Kings new “Big 3” holds off pesky Lakers


Apr 2, 2014; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) drives in against Los Angeles Lakers forward Jordan Hill (27) during the third quarter at Sleep Train Arena. The Sacramento Kings defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 107-102. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The teams may stink and some of the key players may be out, but there’s always some extra fire when the Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Lakers match up. A sold-out, spirited crowd was on hand at Sleep Train Arena for another installment of the bitter rivalry, and those 17,317 were not treated to a display of quality basketball. But in the end, Kings fans didn’t care. Sacramento’s “Big 3” (with one substitution) clearly held the talent advantage, and while a late Lakers run put the home crowd on edge, the Kings held on for a 107-102 victory.

MCCALLUM’S ASCENSION CONTINUES — We keep saying Ray McCallum gets better every game and the numbers back that up. Well, he’s going to have a hard time besting his stats from Wednesday. McCallum (46 MIN, 27 PTS, 12-22 FG, 4 REB, 5 AST, 3 TO) started again at point guard for the Kings, and his development continued on the upswing. The confidence is just oozing from Sacramento’s rookie, and it’s a beautiful thing to witness. McCallum is still a pass-first guard and tries to probe the defense to create for others. But as was again seen against the Lakers, he recognizes when he has openings and goes into attack-mode for substantial stretches. McCallum took over the second quarter, scoring 11 points on a variety of drives, short pull-ups and jumpers off the curl. McCallum has taken the keys to the Kings and kept them moving forward, a really impressive feat for a rookie who hadn’t even been getting court time a month ago.

Apr 2, 2014; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings forward Rudy Gay (8) dunks the ball against the Los Angeles Lakers during the second quarter at Sleep Train Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

RUDY GAY, THE CLOSER — Who did the Kings call on to close out the victory on Wednesday? None other than offensive dynamo Rudy Gay. Last time the Lakers were in town, Sacramento crumbled and watched the Lakers rally back for the win. Gay (43 MIN, 31 PTS, 12-24 FG, 6-7 FT, 5 REB, 4 AST, 2 STL, 2 TO) was having none of that. He and Nick Young engaged in a head-to-head battle of which Young lost decisively. Gay scored on his typical array of impressive jumpers, backing down and rising up over helpless Lakers defenders to secure the win. He scored 20 points in the second half, including nine in the final frame.

COUSINS STRONG IN LIMITED TIME — It was a foul trouble game for DeMarcus Cousins, who only saw 21 minutes as a result. But the big fella made sure his time on the floor was felt. His demeanor was off — his dislike for the calls was easy to see and he had a noted verbal exchange with Rudy Gay for a missed defensive assignment. However, Cousins scored an efficient 20 points on 14 shots and ripped 10 boards to complete the double-double. He wanted the ball down the stretch and took it right at Jordan Hill in the paint. It wasn’t DMC’s most impressive performance, but he found a way to impact the game.

OTHER OBSERVATIONS — The Kings held Bollywood Night at Sleep Train, which featured colorful shirts on every seat-back and Vivek Ranadive dancing to his daughter’s halftime performance … Jason Thompson (23 MIN, 2 PTS, 12 REB, 3 AST, 3 STL, 3 BLK) did a solid job with the added time he saw due to Cousins’ foul trouble. JT was particularly opportunistic on the defensive end … Travis Outlaw (32 MIN, 11 PTS, 3-8 FG, 2-4 3FG, 7 REB, 2 AST) is shooting with confidence, which surprisingly isn’t a bad thing for Kings fans. He’s not forcing it and even used his hot hand to draw the defense on a pretty underneath dish to Rudy Gay … Ben McLemore (45 MIN, 12 PTS, 5-11 FG, 1-4 3FG, 4 REB, 1 STL) started well but seemed to fade late. He took a few rushed jumpers out of rhythm that brought down his shooting line. He deserves some credit for his relentless motor on defense; chasing the Lakers shooters is not an easy task and McLemore was busy … The Lakers shot just 38.5 percent from the floor but made 12-of-28 from downtown to stay in the game … Sacramento committed just eight turnovers.