Kelley L Cox/US Presswire
Paul Pierce and the Celtics didn't like the looks of what they saw on the floor Friday in Sacramento.SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Rapid reaction after the Sacramento Kings defeated the Boston Celtics 120-95 Friday night at Power Balance Pavilion:
HOW THE GAME WAS LOST
Marcus Thornton erupted for a game-high 36 points on 13-of-24 shooting with five steals, four assists and four rebounds over 45 minutes. Jason Thompson added 21 points and 15 rebounds, while DeMarcus Cousins chipped in 20 points and seven boards for the Kings. Ray Allen scored a team-high 26 points on 9-of-16 shooting (5-of-10 beyond the arc) for Boston, while Paul Pierce overcame some early shooting woes to chip in 19 points (but was a minus-24 overall for the game, illustrating just how much the C's starters struggled on this night).
The Celtics survived a somewhat ugly first half, giving up 30 points in the paint and 18 fastbreak points, but managed to trim as much as an 11-point deficit to a single point (52-51) at the intermission. But evidently the team didn't pack its defense when departing San Francisco. The Kings erupted for a ridiculous 41-point third quarter, scoring the first 14 points of the second half. The only thing that broke up the shutout was a technical foul on Cousins, who was a little too emphatic after outworking Kevin Garnett and Pierce for a putback. Boston switched to a 2-3 zone and trapped Cousins, temporarily stopping the bleeding, only for the Kings to start finding the seams to rip apart both the zone and the game. Jason Thompson scored eight consecutive points for the Kings at one point, hitting a pair of trifectas and a hook shot as the lead went from nine to 21 in a hurry.
BOLD PLAY OF THE GAME
Four Kings starters -- Cousins, Thompson, Thornton and Isaiah Thomas -- combined to connect on 14 of 20 shots (70 percent) and make all 10 free throws they attempted as part of the third-quarter eruption. Sacramento thrived in transition and couldn't be stopped going at the rim (either getting buckets or getting to the charity stripe).
ADDING INJURY TO INSULT
Pierce suffered a mild right ankle sprain and departed the game with 6:24 remaining (as all the starters did when Celtics coach Doc Rivers waived the white flag with his team down 20 and a back-to-back looming Saturday in Denver). Pierce removed his shoe on the bench and got some attention from team trainer Ed Lacerte before leaving for the locker room.
WHAT IT MEANS
Rivers implored his team not to relax now that the trade deadline has passed. And what did the Celtics do? They seemingly took their foot off the accelerator after a strong start to this road trip, not mustering any energy against a Sacramento team that going was coming off three straight losses (including a 26-point defeat to the Golden State team Boston had beaten two days earlier). The Celtics don't have much time to lick their wounds, traveling back one time zone in advance of a game with the Nuggets on Saturday night.