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Kings lose to the Celtics 114-97 in Mexico City

So the Kings still have some work to do on the defensive end.

The Boston Celtics became the latest group of perimeter players to exploit Sacramento’s inability to contain guards, beating the Kings 114-97 Thursday night at Mexico City Arena.

Isaiah Thomas led Boston with 21 points, nine assists and four steals. Avery Bradley added 20 points and three steals as Boston’s backcourt was energized from the start.

The Kings arrived in Mexico City on Tuesday with the Celtics arriving Wednesday. But it was the Kings who looked jetlagged.

The Kings scored just 36 points in the first half, a season low, in falling behind by as many as 21 before halftime. The Celtics led by as many as 26 points in the second half.

“Our energy was never at their level,” said Kings coach George Karl. “It’s disappointing. I still think we have to be more serious about the starts of our games.”

Boston led 32-17 after the first quarter and wasn’t threatened the rest of the way.

Rajon Rondo ejected after two technical fouls from referee Bill Kennedy in the third quarter and had to be kept away from Kennedy by DeMarcus Cousins before he left the floor.

By then, the Celtics had already put their imprint on the game, and after the technical-foul free throws, the Kings trailed 73-49 with 6:30 to play in the third.

Rondo had five points and eight assists against his former team.

“It put a punch on our ability to have a comeback,” Karl said. “Rajon’s been our motor; he’s been our engine.”

Thomas was Boston’s engine as he led four Celtics who scored at least 20 points. Jae Crowder had 20 and Kelly Olynyk came off the bench for 21 points and Karl said he looked like an All-Star.

Cousins had a forgettable shooting night (4 of 17) and was plagued by foul trouble. He finished with 16 points and seven rebounds.

The Kings shot 37.7 percent and committed 19 turnovers that led to 24 points for Boston.

“It’s not one person, it’s not the starters, it’s not the bench,” Karl said. “We were dominated tonight. There’s enough blame to go around for everybody.”

Rudy Gay led the Kings with 18 points.

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