Sacramento, CA - The Kings have plenty reason to celebrate their last season in Arco Arena. They have celebrated the first of six Legends Nights honoring former players that made an impact on the team. Last night, Sacramento welcomed back TNT Analyst Chris Webber and former point guard Mike Bibby. Together they reminisced about their time in a Kings uniform where they played in front of a sellout crowd every night despite not winning a NBA Championship.
But no worries because the new and improved team put on a show tonight against a Chicago Bulls team without both starters, Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol. Sacramento handed the Bulls their first loss on the road this season snapping a six-game winning streak on the road. The Kings 103-88 win improved them to 7-5 their best start since the 2006-07 season. In a rare nationally televised game, Sacramento did not disappoint.
"I don't care if we're on TNT or the Home Shopping Network," said head coach Michael Malone. "We needed to get back to playing Kings basketball, which is defending, sharing the ball, and valuing the ball. We did a great job of that tonight."
Sacramento outscored Chicago 22-7 in the final eight minutes. DeMarcus Cousins had 22 points and 14 rebounds despite having five fouls. Rudy Gay added 20 points and Darren Collison finished with 17 points and a season-high 12 assists. The Kings went on a 11-1 run in the third when Joaquin Noah threw a tantrum toward the bench after being called for a foul after battling for a rebound along with Cousins.
"I think that was a big part of the swing, and you try to manage that as best as you can," head coach Tom Thibodeau said regarding foul trouble. "So, we're going to have to correct that."
"I think frustration is part of the game," said Noah. "You just got to be able to control your emotions the best way possible. I'm an emotional player but I want to win the game so I just have to be smarter, learn from my mistakes, and keep it moving."
The legends of the future are making a name for themselves early with sharing the ball. Credit Collison for recording his second straight double-double and getting the offense involved early. He had 23 assists and only one turnover in his past two games. Collision also recorded six rebounds, one steal and one block.
"We really didn't want to give this one away, we've done that three times before," Collison said. "In a way it was good, those losses taught us a lesson. It was a learning experience for us."
Defensively Sacramento is playing a much better game than in years past. The Bulls turned over the ball 15 times and shot 40% from the field. They had a 29-19 lead behind Jimmy Butler who finished with 23 points and eight rebounds but collapsed in the end against a strong defense from the Kings.
"It's really simple," Malone said. "When we defend, we share and we value the ball, then we're a pretty tough team to beat."