CLEVELAND -- The last time the Kings saw the Cleveland Cavaliers Anthony Bennett, he was a garbage-time player already being deemed a bust of Kwame Brown-like proportions after he was drafted first overall in 2013.
It was so bad, there was talk of whether Bennett belonged in the NBA Development League. General manager Chris Grant was fired last week, with the drafting of Bennett cited as a major blunder.
Tuesday night at Quicken Loans Arena, Bennett was on the floor again late in a blowout. But he was finishing a career night at the expense of the Kings, who allowed him to look worthy of being the first pick.
The Kings lost their third straight game, 109-99. The Cavaliers, who appeared on the verge of imploding a week ago, won their third in a row.
Sacramento is 0-3 on this trip that ends tonight at New York.
Anthony Bennett kicked our (butt), Kings coach Michael Malone said. Im sure Chris Grants smiling at home, deservedly so. His No. 1 guy came in and gets a career high in points and rebounds.
Bennett had 19 points and 10 rebounds and made all three of his three-pointers. Entering Tuesday, he had made only 8 of 39 from beyond the arc.
Bennetts hustle was a contrast to the Kings (17-35), who looked disinterested most of the night. Facing a Cavaliers team missing starting center Anderson Varejao (bad back), the Kings matched their season low for points in the paint with 26, 16 in the final three quarters.
On the other hand, the Cavaliers (19-33) got good looks with 46 points in the paint and shot 12 of 21 on three-pointers. They also had 30 assists on their 41 baskets.
Luol Deng had 22 points. Tristan Thompson had 16 points and 13 rebounds, and Dion Waiters came off the bench to add 20 points and eight assists for Cleveland.
The effort wasnt there, center DeMarcus Cousins said. We got outhustled (Tuesday). It was a bad effort all around.
Malone was disappointed in the lack of effort and the absence of a competitive spirit.
I think weve got some guys that are feeling sorry for themselves, and thats pathetic, Malone said. No one is going to feel sorry for you. Youre a pro. Do your job.
The All-Star break for the Kings begins Thursday, and with rookie Ben McLemore the only player participating in this weekends festivities by competing in the Slam Dunk Contest, they already have made plans for their time off.
Malone did not want to speculate as to whether that was the reason the Kings played as if they were ready to get away. Cousins didnt know why, either.
I dont really have the answer to that, Cousins said. Whatever it is, it needs to be solved. Weve got one more game on this road trip. Thats all we really need to be focused on. Not the All-Star break, not whatever else may be on your mind. We need to focus on the last game of this road trip.
Cousins had 21 points and 10 rebounds, Isaiah Thomas had 16 points and eight assists, and Rudy Gay had 14 points and nine rebounds for Sacramento.
Gay was playing his second game since an illness sidelined him for Fridays loss at Boston. He refused to use that as an excuse for his performance.
It was a tough night for us, Gay said. Weve got to find some way to pick it up. Personally, Ive got to pick my level up as a leader of the team.
The Cavaliers, meanwhile, lauded the progress of Bennett, who missed summer league because of an injury and may be exiting the realm of all-time draft busts.
It feels great, Bennett said. All the hard work Ive put in with the coaching staff and the players is paying off.
Cousins was asked about Bennetts career night, something the center wasnt aware of.
Congratulations, Cousins said. Im not really concerned about him; hes not my teammate. I really cant answer that. Congratulations.