The Kings' offense thus far has left much to be desired. Ranking near the bottom of the league in most offensive categories, the Kings finally blew down the doors in an avalanche of a first quarter, exploding to a 40-19 lead. They would ride that wave virtually unchallenged, and the final scoreboard was lit up to a final score of 131-109.
DeMarcus Cousins was the engine for the team and had one of the finest nights of his career. At halftime, his statline read 26 points and nine rebounds in only 15 minutes of play. And although he fouled out in the fourth quarter, the team never needed him afterwards. He ended the game with 30 points and 11 rebounds on 10/14 shooting from the field in only 22 minutes of action. Cousins was patient, decisive, and imposed his will on the entire Nuggets frontline.
Cousins was joined by his Team USA wingman Rudy Gay, who added 9 points in the first quarter. Gay wasn't as explosive as Cousins was, but made consistent contributions throughout the game. He ended his night with 29 points on 9/12 shooting in 35 minutes of work. Gay forced very little this game and is settling beautifully into the role that Mike Malone has envisioned for him in this offense.
The Kings got solid contributions across the board. The most welcome came from Ben McLemore, who finally broke out of his early season slump to score 10 points on 3/7 shooting, including 2/5 from three point range. His defense continues to be stellar; his Nugget counterpart, Arron Afflalo, only scored 2 points on 1/4 shooting. Carl Landry came off the bench to score 18 points on only 6 shots from the field. Landry attacked a Nuggets interior which has had issues defending without fouling early this season.
All-in-all, the Kings had 6 players score in double digits. The team finally broke out of its three point slump, hitting 8/19 from three. Even Reggie Evans got to show off his offensive skill, hitting an elbow jumper and swooping in for a finger roll in feats likely not to be repeated this season. The Kings lived at the line, hitting 39 of their 50 attempts. The ball movement was on point all night, with 21 total assists to only 13 turnovers. Just a fun night all around.
- This game got a little chippy at times. Cousins is a load down low and deals a lot of physical punishment to opposing frontcourts. Today, we saw both Timofey Mozgov and Jusuf Nurkic flail out at times. Thankfully, the game was far enough out of reach that it never really boiled over. Best part: no technical on Cousins! (knock on wood)
- Ben McLemore even mixed it up a bit. With Ben's flagrant foul on Griffin a few nights ago and his little elbow shiver tonight, he's showing more attitude in two games than he showed all season long last year.
- Ray McCallum got some run again in the second half and once again showed he belonged. He scored 8 points on 3/4 shooting and was brought in to slow down Nate Robinson, who was running a little wild on the Kings. If Ramon Sessions doesn't shape up soon, he could possibly lose his spot to the talented youngster.
- Omri Casspi continues to bring some serious punch off the bench. His aggressiveness is infectious, and he shows a surprising deft level of skill. His ability to move the ball helped grease the offense, especially for a bench unit which has been rather stagnant offensively.
- Mike Malone continues to impress as coach, but it wasn't a perfect outing. I'm personally not a fan of seeing Landry at center anytime during the game because it leaves the team without any rim protection. But otherwise, his substitutions were solid. One particularly underrated move, noted above, was inserting McCallum next to Darren Collison when the Nuggets ran Nate Robinson next to Ty Lawson, for more quickness and defense in the backcourt.