Programming note: Kings-Nuggets coverage starts tonight at 5:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California with Kings Pregame Live (territorial restrictions apply)
The Kings are off to a surprising 2-1 start.
1) Before the X’s and O’s, there's the Jimmy’s and Joe’s
Kings coach Michael Malone has forged a strong bond with the Kings mercurial big man and marquee player, DeMarcus Cousins.
“Me and Malone -- we're like this," Cousins said after the Kings' 98-92 win over the Clippers on Sunday. "He’s my guy. We talk about not even just about basketball. We always want to make sure we’re on same page.
"I think we’re both doing a great job of that and the biggest thing, we both hate losing.”
Furthermore, Cousins has forged a relationship with the other All-Star caliber player on the Kings, Rudy Gay. Cousins and Gay were part of Team USA’s Gold Medal effort during the offseason at the FIBA World Cup.
The UConn product opted in at $19.3 million in Sacramento for this season and it’s no secret GM Pete D’Alessandro and the Kings brass would love to lock Gay up.
D’Alessandro told Jim Rome on the broadcaster’s TV show, the former UConn Huskie and Kentucky Wildcat were “Like brothers representing the US… making Sacramento proud.”
Another example of the trust Malone has forged with the roster emerged in his pregame press conference Sunday in Los Angeles.
The second year head coach indicated that he has given the “keys to the car” to veteran point guards Darren Collison and Ramon Sessions as their offensive calls on the floor override his.
After ranking 24th in the NBA last season allowing 103.4 points per game, opponents have yet to reach triple digits this year.
In the fourth quarter on Sunday, the Kings held the Clippers to 18 points, 0 for 12 from the three-point line and 38 percent from the floor overall.
Malone called the effort “inspiring.”
"I love where our defense is at," Malone added. "When you defend like that you give yourself a chance every night.”
3) Special performances
After Rudy Gay went for 40 points (one shy of his career high of 41) in a home win over the Blazers, Cousins exploded with a 34 point, 17 rebound performance against the Clippers.
He scored in an amalgam, potpourri, and cornucopia of ways, from dunks to runners to perimeter jumpers to putbacks, etc.