A five-game home-stand that started with a thud ended with a bang for the Sacramento Kings. They had no trouble handling the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers, defeating the Cavs in a 124-80 blowout at Sleep Train Arena on Sunday afternoon.
“Definitely, very happy that we won three in a row obviously,” Kings head coach Michael Malone said after the game. “But more importantly, I think it’s the way that we won (these last few contests).”
After building a 59-50 lead at half, the Kings took command of the game in the third period. They ramped up their defense, limiting the Cavs to just 11 points on 4-of-20 shooting while scoring 30 points in the period.
“I’m impressed (with the effort on defense) because this team, we’ve come a long way in such short time,” Kings small forward Rudy Gay said after the win. “We’ve become more of a team. We’re talking, we’re helping each other and as you can see, we’ve gotten a lot better.”
Through the strength of their defense, the Kings’ lead over the Cavs ballooned to as many as 46 points. In addition to their defensive effort, the Kings also outclassed the Cavs in the rebounding department. They dominated the glass, out-rebounding the Cavs 50-32 in the victory. Jason Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins shouldered the rebounding load, combining to grab 27 boards.
“That is finishing off your possession,” Malone said. “You can play great defense, but if you don’t finish it off with a defensive rebound, all that hard work goes out the window. To defend at a high level and to finish it off with a defensive rebound that allowed us to get out and run where we scored 17 fastbreak points tonight (was pleasing to see).”
On offense, the Kings found contributions from all around their rotation. Gay and Isaiah Thomas each poured in 20-point efforts for the Kings. Derrick Williams and Jimmer Fredette, meanwhile, once again made major contributions off the bench, combining to score 26 of the reserves’ 49 points.
“We’re paying some very good basketball right now,” said Cousins, who noted that he has been most impressed with the Kings’ level of consistency over their last three contests. “We let them shoot a high percentage in the first quarter I believe, but we came back the second quarter and played better defense.”
The Kings, who’ve won their last three games, move to 13-22 overall and 9-13 at home. They now embark on a six-game road trip, their longest of the season, beginning with a match-up against the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday.
Notes and Analysis
- Isaiah Thomas always gears up to play Kyrie Irving, and probably always will. Today, Thomas was the better player, dropping in a game-high 26 points on 7-for-15 shooting and handing out six assists in the win. Irving was flat out bad, scoring just seven points on 3-for-14 shooting in 32 minutes.
- Rudy Gay caught fire and the Cavs had no answer. The veteran wing finished with 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting, grabbed five rebounds and blocked three shots. Since joining the Kings 15 games ago, Gay is averaging 20.5 points per game on 52.3 percent shooting.
- Jimmer Fredette is climbing up the list again tonight. He is finally getting minutes and results are strong. Jimmer finished with 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting and added three assists and three rebounds. With Marcus Thornton missing in action and Ben McLemore struggling to find his way, don’t be surprised if Jimmer starts seeing more time for coach Malone.
- DeMarcus Cousins has become extremely consistent. Cousins has notched a double-double in 10 straight games, the longest streak for a King since Chris Webber had 10 straight during the 2002-03 season. The Kings didn’t need big numbers from Cousins tonight, but he still finished with 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting and added 11 rebounds in 30 minutes.
- Derrick Williams continues to thrive off the Sacramento bench. He and Jimmer are forming a strong bond as the bench scorers for this team. Williams finished with 13 points on 4-for-6 shooting, including 2-of-3 shooting from 3-point distance.
- Jason Thompson is really starting to find his niche with the starting five. After struggling early in the season, Thompson is doing the dirty work, especially on the glass. Tonight, Thompson scored eight points, but grabbed a season-high 16 rebounds and blocked two shots in 31 minutes of play. This is the type of player the Kings need him to be.
- The Kings defense is starting to show signs of improvement. Tonight they held the Cavs to just 80 points on 38.8 percent shooting, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. After a competitive first quarter, the Kings held the Cavs to just 31.6 percent shooting the rest of the way.
- Stat of the Night: The Kings outscored the Cavs 65-30 in the second half.
Quote of the Game
DeMarcus Cousins on how they can carry the momentum from these three wins on the road:
“Staying focused – still got a long way to go. So just try to take the momentum from these games, carry it to the next, but at the same time just staying focused on the goal and that’s being a consistent team defensively, offensively playing together, communicating. Hopefully we can come back with a good record off this road trip.”
Video shot and edited by Kimani David.