by Charlie O. Mallonee
The Kings and Celtics went to war on the basketball court on Friday night in Boston. The game featured 23 lead changes and 12 ties. As those stats would imply, both teams had the opportunity to win the game. In the end, Boston led by Al Horford was able to put the “W” in the books because of their tough play late in the fourth quarter.
The Celtics won their 11th game of the season as they downed the Kings 97-92. Sacramento now drops to 7-12 on the season and 1-2 on what is now a five-game road trip.
The Kings started slow and finished sluggish
Sacramento went with the “the big” starting lineup in this game – Koufos, Cousins, Gay, Afflalo and Collison. Boston began running away from this starting five immediately. By the 4:26 mark in the first quarter, the Celtics held a 13-point lead 24-11. Dave Joerger pulled all of his starters except Cousins and the second unit erased the deficit tying the game at 29-29 at the end of the first period.
That set up a real battle between the teams that played out in second, third and part of the fourth quarters.
With 7:54 to go in the game, Al Horford hit a hook shot that tied the game and the Celtics eventually went on a 10-0 run that created a major uphill battle for the Kings. Sacramento led by Cousins tried to fight their way back into the game and did cut the Celtics lead to three points with 39 seconds remaining in the game. The Kings were unable to score again in those final seconds and lost the game.
The Kings lost Cousins for medical treatment late in the 3rd and early in the 4th quarters
Late in the third quarter, Ty Lawson and DeMarcus Cousins were both going for a defensive rebound when Lawson’s left elbow hit Cousins above the left eye. The blow opened up a cut above Cousins’ left eye. He was taken to the locker room where they glued the cut shut and he returned to the game with under eight minutes to play in the fourth quarter.
Was that the turning point in the game? No, it was not. Read the next section and you will understand why it was not the key to the loss.
Missed shots in the paint – poor shot selection – turnovers all haunt the Kings
“We just shot ourselves in the foot. We turned the damned thing (the ball) over like I’ve never seen.We take bad shots sometimes and it just ticks me off. At bad times … stuff we know we have to get better at. We’re not a bunch of rookies. We can get better. We’ll keep plugging away and keep getting better, but we shot 47 shots in the paint and missed how many layups? Turnovers killed us. Shots come and go – we didn’t make shots,” said Kings head coach Dave Joerger after the game.
Sacramento outscored Boston 42-34 in the paint but went 21-for-47 in the high percentage shooting area. The Kings shot just 37.9-percent (33-for-87) for the game. It is almost impossible to win a game in the NBA and shoot under 40-percent. Sacramento turned the ball over 15 times and those TOVs created 21 points for Boston.
Cousins was the Kings scoring leader but it was not his best night – Barnes was big
- DeMarcus Cousins was the game’s leading scorer with 28 points but he had to take 26 shots to tally those points. He was 2-for-7 from long range. Cousins had nine rebounds so he did not record a double-double
- Matt Barnes did have a double-double for the Kings on Friday night. He scored 12 points, grabbed 16 rebounds (game-high) and added five assists. Barnes also provided some much needed energy on defense several times in the game
- Rudy Gay and Darren Collison each scored 12 points for Sacramento. Gay had eight rebounds but went 1-for-7 from 3-point range. Collison had three assists
- Omri Casspi played almost 27 minutes off the bench and scored seven points. Casspi brought some much needed energy late in the first quarter
- Willie Cauley-Stein had some strong minutes of playing time in the first half and scored six points in the game
Al Horford was the star for Boston in the game
Horford had a complete game for the Celtics on Friday night against the Kings. The Boston center played 35-minutes scoring 26 points, recorded eight rebounds, dished out three assists, had two steals and six -yes you are reading correctly – six blocked shots. He shot 10-for-18 from the floor and 4-for-7 from beyond the 3-point line.
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens was even more impressed with Horford’s defense. Stevens talked about how his center is always at the ready on defense. Horford did make a key defensive play on Cousins in the final seconds of the game to deny the Kings big man a 3-point shot opportunity.
Other Celtic contributors
- Former Kings player Isaiah Thomas put up 20 points and handed out seven assists on a night when he did not shoot his best. Thomas shot 6-for-21 from the floor and 0-for-5 from 3-point land
- Jae Crowder added 16 points and Avery Bradley scored 15 for Boston
- One of the big weaknesses for the Celtics is the lack of bench scoring. The Celtics reserves scored just 12 points in the contest. The Kings bench scored 33 points in the game
Up next on the schedule
The Kings have the day off in New York City on Saturday and then will face the New York Knicks in “the Garden” on Sunday at 4:00 p.m. PST in game four of the five-game road trip.
The Celtics kick off a road trip on Saturday night in Philadelphia with the Sixers assuming the floor is dry enough for play. The NBA will make sure the floor is game-ready for the Celtics and Sixers … take that to the bank.