Credit: Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE

Cousins’ Big Night Not Enough Against Nash and Suns

Just an all-around sloppy game played by the Kings. No fluidity, poor execution on both ends, and they were taken advantage by the Suns for the third time this season. Sacramento dug itself a double-digit hole early but managed to climb back with a solid spurt in the third quarter. However, the Kings just could not get the stops. Phoenix frequently beat the Kings down the court, and in the halfcourt set, Steve Nash was his typical orchestrating self. The Suns grabbed the 109-100 win as they fight for a spot in the playoffs.

DMC’S CAREER NIGHT – DeMarcus Cousins (38 MIN, 41 PTS, 16-25 FG, 9-14 FT, 12 REB, 2 AST, 2 TO, 2 STL, 1 BLK) was the Kings offense. Anyone who’s ever been upset about Cousins not getting enough touches certainly had nothing to complain about Tuesday. Seemingly every possession went through Cousins, and rightfully so. The Kings big man was a load the Suns couldn’t handle. Marcin Gortat did a solid job, but he fell into foul trouble. And DeMarcus absolutely abused his backup, Robin Lopez. Great spin moves, nice touch around the basket, solid perimeter shooting in the first half. It was a shame Cousins couldn’t really get a running mate because the way he was playing should have been rewarded with a victory.

2ND UNIT STRUGGLES – The Kings bench, which enjoyed a strong stretch of basketball a few weeks ago, has completely flopped as of late, and the porous run continued against Phoenix. Terrence Williams (31 MIN, 16 PTS, 7-10 FG, 6 AST, 5 REB, 2 BLK) was the lone exception, as the newbie was terrific offensively off the bench. But aside from T-Will, BRUTAL. Chuck Hayes (28 MIN, 2 PTS, 1-7 FG, 7 REB, 2 TO, 2 STL) continues to look out of place. What was the point of his presence on the court for nearly all the fourth quarter? Again, Hayes was the worst Kings player in plus/minus with a -13. Now it’s not a stat to swear by, but it’s becoming quite the trend. Jimmer (13 MIN, 0 PTS, 0-6 FG) stayed aggressive with the shot, but that wasn’t a good thing against the Suns, as the rook couldn’t find the net. Travis Outlaw (1-3 FG, 4 PTS) played an uninspired 18 minutes and was beaten multiple times defensively. With John Salmons and Marcus Thornton (sending Donte Greene to the starting lineup) missing, you expect some drop off, but the bench’s complete disappearance has made life extremely difficult on Sacramento.

ISAIAH VS. THE LEGEND – A rookie, second-round pick taking on one of the greatest point guards in NBA history. Clear mismatch, right? Not a chance. Isaiah Thomas (39 MIN, 25 PTS, 8-13 FG, 8-11 FT, 7 AST, 3 REB, 3 TO) was a standout performer. Zeke went right at Nash and the Suns defense, exploding to the rim and making a number of tough pull up jumpers. Defensively, he did his best on Nash, using quick feet to stay in front. Unfortunately, Nash isn’t deterred so easily. Thomas forced Nash into some tough long jumpers, but the former MVP makes those look easy. And the Suns, as they’ve been known to do, worked the pick-and-roll effectively. Nash may have outplayed the Kings rookie, but the gap wasn’t as wide as you might think.

OTHER OBSERVATIONS – The Kings starting forwards, Jason Thompson and Greene, combined to play 30 minutes, contribute two points and commit eight fouls. Yikes … Tyreke Evans (33 MIN, 8 PTS, 4-13 FG, 6 REB, 4 AST, 2 TO) did not have a good game. Nearly every offensive move he took, from dribble drives to jumpers, was forced … Cousins and Thomas attempted 25 of the Kings 32 free throws. The team connected on just 65.6 percent from the line … Sacramento also made just 1-of-10 from downtown.