Short-Staffed Celtics Fall To Kings In George Karl’s Sacramento Debut

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The Sacramento crowd gave new Kings coach George Karl a warm welcome Friday night, and DeMarcus Cousins & Co. delivered the veteran bench boss a 109-101 win against a Boston Celtics squad that came into the game with just 10 available players.

BIG Z AND AB
Tyler Zeller feasted on Cousins in the first quarter, sinking six of his first seven shots and scoring 13 of his 22 points in the opening frame

Cousins scored eight of his own in the frame on 4-of-5 shooting, but his trademark whining, complaining and general unpleasantness started early. Less than five minutes after tipoff, the Kings center already had picked up his first technical foul.

That’s not to say Cousins didn’t have a monster game. He did, finishing with 31 points and 15 rebounds and absolutely demolishing Jae Crowder with a fast-break dunk.

(Crowder promptly exacted his revenge, though.)

Having an even more productive night than Zeller was Avery Bradley, who finished with a team-high 28 points, six assists, three rebounds and four steals in the loss.

WHAT IS THIS, A LINEUP FOR ANTS?
The absence of bigs Jared Sullinger (foot) and Kelly Olynyk (ankle) forced Stevens to experiment with some uber-small lineup combinations, including using Gerald Wallace — yes, Gerald Wallace — at center when Zeller went to the bench.

It didn’t work out particularly well. When the Celtics first inserted the unconventional lineup in the latter part of the first quarter, the Kings — even with Cousins on the bench — ripped off a 17-0 run over the final 3:38 to erase a 16-point deficit. It was about as bad a half-quarter of basketball the C’s have played this season.

That shorthandedness also led to the (second) Celtics debut for Shavlik Randolph, who had yet to appear in a game since being acquired back in January. Randolph, who also briefly played for Boston in 2013, played just six minutes, scoring two points and grabbing four rebounds.

The Celtics’ three trade-deadline acquisitions — Isaiah Thomas, Jonas Jerebko and Luigi Datome — were not available for the game.

KINGS IN A GIVING MOOD
The Kings shot 54 percent from the floor and from 3-point range in the first half but led by just five points at the break. Why? Turnovers, son. Sacramento coughed the ball up 15 times over the first two quarters, resulting in 24 Celtics points.

That trend continued for the duration — Sacramento finished with 24 turnovers — allowing the Celtics to remain within striking distance and even grab the lead momentarily with less than seven minutes to play in the fourth. Cousins turned the ball over almost as many times (nine) as the entire Celtics team did (11).

The Kings’ bench was big in the win, with Derrick Williams, Jason Thompson, Omri Casspi and the newly acquired Andre Miller combining for 32 points and 30 rebounds.

Up next: The Celtics continue their West Coast road trip Sunday with a visit to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Thumbnail photo via Ed Szczepanski/USA TODAY Sports Images

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