The Kings’ bench was run off the court Tuesday night and outplayed in a blowout loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Vince Carter wasn’t having that again Wednesday.
The 20-year veteran scored a season-high 24 points off the bench as the Kings rebounded for a 109-95 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden 1 Center.
The bench scored 68 points, led by Carter. Wille Cauley-Stein had 17 points and nine rebounds, and Bogdan Bogdanovic finished with 16 points and a career-high eight assists for Sacramento (12-22).
Kevin Love led the Cavaliers (24-11) with 23 points. LeBron James had a triple-double with 16 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
The Kings backed up their talk
Following Tuesday night’s dreadful showing in Loss Angeles, there was talk of needing more energy and focus on defense.
That seemed like a daunting task, given the Kings couldn’t stop the shorthanded Clippers and would be facing a potent Cavaliers team.
But the Kings responded with one of their most impressive efforts in being active and engaged defensively, holding Cleveland to 43.2 percent shooting.
The challenge is to have that focus every night.
Aggressive Bogi is a good thing
Over the last few games, Bogdanovic has been noticeably more aggressive. That was needed Wednesday, as Bogdanovic’s strong start helped shake the Kings out of a first-quarter rut when he entered the game.
Bogdanovic’s scoring was important, but he set the tone in the first quarter also with three assists to jump-start Sacramento’s offense.
First-time starters and the rotation
Frank Mason III has struggled lately, but that didn’t stop Kings coach Dave Joerger from giving the rookie his first career start. He only played 10 minutes (four points, two rebounds and one assist), but he’s a young player the Kings are committed to allowing work through his mistakes.
Malachi Richardson also made the first start of his career. He played 16 minutes with four points, two rebounds and an assist.
Richardson is in the rotation for now, and that’s why Skal Labissiere is not. Minutes that might have gone to Labissiere are going to Richardson and Justin Jackson. Joerger said before the game Labissiere would eventually be back in the rotation, but he is getting a look at Jackson and Richardson for now.