Nothing like the return of DeMarcus Cousins to make everything feel better. Riding a six-game losing streak, the Sacramento Kings welcomed back their man in the middle as they hosted the Chicago Bulls on Monday. Right from the onset, there was a different feel in Sleep Train Arena. Players fell back into familiar roles, Cousins showed no ill effects and the Bulls couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn. The Kings held Chicago to a meager 28.2 percent shooting mark, a Sacramento franchise record. In a chippy game full of emotion, the Kings offense blew the Bulls out, registering a 99-70 victory.
THE MANY SIDES OF DEMARCUS – The Kings have missed DeMarcus Cousins (34 MIN, 25 PTS, 8-15 FG, 9-15 FT, 16 REB, 4 AST, 4 TO, 1 BLK) desperately, and fans were treated to every side of the big man’s game against Chicago. There was the low-post domination, and then the foolish attempts to play point guard. There was the rebound vacuuming, and then the constant back-and-forth with referees. The spirited defense, and the altercations with opponents — Jimmy Butler joined the mix, and Cousins and Dunleavy continued their ongoing feud with multiple incidents that had Cousins teetering on implosion. But that’s our boy, and you gotta accept him. Cousins allowed Isaiah Thomas (31 MIN, 19 PTS, 7-9 FG, 5-6 FT, 3 REB, 3 AST, 2 TO) to relax and play much more efficiently. The Kings big three fell right back in sync, sharing and choosing times to attack. Sacramento benefited big time, and Cousins looked great on his bum ankle, moving well and finishing with power.
KINGS DEFENSE REIGNS – There’s no doubt that Chicago had an awful shooting night. But you can’t minimize the effort that the Kings put in on the defensive side of the ball. It was a one-through-five effort with everyone performing. Isaiah pressured the ball and closed out on shooters. The Kings got great work from their bigs, who held Chicago to just 14 points in the paint. The Bulls managed just 12 points in the first quarter and 13 in the fourth, as the Kings shot out of the gate and finished strong.
QUINCY ACY, THE ENERGIZER – It’s about time Quincy Acy (23 MIN, 9 PTS, 3-4 FG, 2-2 FT, 1-1 3FG, 6 REB, 2 STL, 1 AST) gets some headlines. Against the Bulls, Quincy was a difference maker. With Jason Thompson saddled with early foul trouble, Acy stepped in and was electric. His defensive pressure was a big reason Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson combined to go 8-of-26 from the floor. There was also the diving for loose balls, the buzzer-beating three-pointer in the first quarter, the crafty finishes around the basket, the quick hands to disrupt ball-handlers, the offensive boards to create more scoring opportunities. Acy did a little bit of everything. The man knows his role and is quickly becoming a fan favorite in Sacramento. Such an underrated piece of the Rudy Gay trade.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS – Coach Michael Malone read a page from the book of Keith Smart, playing Ray McCallum (6 MIN, 0-2 FG, 1 AST, 1 TO) off the bench in the first half and Jimmer Fredette in the second. Needless to say, advantage Jimmer. Fredette (11 MIN, 11 PTS, 5-5 FG, 4 AST, 2 STL, 2 TO) checked in at the end of the third quarter with the Kings up 11. From there, it was basically Fredette’s game. He took over offensively, showing an especially strong bond with Cousins. The two worked the pick-and-roll beautifully, and Fredette was a joy to watch. After nearly being decapitated by a D.J. Augustin save attempt, Fredette dropped the dagger, a three-pointer that ignited the crowd. He made it so Isaiah and Rudy Gay (25 MIN, 14 PTS, 6-12 FG, 6 REB, 2 STL, 1 BLK, 6 TO) got extended rest … Joakim Noah’s ejection had an added bonus: it seemed to calm Cousins down. DMC was getting close to a second technical of his own but the ejection of Noah probably made Cousins think twice before blowing his top … The Derrick Williams dunk attempt is OK if you make it, but if you miss, it becomes tacky and unsportsmanlike. As Coach Malone said in the postgame, no ill intent from D-Will, but it’s not a good look to disrespect the game and the other team. Just rip home a clean dunk … The Kings shot 52.2 percent from the field with just two makes from downtown. Isaiah didn’t attempt a single three-pointer after averaging more than seven with Cousins absent … Sacramento’s main blemish was the 22 turnovers.