The Sacramento Kings looked to bounce back from their three-game losing streak on Saturday. Taking on the Phoenix Suns, this game was also a chance for George Karl to tie Phil Jackson for fifth place on the all-time wins list for coaches.
In what DeMarcus Cousins’ called his “best shooting game of the season,” Sacramento came out with a statement win. A defense-optional game, Sacramento buried Phoenix 142-119. Cousins finished the night with 32 points and nine rebounds in just 27 minutes of play.
“Boogie” Cousins dominated the game. Shooting 50 percent from three and 11/17 from the field. “[Cousins] is just too big and strong for our guys and we tried some different things on him,” said Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek. “He’s a tough guy to be on.”
This was Cousins’ most efficient game by far. Primarily playing through Cousins’ in the paint, the Kings were able to use DeMarcus to space the floor and provided him with a great shot selection. From easy layups to a pick-and-pop rotation with Rajon Rondo, Cousins’ controlled the floor and his offensive abilities were on full display for the world to see.
The first quarter was all Sacramento. The Kings jumped out to a 31-18 lead. Moving the ball at an elite level, Sacramento had seven assists on 11 made baskets and finished the quarter with only two turnovers.
Omri Casspi continues to thrive under George Karl’s offense. Scoring 10 of his 13 in the first quarter, Omri shot 50 percent from the field and sustained the third highest three-point percentage at 47 percent.
For the Suns, rookie Devin Booker had a magnificent shooting night. Playing 41 minutes, the sharp shooter out of Kentucky made his only two three’s in the first quarter. Booker went on to finish the game with 21 points and four steals.
The bench for Sacramento struggled to maintain the same offensive output in the second. Outscored 35-28 in the second, the Kings’ lead was cut down to six at the end of the third.
It was a big third quarter from backup point guard Darren Collison that propelled the Kings to victory.
“[Collison] had a much better intensity and energy leadership. Might have been the best we’ve gotten all year.” Coach Karl added.
Collison had a major impact on the defensive end by forcing turnovers and pushing the pace of the game. “Our coach always says we have our best games when we pick it up on the defensive end.” Collison noted. “We did that, we got some easy buckets in transition, then it started clicking for us on the offensive end.”
44 of the Kings points came in the fourth quarter as Sacramento ran the floor in a dual point guard lineup. Rajon Rondo had his 20th game this season with 10 or more assists. Finishing with 15 points and 15 rebounds.
It was the Kings first game with rookie Willie Cauley-Stein back since December 3rd also. Stein had four points and five rebounds in the final four minutes of play.
For the Suns, Tyson Chandler was ejected in the third after arguing a call with the referee. Promoting two technical foul calls and an immediate ejection. Without Chandler and starting point guard Eric Bledsoe, T.J. Warren and Brandon Knight filled the offensive void. Warren scored 19 points and Knight finished with a team-high 23 points.
Sacramento finished the night shooting a season-high 60 percent from the field. Sacramento begins a short two-game road trip this week. Playing the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, following a game on Monday against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Phoenix is now 1-9 in their last ten and on a current eight-game losing streak. Phoenix head to Los Angeles to take on the Lakers before they start a two-game home stand.
(12-24, 4-14 away)
(13-20, 9-9 home)
5:00 PM ET, January 2, 2016
Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, CA
PHX: B. Knight 23 Pts, 5 Reb, 5 Ast, 1 Stl
Sac: D. Cousins 32 Pts, 9 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 Stl