Photo credit: NBAE/Getty Images
By Charlie O. Mallonee
The Sacramento Kings had the unenviable task of going from playing the best team in “the Association”- the Spurs – to having to face the worst team in the league – the Milwaukee Bucks – on Sunday at home. The Kings could have easily come out flat, but they came out ready to play looking for a victory. Sacramento beat Milwaukee 124-107.
The Kings were led by DeMarcus Cousins who posted a double-double scoring 32 points and grabbing 12 rebounds while playing just 29 minutes in the game. Cousins spent the entire fourth quarter on the bench. Isaiah Thomas scored 30 points on just 15 shots that included going three for four from “3-point land”. Thomas also dished out eight assists. Rudy Gay put up 24 points while pulling down eight rebounds and serving up four assists. Ben McLemore scored 15 points including three 3-pointers.
Sacramento shot 51.2-percent from the field and shot 35.0-percent (7 for 20) from beyond the 3-point line. As a team, the Kings recorded 19 assists against just 12 turnovers. The Kings outrebounded the Bucks 44-40.
With a big win and numbers like they posted, you would think Kings Head Coach Michael Malone would have been very happy after the game. You would only be partially right. Coach stated that he is happy with any win in the NBA, but he was unhappy with the 63 points his team gave up in the second half. Up by 40 at one point, Malone was not pleased that he had to consider putting Cousins back in the game if things had continued to get out of hand.
The Kings came out in the first half ready to dominate the lowly Milwaukee Bucks. The Kings took a 70-44 lead into the locker room after 24-minutes of play. DeMarcus Cousins put up 21 points; Rudy Gay added 17 while Ben McLemore posted 11 going four for eight from the field.
The Kings were able to dominate due to their play in the paint. Sacramento scored 28 points down low while allowing the Bucks just 16 in the paint. The Kings also ruled the boards outrebounding Milwaukee 27-20.
The Kings were looking to run the fastbreak in the first half. They added nine points off the break while the Sacramento defense gave up no fastbreak points to the Bucks. The Kings defense held the Bucks to just 34.9-percent (15 for 42) shooting. Sacramento shot 58.1-percent (24 for 43) from the field. The Kings shot 40.0-percent (4 for 10) from beyond the 3-point arc.
Coach Malone was also able to give some extended rest to Cousins, Gay and Thomas. That also meant valuable playing time for Ray McCallum and Travis Outlaw.
The first half also featured two flagrant fouls committed by the Bucks.
Milwaukee started off the third quarter with an 8-0 run. That caused Malone to take a quick timeout. The Bucks started working the paint and scoring on the Kings. The Kings appeared to be flat and distracted. Cousins then scored on a coast to coast bucket and Thomas hit two 3-pointers allowing the Kings to maintain the lead. The Kings hit the century mark with 2:17 left to play in the third quarter. The quarter ended with the Kings leading the Bucks 104-70.
The fourth quarter should have been pure garbage time for the Kings. Instead the Bucks were able to begin to make Malone and the crowd a bit nervous. Sacramento suffered a series of defensive breakdowns that caused Malone to call timeouts to preach defense to his team.
The Kings allowed Milwaukee to shoot 75.0-percent (15 for 20) from the field in the fourth quarter. The Bucks scored 14 of those points in the paint and 10 points on fastbreaks. Milwaukee outscored the Kings 37-20 in the final period. Garbage time or not, that cannot happen when you start the quarter with a 34-point lead. It is part of the process of having to learn how to handle a large lead.
The Kings are off until Wednesday when they will host the New York Knicks in the final game of the four-game home-stand. Sacramento will then head out on a three-game road trip to Oklahoma City, Dallas and New Orleans.