It’s been an up-and-down season for Rudy Gay.
From big moments in his personal life (the birth of his second son) to beginning the season in a shooting slump, Gay’s mind has been all over the place.
On Wednesday night at Bradley Center, Gay found his game early and the Kings left feeling a little better about themselves.
Sacramento ended its season-long five-game trip with a 129-118 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks. The Kings ended the trip 2-3 and won their first game this season without DeMarcus Cousins. The Kings had been 0-5 without Cousins, who missed the game with a lower back strain.
Gay scored a season-high 36 points to go with five rebounds, two assists, a steal, a block and no turnovers.
The Kings were coming off perhaps their worst loss of the season Monday in Charlotte, giving up 38 fourth-quarter points and blowing a 22-point third-quarter lead before losing in overtime.
“Especially after our last game, we gave that one up, we needed to come out and get this one by any means necessary,” Gay said.
Without Cousins, Gay becomes the top scoring option. He scored 14 points in the first quarter and was aggressive all night. Kings coach George Karl said Gay’s play this season has mirrored how the Kings have been.
“I think it’s been some good, some bad,” Karl said. “It’s kind of like how we’ve played. Every game there’s some moments where I think he’s in a really good moment but tonight he was strong the whole game. I thought the whole team stayed mentally strong the whole game and people don’t understand to play that well on the road is not an easy challenge.”
Gay’s aggression was spurred by the Kings’ situation. Even with the win, the Kings are just 6-10. After their collapse in Charlotte, Gay figured he’d go all out to set the tone.
“It was one of the things where ‘What else do you have to lose?’ ” Gay said. “We’re out there and we desperately need a win and I’d go out there and do whatever I could to get it.”
Karl said Gay set the right mindset for the Kings.
“We want him to be a one-on-one guy but we also want him to be a passing guy so I thought the camaraderie of the team was big time,” Karl said
Rajon Rondo had 10 points and 13 assists and the bench was strong again with Omri Casspi scoring 19 points, Darren Collison scoring 18 and Marco Belinelli finishing with 17.
The Kings shot a season-high 57.1 percent.
Tempers were high toward the end of the game. Bucks coach Jason Kidd was ejected with 1:49 to play after he knocked the ball out of referee Zach Zarba’s hand after calling a timeout.
Also after the game there was a verbal altercation in the tunnel leaving the court involving Jerryd Bayless and Cousins but it never became physical.
O.J. Mayo, who was seen talking to the Kings’ bench after the game, was escorted to his car after the game, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Mayo was also seen on the court getting in Cousins’ face late in the game.
Mayo and Cousins have history. Cousins was suspended in December 2012 for hitting Mayo in the groin when he played for Dallas.