Balanced Kings blast struggling CelticsBy The Sports Xchange | The SportsXchange – Mon, Dec 31, 2012 1:20 AM EST
SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings certainly are not a juggernaut. However, they are showing a combination of unselfish play, ball movement and accurate marksmanship that is a recipe for success. The Kings had six players score in double figures, and they used an assortment of player combinations to outscore the struggling Boston Celtics and take a 118-96 victory Sunday night before 15,305 at the Sleep Train Arena. The Kings (11-19) won their third straight home game, while the Celtics (14-16) lost their third consecutive road game. Sacramento scrapped its way to a 56-38 advantage on points in the paint while also creating a large disparity in field-goal percentage. The Kings hit 53.7 percent of their shots while limiting the Celtics to 41.9 percent success from the floor. Isaiah Thomas scored a game-high 27 points for the Kings, and John Salmons added 23. Six-foot-11 power forward Jason Thompson scored a season-high 20 points. Center DeMarcus Cousins recorded the first triple-double of his career with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. "I kind of had an idea I was close," he said of the triple-double, "so I thought I could try for 15 (assists)." Sacramento coach Keith Smart has seen his team move the ball at an impressive rate, and the Kings are being rewarded by making open shots. "It's just our spacing and moving the ball," Salmons said. "We've been stressing that in practice. Coach has been trying to run different (sets) so we can get that style of play. When we make shots, it makes it easier for Cousins. That's why he was able to pick up 10 assists." The Kings made 10 of 20 3-point attempts, and they had 28 assists. Sacramento is averaging 28 assists in its past four games. Smart said, "It was another good night of passing the basketball, and that makes a world of difference. When you pass it, the ball gets to the guys who can make shots." The Kings struggled to shoot accurately much of the season, but they improved to 5-1 when shooting 50 percent or better. Boston, which lost 101-83 to the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night in Oakland, appeared to be a step slow at each end. "Defensively, we've been bad the whole trip besides the one effort in Brooklyn where we beat them," he said. "I've got to figure out the right guys who want to do it every night. Number one, we've just got to guard the ball better. Keep the ball in front of us." Small forward Paul Pierce and shooting guard Jason Terry each scored 20 points to lead the Celtics. Kevin Garnett and Jeff Green added 16 apiece. Rajon Rondo returned to action for the Celtics after missing Saturday night's game with a bruised right thigh and hip. He shot 1-for-6 and finished with two points and 10 assists, and he was largely ineffective on defense. The Kings grabbed control of the game in the third quarter, taking an 11-point lead into the final period. The fourth quarter was a 3-point fest for the Kings. Sacramento lost the service of Marcus Thornton midway through the third quarter. He made a 3-point shot but sprained his left ankle when he landed on Terry's foot. Thornton was helped to the locker room and did not return. NOTES: Garnett entered the night ranked ninth all-time in minutes played in NBA history with 46,624. Garnett, including his time with Minnesota, recently passed Boston Hall of Famers John Havlicek and Robert Parish. Eighth on the list is Gary Payton at 47,117. ... Kings guards Tyreke Evans and Aaron Brooks each missed the game. Evans sat out for the 11th time this season due to a sore left knee, while Brooks missed his first game with an ankle injury. ... Kings coach Keith Smart understands fans and the media may question his substitutions. "It depends on what I think we need on the floor during a given time. We may be at a time in the game when I think we need defense instead of offense. Others may disagree." ... Sacramento plays the Pistons in Detroit on Tuesday. Boston plays at home against the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday.
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