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The Kings passed a heavy test in New Orleans Tuesday night, defeating the Pelicans 99-89.
“Great win,” Kings coach Michael Malone told reporters in New Orleans. “In my short time in Sacramento, that may have been the best win we had.
“The only reason I say that is one, New Orleans is a very good team in their building and you’re without Rudy Gay and Darren Collison,” added Malone, who the Kings in the second quarter when the second year coach was ejected.
Omri Casspi stepped up big starting for Gay, and along with DeMarcus Cousins, led Sacramento (9-5) with 22 points.
“I’m not trying to be someone I’m not,” Casspi told the assembled media in New Orleans. “We played good offensively.”
The Kings also employed lock-down defense, holding New Orleans (7-6), who came into the game averaging 104 points per game, to just 89.
“I’m just so proud of our guys,” added Malone. “I challenged them at halftime. I told them that we got the lead in the first quarter because we defended at a high level.”
The Kings responded by holding the Pelicans to just 40 points in the second half – “Sacramento Kings style by defending on the road,” as Malone described it.
“I think the guys did a good job tonight,“ DeMarcus Cousins said. “Ramon (Sessions) did a great job, Ray (McCallum) did a great job. It was a great team win.”
Cousins himself also did a great job -- maintaining his composure after Malone was ejected -- along the way to recording his 11th double-double of the season.
Total team effort including five Kings in double figures – Cousins and Casspi (22), Sessions (15), McCallum (12) and Ben McLemore (10) plus Nik Stauskas and Carl Landry nearly there with nine apiece.
Sacramento was outscored 33-22 in the second quarter, squandering a nine-point lead and entering intermission tied at 49.
Sacramento’s progress continues.
The Kings captured their ninth win last season on December 27 versus Miami and this season captured win number nine on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.
Sacramento won its fifth road game last season on January 15 against the Timberwolves and accomplished the same feat this season on Tuesday at the Smoothie King Center.