Heart and hustle were not an issue for the Sacramento Kings (16-24) tonight. Healthy bodies were. Playing without DeMarcus Cousins, Carl Landry and others, the Kings ran out of gas and succumbed to the Los Angeles Clippers (27-14) to the final score, 117-108.
“For us to be undermanned like we were, I thought our guys showed a lot of character and focus and determination to come out undermanned and really fight hard to have a chance to win the ball game,” Tyrone Corbin told the media after the loss.
For one half, the Kings went toe-to-toe with the Clippers. The game was tied at 52 at the break in part to Sacramento’s dominance on the glass, out-rebounding Los Angeles 27-17 and pulling down 12 offensive boards. Jason Thompson had a double-double at the half and the Kings shot 48.9 percent through the first two quarters.
In the third quarter, things began to unravel for the Kings. The Clippers sprinted out on the break and dished damage from the free throw line. Blake Griffin scored 13 points in the period, giving Los Angeles a five-point lead which Sacramento couldn’t overcome.
But overall, it was an admirable effort for the short-handed Kings. Sacramento did lose 18 turnovers, but they grabbed 54 rebounds, 20 more than Los Angeles, and shot 46.1 percent from the floor.
Thompson finished with season-high 23 points and a career-high 21 rebounds, making his presence felt in the paint.
“I thought he did a great job on the defensive end,” Corbin noted. “Fighting with Blake most of the night, Blake ended up with great numbers, but I thought he did some good things for us on the defensive end. On the offensive end, he set some screens, and he was able to hit a couple of shots. He shot it with a lot of confidence, right in rhythm, and he was able to make some. He was diving to the basket.”
Rudy Gay, who was expected to miss the contest, entered the arena late in the first quarter and notched 22 points off the bench. Darren Collison produced 17 points and four assists.
For the Clippers, Matt Barnes had a monster first half (22 points) and ended with 26 points. Griffin tallied 25 points, and J.J. Redick scored 15 points. Jamal Crawford added 13 points.
With the loss, the Kings end their home stand 2-4. They’ll travel to face the Portland Trailblazers (30-11) on Monday.
Notes and Analysis
- With DeMarcus Cousins out of the lineup with a sprained right ankle, Jason Thompson put on a show. The seven-year vet dropped in his first career 20-20 game, finishing the night with 23 points and a career-high 22 rebounds in 36 minutes. All-Star Blake Griffin scored 30 points on the Kings in the post, but Thompson held him to just five rebounds.
- Darren Collison got a chance to go at one of his former teams and didn’t disappoint. After spending last season as Chris Paul’s backup, Collison scored 17 points, handed out four assists and grabbed three rebounds. On the defensive end, Collison held Paul to 12 points on 4-of-13 shooting.
- Rudy Gay was nowhere to be found at tip off, but midway through the first quarter, he found his way to the Kings bench and eventually into the game. Despite nursing a sore knee, Gay played 34 minutes, finishing with 22 points, five rebounds and three assists. Gay shot 6-for-16 from the field, but the Kings would have been blown out without Gay’s late arrival.
- Ben McLemore struggled with the long ball, missing all four of his attempts tonight, but that didn’t stop the young guard from having a productive night. The second-year guard kicked in 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting and added two steals in 33 minutes.
- Derrick Williams started for Gay and played 28 total minutes at both forward positions. He finished with 13 points and five rebounds, but he let Matt Barnes get it going in the first quarter. Williams isn’t on the hook for all 26 of Barnes’ points, but you never let leave an NBA player open countless times.
- Signed earlier in the day, forward Quincy Miller saw six minutes of floor time tonight at the expense of rookie Nik Stauskas. Miller finishes with one point, two rebounds and two assists in his limited minutes, but it’s pretty telling that he and not Stauskas got the call.
- Stat of the Night: Despite missing Cousins, the Thompson and his teammates crashed the boards. Sacramento out-rebounded the Clippers 54-34 and grabbed 22 offensive boards in the nine-point loss.
Quote of the Game
Darren Collison on the Kings’ effort
“I can’t be any more happy about our effort. We had a lot of guys that couldn’t play this game due to injuries, but we had a lot of guys that stepped up. If we play with that same effort, we’re going to be alright. That’s Kings basketball right there, when we get out there on the floor, and regardless of who we’re playing, just play hard.”