SACRAMENTO -- It wasn’t always pretty, but the Sacramento Kings finally picked up career victory number 1,155 for head coach George Karl, tying him for fifth place all-time in coaching victories with the great Phil Jackson. With the 142-119 victory Saturday afternoon over the spiraling Phoenix Suns, the Kings snapped their three-game skid and improved to 13-20 on the season.
After a slow start, the Kings used a 23-2 run in the first quarter to take a 17-point lead. DeMarcus Cousins dominated the post and Omri Casspi rained down 3-pointers. For 12 minutes, the Kings looked every bit the part of a team that had learned a lesson in Wednesday’s bad loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.
But the Kings gave it all back in the second. The Suns outscored Sacramento’s bench unit, taking a lead over the Kings on their home floor with just over three minutes remaining in the half. Cousins re-entered the game and helped the Kings push the lead back to 59-53 going to the intermission, but the Kings were outscored 35-28 in the quarter.
The game spun completely out of control in the third quarter. Wild back-and-forth action, lead changes, ejection - there was something for everyone. In a strange twist, it was the Sacramento Kings that held their composure on their way to a 44-point quarter.
The fourth quarter was much of the same. The Kings built on their 103-87 third quarter lead, sending the Suns to their eighth consecutive loss.
Cousins led the way with 32 points on 11-of-15 shooting and 9-of-11 from the line. He added nine rebounds in just 27 minutes of action.
Marco Belinelli posted his second straight strong game, building on his 28-point night against the 76ers with 19 points on 6-for-10 shooting against the Suns.
The Kings point guards pushed the tempo and controlled the game. Rajon Rondo finished with 15 points and 15 assists, while Darren Collison blew up in the second half, scoring 19 of his 21 points after the break.
Rudy Gay shook off a slow start to score 16 points and Omri Casspi added 13 points and seven rebounds in the big win.
Six different Suns scored in double-figure, led by Brandon Knight’s 23-point performance. Rookie Devin Booker impressed with 21 points on 6-of-10 shooting and TJ Warren added 19 in defeat.
Phoenix had no answer for Cousins. The All-Star big lit the Suns up for 32 points and nine rebounds while carrying his team to victory.
The third quarter was crazy. The Kings outscored the Suns 44-34 during the wild 12 minutes, hitting 70.8 percent of their shots. Sacramento hit the Suns hard and they couldn’t recover.
Rookie Willie Cauley-Stein made his return after missing 12 straight, playing five minutes off the Kings bench. Cauley-Stein scored four points and grabbed five rebounds in his first game back in nearly a month. Eric Moreland (left foot) and Duje Dukan (right tibial bone contusion) remain out for the Kings.
The Kings travel to Oklahoma City on Monday to face off with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the rest of the Thunder. They return to the court against the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday in game two of a back-to-back.