Baller Mind Frame

Hateful Eight: The Sacramento Kings are now Playoff Contenders

Image courtesy of Michael Tipton/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Michael Tipton/Flickr.

The Sacramento Kings seem to finally be getting their house in order.

After a rough beginning to the season, the Kings may have created a standard of repetition for themselves. With DeMarcus Cousins back in the lineup, the Kings have gone 17-16 since their atrocious 1-7 start. When Willie-Cauley Stein is added to the starting lineup with Cousins, the Kings are 9-3 this season.

The role players for the Kings have also stepped up in large part after playing together frequently at the beginning of the season. Ben McLemore is shooting career bests in field goal percentage as well as three-point field goal percentage. Omri Casspi and Darren Collison continually provide spark plugs off of the bench and the team is finding some continuity with each other.

The point being the team is coming together and playing some winning basketball.

Wednesday evening, the Sacramento Kings pushed their winning streak to three games. Taking on a lowly Los Angeles Lakers team, the Kings played hard early. A refreshing site, as Sacramento just lost to the New Orleans Pelican barely a week ago.

However, Sacramento may have played hard, but ultimately played some bad basketball. Out of control dribbling, forced shots, and chaotic pace affected the Kings early. The Kings committed five turnovers alone in the first quarter.

The biggest issue: forcing alley-oops.

Four of those turnovers were incomplete alley-oops attempts. It wasn’t until Sacramento began to attack the paint did they pull ahead. To start a 10-4 run in favor of the Kings, Rajon Rondo took matters into his own hands, turned back the clock, and put Ryan Kelly on a poster with this slam dunk:

Rondo had a huge game for the Kings, finishing with 11 points and 17 assists.

The second quarter was all the Lake Show. Kobe Bryant was able to single-handedly bring the Lakers within three, as he scored 11 of his 15 in the second quarter alone. Brandon Bass was the main offense for Los Angeles, scoring 18 points and tallying seven rebounds.

Willie Cauley-Stein had a big night on both ends of the floor. Recording his first double-double, Stein finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds. The rookie big man had five rebounds in the third quarter and played a well game defensively. Stein played 29 minutes on the night.

Sacramento never trailed Los Angeles for the entire duration of the game. There were times where the first quarter was mirrored. Sacramento didn’t seem to care about protecting the basketball and were often punished for this. Even though the Kings won by 19, the Lakers were able to creep their way back into the game as the result of bad decision making.

DeMarcus Cousins sealed the game for the Kings. The big man finished with 26 points and 16 rebounds. The King won 112-93 and notched first three-game winning streak while on the road. The Kings have won six of their last nine and look to improve on Thursday night against the Hawks at home.

For the Lakers, they host the San Antonio Spurs this Friday and look for a bounce back win.

Kings 112

(18-23, 8-12 away)

Lakers 93

(9-35, 5-14 home)

Coverage: TWC SN

10:30 PM ET, January 20, 2016

STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA

1 2 3 4 T
SAC 28 29 29 26 112
LAL 18 34 25 16 93

Top Performers

Sac: D. Cousins 36 Pts, 16 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

LAL: B. Bass 18 Pts, 7 Reb, 2 Ast, 3 Blk

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