By Charlie O. Mallonee
Sacramento – On Saturday night in Sleep Train Arena, it was DeMarcus Cousins’ world and the rest of us were privileged to live in it.
The Kings won their fifth consecutive game downing the Indiana Pacers 108-97 behind Cousins’ 48 points and 13 rebounds. Cousins literally controlled the paint on the offensive end of the floor fighting off two and three defenders on his way to the basket.
The Kings went on a 7-0 run to open the game and served notice that they had come to play and play hard. Sacramento led the game wire to wire as they posted their 20th win of the season.
A game that appeared to be a possible “cake walk” for the Kings turned into a battle on both ends of the floor. The Kings controlled the paint outscoring the Pacers 58-32 down low. The Pacers turned up their defense and held the Kings to 44.7-percent (38-for-85) shooting from the floor and causing Sacramento to turn the ball over 15 times resulting in 19 Indiana points.
Kings head coach George Karl said before the game that his team would have battle the very athletic hands of the Pacers. Indiana lived up to that billing making the Kings work hard for every point they scored after the opening run.
Sacramento also brought its defense to game. The Kings held the Pacers to just 41.9-percent (36-for-86) shooting from the floor. It was the second consecutive game that the Kings held their opponents under 100 points. Sacramento had averaged giving up 107.4 points per game coming into Saturday night’s contest.
The Kings had not won five consecutive games since October 31 to November 7,2014. Sacramento’s record now stands at 20-23. They are now 12-11 at home.
The loss caused Pacers record to fall to 23-21. Indiana has lost five of their last six games.
Cousins scored his career-high 48 points going 17-for-29 from the floor. He was 1-for-2 from 3-point range and 13-for-20 from the free throw line. Cousins recorded a double-double by grabbing 13 rebounds. He played a game-high 39 minutes.
Rajon Rondo posted another triple-double against the Pacers. Rondo scored 11 points, distributed 10 assists and pulled down 10 rebounds in the game. It was his sixth triple-double of the season and made Rondo the all-time leader in the Sacramento era in that category.
Willie Cauley-Stein played another strong game for Sacramento. He played 34 minutes scoring six points and recording 12 rebounds. Five of those rebounds were on the offensive end and extended possessions for the Kings.
Darren Collison scored 11 points, Kosta Koufos 9, Omri Casspi 8, Marco Belinelli 7, Ben McLemore 5 and James Anderson 3.
The Kings won their second consecutive game without Rudy Gay on floor. Gay missed the game due to a left heel contusion.
Paul George led the Pacers scoring attack putting up 34 points. George shot 9-for-20 from the field but was 4-for-8 from beyond the 3-point arc. He also went 12-for-14 from the free throw line.
Center Jordan Hill scored 17 points and had 13 rebounds to make it a double-double game for him.
Monta Ellis scored 16 points while dishing out seven assists for the Pacers.
Lavoy Allen put up nine points, Myles Turner 11, George Hill 8 and Joe Young 2.
What they said after the game
Kings head coach George Karl called DeMarcus Cousins performance, “Pretty special. They kind of didn’t have an answer and they were letting us have almost everything. I think what Cuz didn’t do at a high level tonight was make the 3-ball. Even his mistakes or turnovers or his forced issues at times were still pretty powerful for us; kept the rhythm, kept the flow.”
Karl added, “His (Cousins) skills are off the chart, his hands, and his ability to put it on the floor and get to the rim. Defensively he’s good, maybe very good. He does all of the fundamental nature of the game of basketball at a high, high level.”
“Honestly I’m more happy about the win,” said Cousins after the game. “I’m glad I got a new career high, but I’m more happy about the way this team is playing. We’ve been through a lot this season – a lot of ups and downs, but we’re on the right path right now. I think we’re growing each and every game. Like I’ve been saying, my mindset is just playoffs.”
“Well they went to him (Cousins) every time down the floor for 48 straight minutes”, said Indiana head coach Frank Vogel. “You get 29 field goal attempts and 20 free throw attempts – that’s high usage. That’s what the analytics people call a high usage rate. Our top big man defender is out. Guys that were in there – our three bigs – battled, did the best they could, but he’s a big load. He’s a load and when he’s going to get touches every single time … he’s going to put up those kind of numbers.”
The Kings will be back on the floor Monday night when they host the Charlotte Hornets. The Hornets beat the Kings 127-122 in overtime on November 23, 2015.
Indiana heads home to host the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday.