Leave it to the Sacramento Kings (25-45) to make things interesting. Trailing the lowly Philadelphia 76ers (17-54) late in the fourth quarter, the Kings squeaked out a victory by the final score of 107-106.
With 1:20 left in the game, Rudy Gay tied it up with two free throws. Half a minute later, Ray McCallum put back DeMarcus Cousins’ miss to go up two. Sacramento’s defense did the rest.
For the night, the Kings took care of the ball with only 10 turnovers lost, but they struggled to hit field goals. Sacramento shot 36.1 percent from the floor and 7-for-20 from downtown, but made 30-of-38 from the free throw line.
“You know, Philadelphia creates a lot of turnovers, George Karl reminded the media after the game. “Their pressure didn’t bother us as much as it did in Philadelphia (on March 13).”
While Sacramento’s defense wasn’t at its best, it stepped up when it mattered most. They allowed Philadelphia to shoot 49.4 percent on field goals and 13-for-28 on 3’s for the game, but held the 76ers to 39.4 percent in the second half. The Kings forced Philadelphia into 21 turnovers.
“I told them they stunk,” Karl said to his team of the first half defense. “What do you want to do? Tell me how to play like. I just asked them how they wanted to play.”
Cousins was a force with 33 points, 17 rebounds, four blocks and four steals, scoring 17 of his points at the charity stripe. Gay helped out with 21 points and eight rebounds. McCallum notched 11 points and six assists.
Thomas Robinson, no longer a King but a Sixer, scored a career-high 16 points in the loss. Nerlens Noel did his best to fend off Cousins with 14 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks, and Robert Covington scored 21 points, including five 3’s. Isaiah Canaan added 13 points off the bench.
The Kings have now won three games in a row for the first time since November. They’ll travel to play the Phoenix Suns (38-33) tomorrow for the second of a back-to-back and the first of four road contests.
Notes and Analysis
- DeMarcus Cousins struggled from the field, but that didn’t stop him from dominating the 76ers tonight at Sleep Train Arena. Cousins dropped in 21 points and 10 rebounds in the first half alone and finished the night with 33 points, 17 rebounds, four steals and four blocks in 36 minutes. On the downside, Cousins shot just 8-of-27 from the floor, but 17-of-19 from the line.
- Rudy Gay got off to a slow start, but finished with a flurry. Gay dropped in 21 points but like Cousins, he struggled with his shot. The veteran wing went 6-for-19 from the field in 41 minutes, but chipped in eight rebounds and three assists. George Karl may be on to something with this power forward idea.
- Jason Thompson provided a huge lift off the Kings bench, scoring all eight of his points before the intermission. Thompson is finding his groove with the second unit. He shot 4-of-6 from the floor tonight, and finished with four rebounds in 19 minutes.
- Nik Stauskas showed a new wrinkle to his game. The rookie shooting guard scored six points on 2-of-3 from downtown and he added a career-high three assists, including a sweet lob over the top to Cousins in the second quarter.
- Ray McCallum had a solid night, finishing the game with 11 points, six rebounds and two assists. Andre Miller came off the bench to score four points and handout six assists. Not a bad 48 minutes of play from the point guard position.
- Stat of the Night: The Sacramento Kings gave up 70 points in the first half to a team that averages 91 points per game on the season. In the second half, they held the Sixers to just 36.
Quote of the Game
George Karl on the Kings’ recent improvement
“I’d like to see us be more consistent. But the energy of the team and the spirit of our team right now since I’ve been here, this is by far the best. Their focus is better, the concentration is better. We got a long way to go, but I think this three-game win streak will give us a chance to go out and play four really good basketball teams on their home court.”