Sacramento Kings coach Michael Malone promised changes after his team was swept in a home-and-home last weekend by the Portland Trail Blazers to push their losing streak to five games.
Change was all around Sleep Train Arena Wednesday night as Marcus Thornton—who lost his starting job to rookie Ben McLemore as part of the changes—erupted for a season-high 24 points off the bench and the Kings blew out the Brooklyn Nets 107-86.
Greivis Vasquez had his first double-double as a King since coming over in an offseason trade with the New Orleans Pelicans, putting up 17 points and 12 assists and Isaiah Thomas continued his strong play off the bench with 19 points, six assists and six rebounds.
Sacramento led by 18 points in the second quarter and by as many as 23 late in the third period before having to hold off a brief Nets rally in the fourth quarter.
McLemore was a non-factor in his first start, going 1-for-8 and scoring just two points. Jason Thompson was also inserted into the starting lineup, replacing Patrick Patterson, and Thompson responded with nine points and a team-high 11 rebounds in 26 minutes. Patterson played 26 minutes off the bench and had eight points and 10 boards.
DeMarcus Cousins didn’t score as much as he had been—he came in averaging 23.5 points per game—but Sacramento didn’t need him to score as much. He had 15 points on 5-of-14 shooting to go with nine boards and three blocked shots in 22 minutes before fouling out.
The Nets, meanwhile, fell to 2-5 and lost their third straight game—not what owner Mikhail Prokhorov had in mind when he opened his checkbook to commit almost $190 million in payroll and luxury taxes to put this team together.
Brook Lopez led the Nets with 16 points and also had nine rebounds. Deron Williams had 13 points to go with seven assists and Shaun Livingston came off the bench to score 13 points in just 15 minutes. Paul Pierce had 12 points and Joe Johnson added 10, but Brooklyn shot a dismal 31-for-82 (37.8 percent) on the night.
The Kings led 50-40 at halftime and put the game away in the third quarter, carrying a 78-59 lead into the final 12 minutes. The 107 points was a season high for Sacramento, topping the 101 the Kings put up in a Nov. 1 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. They hadn’t won since a 90-88 decision over the Denver Nuggets on opening night, Oct. 30.
Thornton’s 24 points in 34 minutes matched his total from Sacramento’s last three games, when he was 9-for-30 and scored 24 points in 85 minutes of playing time. Thornton hit 10-of-19 shots, including 4-of-9 from deep, on Wednesday.
The Kings will remain at home on Friday, when they host the Detroit Pistons in a rare nationally televised game for Sacramento. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. for the ESPN national broadcast.