go double-team Jared Sullinger when your man is future Hall of Famer Paul Pierce.
- Nostradumbasses of the Night were 49er16 and Jlv2012 with 3 points each.