48-minute efforts have been a challenge this season, but the Sacramento Kings (23-45) found a way. The Charlotte Hornets (29-38) never led as the Kings won their second game in 10 chances, by the final score of 101-91.
“I thought the spirit of the game, we worked very, very hard, played very, very intense,” George Karl told the media after the match.
Even without DeMarcus Cousins (calf), the Kings dominated both sides of the floor. Sacramento began the contest shooting 63.2% through the first quarter and 7-of-8 from behind the arc. They finished the night 47.4 percent from the floor and 42.9 percent from downtown, offsetting a 22-turnover effort. Tight, active defense held the Hornets to 39.6 percent from the floor and point guard Mo Williams to 3-of-15 field goals.
Practically carrying the offense, Rudy Gay had the hot touch with 33 points on 11-of-20 shooting. He added nine rebounds and four assists.
“We wanted to experiment playing him at four. I think he played pretty well,” Karl noted. “Kidd-Gilchrist covered him most of the night, not the kind of big-little matchup we were hoping to get sometimes, but I just thought he was really into the game from the very beginning.”
Derrick Williams was one of two other Kings in double figures with 13 points off the bench, including a SportsCenter-worthy dunk on Bismack Biyombo. Omri Casspi, who started tonight, scored 10 points, and reserve Nik Stauskas notched eight points, all in the first half.
For Charlotte, Gerald Henderson led the club with 20 points. Kemba Walker scored 18 points, and Al Jefferson dropped in 17 points.
The Kings improved to 5-11 under coach Karl. They’ll host the Washington Wizards (40-29) Sunday at 3 p.m. PST.
Notes and Analysis
- Rudy Gay couldn’t be stopped tonight. With Cousins missing his second straight game with a right calf train, the lanky forward picked up his first start of the season at the power forward position. He finished with a game-high 33 points on 11-for-20 shooting and chipped in nine rebounds and four assists in the win. He could have gone for more if his teammates would have gotten him the ball.
- Derrick Williams came alive in the second half, scoring 10 of his 13 points in the second half. Williams has struggled with consistency like a few of his teammates, but he got the fans into the game tonight with a series of highlight reel dunks over Bismack Biyombo. Two rebounds in 25 minutes isn’t going to cut it for a 6-foot-9 forward, but Williams had a solid impact on the game.
- With Gay shifting to the four, Omri Casspi picked up his seventh start of the season. In 33 minutes of action, the 26-year-old wing scored 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting and grabbed five rebounds. More importantly, Casspi kept Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in check after the Hornets small forward dropped in 23 points and nine rebounds in the teams’ last meeting.
- Jason Thompson picked up the start in the middle and nearly dropped in a double-double. Thompson finished the night with eight points and eight rebounds in 28 minutes of action and helped keep Al Jefferson to just four points in the second half after the veteran dropped in 13 early.
- Reggie Evans ripped down a game-high 16 rebounds in 21 minutes of George Karl’s bench. When he’s played this season, the 13-year vet has been a solid contributor.
- Andre Miller provided the veteran leadership the Kings needed down the stretch. He finished with a modest seven points and seven assists in 25 minutes behind Ray McCallum.
- Stat of the Night: After hitting 8-of-11 from downtown in the first half, the Kings went 1-for-10 after the intermission.
Quote of the Game
George Karl on Reggie Evans’ impact
“It’s pretty amazing. I don’t know if there’s a more persistent rebounder in the NBA, and there’s some great rebounders in the NBA. Reggie works a lot to get just an offensive rebound, and he does a great job. His persistence is unbelievable.