End of game, Kings win 120-95: There was certainly nothing positive for the Celtics to take away from this one. They were dominated inside by DeMarcus Cousins and Jason Thompson and outside by Marcus Thornton and Isaiah Thomas.
They were brutalized on the glass 45-28 and wasted a 26-point outing by Ray Allen. The Kings scored 68 points in the second half and scored almost as many points in the third quarter as the Celtics scored in the entire second half. The Kings scored 41 points in those 12 minutes; the Celtics scored 44 points in 24 minutes.
Fourth quarter, 4:47, Kings 112-86: Thornton and the Celtics each have scored 12 points in the fourth quarter.
It will be tough for the Celtics not to have a bad taste in their mouths after this one, but there is one Kings player to feel good about. As much of an alleged hothead as Cousins is, Jason Thompson is just as good a kid. He hit a jumper to give him 21 points and 15 rebounds in the game.
Fourth quarter, 8:44, Kings 97-79: Thornton kept it up in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, splitting a pair of free throws and hitting another 3. That meant a 3 and a layup by Allen only helped the Celtics make up a point in their slog back.
End of third quarter, Kings 93-74: Cousins provided the fireworks while Thornton provided the substance as the Kings pulled away from the Celtics in the third quarter.
Thornton scored 14 points in the period, helping the Kings possibly put the game out of reach with back-to-back 3-pointers, to give him a game-high 24 points. The Celtics entered the fourth quarter with four players in double figures, led by Pierce's 19.
Third quarter, 8:41, Kings 67-52: Welcome to the DeMarcus Cousins Show. After a good hustle play to tip in his own miss and extend Sacramento's lead to 14 points, the hotheaded forward shoved Garnett in the back, drawing a technical foul. The 6-foot-10, 270-pound behemoth apparently doesn't like physical play.
A Thornton jumper stretched the Kings' lead to 15 points, and two offensive fouls by the C's gave the ball back to the Kings.
Third quarter, 9:46, Kings 63-51: This Isaiah Thomas is of no relation to that other Isiah Thomas, yet in this game he's tormenting the Celtics just like that other guy used to torment the C's in the 1980s.
Thomas scored seven points in the first 2:14 of the third quarter as Sacramento sprinted to a 12-point lead. He worked his way up to 11 points and six assists in the game.
Halftime, Kings 52-51: It started ugly for the Celtics, and it will take more than 12 minutes for them to make up for an uneven first quarter.
The Celtics went 11-for-20 from the field in the second quarter to get their shooting percentage for the game all the way up to 45 percent (17-for-38). If not for some nifty shooting by Ray Allen and heady ballhandling by Rajon Rondo, they may have trailed by more than just a single point at the half.
The Good: DeMarcus Cousins was the best player on the court in the first quarter, going for eight points and four rebounds. He added only one rebound in the second quarter. … Allen hit half of his eight shot attempts and three of his five attempts from 3-point territory to give Boston a boost late in the secod quarter. He picked up where Mickael Pietrus left off early in the second quarter, when Air France came off the bench to deliver two 3-pointers en route to seven points. Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 15 points on 4-for-11 shooting. … Jason Thompson is quietly one of the most reliable defensive and rebounding power forwards in the NBA. The fourth-year man out of Rider finished his 18 minutes with nine points on 4-for-5 shooting with eight rebounds. … Greg Stiemsma was caught out of position several times, most glaringly when he lost track of Cousins before Cousins received a pass from Isaiah Thomas for a two-handed slam. At this point, a few of those plays per game have to be expected, though. The Wisconsonite had three blocked shots and was pivotal in the Celtics finally giving some resistance to the Kings on defense.
The Bad: The Celtics in general did not shoot well, as we mentioned, or rebound well. They also committed more turnovers than the young Kings 9-8 and recorded fewer assists 15-12.
The So-so: Travis Outlaw hit two of his three shots, including a 3-ball, but it has been a difficult year for the Starkville (Miss.) High School alum and it would be surprising to see him keep that up in the second half.
Second quarter, 1:48, Kings 50-48: The Celtics were unable to stop Thornton and Thomas, but Jimmer Fredette is zero threat to take the ball to the basket. The Celtics were quick to recognize this and capitalize on the Kings' weakness.
Rondo and Bass forced turnovers by the rookie from BYU on consecutive possessions, leading to dunks by Pierce and Bass. Rondo seemed none the worse for wear after that hit to the face, recording the assist on both slams.
Second quarter, 3:57, 48-42: Rondo, otherwise known as old bloody eye, really needs to stop getting hit in the face. He took an inadvertant slap from Travis Outlaw to what appeared to be the jaw, helping create a turnover that led to a dunk by Jason Thompson on the break. The pride of Lenape High School in South Jersey gave Sacramento a six-point lead while Rondo was left dazed at Boston's end of the court.
Second quarter, 4:51, Kings 43-40: Ray Allen and Paul Pierce got angry, and for a few moments that translated into a lead for the Celtics. The running and gunning Kings would not allow that lead to last long.
A 3 by Allen pulled the Celtics within 36-34 and Pierce gave the Celtics the lead at 37-36 with a three-point play.
The Kings responded by outscoring the C's 7-3 over the next 81 seconds, though, to retake the lead.
Second quarter, 8:31, Kings 35-28: Mickael Pietrus bailed out the Celtics in a big way several times in their last game. If not for his five 3-pointers, the Celtics would have left Oakland with a loss to the Golden State Warriors.
He appeared to get off to a similar start in this game. Pietrus nailed the first two long balls he attempted and made a hard drive into the lane to draw a foul.
Pietrus was 2-for-2 from the field. The rest of the Celtics were 7-for-21.
End of first quarter, Kings 26-20: Cousins showed why the Kings have tolerated his behavior when many of their fans have called for them to trade him. Cousins posted eight points and four rebounds in the first quarter despite decent defense by Garnett and Greg Stiemsma.
The most noticeable factor in the Celtics deficit, though — apart from their 6-for-18 shooting mark — was the utter inability of Rondo, Allen or Pierce to stop their much quicker opposite numbers from getting into the lane at will. Marcus Thornton scored six points and Isaiah Thomas had four points and five assists in the first quarter.
First quarter, 3:10, Kings 18-14: The Kings have a 14-29 record and are on their second head coach this season, but they are not a team the Celtics should let gain confidence. Sacramento has posted rousing wins over the Mavericks, Thunder, Spurs and Blazers (when the Blazers were still playing halfway decent basketball) this season.
First quarter, 5:06, Kings 14-10: These Kings will never be confused with the mid-1990s Bulls defensively, but they made the Celtics look like a CYO team in the early going.
The Celtics missed eight of their first 11 shots to fall behind the last-place Kings. The Celtics did not commit a turnover and committed only one foul. They just did not make shots.
10:11 p.m.: We have a correction to the starting lineup. John Salmons will start in place of Tyreke Evans. No reason was given for Evans' absence, but Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee reports Evans was holding his wrist in the Kings' game Wednesday against Detroit.
10:05 p.m.: DeMarcus Cousins seems to be everyone's favorite whipping boy, and with all the maturity issues he's exhibited, it's tough to blame them. But the second-year player out of Kentucky posted averages of 19 points and 12.3 rebounds last month and is at 16.5 points and 11.2 rebounds per game for the season. At 6-foot-10, he's playing at center for the Kings. Including this game and Saturday's game in Denver, Kevin Garnett will not enjoy a speed advantage in the center matchup.
9:35 p.m. ET: The quest for an 18th banner, if there is to be one, begins now.
The Celtics did make any moves at the trade deadline, leaving one last (slim) chance for the current crop of stars to make a run for the title.
The first foe on that slate is the Kings, who have been underwhelming on the court but received their biggest victory this season off the court. Led by Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, the city was able to come to an agreement with the team to remain in California's state capital beyond this year.
The projected starting lineups appear below.
8 a.m. ET: Rajon Rondo will be walking through that door for the Celtics in Sacramento on Friday. Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen will, too.
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge chose not to break up Boston's core four at the NBA trade deadline. The Celtics will operate the rest of the season with more or less the same group that will take on the Kings at Power Balance Pavilion.
The Celtics are 2-1 in the first three legs of this eight-game road trip and have won two straight. They are closing in on Atlanta for the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference after winning eight of their last 10 games.
Join us for updates and analysis during the game, which is scheduled for a 10 p.m. tip-off.