SACRAMENTO -- It was business as usual in Sacramento, or so it seemed on Wednesday, as the Kings’ lackluster offensive effort led to an opening night loss to the Warriors.
However, the Kings got the offense to percolate on Friday night courtesy of Rudy Gay’s prolific 40-point effort, and ultimately bounce back with a 103-94 win over a solid Trail Blazers team.
“It’s huge… We needed this win for our fans for ourselves,” Gay said. “Going on to this road trip we need momentum. We need all the wins we can get.
“I don’t think we stole this one, I think we outplayed them and it shows how good we can be.”
“I’m proud of everyone that played tonight,” coach Michael Malone said. “It was a great, great team win.”
For 48 minutes, Sacramento got it done on the floor and showed a glimpse of the team’s potential which completely changed from the vibe from after Wednesday’s loss.
[HERENDA: Championship theme more sizzle than steak in Sacramento]
THE GOOD: Rudy Gay lifted the Kings to their first regular season victory with his 40-point performace – one shy of his career high.
Darren Collison contributed 17 points, eight assists and eight rebounds. DeMarcus Cousins was just shy of a double-double with 17 points and nine rebounds.
The Kings committed 10 turnovers against the Trail Blazers, which was a vast improvement compared to the 27 against Golden State on Wednesday.
In its first two games of the season, the Kings held their opponents to less than 100 points. Last year Sacramento was 24th in the NBA allowing 103.4 points per game.
Sacramento has done a terrific job defensively against four of the NBA’s top five three-point shooters from last season.
Friday night, Wesley Matthews (5th) was 1-of-7 from three-point range. Damian Lillard (3rd) shot 4-of-8 from downtown, but was 0-for-5 from two-point range.
Wednesday night, Steph Curry (1st) was just 2-of-9 and Klay Thompson (2nd) was 2-of-8 from three-point range.
THE BAD: With an eight-point lead at the 6:41 mark in the third quarter, DeMarcus Cousins picked up a careless loose ball foul – his fourth of the night, which sent him to the bench. He returned with 8:29 remaining in the fourth quarter, and by then the Kings trailed by two points.
Cousins is simply too valuable and cannot afford to pick up fouls that jeopardize his presence on the floor for Sacramento.
Jason Thompson had another poor offensive performance scoring two points in nearly 23 minutes after a similar production night Wednesday with two points in 21 minutes.
THE TAKE: Gay’s comment summed it up best that this win “showed how good this team can be.”
With nine players not in last year’s training camp in Sacramento, the squad’s challenge will be continuing to coalesce and bringing forth the effort and execution they demonstrated at home on Friday.
The road test begins with their first back-to-back of the season facing yet another upper echelon Western Conference team - the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday and Denver on Monday.