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Kings 120, Celtics 95: How Do You Like Them Apples?

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Well that was a nice way to bounce back from three straight home losses, the last two which were completely miserable. Sacramento set season-highs in many categories, beating the Boston Celtics by 25 points after a second-half barrage that featured a 41 point 3rd quarter.

Marcus Thornton went absolutely bonkers, scoring 36 points on 13-24 shooting, to go with 4 assists, 4 rebounds and 5 steals. 24 of those points came in the 2nd half alone. Sacramento's big men also chipped in big time. DeMarcus Cousins played just 26 minutes due to foul trouble but still managed 20 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and a block. Jason Thompson had his second straight game of 21 points and 15 rebounds, and also dished out 4 assists. In fact, every starter in the Kings lineup had at least 4 assists, and Isaiah Thomas had 10 to go with his 13 points.

Tyreke Evans (Sprained Ankle) and Francisco Garcia (wrist) were unavailable for the Kings tonight, so John Salmons got the start. John didn't have the sexiest statline (7 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds), but he did a great job of moving the ball and playing defense. Tyler Honeycutt also saw significant time with Tyreke/Cisco out, and although he played just 9 minutes, I really liked his activity and ball movement. Honeycutt was playing out of position on defense (they had him covering Brandon Bass) but he had active hands in passing lanes and moved the ball on offense, only settling for a bad shot once. It kind of reminded me of watching a more athletic, less bonehead Cisco that doesn't shoot every three pointer he sees.

Unlike the Mavericks a few games ago, it didn't look like the Celtics simply gave up. They were only down one point going into halftime, and weren't really put away until the end of the third quarter when it began to get out of hand with just how many shots the Kings (mostly Marcus Thornton) were hitting. Ray Allen led the Celtics in scoring with 26 points and Paul Pierce and Brandon Bass added 19 and 16 points respectively. Rajon Rondo scored just 4 points on 9 shots, but did have 12 assists. Still, I think it's safe to say he was outplayed by rookie Isaiah Thomas, a matchup I was kind of worried about before the game.

Sacramento had season highs in an incredible amount of categories: 29 Assists, 46 Field Goals Made, 120 Points Scored, 53.5% Field Goal Percentage, 25 Point Margin of Victory, 120 Points Scored by a Boston Opponent and 36 Points for Marcus Thornton (Season-High for a Kings Player). To go with the season-highs, they also beat Boston in almost every single category, except for Blocks.

The Kings run was spurred by getting out on the break and running. Sacramento had 32 fastbreak points to just 17 for Boston, and it was in part due to their defensive pressure, which got a lot of deflections. The bigs also did a great job of pushing the ball up to their guards to try to score before Boston's excellent halfcourt defense was set.

The first half saw Sacramento come out with a lot of energy and get off to a good start, leading Boston by 6 after the first quarter. Jason Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins were both killing it inside and outside but nobody really got super hot anytime in the first half. Boston made a bit of a run near the end of the 2nd quarter to cut the lead to just one point at the half. At that point it was a very balanced effort from everyone involved.

That changed in the 3rd quarter though when the Kings did to Boston what Detroit did to the Kings on Wednesday. It was an offensive explosion, as Sacramento went 14 of 20 from the field for 41 points. The Kings came out on a blistering 17 to 1 run to start the 3rd with the only Boston points coming from a technical foul free throw. Boston went on their own mini-run after that to make it interesting again, but it wasn't enough as Sacramento answered right back with an 8-0 run featuring back-to-back three pointers by Marcus Thornton. Thornton scored 14 points in the quarter, getting to the line and knocking it down from three. All his threes seemed to come from the same exact spot on the floor as well.

The 4th quarter just continued Sacramento's offensive dominance. Boston was never able to get any lasting momentum going while Sacramento still had a couple runs in them. Thornton scored another 12 points and the game was pretty much decided.

To truly show just how thoroughly Sacramento beat the Celtics, take a look at how Travis Outlaw played tonight. He looked like an actual NBA player! Outlaw had 11 points, a season-high for him, but also 4 rebounds, a steal and a block. He also had a massive dunk late in the 4th quarter.

I've focused a lot on Marcus Thornton's offensive barrage, but Jason Thompson was no less incredible. As mentioned before, Thompson had his second straight game of 21 points and 15 rebounds, and he scored those 21 points on 9-11 shooting. One thing that I have noticed in these last two games is that JT is starting to take more of those mid-range jumpers that he seemed to develop a knack for the last few years but had largely abandoned this season in favor of an improved Post Game. If JT can successfully combine these two aspects of his game as he has the last two games, that really opens up things for the Kings offense.

These are the type of games that are both awesome but also make games like the last two against a depleted Golden State and a mediocre Pistons team so frustrating. We've seen just how well the Kings can play, but they haven't been able to do it consistently. They need to find a way to get motivated to play with this much energy (on both ends of the floor, the defensive pressure was among the best I've seen this year) against every team and not just the big names.

The Kings are now 3-3 on this 9 game homestand, and now get a day off before Minnesota comes in Sunday Afternoon.

Random Observations:

  • Quite a few Celtics fans in the house tonight. I always get a little more pumped up when I see a large contingent of the other team's fans in the building.
  • Speaking of the Celtics fans, I think I might have known more of the players on the Celtics roster than a lot of the ones that came to the game. A lady called into the Kings Post-Game Show after the game and had a funny story about three girl Celtics Fans who were sitting in front of her. She asked the girls if they were from Boston and they responded that no, they were from Reno. Then she asked them if they even knew where Boston was, and one of the girls replied, "Yeah, Connecticut" while her friend said "No, Philadelphia". I believe this story is 100% true.
  • Keith Smart accidentally ran into one of the referees when he became especially animated trying to get to his team, and he ended up bearhugging the ref and spinning him around. It was pretty funny and I'm surprised the ref took it as well as he did, although I figured he knows there wasn't any malicious intent.
  • DeMarcus' Technical was a bit BS to me. KG got away with a lot of chippy fouls and really got under DeMarcus's skin, but that's what KG does.
  • Kings "Password" with Jimmer and Donté was pretty funny. It was St. Patrick's Day themed. The first password was "Ireland" and Donté's clue to Jimmer was "You look like you're from..." Another password was Green, and Donté's clue was "Me without the e" and Jimmer's answer was "Dont".
  • To the Lady Celtics fan in the Rondo Jersey showcasing her jersey and taunting Kings fans as her team is down 25 with 4 minutes left and she is leaving early... do I need to add anything to that?
  • I swear I heard StR user Lietothegirls in the parking lot afterward loudly yelling "Thanks for coming Celtics fans!"
  • Every Kings player in uniform played... except for J.J. Hickson. Hickson was out with bask spasms.
  • The fastbreak featuring a behind the back pass from Marcus to Jimmer and then a dish back from Jimmer to JT for the dunk was really fun.
  • I like how the last few minutes of garbage time that Marcus Thornton was still in the game for no reason whatsoever he could have been trying to chase the 40 point mark but he didn't even take a shot during that stretch and just moved the ball.
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