Rudy Gay is apparently the hero Sacramento deserves. The small forward shot 13-of-19 from the floor and 11-0f-13 from the stripe to score 40 points and help the Kings defeat the Portland Trail Blazers 103-94.
“I was waiting for a game like this,” Michael Malone told the media. “After the game I told the players I want to introduce them to a new teammate, Rudy Gay.”
Gay started the game 5-of-5 before missing his first field goal with 6:44 in the second quarter. The 28-year-old also contributed eight rebounds and a timely assist to Ben McLemore on an alley-oop dunk to push the Kings’ lead to 90-81 with 3:18 in the fourth.
With DeMarcus Cousins sitting with foul trouble halfway through the third quarter, Gay was forced to pick up the slack. The Kings started the second half on a 21-10 run before the center picked up two quick personals and allowed the Trail Blazers to go on a 13-2 charge.
But Gay and Sacramento’s defense came to the rescue. The Kings held the Trail Blazers to 26.1 percent shooting in the fourth quarter and kept Damian Lillard (4-of-13 field goals) and LaMarcus Aldridge (7-of-18) in check for most of the night.
The Kings offense as a whole also came together in the crunch. With the game tied 71-71 to open the fourth, Sacramento didn’t committ a turnover for the entire quarter and recorded only 10 for the game.
“You know, it’s amazing what happens when you don’t beat yourself,” Malone added. “Only having 10 turnovers tonight, zero in the fourth quarter, that’s big for us. And I thought, even though it doesn’t reflect in the assists (14 for the team), cause we only shot 42 percent I believe, but I thought the ball movement, the execution, we didn’t have all the one-on-one selfish over-dribbling tonight. So the execution, the offense was much better, and I thought defensively we were terrific.”
Darren Collison orchestrated the attack with a 17-point, 8-assist, 8-rebound performance. Cousins produced 17 points on 6-of-16 field goals, nine rebounds and two blocks in 31 minutes. Omri Casspi added 10 points and four rebounds in 13 minutes off the bench.
“(Collison) takes the heat. He’s been a leader, he’s been great for us,” Gay remarked. “It’s easy when he’s messing with Damian Lillard the whole game. And it’s tough playing against him. I remember playing against him, and I know all our (old) point guards had trouble with him.”
In addition to Lillard and Aldridge, Wesley Matthews scored 16 points but connected on only 1-of-7 from downtown. Reserve Chris Kaman was a spark for the Trail Blazers earning 10 of his 12 points in the first half.
The Kings recognized the urgency of this match and reacted. They’ll travel to face the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday, the first of a back-to-back before playing five of their next six on the road.
Notes and Analysis
- Rudy Gay came out of the gates hot, hitting his first five shots on his way to a 15-point first half. That was only the beginning. Gay finished the night with 4o points on 13-of-19 shooting from the field, 3-of-4 from the 3-point line and 11-for-13 from the line. He chipped in eight rebounds as well.
- With Gay going crazy, Cousins found a groove in the paint. The Kings’ starting center almost notched his second straight double-double, scoring 17 points and grabbing nine rebounds in 31 minutes. Cousins could have done more, but foul trouble once again limited his production.
- There is a trend that is developing early this season. For the second straight game, Darren Collison has more assists than all of his teammates combined. The 27-year-old guard handed out a game-high eight dimes, kicked in 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds in 37 minutes tonight. With Ramon Sessions struggling to find his game early, Collison has not only been a floor general on the offensive end, but his defensive effort has stood out as well.
- Sessions couldn’t have a worse start to the season. After going 1-of-3 from the field and turning the ball over four times in 10 minutes of action in the opener, Sessions threw up another sub-par performance tonight. In 10 minutes off the bench, Sessions missed all four of his shots and finished with two points and an assist.
- The Kings’ struggles a season ago at the shooting guard position are well-documented. Tonight, it was more of the same. After shooting 0-for-5 in the opener, Ben McLemore started the game 0-for-3 from the field tonight before finally knocking down a 3-pointer in the third quarter. Nik Stauskas went 0-for-4 in 16 minutes, leaving the Kings with just seven points on 2-of-9 shooting from the shooting guard position. On a positive note, Wesley Matthews scored 16 points against the duo, but hit only one of his seven 3-point attempts.
- Omri Casspi put in a solid effort tonight off Michael Malone’s bench. The veteran wing scored 10 points, grabbed four rebounds and handed out an assist in 13 minutes. Counting what Gay dropped in, Sacramento’s small forward combination scored 50 points in the win. On a related note, Derrick Williams received a DNP-CD.
- Stat of the Night: In the opener, the Sacramento Kings turned the ball over a whopping 27 times. Tonight against the Blazers, just 10.
Quote of the Game
DeMarcus Cousins on Rudy Gay
“He carried us tonight. Without him, I couldn’t really tell you how this game would have went. He definitely carried us. He had an incredible game.”
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