SACRAMENTO -- DeMarcus Cousins came out swinging in the first half. Ty Lawson put on the jets in the second and fed Ben McLemore for open looks. Rudy Gay and Darren Collison showed up in the third and fourth and Garrett Temple did just enough to slow Russell Westbrook down the stretch.
In one of their most complete games of the season, the Sacramento Kings used a team effort to come away with a huge 116-101 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday. With the win, Sacramento moved to 6-9 on the season as they attempt to climb out of their early season hole.
“Good professional win,” coach Dave Joerger said following the game. “I thought we came out with the right focus.”
Joerger and his staff have been searching high and low for the right combination of players to compliment Cousins and Gay. When you have a big that can walk in and trounce a strong defensive center like Steven Adams for 36 points and 13 rebounds, it creates mismatches all over the floor. But before Wednesday night against the Thunder, the Kings really hadn’t been able to capitalize on Cousins’ dominant play the way they should.
But this looked like a different club. Cousins beat down the heart of the Thunder defense and then his reinforcements came rushing in to fight alongside him.
“I think the first team is coming out and setting the tone early,” Cousins said following the game. “Second team is coming out with great energy. They’re playing extremely well. Everything’s clicking right now.”
Coming off the bench for the first time this season, Lawson looked energized. He looked like the guard that helped the Denver Nuggets win 57 games just four years ago.
“It’s just good to see him go out there and be himself,” Gay said of the speedy point guard. “I think it’s been awhile since he’s found his niche and I think he’s starting to get there.”
Lawson attacked the Oklahoma City defense, further collapsing the lane and opening up the perimeter for his teammates. His numbers don’t capture his impact on the game, but there is no question his teammates felt the difference.
“He was in his bag tonight,” Cousins said. “If we get that Ty, we’re going to be a tough team to beat.”
McLemore was one of the beneficiaries of strong Lawson’s play. The 23-year-old shooting guard is playing with a confidence that he has rarely shown in his three-plus seasons in the league. His nine-point outburst in the first half help the Kings build a nice lead on the Thunder and kept Sacramento’s offense going while Collison and Gay worked their way into a rhythm.
Once Gay and Collison caught fire, there was very little Westbrook or anyone else in a Thunder uniform could do.
“I think it was just finding our spots, I don’t know - maybe I was more aggressive, I know Darren was more aggressive, I can tell you that,” Gay said.
Gay entered the locker room at half with just two points on 0-for-2 shooting and Collison had hit just 2-of-5 from the field on his way to four points. While Cousins continued to deliver body blows to the middle of the Thunder defense, Gay and Collison went a perfect 6-of-6 in the third, including three makes from behind the arc.
Collison finished the night with 21 points on 7-of-12 shooting and chipped in six assists. Gay added 17 points, nine rebounds and four assists in 34 minutes of action.
Joerger cut his rotation to nine and everyone he turned to delivered something in the win. Matt Barnes went scoreless in 29 minutes, but came away with a team best +17 in the +/- category.
Kosta Koufos added nine points and 10 rebounds in 17 minutes and despite nursing a bruised left knee, Arron Afflalo finished with eight points and four assists.
It was just one game of 82, but the Kings showed flashes of who they would like to be.
“We’re still making some mistakes, we still got room to improve, so I don’t want to get too high, I don’t want to get too low either,” Cousins said. “So just stay on this path and keep building and keep growing.”
The Kings return to Golden 1 Center on Friday night to take on James Harden and the Houston Rockets in the final game of their five-game homestand. They are riding a two-game win streak, but a six-game road trip out East is awaiting them starting Sunday in Brooklyn.