The Washington Wizards hold the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference. But if you glance behind, there are teams looking to nab their spot. This is the time when teams play their best basketball to finalize their position in the playoffs. However, the Wizards didn't look like a playoff team last night against the Kings.
The Kings played their best basketball of the season unfortunately, they have been eliminated from the playoffs. The Kings recorded their second straight win by blowing out the Wizards 109-86. They had 26 fastbreak points, three shy of its season-high. DeMarcus Cousins returned to the lineup and finished with 20 points. Rudy Gay led all scores with 26 points and and five rebounds.
"Probably are best game of getting our hands on balls, deflections, and creating offense of defense with some aggressive crowding the basketball," said Sacramento's head coach George Karl. "John Wall got lose a little bit, but not a lot. I wasn't expecting an easy win, but we got one, so compliment to them. Good defense."
Washington didn't look like the same team that won five straight before starting its road trip. But the night before, the Wizards lost to the Clippers and last night, collapsed against the Kings who played great defense while shutting down Wall who finished with nine points and eight assists. Bradley Beal lead all scorers for the Wizards with 19 points.
"I wish I could tell you," Wall said when asked about the problems on the road. "We played defense in Utah, but we didn't against the Clippers and tonight as well. We better tomorrow (against Golden State) or we're going to get blown. We didn't play our normal defense and they basically did whatever they wanted. We didn't stick to our game plan and that hurt us."
The Kings gained a 20-point lead in the third quarter and never looked back. For the first time Sacramento looked like a playoff team displaying acrobatic dunks throughout the game getting the crowd on its feet. Gay found Derrick Williams' on a fast break for the one-handed dunk in the first quarter that set the tone for the Kings early. Ben McLemore also got in on the action and had a few outstanding dunks of his own.
"We tried to play like the Harlem Globetrotters instead of the Sacramento Kings," said Karl.
McLemore scored all of his 17 points in the second half while Omri Casspi added 14 points. Cousins had four fouls playing just under 20 minutes and was still dominant on the floor, despite being out two games with a strained right calf. The Kings haven't won back-to-back games since November. Gay playing at the 4-spot has improved his game tremendously and he explains how the spacing has helped his game.
"The shots out there look differently because there is more spacing on the floor and more spacing to drive, not just for me, but for my teammates as well" Gay said. "But at the 4 (power forward) I can be more creative and do more things."
Karl is trying to create a more simpler style of play that will allow players to get open shots. Gay at the power forward position allows him more creativity than at the small forward position. This also helps Cousins on spacing as well. This new idea could be something that helps the team more next season but for now it works. The defense over the last two games has been something the team has been looking for all season.
"Tonight just shows that we have the ability to do it, we want to do it on a nightly basis," Cousins said. "We need to be a consistent team on the defensive end. There's no more excuses. We know that we can play defense so we have to continue to do it."