Early in the season, Dave Joerger spoke to the fact that the Kings first needed to learn to compete, and only after that would they learn to win. Recently, we’ve seen the Kings competing, and tonight, they demonstrated the ability to win as well.
Sacramento was led by an MVP level performance from DeMarcus Cousins. Our All-Star scored 35 points (13/22 FG), grabbed 18 total rebounds, including 7 huge offensive boards, and dished out 4 assists. DeMarcus had some of the prettiest passes of any Kings player this season throughout the game. The big man finally seems to be comfortable and willing to quarterback the offense from anywhere on the court.
Five total players scored in double digits for Sacramento. Darren Collison continued his recent aggressive offensive play as he scored 17 points on only 11 field goal attempts, although he did commit a poorly timed turnover in the final minute when he tripped trying to drive the ball into the lane and caused the Kings to give up the ball on a shot clock violation. Anthony Tolliver chipped in 14 points off of the bench while hitting 4/8 three point attempts and Willie Cauley-Stein had his highest scoring game of the season, logging 13 points.
The other All-Star on the court, Kemba Walker, was the Hornets best player as he put up 26 points and 7 assists, but the Kings’ defense shut him down in the fourth quarter, holding him scoreless. Nicholas Batum had a very Nicholas Batum game as he scored 19 points, dished 7 assists, and grabbed 7 boards.
The Kings ball movement was on display once again as Sacramento recorded 27 assists compared to just 10 turnovers. DeMarcus Cousins had an interesting quote in his post-game interview with Kayte Christensen, “The ISO ball and all that is out of play now. The only way we’re winning the game is if we’re playing together.” This didn’t seem as much of a slight toward Rudy, and more of an acknoledgment that without his talent, Sacramento’s only hope is to use chemistry and hustle to make a playoff run.
- Malachi Richardson had his worst game in the past few weeks. He scored two points on 1/2 FG and regularly got beaten on the defensive end. While I don’t find the play patricularly concerning, I do fear that Omri may eat up his minutes, and not Matt Barnes', when he returns from his calf injury.
- This is a new Willie Cauley-Stein that we’re seeing. He was aggressive on defense, scored with ease, attacked the rim, and ran the floor in transition. If he can continue this new level of contribution, Kosta needs to go to unlock minutes for him.
- Speaking of Kosta, his place in the rotation continues to be unclear. He started the first and second half, but did not return to the game after each initial substitution.
- DeMarcus Cousins picked up his 13th technical of the year when he let Spencer Hawes get under his skin and both players (well one player and one terrible person masquerading as an NBA player) were T’d up. He’s now 3 techs away from a one game suspension.