Kings dominate Wizards in 4th, snap losing streak

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Kings dominate Wizards in 4th, snap losing streak

BOX SCORE
WASHINGTON (AP) -- With the pace off the charts and players driving to the basket at will, the first half of Wednesday night's game between the Sacramento Kings and Washington Wizards looked like an All-Star game preview - minus the All-Stars.Then a few things happened that weren't All-Star-like at all: The Kings started playing some defense, DeMarcus Cousins made the unselfish decision to keep himself on the bench, and the coach of the losing team angrily ripped his players for pursuing "style over substance."Cousins and Tyreke Evans sat the entire fourth quarter while Marcus Thornton, rookie Isaiah Thomas and Chuck Hayes took over, leading Sacramento to a 115-107 win that snapped a six-game losing streak."I was getting ready to put Cousins back in," Kings coach Keith Smart said. "And he said Let Chuck Hayes stay in the game.' That's gigantic for him. Tyreke Evans had a fabulous first half, came out of the game, didn't play in the fourth quarter and simply cheered his teammates on."That's the growth I'm trying for our team to have if we're ever going to have a chance to be good and turn our franchise around."It made for an interesting set of numbers as the game progressed. Evans scored 20 of his 22 points in the first half, and Cousins had 14 of his 16 before halftime as well as 10 of his 16 rebounds. Meanwhile, Thornton scored 18 of his 22 in the second half, and Thomas had 16 of his 18 in the final two quarters. Hayes finished with six points - all in the final 6 12 minutes."Chuck was doing an incredible job out there on the floor," Cousins said. "The group that was out there was going well, so there was no need for me to go in and change it."Right now, it's hard to imagine such examples of team play coming from the Wizards, who made 6-of-16 shots in the fourth quarter. Washington has lost four straight and enters the All-Star break 19 games under .500."Until our team is committed to playing winning basketball - until they're committed to doing that - we're going to be like this team was tonight," coach Randy Wittman said. "There wasn't anything done in that second half to win that game."I know the term has been used - style over substance. We got a guy going in for a layup and does a reverse 360 and misses the whole thing. Crowd oohed and aahed. We didn't get any points out of it. Until we're committed to making winning basketball plays the whole game, it's going to look like that."He kept going, referencing the Wizards' 14 second-half turnovers."Why did we have those turnovers? When I'm double-teamed, I continue to try to do something against the double team," Wittman said. "You're going to turn it over, plain and simple."The player guilty of the failed 360 move was Nick Young, who was 6 of 23 and scored 17 points."I was the only one who did it. I did that in the past. If I make it, everybody's on my side," Young said. "If I miss it, then it's a bad shot. ... I didn't know I had that many shots. I was just trying to get things going for my teammates. They brought me here for that and that's one of the parts of my game."Jordan Crawford scored a season-high 32 points, and John Wall had 21 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds for the Wizards."In that second half, we became selfish and didn't play team defense," Wall said, "and they picked us apart."The Kings said pretty much the same thing about themselves in the first half as the Wizards piled up 68 points at halftime, the most Washington has scored in any half this season. Neither of these losing teams will have a player in the All-Star game in Orlando on Sunday - the only representatives will be former Kentucky teammates Cousins and Wall in the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday - but that didn't keep both sides from getting in the spirit of fast-paced runs that met little resistance."There was no defense out there," Cousins said. "It was terrible."The game included 58 fast break points and 102 points in the paint. The Kings led 104-103 with 3:44 to play, but Thomas scored the next basket to start a game-ending 11-4 run as Sacramento matched its highest point total of the season.Thomas made 8 of his last 12 shots and has scored 78 points since taking the starting point guard spot four games ago, tying Otis Birdsong (1977) for the most points scored by a Kings rookie in his first four starts.The win also gave the Kings an upbeat ending to their six-game road trip."It was important for us to get a win and go home over this break," Smart said, "and not have to come back with all the world on our shoulders."Notes: In this lockout-shortened season, both the Kings (11-22) and Wizards (7-26) hit the break exactly halfway through their 66-game respective schedules. Sacramento improved to 4-17 on the road; Washington fell to 4-13 at home. ... The Wizards had won six in a row at home against the Kings. ... Washington F Jan Vesely was not on the bench at the start of the game because of a stomach virus, but he played in the second half. ... Sacramento F-G John Salmons missed his second straight game with a sore right hip. ... Players have been known to check out mentally in the final game before the All-Star vacation, and both coaches addressed it before the game. "I've been around it when I look in the tunnel and the limos are already there - ready to go to the next spot," Smart said.

Rewind: Kings start fast in Dallas, snap losing streak

Rewind: Kings start fast in Dallas, snap losing streak

Sometime you just have to take care of business. That is exactly what the Sacramento Kings did Wednesday night when they walked into the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas and handed the Mavericks a 120-89 smackdown.

For one of the few times in recent memory, the Kings got off to a quick start. Sacramento took a 26-23 lead into the second quarter. They pushed their advantage to as many as 13 before the break, before settling for a 56-52 lead heading into halftime.

And then the Kings dropped the hammer.

Dallas was on the ropes from the start of the third. The Kings opened the second half with an 11-0 run to get separation and then kept pounding away on the Mavericks to take a 85-64 lead into the fourth where the Mavs waived the white flag early.

“I felt like we were good on both ends,” Omri Casspi told reporters following the game. “We were covering for one another on the defensive end and we were sharing the ball on offense and when we play like this, we’re tough to beat, not just in Dallas, but on any given night.”

The Kings held the Mavs to 41 percent shooting for the game, but in the second half, Dallas hit just 13-of-37 from the field (35.1 percent) and they turned the ball over 10 times.

Sacramento took advantage of the Mavericks miscues, scoring 34 points off of 23 total turnovers for the home team. They ran at every opportunity, outscoring Dallas 33-13 on fastbreak points on their way to the 31-point victory.

“I think we did a good job of playing together, good team defense, good ball movement, everybody got involved, so it was a good team effort all around,” DeMarcus Cousins told CSN California’s Kayte Christensen following the game.

Cousins got it going early, drawing fouls on the injury depleted frontline of the Mavericks. With starting center Andrew Bogut unavailable, Dallas had no choice but to send multiple bodies at Cousins and the big man made them pay.

With all of the attention focused his way, Cousins’ teammates cut to the hoop or found open spots on the perimeter leading to a team-high seven assists for the All-Star center. But he wasn’t the only one sharing the ball.

Six Kings players finished the night with three or more assists as Sacramento totalled 28 dimes in the drubbing. Not only did the Kings move the ball, but they hit their shots as well, finishing the night at 56 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from long range.

Cousins dropped in a team-high 24 points on 10-of-16 shooting. Rudy Gay and Darren Collison each finished the night with 19 and Garrett Temple went a perfect 4-of-4 from behind the arc on his way to 17 points off the bench.

The win snapped Sacramento’s three game losing streak and helped them finish the five-game trip at 2-3. While the Mavericks are a last place team missing plenty of rotational players, there are no easy games for the Kings, who are still in search of an identity on the court.

“Honestly, we’re just focused on playing the best basketball as a team,” Cousins said. “We’ve got our own problems on, we can’t really be focused on the next team, we’ve got to focus on ourselves right now.”

The team flew home following the game, landing in Sacramento overnight. They face the New York Knicks on Friday night at Golden 1 Center before heading back out on the road Saturday to face the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena.

Ben McLemore sighting

It has been an up and down season for plenty of the Kings players as new head coach Dave Joerger searches for the right combination of players. Coming into Wednesday’s game against the Mavericks, fourth-year guard Ben McLemore had been buried on the bench, receiving three straight DNP-CDs and five in Sacramento’s first 20 games.

In an attempt to mix things up, Joerger turned to the 23-year-old guard to start the game, leaving veteran Arron Afflalo out of the rotation for the first time this season.

“It’s just an opportunity, I think he’s been waiting patiently, he’s worked his tail off, he’s kept his confidence,” Joerger said of McLemore. “He’s a pretty good athlete. He deserved this opportunity.”

McLemore struggled to find his rhythm, but still managed to score nine points on 3-of-11 shooting in 21 minutes of action. The high-flying shooting guard is averaging career-lows across the board, posting just 6.6 points and 1.3 rebounds in 15.9 minutes per game this season, but it appears he’s going to get another shot to figure things out on the court.

“Let’s take a look at him with this group for a little bit,” Joerger said of McLemore following the game.
 

Instant Replay: Kings crush depleted Mavs, snap skid

Instant Replay: Kings crush depleted Mavs, snap skid

BOX SCORE

The losing streak is no more. After dropping three straight on the road, the Sacramento Kings took down an injury-riddled Dallas Mavericks team Wednesday night, coming away with the 120-89 victory to improve to 8-13 on the season.

Rudy Gay aggressively attacked the depleted Mavericks frontline. The veteran wing finished the night with 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting and grabbed four steals.

With Gay putting up big numbers, DeMarcus Cousins went into the post and cleaned the glass. The Mavericks double-teamed the Kings’ star center for much of the night and he found open shooters and cutters exploding to the hoop. The two-time All-Star posted 24 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists in the win.

Darren Collison got it going early, scoring eight of his 19 points in the first quarter. The speedy point guard shot 5-for-10 from the field and handed out three assists.

Garrett Temple and Omri Casspi led a strong effort from the second unit. Temple dropped in 17 points in 26 minutes of action off Dave Joerger’s bench, including a perfect 4-of-4 from behind the arc, and Casspi added in 10 points on 5-for-7 shooting.

After starting 18 of Sacramento’s first 20 games, Arron Afflalo received the dreaded DNP-CD as Joerger went with Ben McLemore as the starter alongside Collison in the backcourt and came away with nine points.

Deron Williams got it going in the second half, scoring 20 points on 6-of-8 shooting. The veteran point guard dished out six assists, but turned the ball over four times in the loss.

Wes Matthews turned down an opportunity to join the Kings two summers ago. On Wednesday in Dallas, he blasted Sacramento from long range early, finishing with 16 points on 6-for-10 shooting from deep.

Harrison Barnes added 11 on 5-for-16 shooting.

STANDOUT PERFORMER:
Gay dominated the action. He had a bounce in his step and helped hold Harrison Barnes in check all night.

TURNING POINT:
Sacramento used an 11-0 run in the third quarter to build a 15-point lead and put Dallas away early. The Kings outscored the Mavs 29-12 in the third to take a 85-64 lead into the fourth.

INJURY UPDATE:
The Kings return home with 12 healthy roster players and another three rookies hanging out in Reno with the Bighorns.

WHAT'S NEXT:
After nearly two weeks away, the Kings come home to face the New York Knicks Friday night at Golden 1 Center.