Whatever happened during the halftime break in Denver, the Sacramento Kings need to bottle it up and unleash it at every game. In the first half, the Kings looked like they’d again succumb to the high altitude and the Nuggets run-and-gun style. Denver opened up a 13-point lead as Sacramento refused to guard the three-point line and made Evan Fournier look like the second coming of Larry Bird. But after the break, Sacramento flipped the script. Led by their dominating trio, the Kings ran Denver out of the gym with a 39-point third quarter and coasted to a 109-95 victory.
ISAIAH DRIVES THE KINGS – You can’t shoot the ball much more efficiently than Isaiah Thomas (42 MIN, 33 PTS, 12-16 FG, 4-5 3FG, 5-6 FT, 3 REB, 6 AST, 3 STL, 6 TO) did Sunday night in Denver. Isaiah felt his way through the first half, picking his spots and keeping his mates involved. But in the third quarter, Thomas unloaded on the Nuggets. Isaiah let it fly from long range, got to where he wanted on the court and controlled the game. Even with Thomas taking the game over with his own offense, no other Kings suffered — Sacramento maintained an attack that was balanced enough to make Denver pay across the floor.
GAY AGAIN EMERGES LATE – Just like Saturday against Boston, Rudy Gay had a quiet start to the game and missed some easy shots that are usually automatic for him. Yet there he was again, rising to the occasion in the second half to help the Kings to victory. Gay (38 MIN, 32 PTS, 12-23 FG, 8-9 FT, 11 REB, 3 AST, 3 STL, 1 BLK, 1 TO) showed a great ability to draw contact and power through for the and-one, and he also hit some clutch mid-range jumpers down the stretch. As an added bonus, Rudy excelled across the board, pounding the glass, working the ball around and playing opportunistic defense. It’s easy to look past the 23 shots when Gay plays so efficiently.
COUSINS TAKES A STEP FORWARD – DeMarcus Cousins had a poor game against the Celtics, as he was completely taken out of the game emotionally. Against Denver, Cousins (34 MIN, 27 PTS, 8-16 FG, 11-12 FT, 9 REB, 5 AST, 1 STL, 5 BLK, 4 TO) seemed a bit calmer, and the entire Kings team benefited. Rather than bulldoze his way into the paint and search for fouls, Cousins relied on his top-notch offensive skills to beat the Nuggets. Solid moves down low, patience to finish at the rim, a nice touch from the outside, and a willingness to find cutting teammates with terrific passes. Cousins full game was on display, and he also excelled defensively as a rim protector with 5 blocks. About the only thing Cousins got frustrated about was his inability to secure his 10th rebound and a double-double. Other than that, it was an under control Cousins helping the Kings to the win.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS – Reggie Evans (8 MIN, 0-0 FG, 5 REB, 1 STL) made his Kings debut, picking up some second quarter run. He did exactly what you would expect from Evans — crashed the boards on both ends and threw his weight around. Power forward is a cluttered spot for the Kings, but you know what you’ll get when you put in Evans … Outside of the “Big 3,” the Kings scored just 17 points … Ben McLemore (36 MIN, 6 PTS, 2-10 FG, 1-4 3FG, 4 REB, 3 STL, 1 BLK, 2 TO) did some nice things defensively, showing quick hands for some strips, but offensively, he continues to struggle with his shot. It’s a shame because his form is so pretty … Fournier and Randy Foye each scored 27 points for the Nuggets.