SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings needed that.
Coming into Monday night, the Kings had dropped four straight and were spiraling down the drain. To compound matters, All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins couldn’t go and the Kings entered the night just 1-7 without their anchor in the middle.
Without Cousins’ 27 points per game, the Kings needed someone to step up. Rudy Gay proved to be the catalyst, but every player that stepped on the floor added something. The result was a 111-104 win over the Milwaukee Bucks.
“We needed it bad, we’re in a little bit of a slump and it’s always good to get a win and get your mojo back,” Darren Collison said. “I thought we were moving the ball. Everyone felt involved.”
Gay finished the night with 32 points, six assists and nine rebounds as George Karl ran the Kings offense through his starting small forward all night long.
[RECAP: Instant Replay: Gay buries Bucks, Kings end losing streak]
“DeMarcus being out had a lot to do with it,” Gay said. “Obviously he’s been carrying us for the most part of the season. We just had to step up, man. When guys go down, not just him, Ben (McLemore) was out, guys have to step up.”
McLemore missed the first game of his career due to a sprained right wrist, snapping the NBA’s second-longest current games played streak at 211 straight contests. With McLemore down, Karl turned a struggling Marco Belinelli for a lift.
Belinelli came into the night just 5-for-28 (17.9 percent) from behind the arc over his previous nine games.The veteran wing started slowly, missing his first six 3-point attempts. But he rebounded to score 10 of his his 18 points in the final frame, including two huge 3-pointers late, as the Kings pulled away.
“I’m going to keep shooting,” Belinelli said. “I’m not worried about my shooting. I know that I didn’t shoot well the last couple of weeks or month, but I’m going to keep shooting. That’s what I do.”
With Belinelli off the mark early, he turned to passing the ball. He finished the night with six of the Kings' 21 assists and more importantly, he helped his team pick up a much needed W.
In a strange reversal of roles, it was Belinelli’s backcourt mate that hit the big shots against the Bucks. Rajon Rondo caught fire from downtown, hitting all four of his 3-balls on his way to 19 points.
[WATCH: Highlights: Gay steps up, Kings down Bucks without Cousins again]
“Getting Rondo to make four 3s is a big plus for us,” Karl said. “If he didn’t step on the line, it would have been five. I don’t know how many games Rondo had 5-for-5.”
Gay, Rondo and Belinelli led the team in scoring, but it was a team effort overall. Darren Collison came off the bench to drop in 14 points in 22 minutes. The veteran guard aggressively looked for his shot, which is exactly what the Kings needed with Cousins out.
Omri Casspi added 13 points and five rebounds off the bench. his 3-pointer with 3:34 remaining pushed the Kings lead to eight at 99-91, all but ending the Bucks threat.
HITTING THE GLASS
Cousins isn’t just the Kings leading scorer, he’s their leading rebounder as well. With the big in street clothes, Karl started Kosta Koufos at the center position and he did his best to keep an athletic Bucks team off the boards.
Koufos finished the night with 11 rebounds, including five on the offensive side of the ball. Rookie Willie Cauley-Stein added 10, Gay finished with nine and Quincy Acy ripped down another eight off the Kings bench.
Overall, Sacramento pounded Milwaukee on the boards, out-rebounding their opponent 53-37.
Cousins was in the locker room following the game and looked much better than he did Saturday evening in Memphis after 7-footer Marc Gasol rolled up his left ankle. The Kings will take a cautious approach with their star center, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see him in uniform when the Chicago Bulls roll through town.
McLemore has a similar prognosis. The 22-year-old wing was in the locker room in pregame wearing a brace on his right wrist. He jammed the joint running into a player in the Memphis game, and he too is listed as day-to-day. He was not at all happy to miss his first game and vowed to be back on the court as soon as possible.
“We go home happy tonight,” Karl said following the win. “We needed to stop the bleeding a little bit. Now, we can take a day of rest and hopefully Cuz and Ben can get healthy.”
It’s a long season, but the Kings have put themselves in a precarious spot in the standings. They need all hands on deck if they are going to pick up a game or two in the standings before the All-Star break hits later this month.