CK Press Box Report: Sacramento Kings 117, Washington Wizards 111
Taking over a game is not a concept foreign to Rudy Gay. With his team trailing the Washington Wizards by just three points through three periods, the veteran forward decided the fourth quarter of Tuesday night’s game was the perfect time to do exactly that.
Gay went on to score 10 of his 24 points in the fourth period, including a critical game-tying basket in the contest’s waning moments that forced overtime against the Wizards. The 27-year-old forward’s play in the final frame of regulation helped propel the Kings to a 117-111 victory.
“Rudy down the stretch with his offense, that’s the beauty and luxury of having a guy like that,” Kings head coach Michael Malone said of his starting small forward after the victory. “When he gets going and he’s in a rhythm, he can get his own shot. He’s got great size and length and he carried us down the stretch.”
Gay’s clutch basket came following two shocking misses at the free throw line by John Wall. The All-Star guard missed two freebies that would’ve put the Wizards up four with less than 20 seconds to go in regulation. Instead, Gay grabbed the ensuing rebound and pushed the ball the distance of the floor to score a game-tying floater in dramatic fashion that extended the game to overtime.
“I’ve been doing that my whole career,” Gay said of scoring the last bucket of regulation that forced the extra period of play. “It’s nothing new. For me to have the ball in my hands when it’s winning time, it’s second nature to me. I’ve been doing it before I got here. I did it in Toronto. I’ve done it in Memphis. I just wanted the ball and got to it and that’s the mentality I got to have.”
Gay did not carry the Kings alone in victory. Battling foul trouble for much of the game, DeMarcus Cousins came alive in the fourth and overtime periods to score 19 of his 24 points and grab 10 of his 14 rebounds. Isaiah Thomas also had one of his best games of the season, notching the first triple-double of his career. Like Gay and Cousins, Thomas finished with 24 points while recording 11 rebounds and 10 assists in the win.
“I never thought I would be able to get a triple-double (in the NBA),” the 5’9 guard said after the victory. “I just was playing hard. I got lost in the game just trying to make plays for my teammates, trying to do things on the defensive end and it happened.”
The Kings overcame a strong night off the bench from Wizards big man Drew Gooden. The 32-year-old veteran scored nine of his 18 points in the fourth quarter and finished 7-of-10 from the field. Gooden was recently signed by the Wizards for the remainder of the season after playing some of the best basketball of his career on two consecutive 10-day contracts.
Sacramento improves to 24-44 overall and 14-19 at home. They are also now 4-2 in overtime games played this season and 7-3 when Gay, Cousins and Thomas score at least 20 points. The Kings have the next two days off before returning to action on Friday when they host the San Antonio Spurs.
Notes and Analysis
- Isaiah Thomas once again outplayed an opposing All-Star guard. He finished with 24 points, 10 assists and 11 rebounds for his first career triple-double. Thomas helped limit John Wall, who fouled out of the game in overtime, to 14 points and five turnovers in the win.
- DeMarcus Cousins struggled with early foul trouble, but rebounded late in this one. After going to the fourth quarter with just five points and four rebounds, Cousins dominated the fourth quarter and overtime. The fourth-year center scored 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the games final 17 minutes. To say he dominated would be an understatement.
- Like Cousins, Rudy Gay finished with pedestrian numbers in the first three quarters. But he left it all out on the court in the fourth quarter and overtime, finishing with 24 points and six rebounds, including the game-tying shot with 5.6 seconds remaining in regulation.
- Ben McLemore got off to a hot early in this one, scoring 11 before the intermission. It was good to see him play under control and with confidence. With good offense, came solid defense, but he wasn’t able to sustain all game long. McLemore held Bradley Beal to 19 points, but on 7-for-23 shooting and played a total of 50 minutes. He also went scoreless after halftime on 0-of-7 shooting.
- Jason Thompson is getting a chance to shine as the go-to post player with the second unit. With Cousins sitting with foul trouble, the six-year vet scored eight of his 10 points in the third quarter.
- Derrick Williams is in the same boat as Thompson. With Malone tightening his lineup and using Acy and Evans as part of his nine-man rotation, Williams has every opportunity to be aggressive and lead the second unit. Tonight he finished with just eight points on 2-of-5 shooting in just about 32 minutes. Malone needs more out of the third-year forward.
- Ray McCallum only played 12 minutes off the Kings bench, but he finished with seven points on a pair of 3-point makes. With the Kings deciding not to pick up Orlando Johnson for the remainder of the season, Malone will have to count on McCallum for major minutes as the Kings’ third guard.
- Stat of the Night: The Kings fell behind by as many as 11 in the fourth quarter, but finished the final frame with 30 points on 66.7 percent shooting.
Quote of the Night
Michael Malone on getting Rudy Gay more engaged on offense:
“The reality is that it’s my job to get him the ball. Rudy needs to demand the ball, but I also have to get it to him. Tonight, I kept on calling his number—that’s pretty simple for a coach. If you have a guy that’s got it going then you keep giving him the ball. I loved how he played. There was a tough call in the game when he got called for that charge, but even in light of that call we were able to come back and get the stops that we needed to force overtime.”
Video shot and edited by Kimani David.