Mar 3, 2014; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) passes out the ball against New Orleans Pelicans power forward Anthony Davis (23) during the first quarter at Sleep Train Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Sacramento Kings Get Defensive In Win Over New Orleans Pelicans

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The Sacramento Kings ramped up the defensive pressure Monday night in a 96-89 win over the New Orleans Pelicans at Sleep Train Arena.

The Kings (21-39) won for just the third time in 24 games this season when they’ve been held to less than 100 points and improved to 6-0 in games when they hold an opponent to less than 90.

The Pelicans (23-37) were held to just 38 points in the first half, during which they shot just 37.5 percent overall and misfired on all seven of their 3-point attempts.

But they own defense was solid—they held the Kings to 37.5 percent from the floor as well and Sacramento led just 40-38 at the break.

The Kings’ biggest lead was late, when Ben McLemore redirected an alley-oop from Ray McCallum for a basket and a 92-80 Sacramento lead. New Orleans never got closer than five points in the fourth quarter.

DeMarcus Cousins finished with 23 points and 12 rebounds for the Kings, but committed six turnovers. Isaiah Thomas had 22 points and five assists, Rudy Gay scored 14 points, McLemore tossed in 10 points and Reggie Evans came off the bench to post 10 points and 13 rebounds.

Tyreke Evans came up big again for the Pelicans in his second trip to Sacramento since he was traded over the summer as part of a sign-and-trade deal, scoring 27 points to go with 10 rebounds and eight assists. Brian Roberts had 15 points, Anthony Davis was limited to 13 points on 4-of-14 shooting and Eric Gordon scored 10 points before fouling out.

Turnovers were about the only thing keeping the Pelicans in the game. Sacramento committed 19 giveaways while New Orleans had just nine. The Pelicans had a 21-7 edge in points off turnovers.

But the Kings dominated inside, outscoring New Orleans in the paint 44-32 while putting up a 47-30 rebounding edge.

New Orleans was 32-for-75 (42.7 percent) overall, 6-for-20 (30 percent) from 3-point range and 19-for-28 (67.9 percent) from the foul line. Sacramento was 32-for-68 (47.1 percent), 1-for-7 (14.3 percent) and 31-for-41 (75.6 percent).

The Kings hit the road Wednesday to start a seven-game road trip when they visit the Milwaukee Bucks for a 5 p.m. Pacific contest.

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