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Kings 88, New Orleans 102: Tyreke Strikes Back

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Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The Sacramento Kings quest for a fifth win in a row ended in New Orleans on Friday night, falling to the Pelicans 102-88.  DeMarcus Cousins was an absolute monster, totaling 39 points, 20 rebounds and 3 blocks but it wasn't enough to overcome New Orleans' more balanced attack.

The Kings started out well, taking a two point lead into the second quarter before falling behind as the bench played more in the second.  Cousins was unstoppable, both inside and out, stroking jumpers like they were layup.  As if to show that he wasn't the only one that could hit jumpers, Tyreke Evans responded with his own long shots and trademark takes to the rim, and generally making Ray McCallum's life difficult.  Tyreke was the best player on the floor for the Pelicans and it wasn't even close.  Every time Sacramento would get close, there was Evans to hit more big shots.  Evans finished with 25 points on a very efficient 10-15 shooting to go along with 10 assists and just 3 turnovers.  We always said that if Tyreke could learn to shoot, he'd be unstoppable.  Tonight was a rare example.

The Kings didn't have much of an offense aside from Cousins.  Rudy Gay was able to add 18 points on 7-18 shooting and Omri Casspi joined them in double figures with 10.   The rest of the Kings combined for just 21 points on 8-24 shooting.  Sacramento's starting backcourt was particularly ineffective, scoring just 1 point in the first half and ending up with only 9 for the game.

Anthony Davis finished the game with 24 points but only shot 11-26 shooting.  Rudy Gay was weirdly effective against him defensively even though you wouldn't think so given that Gay is a natural four.  Yet Davis seemed to have the most trouble when Gay was guarding him rather than a traditional big man like Jason Thompson.

Quincy Pondexter was another big boost for the Pelicans, dropping 16 points including four three pointers.  Pondexter was every where and the Kings also did a very poor job of defending him, as most of his shots were wide open.  Norris Cole on the other hand managed to score 12 points on a variety of very difficult shots.

With the loss the Kings drop to 26-46 with 10 games left on the season.  They'll have their first consecutive days off in over a week before they head over to Memphis to play the Grizzlies, who might be a little amped up given their loss to the Warriors tonight.

For the opponent's perspective, visit The Bird Writes.

Random Observations:

  • The Kings broadcast pointed out that Derrick Williams has been shooting above 40% from three since the hire of George Karl (or some other time since the hire of Karl).  That seemed so absurd I had to look it up myself.  He's actually been shooting 39.2% from three since Karl's hire. That's quite good.  If he can keep that up that's a huge boon for his career.
  • Omri Casspi's also been shooting about 40% from three since Karl's hire.  He's being encouraged to shoot more and he's delivering.
  • That Sauce Castillo dunk was nasty.  That's the kind of thing I want to see from Stauskas more often.  His confidence has grown a lot in recent weeks, although he still needs a lot of work on the defensive end.  He got roasted by Evans and other Pelicans on multiple possessions.
  • Reggie Evans played a little bit tonight in the first half and was giving up a lot of offensive boards and putback opportunities to the Pelicans, who were taller and longer.  You don't often see Evans outrebounded, and indeed he finished with zero boards on the night.  That's happened just 28 other times in his entire career of 805 games.
  • Boogie seems to have been putting in a bit more effort on the defensive side lately, making some remarkable defensive plays.  There was one possession where Cousin broke up an alleyoop attempt to Davis and then almost got a block on a Quincy Pondexter follow.