Less than an hour before tip-off, Anthony Davis was cleared to play with his left adductor strain, but Rajon Rondo was rested and replaced in the starting lineup by guard Ian Clark.
What seemed to be a comfortable, sustainable second half margin, leading by 10 points and shooting over 50 percent at one point, quickly crumbled down the stretch.
With 1:20 left to play in regulation, DeMarcus Cousins launched a three with 18 seconds left on the shot clock. The attempt was no-good and Cousins allowed Kings forward Zach Randolph an easy fought bucket on the other end to create a 1-point game.
Cousins answered back on the following possession with a dunk after a nice assist from Jameer Nelson. Even so, New Orleans forced a Kings miss but allowed the offensive rebound. Kings Head Coach Dave Joerger called a timeout and Buddy Hield answered the call after the break with a clutch three to push the game into overtime.
In the extra period, Sacramento outclassed New Orleans 14-7, and grinded to quite the resilient win. To say the least, Head Coach Alvin Gentry was not pleased after the game.
“They outplayed us in every phase of the game,” Gentry said. “They played for 48 minutes, got it into overtime and they outplayed us. We’ll look back at this and say I can’t believe we did that. Well we did.”
Alvin Gentry was frustrated in his postgame comments to say the least.— Trevor Ritchie (@ritchietmr) December 9, 2017
Watch until the end: pic.twitter.com/4SdIketDPR
Randolph was an issue all over the court for the Pelicans, ending with 35 points, 13 rebounds and a career high in three pointers made (5). Hield also left his mark, scoring 18 points off Sacramento’s bench that included four crucial three-pointers.
Cousins led all scorers with 38 points, but unfortunately for New Orleans, it was paired with eight costly turnovers. Ian Clark, in his first game with double-digit minutes since Nov. 17, recorded 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting along with three rebounds and three assists. Davis finished with 18 points and Jrue Holiday, 14, but both players seemed like afterthoughts for much of the game.
As a team, the New Orleans Pelicans finished with 19 assists — only the third time they’ve failed to crack the 20+ barrier this season. Throughout much of the night, the ball movement was lacking as many players were forced to create their own offense off the dribble.
Despite Willie Cauley-Stein missing the game, the Kings dominated the Pelicans in the paint (52-44) and on the glass (40-33). Second chance points particularly hurt the Pelicans as the Kings converted 10 offensive rebounds into 20 points.
The theme in the locker room postgame was somber, with unspoken frustration seemingly surrounding this club as they fall back to even in the record column.
“We just wouldn’t put our foot on the pedal full throttle,” Cousins said. “With that being said, they kicked our ass.”
DeMarcus Cousins postgame: “... with that said, they kicked our ass” pic.twitter.com/A9nCArtDxQ— Trevor Ritchie (@ritchietmr) December 9, 2017
Anthony Davis declined to speak to the media after Friday night’s loss. Davis finished the game with 18 points and six rebounds in 30 minutes of play, after the coaching staff had wanted to keep him in the neighborhood of 25 minutes.
New Orleans will look to bounce back against the frontrunner for Rookie of the Year, Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and the rest of the Philadelphia 76ers this Sunday at home. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. CT.