DeMarcus Cousins looked on from the bench in the fourth quarter.
It was familiar spot, but under foreign circumstances. He had been out of games late with foul trouble before, but this time was different.
Against Cleveland Cavaliers Sunday, Cousins was a spectator to his team capturing a resounding 124-80 victory.
“It felt weird sitting out the whole fourth quarter. Since I was like five (years-old), I don’t think I’ve ever been in that situation,” said Cousins, who was content with cheering on his teammates as the lopsided contest wound down. “It felt good. It felt good to see some of the guys who don’t play a lot of minutes get out there and have good games. It was a good win all-around.”
The Sacramento Kings had all areas covered Sunday, outclassing the Cavs on both sides of the floor.
Before Friday’s game against the Orlando Magic, the Kings had allowed 60 or more first-half points in three straight games. Sunday, it took the Cavs three quarters to surpass that mark.
Cleveland’s offense was led by a 14-point performance from CJ Miles, which may be all that needs to be said about Sacramento’s defensive effort.
The Cavaliers’ All-Star point guard, Kyrie Irving, struggled to find offense throughout the night. The seven points Irving did get, he got in the paint, but those chances were few and far between. Other than that, the Kings forced him to take eight jump shots, none of which found the bottom of the net.
“I’m very happy that we won three in a row, obviously, but more importantly the way we won,” Michael Malone said. “I realize that the defense isn’t going to happen overnight. When you make trades and bring all these new guys in, you kind of have to hit the reset button, but they bought in the last three games. We defended at a high level and protected our home court three times in a row.”
Most of the offensive potency that Irving and the Cavaliers were searching for all night was in the hands of the Kings. Cleveland actually finished with more assists than Sacramento Sunday, but it didn’t matter as Kings players were able to score unaided, for the most part.
Rudy Gay did what he typically does, which is to attack in one-on-one situations, and with stunning success. Despite squaring off against Luol Deng, one of the better perimeter defenders in the league, Gay scored from everywhere on the floor, driving to the basket and coolly knocking down mid-range and three-point jumpers.
DeMarcus Cousins, on a torrid stretch as of late, overwhelmed Cleveland’s frontcourt, pulling down 11 rebounds and scoring 16 points on just nine field goal attempts – he frequently drew fouls and got to the free throw line.
While the Kings were out-shared by the Cavs, players said a willingness to talk to each other has been key in the last three victories.
“The main thing is guys are communicating with one another. Being able to talk with one another – that was something we really stressed on in our meeting,” Cousins said, referring to a team meeting the players called last week.
The win was Sacramento’s third in as many games, marking the team’s first three-game win streak since Dec. 8, 2012.
The Kings’ challenge now becomes translating success at home into road victories, as they prepare for a looming six-game road trip – their first stop will be in Indiana Tuesday – but recent success will provide a boost, Cousins said.
“It does help your confidence,” Cousins said. “You go into, allegedly, the best team in the NBA’s home court, so coming off a three-game win streak at home, I feel like our chances are a lot higher than coming off a losing record.”