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The Kings took care of business on Thursday night in a 103-88 victory over the Bulls, who were without Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol due to injury.
Sacramento improved to 7-5 and 4-2 at home, and put together perhaps its most complete effort of the season. But the Kings aren’t satisfied.
“I think obviously we didn’t play a perfect game -- we can’t -- but we’re going to keep on striving to be perfect," Rudy Gay said. "We beat a good team today -- a great team. So it’s definitely a statement game for us."
[RECAP: Gay, Cousins lead Kings past Bulls]
The Kings can expect 20 points from Gay (seven out of 12 games this year) and a double-double from DeMarcus Cousins (nine out of 12 games year), but there were many additional positives for Sacramento Thursday night:
– The Kings allowed just 59 points over the final three quarters
– They held the Bulls to 43 percent from the floor, including 26 percent from 3-point range
– Six players in double figures
– The bench produced with 14 points from Omri Casspi and 10 points from Derrick Williams, who had logged six minutes over his last four games
– The Kings scored 15 fast break points
– They tallied 26 assists to 13 turnovers
In addition to Chis Webber, who served as an analyst for the game, former Sacramento point guard Mike Bibby was in the building to watch the Kings thrive -- especially their current point guard.
Darren Collison scored 17 points to go along with 12 assists and now has 23 assists and just one turnover over the last two games.
That’s the equivalent of loaning your car to a kid to take your daughter out and he brings her home early and the car is full of gas.
“Everybody stepped up and it was a big win for us," Malone said. "Now we’ll close out this homestand 2-1."
Collison’s veteran impact at “winning time” -- recognizing the score, clock, matchup, situation and momentum -- cannot be underestimated.
“It’s a good feeling every time you win in this league," he said. "Against a good Chicago Bulls team that’s been playing good on the road, it is a good feeling.
“But at the same time it feels good that we got back to the basics. We were playing defense, we ran the floor when we needed to, we made the extra pass when we needed to. So we’re getting back to where we are."
Collison has also solidified the confidence of his teammates.
“DC’s been incredible," Cousins said of Collison. "I’d take him into battle any day. He’s got my respect. I love him."
THE GOOD: Darren Collison, who recorded 17 points and 12 assists to just one turnover.
THE BAD: The Kings defense allowed the Bulls to go 5-for-11 from 3-point range, leading to 29 first quarter points.
THE TAKE: This was pretty close to a complete game of execution offensively and defensively for the Kings. If they can sustain it, Sacramento may be for real.
“It was really simple for us," Malone summarized. "When we defend, when we share and we value the ball, then we’re a pretty tough team to beat."
The Kings can only hope that they D, S and V on the road -- defend, share and value the ball -- on their four-game road trip that begins in Minnesota on Saturday.