SACRAMENTO – The Sacramento Kings are approaching the season one game at a time. And their playoff push began Friday night.
“It’s nice to match our season-high win streak, two games,” head coach Michael Malone noted.
The Kings (12-22) followed their upset against the Portland Trail Blazers with a thorough mincing of the Orlando Magic (10-26), 103-83. Sacramento’s team effort this year has been inconsistent after big wins, but momentum carried over in the satisfying home victory.
“We beat the good teams, but we’ve been unable to beat the teams that have losing records, and tonight I thought we had the right mindset,” Malone added. “We’re not going to play (to) their record.”
The Kings trailed after one quarter 24-18 as the Magic shot 5-of-10 from 3-point range, but Sacramento’s tenacity picked up as the club held the visitors to 16 points in the second period. Without star center Nikola Vucevic, Orlando struggled to compete in the paint and was forced to settle for long jumpers, which resulted in a 33.3 percent shooting accuracy for the game. The Kings connected on more than half their baskets and outrebounded the Magic 54-37.
DeMarcus Cousins improved his All Star consideration with a 24-point, 14-rebound, six-assist and three-steal performance, but he was quick to point to Rudy Gay’s contributions. The forward, who was playing his fourteenth match with the Kings, produced 22 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. More importantly, he focused attention away from Cousins.
“(Gay) helps the team out so much,” Cousins stated. “(He’s) another option offensively, his versatility, his size, he helps us a lot on defense.”
Winning “trap” games is crucial to the Kings’ development, so players can hang their head high despite beating a tank team. Sacramento has a chance to reach unprecedented ground when they host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday afternoon.
Photo Credit: Jose Villegas / Sacbee.com