The Orlando Magic limped into tonight’s game in Sacramento with a 10-25 record. And for once, the Sacramento Kings didn’t play down to the level of their competition.
Against the Magic, the Kings came out with the necessary focus and intensity on defense Friday night. The result? A 103-83 win at Sleep Train Arena.
“Tonight, we had the right mindset,” Kings head coach Michael Malone said after the victory. ”We didnt play to their record. We played the way we needed to play no matter who we were playing. I thought that was evident in our approach and in how we defended at such a high level for all 48 minutes.”
From the tip, the Kings were locked in defensively against their competition. They limited the Magic on offense to just 33.3 percent from the field and 8-of-27 from 3-point range. The Magic flirted with a comeback in small spurts, including a 7-2 run to end the third quarter. But the Kings found ways on both ends of the floor to keep the Magic at bay.
The Kings overcame an off night from starting point guard Isaiah Thomas, who scored just nine points on 2-of-13 shooting. DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay picked up the slack, combining to score 46 points and grab 24 rebounds in the victory.
“He helps this team out so much,” Cousins said of Gay. ”Another option offensively, his versatility, his size – it helps us a lot on defense. I think he’s a great addition.”
Sacramento’s bench also put together a productive game. Jimmer Fredette played aggressively, finding his shot early and finished with 11 points in 13 minutes. Derrick Williams chipped in 14 points on an efficient 7-of-11 shooting along with a few highlight dunks, including one fastbreak finish that was assisted on by Cousins in the fourth quarter.
“I thought that the way they played in the second quarter was terrific,” Malone said of the Kings’ second unit. ”They executed and played with effort.
“Our bench has been giving us very productive minutes not just in scoring, but in defending and energy-wise as well,” Malone added.
The Kings have now won two in a row and move to 12-22 overall, 8-13 at home. They wrap up a five-game homestand with a match-up against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday.
Notes and Analysis
- DeMarcus Cousins is dominating his competition right now. Good teams, bad teams, it doesn’t matter. Tonight, he finished with 24 points, 14 rebounds, six assists and three steals in 39 minutes. He now has recorded a double-double in nine straight games and 22 of the Kings’ 34 games overall.
- Rudy Gay had another great game in a Kings uniform, scoring 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting. He added 10 rebounds and five assists, while holding Arron Afflalo to 15 points on 3-for-12 shooting. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
- Jason Thompson is finally starting to pick it up. The veteran forward dropped in 14 points on 7-of-9 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds and two steals in 25 minutes. The players’ only meeting held last Sunday seems to have lifted a bit of weight off the shoulders of the longest tenured King.
- Derrick Williams is beginning to figure out how to be effective off the Kings’ bench. He was active and aggressive tonight and even threw down a couple of incredible dunks. Overall, he scored 14 points on 7-for-11 shooting and added six rebounds. Malone is going to find ways to get Williams on the floor, especially with certain players struggling.
- Jimmer Fredette made a huge impact in this game. While he wouldn’t admit it during his postgame interview, he appeared to take offense to an aggressive play by E’Twaun Moore in the second quarter. After the whistle, Jimmer dropped two 3-pointers and a up and under on Moore and the Magic in 1:05 of gametime. Fredette finished with 11 points and three assists in 13 minutes.
- Isaiah Thomas struggled offensively tonight, scoring nine points in 36 minutes on 2-for-13 shooting from the field and 1-of-5 from long range. He dished out seven assists, but turned the ball over four times. This was a forgettable one for Thomas.
- Since Marcus Thornton replaced Ben McLemore before the Portland game, he has scored a total of four points on 1-of-9 shooting. McLemore has been no better, scoring two total points on 1-for-6 shooting. The Kings have somehow found a way to beat two teams, while basically playing 4-on-5.
- Stat of the Night: After allowing their last 10 opponents to score 100 or more points and giving up 112.5 points per game over that span, the Kings held the Magic to 83 points on 33.3 percent shooting.
Quote of the Game
DeMarcus Cousins on the win tonight validating a good win over a good team like the Blazers:
“We did take steps forward. I still think we kind of started out slow; we could’ve had a better start. The second unit came in and did a great job, really got the game going and we finished the game off strong I believe. We did have a little stretch where we let them make a run but overall I think we did a pretty good job defensively. Offensively we came along during the game but I think we did a great job tonight defensively.”
Video shot and edited by Kimani David.