Press Box Report: Sacramento Kings 91, Maccabi Haifa 59

by James Ham & Rui Thomas

Sacramento_Kings_Omri_Casspi_Maccabi

It was less-than-assuring dominance.

The Sacramento Kings beat Maccabi Haifa B.C. of Israel 91-59 despite shooting 36.4 percent in the first half along with 24 total turnovers.

“That was a tough game for me to watch and I’m sure it was for all of you, as well.” Michael Malone told the media. “It was sloppy.”

With Rudy Gay sitting out with an ankle sprain, the offense funneled through DeMarcus Cousins, who struggled in the first two quarters shooting 2-of-7 and spilling six turnovers. In the same span, the starting backcourt of  Darren Collison and Ben McLemore shot a combined 2-of-11 field goals. Cousins ended with 15 points, 12 rebounds and nine turnovers while Collison and McLemore finished with 12 and four points respectively.

The Kings came away with a win due to their suffocating defense. Maccabi Haifa made only 27.8 percent of its floor attempts and added 19 turnovers. They also didn’t help themselves by missing open jumpers and getting wedged out for rebounds (57-34). Maccabi Haifa committed 37 personal fouls which led to 45 Sacramento free throw attempts. Guard Demontez Stitt led the visitors with 17 points.

On a personal note, Omri Casspi faced his fellow countrymen for the first time in an NBA setting. He earned the start in Gay’s absence and finished with seven points and seven rebounds.

“During the (Israeli) national anthem, I started thinking about games that we played against them back in 2008 and 2007,” Casspi shared with Cowbell Kingdom. “It was fun. It was a good experience, and I think they enjoyed it to play against an NBA team. It was a good run for us for get adjusted from China and get back into rhythm.”

The Kings will have plenty to work on as they travel to face the San Antonio Spurs on Monday. Maccabi Haifa will play their final stateside game versus the Toronto Raptors Wednesday.

Notes and Analysis

  • After missing Wednesday’s game against the Nets in China, DeMarcus Cousins returned tonight for the Kings.  Maccabi Haifa made a concerted effort to double and triple-team Sacramento’s starting center, but he still finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds in 27 minutes.  Cousins turned the ball over a team-high nine times against the feisty Maccabi post defense.  The plan is for Cousins’ minutes to ramp up into the mid-30’s over the next two games.
  • Rudy Gay missed tonight’s game with a left ankle sprain.  The injury happened during practice on Friday, but Gay was walking without a limp during pregame.  After a busy summer, there is no reason to push the 28-year-old wing.
  • Omri Casspi got the start against his country-mates and finished with seven points on 3-of-6 shooting and seven rebounds.  Casspi has been the surprise of camp so far and appears to have locked down a rotational spot in Sacramento.
  • Darren Collison started the game at the point guard and finished with 12 points and three assists in 27 minutes.  The numbers don’t jump off the page, but Collison has earned the starting job with his strong play all preseason.
  • Ramon Session is most likely coming off the bench behind Collison, but he too has earned high praise throughout the preseason.  Tonight, he finished with 11 points and six assists in 24 minutes.  Plan on seeing a lot of two point guard sets this season.
  • Carl Landry looked spry in his 18 minutes of action.  The veteran forward is trying to return after a disastrous 2013-14 season and tonight he had a couple of big dunks.  He scored eight points and grabbed four rebounds and appears to be rounding into game shape.
  • The young shooting guards struggled tonight.  Ben McLemore shot 1-for-7 from the field and finished with four points.  Nik Stauskas drained a pair of 3-balls and scored 10 points, but the rookie also struggled with his shot, finishing the night 2-for-7.
  • Stat of the Night: Sacramento held Maccabi Haifa to 27.8 percent shooting from the field and never allowed more than 17 points in a quarter.  This wasn’t an NBA quality team, but Michael Malone has to love those numbers.

Quote of the Game

Michael Malone on shutting down Maccabi Haifa

“No disrespect to them because they’re not an NBA team, but to hold them below 20 points every quarter and 28 percent from the field — that’s a lot more to my liking as a coach.”

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