SACRAMENTO -- Due to a balanced effort, the Kings defeated the Wizards 109-86 on Sunday and won back-to-back games for the first time since November.
“I thought offensively we were good in the first half,” Kings coach George Karl said. “Defensively we were really good in the second half, made it an easy game. Probably the best game of getting our hands on balls, deflections, and creating offense off of defense with some aggressive crowding the basketball.”
The coach was impressed by the complete effort as the Kings are now 6-11 under Karl's tutelage since his arrival at the All-Star break.
“I wasn’t expecting an easy win, but we got one, so compliment to them,” Karl added. “Good defense. 21 points, 20 and 16 as the game went on, it seemed like their defense got stronger, better, smarter. I think that’s the best we’ve probably played since I’ve been here, that’s probably the best game we’ve played. Best total game both offensively and defensively.”
DeMarcus Cousins returned to the lineup after missing two games due to a right calf strain and scored 20 points.
“Tonight just shows that we have the ability to do it, we just want to do it on a nightly basis,” Cousins said. “We need to be a consistent team on the defensive end. There’s no more excuses. We know that we can play defense so we have to continue to do it.”
Rudy Gay started again at the four spot and was a model of consistency scoring 26 points -- right on his average over the last ten games and five above his average for the season.
Unlike the loss in Washington where the Kings squandered a 21-point lead and ultimately lost 113-97 on March 14, Sacramento took a 90-70 lead into the final stanza and never looked back.
In similar fashion to Friday’s win over Charlotte in which the Kings limited Al Jefferson to just four points after intermission, Sacramento limited John Wall to just four in the second half.
Additionally, the Kings held Bradley Beal, who led the Wizards with 19 points, to just two points in the second half.
Karl credited Ray McCallum who finished with 13 points, six assists and zero turnovers while covering Wall.
“I thought he (McCallum) kept him in front of him about as well as you can,” Karl said. “I think our pick-and-roll defense, the guys helped a lot, but I think Ray’s individual pride.
"Ray had a pretty good game against Wall in the first half down in Washington and kind of broke loose in the second half. I think Ray in general in the last eight quarters against one of the best point guards in basketball, Ray’s playing pretty good.”
Omri Casspi added 14 points and Ben McLemore contributed 17 - all coming in the second half -- while Derrick Williams added eight points and also added to his highlight reel with a few electric dunks that had the 17,008 fans at Sleep Train Arena rocking.
“All that stuff, seems like we’ve got a little bit of a balance and I think when you play that way you there’s a lot of energy that comes with everybody getting an ability to contribute in a positive way and tonight’s game was,” Karl added. “I mean didn’t have a lot of bad moments, didn’t have any bad lulls, other than we still take some easy basketball plays, and try to play like the Harlem Globetrotters instead of the Sacramento Kings.”
On Sunday, playing like the Sacramento Kings (24-45) was more than enough to jettison an Eastern Conference playoff bound team in the Wizards (40-30).
The Kings played excellent defense, limiting the Wizards to just three 3-pointers while keeping Washington under 90 points.
Sacramento’s offensive attack featured each starter in double figures led by Rudy Gay’s game-high 26 and Sacramento had 24 assists on 40 field goals.
The Kings didn’t give up significant run to the opposition and once again demonstrated the ability to finish and win on their home court.
The Kings' 17 turnovers led to 17 points for the Wizards.
The Kings demonstrated a cohesive effort and played a complete game offensively and defensively.
Perhaps like the Black Uhuru tune, “Sponji Reggae,” Karl’s system is starting to be absorbed by the Kings roster.