The Sacramento Kings have a lot in common with the Washington Wizards: dollops of young talent but equal parts inconsistency. Both were on display Wednesday night as the Wizards again squandered a big first half lead before falling to a road-weary Kings team 115-107.
The Kings were in the last of a six-game Eastern swing, and were able to muster just enough defense to pull out their first win of the trip. John Wall’s near triple double (21 points, 11 assists, 9 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks and 5 turnovers) and Jordan Crawford’s hot shooting (32 points on 12-for-19 from the field) weren’t enough, as the Wizards gave up 96 shots (12 above Sacramento’s average, third highest in the league) and 18 offensive rebounds.
Tyreke Evans provided the offense for Sacramento early, pouring in 20 first half points on nine shots and collecting six rebounds. Jordan Crawford kept pace for the Wizards, chalking 21 points on 8-for-12 shooting.
After leading by as much as 13, the Wiz allowed the Kings to claw back to close the half. DeMarcus Cousins and JaVale McGee were showcased on several consecutive possessions for their resepctive teams, with each mercurial center converting on baseline spin moves in the closing minutes. Cousins got the best of the match-up, getting six points and several offensive rebounds in helping the Kings pull to 68-60.
The Kings shot 44 percent, but made 15-of-16 free throws and had nine offensive boards in the half. Cousins accounted for six, along with four on the defensive end.
Washington’s offense stalled (increasingly predictably) in the second half in part because of cold shooting, but also falling victim to Sacramento’s increased defensive pressure. The Kings were able to stay in front of Wall, and Nick Young was every bit as cold as Crawford was hot—finishing the night with six makes on 23 attempts. Meanwhile, the Wiz were unable to get stops on the other end, giving up another four offensive rebounds in the quarter.
McGee, who has had goaltending problems in the past, was whistled for two in the third—along with several near misses. He was also persona non grata on the offensive end, taking only four shots and turning the ball over three times.
The Wizards let the Kings tie it at 78-78 before hitting back-to-back three pointers to provide some breathing room. But the Kings went on an 10-5 run to end the period.
In the fourth quarter things remained close. Jordan Crawford’s third three-pointer of the night gave the Wizards a 101-100 lead with just under six minutes remaining. But Isaiah Thomas continued his impressive performances of late by scoring 16 of his 18 points in the second half, as he and Marcus Thornton (22 points, 18 in the second half) took over the offensive production duties from Evans–who only notched two points after his scorching first half..
The Wizards could not find enough offense late, and were unable to get any closer than 104-103, as Thomas and Thornton made three consecutive baskets to pull away. Chuck Hayes had a pair of backbreaking offensive rebounds in the closing minutes to seal the deal, giving the Kings their 11th win of the season.
The Wizards don’t play again until after the All Star break, when they visit the Milwaukee Bucks next Tuesday. John Wall will compete in the Skills Challenge at the All-Star festivities this weekend.