SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Although DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay were once again the primary weapons for Sacramento, the Kings displayed their depth in beating the winless New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night.
Cousins had 11 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter and Gay finished with 21 points for the Kings, who never trailed in defeating the Pelicans 102-94.
Aaron Afflalo added 15 points and made a huge four-point play in the fourth quarter for the Kings. The return of suspended point guard Darren Collison was also a factor in the victory, along with a bench that contributed great energy and 32 points.
Afflalo is still assimilating offensively, but looked more confident, getting open for 3s and posting up. He made all three shots in the first half and finished 5 of 6.
“He was fantastic,” Kings coach Dave Joerger said. “If I’m him, I’m thinking - ‘If Coach would have called more plays for me I would had had 30 points.’ He had 15 points on six shots, that’s pretty efficient.”
It was the second straight victory for the Kings (4-5), who were 1-7 in their first eight games last season. The Kings are 2-1 at home this season and this was the first in a string of seven of eight home games.
“That’s one of our main goals this year, take care of home court,” Afflalo said.
Anthony Davis had 34 points, eight rebounds and four blocks for the Pelicans, who have started the season with eight straight losses, matching the 2004-05 team for the worst start in franchise history. Rookie guard Buddy Hield had 12 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter and E’Twaun Moore added 13.
It’s been a miserable start to the season for New Orleans, which is without three starters - Jrue Holiday (personal reasons), Tyreke Evans (right knee) and Quincy Poindexter (left knee).
“We just have to play better. There’s just no way of getting around it,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “The effort is good and I talked to the guys about the fact that I love the way we are playing hard. But we all have to play smart. In some cases we are not playing smart.”
After Hield scored six straight points to pull the Pelicans within five, Afflalo hit a 3 and was fouled. He made the free throw, completing a four-point play and giving the Kings a 97-88 lead with 45 seconds left.
“For me, I’m still trying to adjust to how to be efficient, and not get frustrated with a lack of rhythm and just play through it,” Afflalo said. “I don’t come into a game with expectations. It depends on the situation regarding how much I shoot.”
Despite 14 points from Davis, the Pelicans could not cut into the Kings’ lead and still trailed 76-70 entering the fourth.
“I’m not use to this at all. But it’s a long season,” Hield said. “We just have to stay confident. We’re 0-8 right now, but we’re going to find a way and we are going to break through this. We have a lot of games left. All we need is a win to build our confidence up.”
Collison, who entered the game late in the opening quarter, had nine points in his first game this season. He missed the first eight games, serving a suspension for a domestic violence incident in the summer.
After an unproductive first half, Collison picked up his offense in the third quarter when he scored seven points and helped the Kings maintain their lead. He finished with four assists and two steals in 27 minutes.
“I think the best part of the day was earlier this morning,” Collison said. “I came into the locker room and my teammates were waiting and started cheering. That made me feel real good and the fans embraced me. It felt really good to be out there and be with my teammates.”
Pelicans: Due to a foul that put them over the limit and wasn’t noticed, the final 18.9 seconds of the first half were replayed after intermission. The replay led to a five-point halftime lead rather than a three-point lead by the Kings. … Hield struggled in the first half, missing his first four shots and had two first-half points.
Kings: Cousins, who has seen his rebounds totals dip this year, had four boards. … Reserve Willie Cauley-Stein had five fouls in 13 minutes, but also contributed nine points and three blocks. … The Kings shot 8 of 25 on 3s, but made 48 percent of their shots overall.
Pelicans: Finish a three-game trip Thursday in Milwaukee.
Kings: Host the LA Lakers on Thursday.
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