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The Willie Cauley-Stein Inquisition Ensures 116-100 Victory Over Denver Nuggets

THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Sacramento, Calif. The DeMarcus Cousins Administration is officially over in Sacramento and the Vlade Divac Armada set sailed on a new course into uncharted waters. It’s going to be a choppy expedition, yet the journey had a promising beginning against the Denver Nuggets.

The Kings beat the Nuggets 116-100, a team they are battling the eighth spot for in the playoffs, but that was not the story. The Kings’ youth movement had no problem laying the foundation in the post-DeMarcus Cousins era.

The young Kings, mixed in with the veterans, displayed a newfound freedom. Willie Cauley-Stein lead the charge with 29 points, 10 rebounds, and one blocked shots off the bench. He lead four reserves in double figures.

“Us as a team, we really wanted that win,” said Cauley-Stein, who played 35 minutes. “No just because it’s the second half (of the season). We have to go. We’re trying to make that eight spot. So, that’s one down, 24 to go. We’re trying to bring that kind of intensity every game. That’s all we’re really focused on.”

Sacramento Kings player Willie Cauley-Stein grabs one of his 10 rebounds against the Denver Nuggetts on Feb. 23. Publicity Agents photo art by T. Ray Harvey.

Buddy Hield had 16 points, six rebounds, and one still off the bench. Tyreke Evans added 15 points, four rebounds, and three assists while rookie Skal Labisierre contributed 12 points, three rebounds, and two assists for the Kings (25-33 overall, 13-16 G1C). The Kings made 46 of 88 shots from the field at 52.3 percent.

“I just think everybody can really come together and play for one another because we don’t have any All Stars on the team,” said Darren Collison, who had 15 points, 10 assists, and two steals. “We need everybody to step up and kind of fulfill that role. I thought tonigh we did a good job of that.”

The Kings had a 21-point lead, their largest of the game, when Ben McLemore made a 26-foot, 3-point shot with 9:07 remaining in the third quarter. The Nuggets were able to cut the Kings’ lead by nine points later in the third quarter and never got closer than 13 points in the fourth quarter.

“You knew they would come out like that after a trade,” said Nuggets guard Gary Harris. “Their guys came together, the crowd came together, and they came out to play hard. We didn’t match their energy.”

Sacramento Kings players Skal Labissiere, Kosta Koufos, and Anthony Tolliver defend Denver Nuggets center Mason Plumlee at Golden 1 Center on Feb. 23. Publicity Agents photo art by T. Ray Harvey.

Harris led the Nuggets (25-32 overall, 10-19 road) with 23 points, two rebounds, and two steals. Wilson Chandler had 18 points, 10 rebounds, and one assists and Danilo Gallinari added 15 points, six rebounds, and four assists for Denver. The Kings ended the Nuggets’ four-game winning streak.

“We didn't bring it tonight,” Gallinari said. “We had a good start, and then he had turnovers and allowed offensive rebounds. Overall, we didn't take care of the defensive end. We need to be much better tomorrow (at home against the Brooklyn Nets).”

The Kings made 7 of 14 shots from beyond the arc, hit 17 of 19 free-throw shots, and outrebounded the Nuggets 47-42 while only committing 14 turnovers. The Kings lead 61-44 at the break. Sacramento have won five of their last six games and their second without Cousins.

“I think our guys were pretty locked in and pretty focus,” said Kings coach Dave Joerger. “We’ve got a solid locker room. Though a couple people aren’t there, guys have an opportunity to step forward in leadership. That’s a positive vibe to have just to come to work every day.”

By T. Ray Harvey | PA Public Information Officer and Photographic Artist

Twitter: Tony Ray Harvey @PublicityAgents


“To be honest, Skal has been working since he got here. I’ve seen that kid work after the games, in the gym by himself, before practice, after practice, before the games, and after the games. He’s a workaholic. Willie (Cauley-Stein) has been doing the same thing as well. So, it’s their opportunity. It’s their team.”

— Sacramento Kings point guard Darren Collison

Boogie’s Pelicans Debut

DeMarcus Cousins played his first game in a New Orleans Pelicans before the Kings tip-off against the Nuggets. Cousins had 27 points 14 rebounds, five assists, five steals, and four blocked shots in a 129-99 losing effort to the Houston Rockets. Cousins new sidekick Anthony Davis had 29 points, nine rebounds, two steals, and two blocked shots.

Collison Remains A King

Darren Collison name was mentioned in so many trade rumors in the last couple of weeks. Right down to the wire, he had no idea what would become of him. During the uncertainty stage, he stayed positive. The trade deadline has come and gone. Now he can relax for 24 games.

“It’s been a long day,” Collison said. “I remember waking up and saying, ‘when is the deadline?’ So, I had like an hour and a half just sitting there waiting. But we’re here. I’m glad that I’m here.”

  • Sacramento Kings principal owner Vivek Ranadive was seated courtside with former Kings player Brad Miller. When asked what his thoughts of the DeMarcus Cousins trade and his Vice President of Operations Vivek Ranadivé, Ranadive said “I’ll always support my guy (Divac).”

  • Garrett Temple (left hamstring), Malachi Richardson (right hamstring), and Arron Afflalo were out against the Denver Nuggets. Sacramento Kings coach said Temple probably sidelined a little longer than expected.

  • The Denver Nuggets acquired Roy Hibbert from the Milwaukee Bucks in exchanged for a protected 2019 second-round draft pick.

  • Tyreke Evans enter the game at the 6:23 mark of the first quarter for Sacramento. His first game in a Kings’ uniform since the 2013-2014 season.

T. Ray (Antonio) Harvey is a Public Information Officer and Photographic Artist for Publicity Agents. Harvey is also the author of The HOMICIDAL HANDYMAN OF OAK PARK: MORRIS SOLOMON JR.

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