Boy, is that DeMarcus Cousins guy something or what? In another game where the Sacramento Kings' defense utterly failed them, another game where a fourth quarter double-digit lead evaporated down the stretch, and another game where several roleplayers went off, the Kings turned to their budding superstar to carry them to victory. Cousins did not disappoint, powering the Kings with 39 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists for the game, including 9 points and a big assist for a three in overtime, helping the Kings edge out the New York Knicks 135-129.
While Cousins was magnificent, he had major help from the Kings' second and third guns. Rudy Gay dueled with Carmelo Anthony all game long, ending the game with 29 points on 12/21 shooting to help offset his counterpart's 36 points. Darren Collison came up huge with 27 points of his own, including 3/3 from three point range, none bigger than the dagger he buried from the corner in overtime. In Tyrone Corbin's offense, Collison has been more aggressive looking for his spot-up threes, and its paid dividends for the offense.
Unfortunately, there is also the unfortunate fact that the Kings needed overtime to beat the woeful Knicks at home, who now fall to 5-27 on the year. The Knicks were able to shred the Kings' defense seemingly at will, especially in the interior. The Knicks scored 62 points in the paint, nearly doubling their season average of 33, dishing out 30 assists with only 15 turnovers. While Cousins was dominant offensively, on defense he was clearly slowed by fatigue. And with Ryan Hollins out again due to his father's funeral in Los Angeles, the Kings' lack of rim protection was especially glaring on the night. Cole Aldrich scored a season high 18 points on only 9 shots, Jason Smith chipped in with 12, and Sam Dalembert added 11.
Another positive is that the bench has been much better of late. The Kings' young duo of Ray McCallum and Nik Stauskas were both solid, scoring 10 and 11 points respectively. McCallum was also given the nod down the stretch of the game at shooting guard and played solid defense while giving the Kings some much-needed relief ballhandling. McCallum also has a knack for being at the right place at the right time, securing several key rebounds and scoring in opportunistic situations. Stauskas showed greater confidence in his handle and has finally started to hit his shot at a more consistent clip, a big boost for a team desperate for shooting.
Ultimately, it wasn't the most satisfying win of the season but it was well earned. The Knicks, while boasting a horrific record on the year, have also seen 20 of their 27 games within a 5 point margin with 5 minutes to go or less. The defense definitely needs serious work, but the offense and pace has been more inline with what Pete D'Alessandro and company expect. Its great to get back in the win column for a team in desperate need of a confidence boost and send the team into 2015 on a positive note.
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