SACRAMENTO -- Home is where the heart is.
Backed by a noisy Sacramento crowd, the Kings withstood countless runs by the scrappy Utah Jazz and came away with a 114-106 victory on Tuesday night. The win snapped the team’s three-game losing streak and pushed their record to 8-15 on the season.
Rudy Gay came out hot, scoring 23 points on 10-of-13 shooting from the field. He got out on the break and his teammates found him for flying dunks early and often.
Omri Casspi started for the third consecutive game and brought tremendous energy from the opening tip. The veteran wing finished with 19 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and aggressively defended Gordon Hayward the entire night.
After a series of rough games, DeMarcus Cousins posted a big 23-point, 12-rebound, six-assist night before fouling out in the final minute of action. The big man looked closer to the player Kings have come to expect on a nightly basis, although there were moments when he was clearly laboring.
Rajon Rondo continued his assault on opposing defenses. The four-time All-Star dropped in 17 points and handed out a game-high 13 dimes in 37 minutes of action. He turned the ball over six times, but his highlight reel passes kept the fans on their feet.
George Karl turned to just an eight-man rotation and the group responded. Six of those players finished in double-figures.
Hayward and guard Alec Burks led the Jazz with 18 points each for Utah. Rodney Hood added 17 and Derrick Favors scored 14, and added 10 rebounds in defeat.
Rondo’s passing was electric. When his teammates tried to emulate the league’s leading assist man, they handed the ball over to the Jazz. Rondo finished the night with 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the line and added 13 assists in the win.
At the 2:39 mark of the third quarter, the Kings took a 83-69 lead on a Gay jumper. The Jazz would respond with a 15-3 run to cut the Kings lead to two at 86-84. Sacramento tightened up the defense, recaptured the momentum with a 7-0 run and never looked back.
Willie Cauley-Stein is out for the foreseeable future with an open dislocation of his right index finger.
The Kings return to their home floor on Thursday to take on rookie phenom Kristaps Porzingis, Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks.