On the heels of another major trade, the Sacramento Kings came into their 19th game of the season short-handed. But having just 10 active bodies would be all the Kings needed to propel them to a 112-97 victory over the Dallas Mavericks at Sleep Train Arena Tuesday night.
“My challenge to the guys this morning was I don’t care if we have 10 players or 15 players,” Kings head coach Michael Malone said after the game. “We have enough talent, enough bodies in this locker room to win the game and we’re not going to use the fact that we had a trade today as an excuse or a distraction. And to our guys’ credit, they went out there and played, followed the gameplan and came up with a very good home win.”
The Kings were paced by career nights from two of their five starters to go along with a dominant effort by their man in the middle. Making his first start of the season, Isaiah Thomas recorded his first double-double of the year, racking up 24 points, a career-high 12 assists and just two turnovers in 39 minutes of action.
“I think I just set the tone at the beginning of the game,” Thomas said of his effort Monday. ”Just to come out aggressive. Guys were making shots. We were getting stops and getting out and running. I think that’s when we’re at our best when we get stops and get out in transition and get easy baskets.”
Williams, meanwhile, looked like the player he was coming out of college. The Kings starting small forward scored a career-best 31 points on an efficient 12-of-16 from the field.
“I finally hit a 3-point shot,” said Williams, who went 3-for-5 from beyond the arc Monday after missing his first five 3-point attempts in a Kings uniform. ”That was the main thing. I don’t really care about the stats and anything like that. I’m just glad I hit a 3-point shot. I’ve really been struggling so far this season with my shot.”
DeMarcus Cousins rounded out the production of the Kings’ big three with a dominant performance of his own. The starting center recorded another double-double, chipping in a game-high 32 points and 19 rebounds.
“When we take care of business on the defensive end, it turns into offense,” Cousins said of the Kings’ defense holding the Mavs to below 40-percent shooting from the field. ”And that’s usually what we preach every day so we did a good job of doing that and it worked well for us.”
The Kings won their second game in a row following a blockbuster deal that landed them Rudy Gay, Quincy Acy and Aaron Gray from the Toronto Raptors. The new three Kings, who have yet to take their physicals, were unavailable to play tonight but watched the game from a suite in section 115.
The win brings the Kings’ overall record to 6-13 and 4-9 at home. They return to action on Wednesday night when they host the Utah Jazz.
Notes and Analysis
- With Greivis Vasquez on his way to Raptors via trade, Isaiah Thomas started his first game of the season for coach Malone. The results were spectacular as Thomas notched his first double-double of the season, scoring 24 points and dishing out a career-high 12 assists. With Thomas running the show, it looks like the Kings are about to become a whole lot more interesting.
- With Rudy Gay scheduled to steal his starting small forward spot away for Wednesday’s matchup against the Utah Jazz, Derrick Williams went off. The 22-year-old forward made a strong bid to start at the power forward spot when he posted a new career-high in points with 31 on 12-for-16 shooting from the field and 3-for-5 from behind the arc.
- How do you score 32 points and grab 19 rebounds and not lead the recap? I’m not sure. DeMarcus Cousins was a beast tonight in his 36 minutes and he only seems to be getting better. Things are going to get interesting once Gay is in the fold. If the Kings didn’t win by 15, there would be more talk about Cousins’ nine turnovers. The big fella needs to find his guards on the break and go to the rim.
- Jason Thompson played an aggressive 30 minutes tonight for coach Malone. He scored 10 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out three assists, while playing solid defense on Nowitzki. The Kings have added a lot of talent over the last two weeks in Williams and Gay. If Thompson doesn’t rebound and play defense, he may lose minutes.
- Ben McLemore struggled to get in a rhythm tonight for Sacramento. The rookie guard finished with just three points on 1-for-7 shooting in 34 minutes. The Kings are about to be loaded with offensive weapons, which means that McLemore can focus on defense and slowly build confidence in his offensive game.
- The door is wide open for anyone to step up and become the Kings weapon off the bench. With Thomas moving into the starting line-up, Jimmer Fredette is going to get a shot to run the backup point and there might even be a few minutes available at the reserve shooting guard position as well. Jimmer didn’t look ready for the challenge tonight, but he hasn’t played the point in a while. He will get a shot, but he has to come out and play better than he did this evening or rookie Ray McCallum will steal the job.
- Marcus Thornton is another player that could step into a major role off the bench. Unfortunately, he still can’t buy a bucket. In 24 minutes tonight, Thornton scored just one point on 0-for-4 shooting. He grabbed seven rebounds in the win, but something has to give.
- Stat of the Night: With only 10 players available, the Kings starters scored 100 of the teams 112 points on the night.
Quote of the Game
Cousins on if Thomas’ presence in the starting lineup helped speed up the pace:
“Absolutely – that’s how Isaiah goes. He brings energy to the game and he speeds it up a lot more. But with a team like the Mavericks we have an advantage of running against them so we took advantage of that and it went well.”
Video shot and edited by Kimani David.