DeMarcus Cousins was the best player on the floor for the Kings Sunday night in Brooklyn. Unfortunately for Michael Malone and company, he might as well have been the only King that played.
Cousins had 28 points, 20 rebounds and four assists on 13-18 shooting from the floor, but the Nets defense locked down the rest of the Kings in the 104-89 victory. The 11 Kings not named DeMarcus Cousins combined to shoot 36% from the field (23-62 overall), and Sacramento didn’t take care of the ball (11 assists to 24 turnovers) while Brooklyn did (25 assists to 10 turnovers).
Rudy Gay (20 points, 9-18 from the field) was the only other King who managed competence against the Nets. He was solid at worst, and even returned from a scary ankle injury in the early 3rd quarter.
Marcus Thornton had 27 points against his former team, including an individual 13-0 run that ended all the Kings hopes early in the fourth quarter.
Isaiah Falls Flat: It was arguably the worst game of the season for Isaiah Thomas, who finished with 10 points, four assists and seven costly turnovers on 3-14 shooting. From halfway through the 3rd quarter to halfway through the 4th quarter (when Thornton eviscerated the Kings defensively), Isaiah was 1-6 from the field. The Nets’ Deron Williams (10 points, seven assists) didn’t make much of a bigger box sheet impact, but he looked far more comfortable than Thomas.
Isaiah’s struggles only backed up the recurring theme for the Kings—when one of the three Kings stars (Cousins, Gay and Isaiah) fall flat, Sacramento’s chances of winning are minimal.
Thornton’s Revenge: Thornton has been exceptional for the Nets since coming over in the February 20th trade that sent Jason Terry (out for the season) and Reggie Evans (three points, nine rebounds) to the Kings. In his first seven games with the Nets, Thornton has scored 20 points three times already – as KHTK’s Jason Ross pointed out, he’d scored 20 points or more in just three of his 47 games with the Kings this season.
It was the classic “revenge game” for Thornton, who looked far more confident and entergetic for Brooklyn than he had in years for the Kings. He torched both of the Kings rookies (Ben McLemore had eight points on 3-4 shooting, while Ray McCallum returned to Earth a bit with a flat five points and three turnovers on 2-8 shooting) defensively. It’s a shame he hadn’t had Sunday’s fire in him all season—Cowbell Kingdom’s Jason Ham put it best.
It’s pretty safe to say that if Marcus Thornton played this way in Sacramento, he wouldn’t be a Net right now.
— James Ham (@James_Ham) March 10, 2014
Depth Disappoints: It’s been a well-established fact for a while, but Sacramento’s lack of depth really showed up again on Sunday.
Jason Thompson (four points, four rebounds) again gave minimal production despite starting and getting 24 minutes. With Carl Landry out for the season, one wonders if Michael Malone will just get completely fed up with Thompson enough just to go with Reggie Evans, Quincy Acy (five minutes, one rebound) and Derrick Williams (eight points, four rebounds) at the power forward spot. While Acy and Evans lack Thompson’s full range of skills, both have the non-stop energy and grit Thompson has lacked—and while Williams has certainly been inconsistent, he’s never quite as invisible as Thompson.
Speaking of depth, the Nets were playing without two key players in Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, both out with injuries. Jason Kidd’s squad also lost Andrei Kirilenko in the third quarter, but the 27 bench points from Thornton pretty much balanced it out for Brooklyn.
The Road Trip Continues: The Kings still have four road games to go on this trip before they return to Sleep Train Arena, and three of the next four opponents (Detroit, Chicago and Minnesota) are challenging for Playoff spots. Only Philadelphia, losers of 16 straight contests, seems a safe win for Sacramento—although the Sixers did win a 113-104 beatdown against the Kings in Sacramento on January 2nd.