Kings can’t build on highlight win

February 6, 2017

NBA, Sacramento Kings

Sacramento Kings forward Matt Barnes squats after his inbound pass to teammate DeMarcus Cousins was stolen by Chicago Bulls guard Dwyane Wade who went for a breakaway stuff during the closing moments of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 6, 2017, in Sacramento, Calif. The Bulls won 112-107. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

By Jeremy Harness

SACRAMENTO – What a difference two nights makes.

The Kings followed up their biggest victory of the year – which came Saturday night against the Warriors in this building – with a major letdown of a 112-107 loss to the Chicago Bulls inside of the Golden 1 Center Monday night.

After being down by as many as 27 points in the second half, the Kings inched their way back into the game, eventually tying the game with less than a minute remaining before succumbing to the shooting prowess of Dwyane Wade.

Wade doesn’t have the hops that he used to, but he tortured the Kings on Monday with a midrange fade-away from the post-up position that has become his weapon of choice these days. He sliced Sacramento up with 31 points on 12-of-18 shooting to go along with six rebounds and three assists.

DeMarcus Cousins, on the other hand, endured a horrid night from the field, making only five of his 16 shots for 18 points. He shook it off, however, just in time to nail a 3-pointer with less than a minute left to cut the Bulls’ seemingly-insurmountable lead to only two.

After the Kings got a stop on the ensuing Chicago possession, Cousins then tied the game at 107-107 with a layup and fouled Taj Gibson, the Bulls’ best interior defender, out of the game in the process.

He missed the free throw, and Wade then made the Kings pay when he dribbled down slowly against Matt Barnes before sticking a silky-smooth jumper in his face to give Chicago a two-point lead with 13 seconds remaining. He then stole the inbounds pass, and his breakaway dunk with 11 seconds left sank the Kings for good.

Cousins’ frustration ultimately boiled over in the final seconds, drawing a second technical after complaining about a no-call on a desperation 3-point attempt that was not close to going in.

The excitement of beating a team like the Warriors clearly was not there at the start. As a result, the Bulls blitzed the Kings right out of the gate, taking a 27-9 lead with 30 seconds left in the first quarter.

Chicago led by as many as 18 points in the first half, but the Kings began to creep their way back into the game, as a baby hook by Kosta Koufos cut the Bulls’ lead to eight with 4:33 left in the second quarter.

Sacramento, which appeared to be out of sync on offense as well as defensively for much of the night, had its steam run out, and the Bulls took advantage by slowly fattening their lead as the first half drew to a close.

Chicago then bolstered its lead to 27 in the second half, before the Kings crawled their way back into the contest, as they trailed 85-69 at the end of the third quarter.

That’s when Gibson drew a technical from the officials. At that point, Cousins, Barnes and Rajon Rondo, all got into the, well, spirited discussion that resulted in technicals for Cousins as well as Barnes. That seemed to light a fire under the Kings, and Sacramento gained ground more quickly.

However, the Kings were never able to take the lead, and Wade made sure of that.

NOTES: Rondo, who spent last season with the Kings, got a not-so-warm welcome from the Sacramento crowd when he entered the game for the first time late in the first quarter, getting a healthy portion of boos.

He finished the game with five points on 2-of-6 shooting with six assists and a pair of rebounds.


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