For one of the few times this season, the Sacramento Kings played a full 48 minutes of defense against an opponent. The Kings limited the Bulls to an opponent-season-low 28.2 percent from the field en route to a convincing 99-70 victory over the Chicago Bulls.
“In our 16 wins, we’ve defended at a high-level,” Kings head coach Michael Malone said after the win. “Tonight, holding that team to 70 points and 28 percent from the field was tremendous. We had five guys defending as one for most of the night. They were covering for each other. That was the challenge for our guys today: to play a complete game and hold them to one extra stop per quarter to see what kind of difference that could make.”
After missing the last six games, DeMarcus Cousins returned to the Kings’ lineup and dominated the Bulls’ frontline. Cousins noted after the game that his left ankle, which he sprained a week and a half ago, bothered him for much of the night. But with the way he played, you wouldn’t have known it. The 23-year-old center posted his 29th double-double of the season – 25 points and 16 rebounds while chipping in four assists in the victory.
“My body is pretty banged up but it’s kind of expected,” Cousins said after the win. “I missed a few games. I feel good just to be back on the court.”
At times, tonight’s game got pretty testy. Cousins reignited his acrimonious relationship with Bulls swingman Mike Dunleavy, which appeared to come to a head following some chippy play in the third quarter. The two players have history. Last year, Cousins was ejected after elbowing Dunleavy in the head during a contest in March against Dunleavy’s old team, the Milwaukee Bucks.
In addition to the contentious play between Cousins and Dunleavy, Joakim Noah had perhaps the most colorful exit from an NBA game in the last decade. After being assessed his third personal foul on a questionable call from referee Eli Roe, Noah’s reaction garnered his second technical of the night and resulted in his immediate ejection in the third quarter. The veteran Bulls forward proceeded to give each official a verbal parting gift on his way out of the game.
“I mean, it happens,” Cousins said when asked about Noah’s ejection. “At the end of the day, we’re all human and we do have emotions. So he was a little frustrated, everybody gets frustrated, so he spoke his mind. Like I said, we’re all human. It happens.”
The Kings end a seven-game slide and move to 16-32 on the season, 10-16 at Sleep Train Arena. They return to action Wednesday night when they host a few familiar faces in the Toronto Raptors.
Notes and Analysis
- DeMarcus Cousins returned to action and showed everyone what he can bring to a game. After missing six games due to injury, the 23-year old center finished with 25 points, 16 rebounds and four assists in the win. Adam Silver will be in attendance for Wednesday night’s matchup against the Raptors. Expect Cousins to put on another show as he goes for his 30th double-double of the season.
- Isaiah Thomas played extremely well for 31 minutes, but wasn’t needed in the fourth quarter. He finished with 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting and added three assists.
- Jimmer Fredette was incredible in the fourth quarter. After sitting out the first half, the third-year guard took over the game with his passing and scoring. Jimmer finished with 11 points on 5-for-5 shooting and added four assists in the win. Jimmer needs more minutes, plain and simple.
- Rudy Gay was good, but not great. Like Thomas, his minutes were limited, but Gay still finished with 14 points, six rebounds and two steals in 25 minutes. Unfortunately, he turned the ball over six times. Gay has had a couple of marginal games with the Kings, but they are few and far between.
- Quincy Acy is quickly becoming a huge favorite. The second-year forward gives you everything he has in whatever minutes he gets. Tonight, he finished with nine points and six rebounds in 23 minutes and played tough defense. While Carl Landry is playing himself back into game shape, Acy is delivering everything that Malone asks for and more.
- Derrick Williams struggled again tonight, scoring just five points on 1-of-4 shooting in 24 minutes. One of his three misses came on a breakaway dunk attempt, where Williams tried to throw the ball off the glass and throw it down. Not exactly the best idea when your team is up 28 with three minutes remaining against one of your coach’s long-time friends.
- Marcus Thornton and Ben McLemore combined to score nine points on 3-of-13 shooting in 44 minutes. No commentary needed.
- Stat of the Night: The Kings held the Bulls to a Sacramento-era best 28.2 percent shooting on the night. They also won the rebound battle 53-30.
Quote of the Night
Bulls forward Joakim Noah on being ejected from Friday’s game:
I’m really disappointed. I shouldn’t have acted that way. I apologized. I’m sorry. All three of the referees out there were trying to do their jobs and I should’ve never said the things that I said. Hope they accept my apology. I hope we can move on from this.”
Video shot and edited by Kimani David.