Whether the Sacramento Kings should be taken seriously is up for discussion. DeMarcus Cousins being the best center in the league? That’s a bit more obvious, as a fantastic double double night from him led to a 98-92 win over the Los Angeles Clippers, handing the title contenders their first loss this season.
Cousins scored 34 points to go with his 17 rebounds, five assists and three blocks in a very impressive performance of his shooting ability around the rim, having more moves in the paint and with his back to the basket than anyone else in the league, maybe except for Al Jefferson. He got plenty of help from Rudy Gay, scoring 25 points and also Darren Collison, scoring 14 against his former team, no longer playing the backup to Chris Paul.
The Clippers shot terribly, 37.5% from the field. It helped the Kings bump up their rebounding numbers, grabbing 46 overall. This wasn’t just because an improved defense from the Kings, but also the same problem we’ve been seeing so far this season from the Clippers: Open shots don’t fall for them, missing 55 of 88 shots and going 9-of-31 from beyond the arc. Griffin was only 6-of-20 from the field, an it’s becoming more and more difficult for the Clippers to do well without a good day from someone who is becoming their best player.
The Clippers lost a 10-point lead in the third quarter as their barrage of 3’s ruined any chance of controlling the tempo or staying with a hold on the game. They were only 2-of-16 from the outside in the second half, and even though they finished with a +11 when it came to turnover margin between the two teams, they failed at two basic things: Stopping the Kings in the paint, even without fast breaks, and hitting open shots. Even J.J. Redick was only 4-of-14 from the field.
This doesn’t make the Clippers any more formidable or noteworthy when it comes to separating the real from the fake when it comes to title contenders. This does put an eye on Cousins when it comes to his reputation and ability as a star in this league, constantly improving as a player, trying to become a leader, and also on the Kings, hoping that this season is the end of their hanging around the bottom of the league, instead competing and winning in a race for the playoffs.