Monday’s 105-101 win over the Phoenix Suns isn’t defining by any means, but the Kings walked into a visiting arena without DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo, Darren Collison, Omri Casspi and Marco Belinelli and came away victorious.
How does a team missing more than 50 percent of its rotation win a game - be it against the Suns or anyone else? It was a team effort, but one name continues to jump out of the box score.
Seth Curry is carving out a name for himself in the final ten games of the season. It would be one thing if Curry was accumulating empty stats as the Kings cashed in the season, but Sacramento isn’t losing, or they aren’t losing nearly as often as they were before.
“Seth Curry: let’s talk about him tonight,” George Karl told reporters following the game. “Man, he had a highlight game, a highlight show in one game. He was really good.”
The Kings are 6-4 over their last ten and even their losses have been tightly contested for much of the night. Sacramento has played spoiler to teams like Dallas and Washington and they even knocked off Oklahoma City on Saturday night.
“We talked about how we needed to get some passing and Seth jumped up and gave them some solid passes, some spectacular passes,” Karl added “He made some great decisions and that shot at the end was a big time shot. I’m really happy for him; he’s put in a lot of work. I’m sure this is very satisfying to him.”
With Rondo and Collison staying home for the team’s final two games, Curry was the lone player on the roster capable of playing the point guard position. He’s been shooting the lights out from long range of late, but his team needed something different against Phoenix.
“Everybody got an opportunity and so many impacted the game tonight so it was a lot of fun,” Curry said. “I had the ball and I was able to make some plays. I just showed a different part of my game and guys were screening for me, finishing shots, stuff like that so they made me look good.”
By making him look good, Curry means that his teammates helped him convert 15 passes to assists. He wasn’t just a shooter against the Suns, although he finished 8-of-14 from the field. He was a maestro orchestrating a team of musicians.
“Yeah, we’re telepathically talking to each other on the court,” Kosta Koufos said. “No, I’m just kidding. I just set some screens for him, he’s a heck of a player and he can do it all; he can shoot the ball, pass the ball. He’s got a bright future in front of him.”
Curry finished the night one point shy of his career-high of 21. But he set a new career-high with 15 assists and he became the first Kings player since Beno Udrih in 2010 to post up a 20-point, 15-assist game.
“I’m just learning of the fly,” Curry said. “I wanted to get my teammates going, feel the game out, feel the flow of the game and like I said, everybody impacted the game tonight, everybody played well. It was fun.”
Koufos was the beneficiary of plenty of Curry’s pinpoint passes. With Cousins out, he started his 13th game of the season and tied his season-high scoring output of 19 points. The Kings big added eight rebounds and a pair of blocks in his 35 minutes of action.
Karl stuck to a tight rotation, playing just eight players. For the most part, every man he turned to gave him something. Rudy Gay finished the night with 15 points, six rebounds and four blocks. Ben McLemore added 14 points and seven rebounds and rookie Willie Cauley-Stein chipped in 11 points and seven rebounds in the win.
With the victory, the Kings moved to 33-48 on the season, a four game improvement over last year’s record. They finish off their schedule on the road in Houston on Wednesday and again, they will be without the services of Cousins, Rondo, Casspi, Collison and Belinelli.