Pelicans.com postgame: Kings 114, Pelicans 97
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
There are no easy games in the Western Conference, not when every team in the tougher half of the NBA is capable of performances like what Sacramento produced Tuesday at New Orleans. The Kings, who entered their game against the Pelicans with the second-worst record in the West, had 91 points through three quarters, behind 32 from Rudy Gay. The explosive small forward finished with a career-high-tying 41 points, spearheading a dominant victory for Sacramento (15-25). A day after posting a road win at Memphis, New Orleans (16-25) lost by a sizeable margin on its home floor for one of the rare times this season.
“We just didn’t have a lot of juice collectively from our starters tonight,” Pelicans Coach Monty Williams said, describing his team’s lack of energy. “We certainly didn’t play with any kind of intensity that was comparable to what we did last night (in Memphis). That’s just part of being a pro, understanding that when you have an emotional win like we did last night, and have a quick turnaround (of a back-to-back), you have a chance to win two games in a row. You show up and play hard.”
“We just came out with no energy and no effort,” said Pelicans power forward Anthony Davis (16 points, 6 rebounds, 4-for-12 shooting), who had a rare subpar individual game after a stretch of stellar outings. “It showed. It looked really bad tonight. It looked terrible. It looked like we weren’t even playing basketball, like we were playing pickup or whatever. We did nothing.”
With Ryan Anderson, Jrue Holiday and Jason Smith out for the foreseeable future due to injury and Anthony Morrow (illness) also sidelined Tuesday, the Pelicans suited up just 10 players for the second time in as many days. Although five New Orleans players reached double digits in scoring – led by Tyreke Evans’ 17 points against his former team – Sacramento managed to build a lead of as many as 24 behind Gay and a clicking offensive attack. The Kings shot 51.2 percent from the field and were 9-for-21 from three-point range overall. En route to pouring in 64 first-half points, Sacramento shot a blistering 57.9 percent from the floor. The Kings stretched their 64-56 halftime edge to 91-70 by virtue of a 27-14 third quarter.
Brian Roberts (15 points, 6 assists) and Jeff Withey (14 points, 5 rebounds) were among the New Orleans players who turned in above-average games. Withey, a 7-foot rookie who has played sparingly over the first three months of the season, established career highs in points and minutes (27).
Gay tallied 19 points in the first half, then tacked on 22 more after intermission in one of the best nights of his eight-year NBA career.
“He put on a show tonight,” said Kings first-year coach Michael Malone, a former New Orleans assistant under Williams in 2010-11.