The Cleveland Cavaliers entered Sacramento as the league’s most confusing group— one with championship expectations, but no legitimate infrastructure to help meet those goals. They’re floating around .500 with no signs of improvement, even in a historically easy Eastern Conference.
With LeBron James still sidelined, the Sacramento Kings had no trouble handily beating the Cavs.
DeMarcus Cousins wasted no time in exploiting his matchup with newly acquired Timofey Mozgov, who had trouble containing both interior and mid-range approaches. The Kings fed him the ball on a majority of first-half possessions, providing an immediate gap between the teams’ offensive efficiency. As Sacramento made use of constant pick-and-pops with Cousins, Cleveland was unable to slow him down.
Cousins finished with 26 points on 11-for-23 from the field, making sure to attempt as many shots as possible in the presence of a terrible Cleveland defense. He added 13 rebounds, five assists, and six trips to the free throw line.
Kyrie Irving was the Cavaliers’ spur on the offensive end, calling for endless screens to be set on nearly every possession. As good as Darren Collison has been at quieting opposing point guards this year, Irving didn’t seem to have trouble finding his rhythm in the first half of play. His jumper was falling and he shot 4-for-7 from downtown to aid in his impressive, 21-point performance.
He added seven assists and four rebounds.
“Kyrie, he hit some [shots] early and hit a couple three’s especially in that first quarter,” said Ty Corbin. “We had to get up a little closer to him and the bigs had to predict where the coverage was going to come from and where the help was going to come from.”
Sacramento had a monster second and third quarter, outscoring Cleveland 55-35 in this stretch and effectively ending the game by jumping out to a 27-point lead.
There was no fight from the Cavaliers despite a good shooting stretch from Kevin Love who went 3-for-9 from long-range.
Otherwise, the little pre-existing life that the team had was wiped out. They let players like Rudy Gay score with ease, giving him 23 points on just 14 field goal attempts. He was left open on cuts and had his jumper falling early. He added four rebounds and two assists.
The Sacramento Kings have had a positive home stand, giving a glimmer of hope after weeks of inconsistent play.
They will host the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night at Sleep Train Arena.
“Tonight was a great indicator of who we could be. The Oklahoma City game was a great indicator of how we can play and how we can compete against these top teams. We’re just looking for some more consistency,” added Corbin.