Celtics get royal beating from Kings, 118-96

Celtics get royal beating from Kings, 118-96
December 31, 2012, 4:35 am
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SACRAMENTO The Boston Celtics capped off their West coast trip exactly how it began - with a loss.

And this one was arguably the worst of the bunch as the C's suffered a 118-96 defeat to the Sacramento Kings, one of the worst teams in the NBA.

And the blueprint for this defeat wasn't all that different than the previous two for a Boston (14-16) team that is now two games below .500 since opening the season with a pair of losses.

Boston got behind early. They mounted a slew of mini-comebacks, but failed to get that one big shot or make that one clutch defensive stand to swing the game's momentum in their favor.

Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas poured in a game-high 27 points. And the troubled DeMarcus Cousins, a player the Celtics are rumored to be interested in possibly making a play for, had his first career triple-double - 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

Boston was led by Paul Pierce and Jason Terry who each had 20 points.

After a relatively close first half, the Kings began to pull away in the third quarter. Following a pull-up jumper by John Salmons that gave Sacramento a 72-63 lead, Doc Rivers had seen enough and called a time-out.

He may have temporarily stopped play, but it didn't do much to stem the game's flow which was clearly in Sacramento's favor.

The Kings soon pushed their lead to double digits and took a 12-point lead into the fourth quarter that was never threatened.

Even with Rajon Rondo returning to the lineup after missing Saturday's Golden State loss with a right hipthigh injury, it didn't matter.

This team, regardless of who is healthy and who isn't, consistently finds ways to lose.

Poor shooting was the culprit that put them in a deep hole on Sunday, as the C's missed 11 of their first 13 shots and soon found themselves down 14-7.

But these were the Kings, one of the league's worst teams despite having won five of their last six at home heading into Sunday's game.

A jumper by Brandon Bass followed by a pair of free throws by Jeff Green cut Sacramento's lead to 18-12 with 2:27 to play in the first.

Boston even went with a little full court pressure to keep the Kings from getting into their offense too quickly.

It was a good idea if the C's could have avoided fouling Thomas on a driving attempt.

The second quarter saw the Celtics do what Doc Rivers has been imploring his shooters to do all season - attack the rim.

And will you look at that?

Boston's 24-18 deficit to start the second quarter became a two-point lead with an 8-0 start fueled by drives to the basket and free throws.

The Celtics got a strong game from Green who was leading the Celtics' attacking style of play in the second quarter. Green along with a hot-shooting Jason Terry each had 14 first-half points for the C's while the Kings got strong first-half performances from Jason Thompson (13 points, five rebounds), John Salmons (11 points) and Thomas (10 points, two assists.)

The two continued to go back and fourth most of the second which ended with the Kings ahead 54-49.

But those moments of stellar play for Boston were so few and far between, reminding all of just how far the Celtics have truly fallen this season.