Make that three in a row for the good guys.
The Sacramento Kings defeated the Toronto Raptors 107-101 in what was hands down, no question, without a shadow of a doubt, their best win of the season. DeMarcus Cousins had another dominating performance, scoring 36 points to go with 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks and a steal.
Aside from the fact that the Toronto Raptors are pretty good, the Kings had to overcome every one of their weaknesses tonight in order to get out of Sleep Train with a win, and they did exactly that.
Perimeter defense and turnovers. We knew those were going to be weaknesses for this team before the season started, and we saw it tonight. This wasn’t a comeback (although they were down double digits in the fourth quarter), and I actually thought the Kings outplayed the Raptors for a lot of this game, but they kept turning the ball over, and over, and over. Rajon Rondo contributed with 7 of the teams’ 19 turnovers, and the Raptors capitalized on the Kings’ carelessness.
The Raptors only scored 28 of their 101 points in the paint. DeMarcus Cousins, Kosta Koufos, Quincy Acy, and Willie Cauley-Stein (while he was on the court) did their job inside, but Kyle Lowry, DeMarre Carroll, and Patrick Patterson really made the Kings pay for their lackadaisical perimeter defense. It wasn’t all bad, Lowry and Carroll, in particular, hit some tough ones from outside, but the Kings just need to defend the three-point line better. It’s been an ongoing issue.
The good news is that the Kings were able to overcome that tonight. Cousins, Gay, and Casspi were all spectacular and efficient offensively, and Rondo did exactly what he’s been doing all season, leading this team on the court. As mentioned above, Rondo did have some turnover issues but he also had a game-high 14 assists to go with his 7 points and 7 rebounds.
When the game got tight late in the fourth, the Kings really buckled down defensively, particularly once they finally got the lead. Impressive would be the word I’d use to characterize most of the night, but especially those final few minutes of crunch time.
The Kings will have a couple of days off before embarking on a season-long five-game road trip that begins Wednesday night in Atlanta.
- Cousins shot six more threes tonight, knocking down three of them, and man, oh man has that trailing three been a weapon for him this season. He so far up inside defenders' heads, Kyle Lowry fouled him on a three in the first half.
- Rajon Rondo had to play another 43 minutes tonight despite Seth Curry's availability. Get well soon, Darren Collison. You owe Rajon Rondo's legs a beer.
- Willie Cauley-Stein left this game early after taking a shot to the top of his head. The Kings evaluated him for a concussion, and those results were negative, but he didn’t return. It sounds like he’ll be ok.
- Ben McLemore returned to the Kings’ starting lineup, and while he wasn’t spectacular, he was much better than James Anderson had been recently. He was responsible for giving the Kings the lead with about 1:30 left in what was an uncharacteristically gutsy drive to the hoop.
- DeMarcus Cousins and Bismack Biyombo got charged with the asinine double technical. It wasn’t that bad, but they had been going at each other all night.
For the opponent's perspective, visit Raptors HQ.