CK Press Box Report: Suns 115, Kings 106

By James Ham and Rui Thomas

DC-vs-IT

One star returned, as another left the building. Isaiah Thomas returned to his old stomping grounds as he helped the Phoenix Suns (17-14) defeat the Sacramento Kings (12-17), 115-106.

In his first game at Sleep Train Arena since suiting up for the Kings, Thomas entered the game to a warm reception with 3:24 in the first quarter. The point guard started 2-of-7 from the floor, but heated up in the second half to finish with 17 points on 7-of-17 shooting, five assists and three turnovers.

“(We saw) nothing other than we’re used to,” Rudy Gay told the media after the loss. “He’s (Thomas) an aggressive player who’s going to go out there and try to look for his shot. He did, and it went in today. He’s a good player.”

The Kings, who were without DeMarcus Cousins (gastroenteritis) for the 11th time this season, scored as a team efficiently. Darren Collison hit a career-high four 3’s en route to 19 points, and Rudy Gay recorded 16 points and five assists. Reggie Evans earned the start in Cousins’ place and notched 11 points and 16 rebounds (nine offensive).

Derrick Williams came off the bench to produce 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting. Fellow reserve Carl Landry scored 12 points and eight rebounds, and Omri Casspi added 11 points.

But Sacramento’s defense was a non-factor. Phoenix shot 48.9 percent from the floor and 42.4 percent (14-of-33) from behind the arc. Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris combined for 37 points on 15-of-23 field goals, and Eric Bledsoe churned 18 points, five rebounds and six assists. Alex Len produced 10 points and 12 rebounds, and with Thomas’ contributions, it was too much for the Kings to overcome.

“We’re giving up too many points. We’re giving up points on fast break issues. We didn’t turn the ball over as many times tonight, I think we had 13 for the game tonight, nine points (allowed), but we still allowed them to get 25 fast break points even though we didn’t turn the ball over. So we got to do a better job on defense.”

The Kings are now 1-4 since Corbin replaced Michael Malone as the head coach. Sacramento hosts Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks (5-26) on Saturday for the second night of a back-to-back.

Notes and Analysis

  • Playing without DeMarcus Cousins once again, the Sacramento Kings made the decision to get into a track meet with the Team USA 4×100 relay team.  Phoenix put on the jets in the early fourth quarter and ran the Kings off the court.  Phoenix shot 48.9 percent from the field, 42.4 percent (14-of-33) from behind the arc and dropped in 25 fast break points on their way to the nine-point victory.
  • Derrick Williams loves to run and gun.  He finished tonight’s game with 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting and added five rebounds in 24 minutes.  Williams has value in this type of offensive system.
  • Darren Collison had his best perimeter shooting night of his career, finishing 4-of-7 from behind the arc on his way to a 19-point night.  Collison finished with just two assists on the night, but he added three steals in the loss.
  • Reggie Evans did solid work in the post, finishing with 11 points and a game-high 16 rebounds. Evans shot just 5-for-13 from the field and was blocked twice, but Alex Len had a good five inches on him.
  • Rudy Gay had a typical game, scoring 16 points, handing out five assists and grabbing four rebounds.  Gay shot 7-of-15 from the field and held P.J. Tucker in check, but the Kings need bigger numbers with Cousins sitting out.
  • Ben McLemore added 13 points, but was almost an afterthought in this game.  He shot 5-for-14 from the field, 2-of-7 from behind the arc and grabbed just two rebounds in 35 minutes of action.  He has improved as a scorer and a defender, but it’s time to start finding other ways to contribute.
  • Stat of the Night: Isaiah Thomas scored nine of his 17 points in the deciding fourth period.  Thomas got fired up and even garnered some boos from the Sleep Train faithful.

Quote of the Game

Rudy Gay on the Kings’ mounting struggles

“You can’t be frustrated. You got to be professional. You got to be, no matter what goes on in the organization, within the locker room, you still have to be professional.”

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