After the Pelicans scored first, Marcus Thornton got a layup off a pass from DeMarcus Cousins just 1:32 into the game to put the Kings (15-25) up 4-2 and they never looked back, hitting 14-of-20 in the first quarter while jumping out to a 38-20 lead.
For Gay, it was a hyper-efficient 41 points on 16-of-25 shooting. Gay was 5-for-8 from long distance while matching his career-high. He scored 41 points for the Memphis Grizzlies against the Miami Heat on Dec. 13, 2009.
With the Toronto Raptors early this season, Gay was criticized often for his shooting volume and inefficiency at the offensive end. At the time he was traded to Sacramento on Dec. 8, Gay was averaging 19.4 points per game, but was shooting just 38.8 percent from the floor.
Since the trade, Gay’s scoring is up (21 points per game) and he’s doing it on three fewer shots per game. Gay is hitting 52.5 percent of his shots since coming to the Kings.
The Pelicans mounted a comeback in the second quarter, hitting 11-of-14 shots and getting the Kings into some foul trouble, hitting 14-of-18 from the foul line, to close the gap to 64-56 at the half.
But Sacramento put the game away in the third quarter, outscoring the Pelicans (16-25) 27-14 in the period.
Gay scored seven points in the first quarter, 12 in the second, 13 in the third and nine in the fourth.
Isaiah Thomas chipped in with 20 points, 11 assists and three steals and Cousins posted his 15th straight double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds while also blocking four shots—a season high—and nabbing three steals. Jason Thompson had 11 points and Quincy Acy grabbed 10 rebounds off the bench—six on the offensive glass.
Former King Tyreke Evans led New Orleans with 17 points, while Anthony Davis had 16 points, six rebounds and four blocked shots. Brian Roberts finished with 15 points and six assists, rookie Jeff Withey notched a career-high 14 points in a career-best 27 minutes and Austin Rivers scored 12 points.
Sacramento was 42-for-82 (51.2 percent) overall, 9-for-21 (42.9 percent) from 3-point range and 21-for-31 (67.7 percent) from 3-point range. New Orleans was 33-for-69 (47.8 percent), 5-for-11 (45.5 percent) and 26-for-38 (68.4 percent).
The Kings dominated the glass, out-rebounding the Pelicans 46-35. Sacramento had the edge in points in the paint 50-44, second-chance points 17-15 and fast-break points 15-12. The Kings also converted 15 New Orleans turnovers into 21 points, while turning it over just 12 times themselves, creating 11 Pelicans points.
The Kings improved to 2-3 on their current six-game road trip, which concludes Wednesday night in Houston, where Sacramento will look for their third straight win over the Rockets. Tipoff is 5 p.m. Pacific.