The Sacramento Kings ought to come with a warning label. Despite showing so much promise and talent thus far, this season has also been wrought with awful heartbreak at the worst times. The Indiana Pacers threatened to plunge another dagger in the hearts of Kings fans, but a lucky bounce ended in Carl Landry's waiting mitts, who scored and put the Kings up for good 102-101 in an overtime squelcher. The Kings finally win a game without DeMarcus Cousins, which they haven't been able to do since March of 2013.
The Kings were powered tonight by the play of Rudy Gay and Darren Collison. Gay was unstoppable through three quarters, getting right to his spots with little controversy and scoring with ease all over the court. The problems came in the fourth quarter, where the Pacers started checking Rudy with Solomon Hill instead of the hapless Chris Copeland. Hill harassed Gay all throughout the fourth, and Gay did not respond all that well. Gay ended the game with 27 points, five boards and five assists on 10/20 shooting, but again most of that came in the first three quarters. As Gay went quiet, the Kings struggled to score and saw double digit leads evaporate in a hurry. Rudy's shot selection down the stretch of the game also left much to be desired; the Kings consistently let him isolate Hill, but Gay settled for contested long twos, although he was fouled on the shot to end regulation.
Collison also had a statistically productive game, scoring 20 points and dishing four assists on 8/19 shooting. Collison is still struggling with his jumpshot, missing all three of his three pointers. He was also uncharacteristically missing his midrange jumpers down the stretch, which is usually his money shot. He played well enough for the Kings to win tonight and his defense was a big part of the Kings early leads, which led to leakouts and fast break baskets.
The bench continues to be bad, finding creative new ways to blow big leads. Thankfully, Landry came to play tonight, scoring 14 points and grabbing 7 rebounds on 5/9 shooting, none bigger than the final offensive rebound and putback to win the game. After that... yikes. Omri Casspi and Ramon Sessions need to be better than they were for the bench to not be completely worthless, and they weren't. And then there was Nik Stauskas, who had such an awful stint in the first half that Malone opted to go with Ben McLemore for the entire second half and overtime.
This game should not have been this close. The Kings built a 15 point lead in the first quarter, lost it, rebuilt the lead to 11 at the half, cranked it up to 16 in the third, only to blow it again down the stretch of the fourth quarter. The Kings were very lucky to win this game, and have some serious questions to answer about depth. The starters can't be relied upon to win every stint of minutes they get, which admittedly they have been doing an admirable job of. The bench needs to start playing better otherwise the same kinds of issues will persist the rest of the year.
Bleh, what am I so pessimistic about? We won! And one less game before Boogie comes back! Go dance. The next game is tomorrow against the Orlando Magic at Sleep Train Arena.
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