Much had been made this season about the poor shooting performance of Rudy Gay this season. In his debut with the Sacramento Kings Friday night, Gay had his most efficient shooting night of the year … and the Phoenix Suns did him that much better.
Gay scored 24 points on 8-of-12 shooting for the Kings, but the red-hot Suns hit 12-of-24 from 3-point range en route to a 116-107 win Friday night at the US Airways Center in Phoenix.
DeMarcus Cousins put up a nice line with 15 points, 16 rebounds, five assists, five steals and a blocked shot, but he was harassed by Miles Plumlee—who had three rejections—all night long en route to a 5-for-16 shooting nightmare.
Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe torched the Kings for a combined 57 points on 21-of-30 shooting (including 6-of-9 from long range), carrying Phoenix to its fourth straight win. Dragic wound up with 29 points and Bledsoe had a career-high 28 points to go with eight assists.
It was a game of wildly swinging momentum—both teams held double-digit leads—and exceeding amounts of chippiness in the third meeting between the teams in less than a month. Five technical fouls were assessed—two on the Kings (Jason Thompson in the second period and Cousins in the third) and three on the Suns (P.J. Tucker in the first, coach Jeff Hornacek in the second and Marcus Morris in the third).
Sacramento came out firing, hitting 56.5 percent from the floor in the first period, and wiped out an early 11-point advantage for the Suns to take a 34-28 lead after one period. Isaiah Thomas—who led the Kings with 29 points—had 13 in the quarter and Gay was 3-for-3 in his first 12 minutes of action as a King.
But Bledsoe had 10 points and Dragic had nine as the Suns quickly jumped out to a 13-2 lead before Sacramento outscored them 32-15 over the final 8:32.
Phoenix bounced back in the second quarter after the Kings moved out to an 11-point lead, taking a two-point lead late in the quarter before Sacramento finished with a burst to lead 61-58 at the half. Phoenix shot 63.6 percent in the first half (21-for-33) while the Kings were 23-for-44 (52.3 percent). The Kings were winning the battle of second-chance points and on the fast break, but the Suns were staying in the game with red-hot shooting.
Dragic had 21 in the first half and Bledsoe added 16 for the Suns; Thomas had 19 and Gay 11, respectively, for the Kings.
As hot as the teams had been in the first 24 minutes, they came out icy in the third. The Kings were just 6-for-17 in the quarter (35.3 percent) and Phoenix was worse (9-for-28, 32.1 percent), but Sacramento’s sloppy ball-handling created opportunities for the Suns in transition. Phoenix scored 11 points on seven Kings miscues to take an 85-82 lead.
Phoenix led by as many as 12 in the fourth quarter to win going away. The Kings got to within four at 105-101 with three minutes to go, but Bledsoe buried a dagger 3 that ended Sacramento’s run.
Derrick Williams scored 14 points for the Kings in 30 minutes off the bench and Aaron Gray, who came to the Kings from Toronto in the Gay trade, played 13 minutes and logged seven points and nine rebounds—six on the offensive glass. Phoenix got 12 points, nine boards and four steals from Plumlee, 11 points from Channing Frye and Tucker and Gerald Green each scored 10, with Tucker providing nine rebounds, as well.
Phoenix improved to 13-9 with the victory while the Kings dropped their second straight to fall to 6-15.
The Kings return home on Sunday to host the Houston Rockets for a 3 p.m. afternoon tip at Sleep Train Arena.