By Robert Steward
The Sacramento Kings dropped their 5th straight game, including their 4th in a row at home, tonight against the Brooklyn Nets, 103-100. The Kings were looking to begin the second half of the NBA season on a positive note but aside from an early 5-4 lead with barely one minute gone, they trailed the entire game. The Nets had the hot hand early, making their first 6 shots, consistently getting and making shots in the paint, while the Kings were content to fire away from 3-point range with some success, making 3 of their first 6 from beyond the arc. Sacramento trailed, 24-22, following a Brooklyn timeout with 2:40 left in the quarter. However, the Nets went on a 12-2 run to finish the quarter with a 36-24 lead. Brooklyn hit 14 of 20 from the floor for a 70% clip, while the Kings were only 8 of 21, to the tune of 38%. The Nets had 22 points in the paint.
Brooklyn continued to score inside repeatedly in the 2nd quarter, while the Kings shooting woes continued. With 7-0 foot center Brook Lopez coming off the bench to score 11 points, the Nets continued to build on their lead, 47-31 with 8:19 left in the half. Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins struggled to hit anything, missing both inside and outside shots, making only 2 of his first 12 shots in the half. The Nets eventually led by as many as 23, at 60-37, with 3:57 following a 3-pointer by Alan Anderson. The Kings did make a late 9-2 run to cut into the deficit and trailed, 62-46, at the half. Lopez was certainly a thorn in Sacramento’s side, ending the half with 13 points on 6 of 9 from the floor, to go with 5 blocks, and consistently frustrating Cousins. The disparity in the low post game was obvious as the Nets outscored the Kings, 38-16, in the paint. Brooklyn shot 55% from the floor, while the Kings shot only 41% for the half.
Sacramento closed the gap to 12 points on three separate occasions early in the 3rd quarter but Brooklyn answered each time with a basket of their own. Finally, after the Kings’ Darren Collison hit a jumper and Rudy Gay knocked an errant pass away, Gay then hit Ben McLemore for a layup to reduce the lead to 70-60, forcing the Nets to call a timeout with 5:52 to go in the quarter. It was the closest that they had been since trailing, 36-26, early in the 2nd quarter. The rally was short-lived, however, as Collison missed a wide-open three-pointer, which would have cut the lead to 7. Following the miss at the other end, Lopez got fouled by Cousins going to the basket, making the shot and converting the free throw for a nice 3-point play, bumping the lead back up to 73-60. Brooklyn extended the lead to as much as 16, at 79-63, before the Kings trimmed it slightly and trailed by 13 at the end of the quarter, 82-69. Lopez had 20 points at the end of the 3rd, while Cousins started to come alive, hitting 4 of 5 shots in the quarter, giving him 15 points heading into the 4th.
The 4th quarter turned out to be the Rudy Gay show for Sacramento. With the Nets leading 86-73, Gay made a driving layup and drew a foul, converting a 3-point play. He then hit a 3-point shot on the following possession. The Nets called timeout with 6:54 left, leading 88-79. Following the timeout, Gay hit a runner off the glass. A short time later, following a Nets turnover, Gay raced down for an uncontested dunk to cut the deficit to 91-85, forcing the Nets to call another timeout with 4:39 left. Gay single-handedly was keeping the Kings in the game, scoring 12 straight points. Sacramento kept coming and following a Collison tip-in after a Cousins miss, the Kings only trailed, 96-92, with 2:01 left. They drew closer after Cousins was fouled by Lopez and hit both free throws to make it 96-94. However, Brooklyn’s Joe Johnson hit a 3-pointer with 1:11 left to push the lead back to 99-94. Sacramento drew within three, following a Cousins dunk with 19 seconds left to make it 101-98, but after the Nets hit 1 of 2 free throws Ben McLemore missed a trey with 12 seconds left that would’ve cut the deficit to one.
After a slow start, Cousins eventually got it going, finishing with a game-high 28 points for the Kings on 10 of 24 from the floor, along with 14 rebounds. With a strong showing in the 4th, Gay, who hit 6 of 8 from the floor in the quarter, scored 14 points to finish with 25. Collison chipped in with 16 points, while Omri Casspi came off the bench to score 10, all in the second quarter. Brooklyn was lead by Lopez, who finished with 22 points, along with 6 blocks. Johnson and Jarrett Jack both added 16 points each, while Alan Anderson came off the bench with 14. The Nets went cold in the 4th and finished at 47% from the floor for the game, including hitting only 5 of 20 from three-point range. Sacramento finished at 46% from the floor and narrowed the gap in the paint in the 4th. The Nets outscored the Kings, 48-44, in the paint, in the end. Brooklyn improved to 18-24 on the season, while the Kings fell to 16-26.
The Kings hit the road for the next five games, beginning down in Oakland against the Warriors on Saturday night at 7:30pm.