It would be easy to say the Kings defense benefited from playing the Chicago Bulls, who struggle to score most nights.
But more than once this season, Sacramento has shown it can make even the most pedestrian offenses look like scoring machines.
Monday night at Sleep Train Arena, the Kings didnt allow the Bulls to put up season highs. It was the Kings, not the usually stout Bulls, who looked like a defensive force in a 99-70 rout that ended a season-worst seven-game losing streak.
The Kings established a Sacramento record in holding the Bulls to 28.2 percent shooting. The points allowed were a season low.
In the first half, the Bulls shot 24.4 percent, the lowest by a Kings opponent in a half this season.
Entering the game, the Bulls were 29th in the NBA in scoring at 92.5 points per game and 28th in shooting at 42.5 percent, but they never threatened to get near those marks.
I thought we had five guys defending as one most of the night covering for each other, Kings coach Michael Malone said. That was the challenge (Monday) lets play a complete game.
For only the second time this season, the Kings won when not scoring 100 or more points and the first time since the season opener over Denver. The Kings had lost 16 straight games when failing to score at least 100 points.
We showed what we can do. It showed we have the ability to do it, center DeMarcus Cousins said. We cant have a night like this and come back the next night and take steps backwards. Just build off this defensive effort and try to carry it on to the next game.
Cousins returned to the lineup after missing six games because of a sprained left ankle and had 25 points, 16 rebounds and four assists.
To be honest, I shouldnt have been playing (Monday), Cousins said. But Im not the type of guy to let a nagging injury hold me back. So once I got to the point where I could play through the pain, go through the pain and stiffness in my ankle, I was ready to go.
Cousins counterpart, All-Star Joakim Noah, was ejected after picking up his second technical foul. Both came in the third quarter.
Noah had an explicit message for each official before he left the floor and pointed at each one to deliver it before leaving the court.
Cousins also was called for a technical foul, his league-leading 12th of the season, in the third. Unless the technical is rescinded, he is four away from an automatic one-game suspension.
Cousins also had to deal with Bulls forward Mike Dunleavy being an irritant again. Dunleavy drew Cousins ire in a game last March while playing for Milwaukee when he low-bridged Cousins on a boxout, causing a quadriceps contusion that sidelined Cousins for two games. Cousins was ejected from that game for throwing an elbow at Dunleavys head.
Dunleavy pushed Cousins as he ran down the court at one point, and Dunleavy also complained on a foul that Cousins tried to injure him.
Hes a clown, Cousins said of Dunleavy. And hes scary. I wouldnt waste my time if I ever saw him outside of the gym.
Malone said he was happy with how the Kings (16-32) dealt with the Bulls (23-24) and their style of play.
Theyre a physical team, and they kind of get under your skin, Malone said. DeMarcus has to handle the calls, and not getting the calls, better. I can see hes trying. As long as we can try to maintain our composure at all times, then we will be better off.
Follow The Bees Jason Jones on Twitter @mr_jasonjones and read more about the team at www.sacbee.com/kings.