It was a family affair in Sacramento Wednesday night as the Sacramento Kings played host to the Toronto Raptors. Both teams purged their rosters in a multi-player deal, with each team claiming the trades made them better. But has it?
From the Kings’ perspective, they gained superior athleticism with Rudy Gay and serviceable backups in Quincy Acy and Aaron Gray. From the Raptors’ side, they have no problem saying that they are scoring more and logging more assists since the trade. So everybody’s happy? Well, yes.
The Kings especially must be pleased with the increased effort on defense. Sacramento held the Chicago Bulls to 70 points in their last game and followed it up with a similarly impressive defensive showing against the Raptors, winning 109-101. The Kings stormed out to an early lead that ballooned to as many as 23 points in the second quarter with Sacramento taking a 67-52 lead into the half.
DeMarcus Cousins‘ domination of the Raptors was given as he averages 23 points per game and 13 rebounds against the Raptors, but it was the team’s defense that won the game early — and for good.
When Kings head coach Mike Malone was hired in June, he was tasked with improving the Kings’ shoddy defense. That hasn’t happened as of yet as the Kings rank 28th overall in defense, but the signs of improvement are there. Granted, the Raptors aren’t the best sample to draw from, but the effort is there and that’s a plus.
I think a long-term deal for Gay would go a long way towards the rebuilding effort for this team. Not to mention, he’s come as advertised: high-scoring, high-energy and a consummate teammate. That said, it will be up to the Kings’ current roster to buy into Malone’s preaching or GM Pete D’Alessandro may need to bring in some proven defenders.
But ultimately, the Kings are making strides, and it should lead to more wins and momentum to take into the All-Star break.