It was gut check time for the Sacramento Kings in Minnesota on Sunday.
Following the teams worst loss of the season to the Philadelphia 76’ers on March 18th, it was time to see if Sacramento would throw in the towel on it’s remaining games.
That question was answered with an emphatic 32-point victory that included a 21-0 run in the fourth quarter.
The team was led by center Samuel Dalembert and guard Marcus Thornton, which is becoming a recurring theme for Sacramento.
“I can assure everyone that we are not about to just let the season roll over,” said Dalembert. “We still have a chance to have a better season than last year. We still have some games left and we are just going to go for it.”
Dalembert scored 26 points in the victory, one shy of his career high that was set March 18th against Golden State. Over his last five games he is shooting 57% from the field, scoring 18 per game and grabbing 13 boards.
“He’s healthy, he’s got his timing, he’s playing with confidence and his teammates have confidence in him,” said head coach Paul Westphal on Dalembert. “He’s getting consistent minutes. Us being able to start Samuel (Dalembert) and DeMarcus (Cousins) together has really helped both of them.”
The other key to Sundays blow out was Marcus Thornton, who has over used his pleasant surprise status and is now becoming Sacramento’s go-to guy. Thornton was 4 for 5 from three’s where he has shot over 41% over his last five games.
Since Tyreke Evans went down with what appears to be a season ending injury, Thornton has led Sacramento in scoring with 21 a game.
“We had our worst game of the year last game and our guys responded extremely well,” said Westphal. “Marcus (Thornton) could have had a triple-double and Samuel (Dalembert) could have had 30 and 20 if we wanted to chase some stats. But we have a game tomorrow.”
Of course it wouldn’t have been a Sacramento King’s game if at least one thing didn’t go wrong.
Cousins got into a confrontation in the third quarter after getting tangled with Luke Ridnour while setting a screen. Ridnour took exception and shoved Cousins, who pushed back. Minnesota’s Nikola Pekovic stepped in and pushed Cousins out of the way.
When Webster got near the area, Cousins shoved him as well, and referee Bob Delaney tossed Cousins from the game. Cousins finished with three points and one rebound.
Westphal felt that the ejection was not warranted.
“It looked like normal wolfing and shoving after a physical play,” said Westphal. “The kind of thing you see a million times in the NBA.”
It was the second time Cousins has been ejected this season.
“I don’t really understand what happened,” Cousins said. “I got pushed and I pushed back. I shouldn’t have reacted that way.”
Although the playoffs have been out of the picture for quite some time and the cities fear that the team will relocate to Anaheim is slowly becoming a reality.
One thing is for sure, there is no quit in this team.
“We are going to continue to get to know each other out there and build for the future,” said Dalembert.
Sacramento makes their second stop of a five game road trip in Chicago on Monday. Guard Tyreke Evans return remains questionable, however many covering the team feel that he will shut it down and fully heal for next season.