The Sacramento Kings are a team that many around the NBA would consider mentally soft. That reputation didn’t preclude them from showing mental strength at the most important juncture of Saturday night’s 105-98 victory over the Boston Celtics.
Boston rallied from an 11-point deficit early in the fourth quarter to tie the game up at 85-85 with 6:23 remaining. The Celtics had scored 11 consecutive points via an array of shots, from dunks to jumpers to 3-pointers to free throws. The Kings, meanwhile, couldn’t do anything right. They missed five shots and committed two turnovers during Boston’s run.
It was clear to anyone who was watching this game that all of the momentum was in the Celtics’ corner. The Kings had been bent, and now it was time for them to break. That’s at least what most would expect out of this Sacramento team, but the Kings had a different plan.
Sacramento responded to Boston’s run by scoring five consecutive points to jump back on top 90-85 with 5:18 remaining. DeMarcus Cousins began the run with a free throw before Rudy Gay followed up with a jumper and a driving layup.
A five-point advantage doesn’t sound like a lot considering that more than five minutes remained in the game, but that five-point lead must have felt like a 20-point lead for the Kings. They took Boston’s best punch and they popped right back up to throw a punch of their own.
As it turned out, Sacramento’s punch was the most meaningful of the game. The Kings did not relinquish their lead for the remainder of the night and went on to grab a seven-point victory.
Key Box Score Line
Kris Humphries continues to prove that he is the consummate professional. He has done everything the Celtics have asked from him this season, and on Saturday night, that was to be a spot starter in place of Jared Sullinger.
Sullinger missed Saturday night’s game in Sacramento due to a mild concussion that he suffered the night before in Los Angeles. Brad Stevens called on Humphries to join the starting lineup, and he did so in fantastic fashion.
The big man contributed in literally every facet of the game. Humphries scored 19 points on an efficient 9-of-15 shooting. He grabbed a game-high eight rebounds. He blocked a game-high two shots. He tied for the team high in assists with four helpers. He even contributed two steals. The only thing Humphries didn’t do was shoot 3-pointers.
Saturday night’s performance was just another reminder that Humphries can bring the goods when he’s asked to do so. It had been exactly one month since the last time he logged more than 23 minutes of playing time. On Saturday, he played 36, and they were about as productive as anyone could have asked for.
Box Score Nuggets
- Jeff Green attempted a season-high 18 free throws, making 13, en route to a game-high 29 points.
- Both teams scored 28 points in the final quarter.
- The Celtics shot 39.1 percent for the second time in three games. The third game featured a shooting percentage of 39.2 percent.
- Sacramento scored 40 points in the paint compared to Boston's 26.
- Rudy Gay (22 points) and Isaiah Thomas (21 points) led the Kings in scoring.
- Thomas dished out 12 of the game's 35 assists.
- Kris Humphries led the game in rebounding with eight and also contributed 19 points, four assists, two blocks and two steals.
- DeMarcus Cousins fouled out of the game with 13 points and seven rebounds.
- Brad Stevens and Gerald Wallace were both assessed double-technicals in the final minute of the game.
- Humphries and Jerryd Bayless led the Celtics in assists with four apiece.
- Bayless scored 16 points off the bench for Boston.
- Sacramento attempted only nine 3-pointers, making five.
- Sacramento's top two reserves, Derrick Williams and Carl Landry, both scored 10 points while playing 24-plus minutes.
Quote of the Night
The one thing I will say is I'm really proud of the effort that those guys put in. Gerald Wallace played through back spasms the whole game and fought his tail off. All those guys did. All nine guys. We needed all of them just to be in that game, and we were right there with a chance to win against a very talented team. Brad Stevens on the effort of his nine available playersMore quotes >>