Music Credit: Ronald Jenkees – Guitar Sound
No Boogie, no soul. The Sacramento Kings lost their fourth straight game playing their third in a row without DeMarcus Cousins (virus) as they fell to the Toronto Raptors, 117-109.
“To start that game, they were up in us,” Michael Malone recalled after the game. “They played like a team that had lost two in a row, and was out to get a win. They had us on our heels to start the game, which is surprising to me because we’ve lost three in a row, now four in a row.”
The Kings stumbled out the gate shooting 1-for-8 en route to a 25-10 first quarter deficit. But they rediscovered their stroke to close the half down 57-55 shooting 58.8 percent. Sacramento maintained its torrid offensive pace for the rest of the night but but allowed Toronto to score almost at will, as they finished shooting 50 percent from the floor. Kyle Lowry dominated Sacramento’s backcourt with a 23-point, 13-assist, two-turnover night, and Terrence Ross scored a flashy 20 points. The Ex-Kings trio of James Johnson, Greivis Vasquez and Patrick Patterson combined for 43 points.
“The reality is this, it’s really simple,” Malone stated. “If you do not defend in the NBA, you’ll get your butts whipped, and that’s what they did. They took turns tonight. At first it was Terrence Ross, then it was James Johnson, then it was Kyle Lowry.”
The biggest surprise of the match came in the form of reserve Derrick Williams, who marked his first appearance with 2:23 in the third quarter and immediately made his presence known. Williams put on a dunking and driving display as he ended with 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting in 14 minutes.
“When Derrick is aggressive and attacking like that, he’s a hell of a player,” Malone added. “I know it hasn’t been easy for him.”
Ben McLemore led the Kings with 21 points, while Rudy Gay notched 18 points and a career-high 10 assists. Ramon Sessions added 15 points, but Darren Collison struggled with an 0-for-5 field goal, four-point, four-assist performance.
While the 9-9 Kings squandered an impressive bench effort and a relatively low turnover count (16), there is good news. Cousins should be healthy enough to play in Friday’s contest versus the Indiana Pacers in the first of a back-to-back home stand.
Notes and Analysis
- Ben McLemore is growing up in front of our eyes. With DeMarcus Cousins missing his third straight game tonight, the 21-year-old shooting guard picked up the scoring load. McLemore finished with 21 points on 8-of-16 shooting. He needs to find a way to fill up the stat sheet beyond scoring, but the improvement we are seeing on a nightly basis is astonishing.
- Rudy Gay had an interesting statistical evening, scoring 20 points but adding a career-high 10 assists in 39 minutes. Gay is developing as a distributor and with the Raptors focused on slowing him down, he made the right play most of the night.
- In pregame, coach Michael Malone talked about getting Ray McCallum in the game to slow Lou Williams, instead of Ramon Sessions. Once the ball was in the air, Malone stuck with the veteran and the move paid off. Sessions played extremely well with the second unit, finishing with 15 points, four assists and six rebounds in 29 minutes.
- After a huge game on Sunday against the Grizzlies, Reggie Evans got the call again tonight. The 34-year-old forward didn’t put up 17 points and 20 rebounds like last game, but he provided a spark on the defensive end and came away with 10 points on 3-of-3 shooting and seven rebounds.
- Like most of the second-unit, Omri Casspi played well tonight. The Israeli-born forward scored nine points on 3-of-4 shooting while adding five assists and four rebounds. Casspi started the second half in place of Ryan Hollins, who was ineffective in seven first half minutes.
- Nik Stauskas the defensive stopper? The rookie drew the tough assignment of guarding high-scoring reserve Lou Williams tonight. Williams finished the game with four points on 1-for-9 shooting as Stauskas was able to stay in front of him all night. On the offensive end, Stauskas looked hesitant at times, but still managed to score six points in 17 minutes.
- Derrick Williams sat quietly on the bench during the first half while James Johnson destroyed the Kings. Coach Malone turned to the seldom-used wing in the third quarter and he instantly responded with 18 points and four rebounds in 14 minutes of action. Williams played with an intensity that we have rarely seen in Sacramento.
- Stat of the Night: Despite the loss, the Kings scored a whopping 58 points on 20-of-31 shooting.
Quote of the Game
Michael Malone on the Kings’ reliance of DeMarcus Cousins
“I told our guys after the game, don’t wait for DeMarcus Cousins to save the day. We have enough talent and enough character in this locker room to withstand his absence and step up and start playing the right way.”