The Sacramento Kings have put together more than a week of efficient basketball. They have played every game for all 48 minutes and done so effectively, but they managed to hold off the Phoenix Suns for two extra periods to pull off the 114-112 win.
As all other games throughout this historic Kings winning streak (historic for the franchise, not for the league), it was a full team effort. All the way down to the final buzzer of regulation and through both overtimes, Mike Malone’s team received production from the right players at the right time. When Rudy Gay‘s shot wasn’t falling, some of the offensive slack was picked up by Ben McLemore who produced down the stretch and took Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic off the dribble, utilizing his speed off of pick-and-rolls to get himself to the rack and finish off plays. He continues to give quality minutes to his coach.
Other players who stepped up were Darren Collison and Carl Landry, both of whom have been influential in the team’s recent success. Collison had a chance to take the game with around 30 seconds to go in the last portion of regulation, but he rushed a shot coming off a pick and role and left too much time on the shot clock. Still, he was excellent in the extra periods and orchestrated the Kings offense, putting himself on the free-throw line six times down the stretch. He finished with 16 points and three assists.
Landry has been huge for Sacramento as of late, and he continued the pattern against the Suns. His presence on the offensive boards was felt as he gave the Kings second-chance opportunities when the team’s were exchanging baskets in the half-court when the game got close. His eight rebounds, for of them being offensive, were monumental to the Kings’ ability to score every trip down the floor.
The most surprising aspect of the win, however, is the fact that DeMarcus Cousins fouled out of the game with time left in the fourth quarter.
The Kings beat a team in two overtime periods without their best player, who had 25 points and 18 rebounds, effectively giving his team a 60-42 advantage on the glass. I expected Phoenix to handle the game’s ending possessions easily by utilizing the lack of rebounding and inside presence as a result of Cousins’ absence, but Collison was brilliant enough down the stretch to get his teammates involved and knock down free-throws to keep the Kings ahead little by little.
The game came down to a last-minute shot that Phoenix had to force up with seconds left. Sacramento secured a rebound and has obtained one of the league’s best records, and one of the best records in franchise history.
The team’s success is not yet legitimized, but a new presence is being felt league-wide. The Kings continue a tough Western-Conference road trip with a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday.