Sacramento, CA – Down by seventeen points in the first quarter, the Kings rallied back to force overtime. Newly acquired Rudy Gay finally found a rhythm after five games and sparked the offense in the second half to beat the short-handed Miami Heat 108-103.
LeBron James at some point in the first half, injured his groin and that might’ve been what slowed him down in the third quarter. He moved into 29th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list surpassing Larry Bird and Gary Payton. But without key Heat players (Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen and Chris Andersen) who are out injured, James didn’t do enough for the win.
“That was it,” said James. “We stopped scoring. We stopped making shots and then they started making shots. They have a lot talent and that’s what it came down to.”
Sacramento outscored Miami in the second half and never gave up as a unit. Collectively everybody did their part, Demarcus Cousins finished with 27 points and 17 rebounds. Isaiah Thomas scored 22 points, had 11 assists and grabbed seven rebounds. Gay finished with 26 points and lead the scoring frenzy in the third quarter when the Kings outscored Miami 29-18.
Sacramento entered the fourth quarter with a 74-73 lead. James finished with 33 points, eight rebounds and eight assists despite playing through obvious pain.
“I want to give a lot of credit to our second unit,” Kings head coach Michael Malone said. “We started that game by being down 17 points and our starting group didn’t have the best start in the world. The second unit came in and got us back in the game.”
“Cousins in foul trouble, it was tough for us to go out there and really compete the way we wanted to, being that we were in foul trouble,” said Gay. “We found people, we made moves, we made shots and we made the right plays.”
James put the Heat ahead with 2:42 left in the fourth. Cousins made two free throws after a flagrant foul by Mario Chalmers who pushed Cousins down to the ground. Gay then hit a jumper to tie the game 89-89. Thomas threw up a shot and missed, James grabbed the rebound and missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer. The Kings stayed hot heading into overtime. Gay hit a 3-point shot, Thomas hit a pull up jumper and James made a driving layup. But Thomas 3-pointer at the arc pulled Sacramento further away from Miami and gave themselves a 97-91 lead.
But James wasn’t done yet, he hit three consecutive three’s and single-handedly brought the Heat back within 3 points with 13.1 seconds left. James found every angle above the 3-point line to bank in each shot but unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time to finish them off and Miami’s six-game winning streak came to an end.
“We had plenty of opportunities to win it just like they did and they made more plays in the end,” Heat Head Coach Erik Spoelstra said.
“It was a good win for the team,” said Cousins. “Our defense was pretty good down the stretch… Got some big stops, made some big plays and got a good win.”