Sacramento, CA – In the season opener for both the Kings and Clippers someone had to lose. Unfortunately it was Sacramento that watched Blake Griffin get off to a fast start before the Kings tried to rally in the fourth before falling 111-104 in their home opener.
Both teams tweaked their roster a bit, Sacramento added Rajan Rondo who made his debut at starting point guard finishing with four points, seven rebounds and four assists. Paul Pierce and Lance Stevenson are new additions to Los Angeles.
But it was the Clippers Griffin who lead all scores with a game-high 33 points, four rebounds and four assists. He started off hitting all shots in the first quarter while Chris Paul added 18 points and 11 assists.
“I don’t want to take any credit away from them,” Paul said. “They started making shots and we weren’t getting back in transition but I think the best thing that we did was even when they took the lead we had pull.”
Late in the fourth the Kings close the gap being down by 102-100. Pierce hit a shot with almost 2 minutes remaining to give Los Angeles back the lead. Rudy Gay missed a game-tying shot and DeMarcus Cousins threw the ball away for his eighth turnover with a minutes left in the game.
Sacramento committed 12 of its 17 tunovers in the first half before closing in on a 15-point lead that the Clippers blew before rallying in the fourth quarter. Unable to finish strong for the win, the Kings look to bounce back Friday against the Los Angeles Lakers.
“I liked the flow of the whole game except for the first quarter,” said head coach George Karl. “Seven turnovers, not much space. Once the second unit got us going a little bit I thought we stayed pretty good. They’re just a really good basketball team that knows how to win close games.”
“At first we played terrible,” Cousins said. “The turnovers killed us, especially on my end. We could have done a better job sharing the ball. But that being said, we had a great chance of winning the ballgame.”
The Kings turned the ball over 18 times, leading to 22 points for Los Angels. This was the fifth time in the Sacramento era the Kings and Clippers faced each other in the season opener. The Clippers have won three of the five matchups.
The Clippers defeated the Kings for the fourth straight time overall and sixth consecutive time in Sacramento. The last time the Kings beat the Clippers in Sacramento was on March 19, 2013 (116-101).
DeMarcus Cousins recorded his first double-double of the season with a team-high 32 points and game-high 13 rebounds. Last season, Cousins had 11 games in which he tallied 30 or more points.
“That was great,” said head coach Doc Rivers. “We didn’t play great. We made a lot of turnovers, unforced errors, but it was like a team win. We bring Paul (Pierce) in, he makes a shot. We take him out. We put Austin (Rivers) in, he makes a steal. Come out of a timeout and DJ ( DeAndre Jordan) gets the dunk. That’s how you want to win really. Execution is very important and we did that tonight.”