Kings show growth in season opener
Phoenix, Ariz. —- Every NBA team understands the threat that star center DeMarcus Cousins poses.
Wednesday night it was the Sacramento Kings bench squad that stunned the youthful Phoenix Suns on the way to a 113-94 victory in the season opener for both teams.
The starting-five for the Kings began the game 4-of-15 shooting, and Cousins was forced to the bench with early foul trouble. But that was all a blessing in disguise as Ben McLemore and Willie Cauley-Stein came in to lead a charge from the bench.
After trailing 14-18, McLemore hit back-to-back jumpers and sparked an 8-0 run, which turned out to be a 16-1 run over the final 3:30 of the first quarter. Cauley-Stein’s emphatic one-handed jam with 28.1 seconds left in the opening period gave Sacramento a 28-18 lead.
McLemore finished with just six points, but they may have been the six most important points of the Kings’ victory.
Highlights: Kings vs Suns Season Opener pic.twitter.com/zlJOdZ2Vtq
— Cowbell Kingdom (@Cowbell_Kingdom) October 27, 2016
The Suns (0-1) had three rookies make their debut, and trailed by as many as 26 in the third quarter. Rookies Tyler Ulis and Marquese Chriss helped chisel the Kings’ lead down to 10, 86-76, midway through the fourth quarter, but they would get no closer.
Despite having just two points at the half, Cousins still got his in the end.
He slowed things down throughout the third quarter, helping Sacramento build that 26-point lead from the free throw line. Cousins made 12-of-16 from the stripe and finished with a game-high 24 points.
Rudy Gay didn’t make his first shot until the 8:23 mark of the second quarter. But he would finish with 22 points, including a big three that silenced the fourth-quarter run by the Suns.
Sacramento’s bench outscored Phoenix’s 48-34. Matt Barnes hit 6-of-9 shots on the way to 14 points. Garrett Temple scored 12 points in his Kings debut. Sacramento finished the game 44-of-86 shooting (.512).
Another Phoenix young buck Devin Booker was the leading scorer for the Suns with 18 points.
The Kings head home tomorrow night to face the San Antonio Spurs in the regular season debut of the new Golden 1 Center in downtown Sacramento.