The Sacramento Kings have not had much to cheer about in a
pedestrian 26-48 season, but in their 102-97 victory Monday night
over the New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center, they
"bludgeoned" the Pelicans, holding a 47-30 advantage on the boards
and outscoring the Pelicans 22-4 on second-chance points.
On the offensive glass, they embarrassed the Pelicans, 15-3.
"We dominated," said Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, who tied his
season high with 35 points, including a reverse scoop with 1:05
left, and also grabbed a team-high 14 rebounds. "We did a good job
on the boards tonight. That was one of our key points going into the
game. Whichever team controlled the boards would be the victor."
Sacramento coach Mike Malone said in an otherwise forgettable
season, the Kings have proven themselves to be one of the NBA's best
rebounding teams. That was on display Monday night.
"When you can dominate the glass like that, you're going to give
yourself a chance every night," Malone said. "We find a way to do
that most nights. We bludgeoned them on the glass."
It didn't hurt Sacramento that rookie point guard Ray McCallum,
playing for the injured Isaiah Thomas, scored 10 of his career-high
22 points in the fourth quarter, recording 10 assists against only
one turnover in 44 minutes. In the Kings' 103-100 road loss to
Dallas on Saturday, McCallum became the first NBA player this season
to play all 48 minutes.
"I have a great opportunity to go out there and play, and I'm trying
to make the most of it," McCallum said. "Being a rookie playing
against great players, you can't be out there turning the ball over.
You got to be able to take care of the ball and make sure you get a
shot every possession."
McCallum caught fire in the final period, hitting five jumpers,
including four of five in a 2:37 span, to give Sacramento a 95-87
lead with 3:49 left. The Pelicans (32-42) got within 97-93 with 1:21
left, but Cousins drove in from the left baseline past center Jeff
Withey and hit a reverse layup for a 99-93 lead.
The Kings also got 22 points from forward Rudy Gay. New Orleans was
led by guard Anthony Morrow with 23 points and forward Anthony Davis
with 22, but they had no answer for Cousins or the Kings' board
"They outrebounded us by 17 and they had 15 offensive rebounds,"
Pelicans coach Monty Williams said. "We just did not have a great
level of sustained effort tonight. We didn't have the scrappiness
that we have been playing with. They wanted the ball more than we
did on shots."
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The Pelicans closed within 84-83 on a four-point play by Morrow and
a floating jumper in the lane, but Sacramento scored seven straight — a 3-pointer by Gay and back-to-back jumpers by McCallum — to
lead 91-83 with 5:51 left.
Sacramento forward Reggie Evans was ejected in the third quarter for
committing a flagrant-2 foul when he whacked Davis in the head with
his left elbow on a drive to the basket. Davis made both free throws
and Morrow followed with a 3-pointer on the same trip. Evans went to
the showers with 12 rebounds in 23 minutes.
Malone said Cousins, who was snubbed as a Western Conference
All-Star, is out to prove something the rest of the season.
"Tonight is another example of why to me he's the best big man in
the NBA," Malone said. "That's no disrespect to anybody. That's no
disrespect to Anthony Davis. But you look at his numbers, and even
against this team, and he's been a dominant force the whole season.
His will to win was infectious."
NOTES: Pelicans PF Anthony Davis, who missed most of the last two
games with a left ankle injury, returned against the Kings. Davis
threw a scare into the Pelicans when he played only four minutes in
a 102-95 victory over the Jazz on Friday. ... Coach Monty Williams
said he gave no thought to holding Davis out for the final nine
games of the season. "He wants to play," Williams said. "With all
the guys we have out, I think he kind of feels like he needs to be
out there leading his team." ... In 13 previous starts, G Tyreke
Evans averaged 20.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 6.6 assists per game.
Williams says the 6-foot-6 Evans is best suited to playing shooting
guard and occasionally playing the point, as opposed to playing
small forward. ... Sacramento PG Isaiah Thomas was sidelined with a
right quad bruise. Rookie Ray McCallum, who played 48 minutes in a
103-100 loss to Dallas on Saturday, started in his place.
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