SACRAMENTO, Calif. – For two teams that face each other only twice a year, Sacramento and Boston sure played like longtime rivals.
Kings’ center DeMarcus Cousins and the Celtics’ Kris Humphries were hit with technical fouls after tussling for a rebound in the first half, part of a game-long battle between the two big men that at times looked more suitable for a rugby field. Sacramento’s Carl Landry was called for a flagrant foul in the fourth quarter after sending Jerryd Bayless crashing to the floor to stop a fast break.
At least Bayless and Sacramento guard Isaiah Thomas kept their cool, a change from when the two teams met in Boston earlier this month.
Thomas scored 21 points and matched his career high with 12 assists, Rudy Gay added eight of his 22 points over the final six minutes, and the Kings beat the Celtics 105-98 Saturday night.
“We were poised down the stretch and that’s really the thing that sealed the game,” said Cousins, who had 13 points and seven points after sitting out Wednesday’s 101-92 loss to Golden State. “They beat us on the offensive boards a lot, our turnovers hurt us a lot … but through it all what I think saved the game was the more poised team, and that was us tonight.”
Not all the time.
At one point in the second half, Cousins crashed into Humphries as the two men were running down the court and then gave the Celtics’ center a hard shove.
“Guys were playing very physical, but that’s just how it is sometimes,” Thomas said. “The only time it was a little chippy in Boston was me and Bayless. But today it seemed like it was everybody, even the refs. We played through it the best we could.”
The Celtics, playing without starters Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger, struggled to keep their cool.
Boston’s frustrations boiled over late in the fourth quarter, when Gerald Wallace and coach Brad Stevens were ejected with 35 seconds left to play.
“It was a long game, a lot of possessions and a lot of things happened,” Stevens said. “We still had a chance to win.”
Despite being short-handed, the Celtics managed to keep it close and tied the game at 85-all following Kelly Olynyk’s free throw with 6:23 remaining.
Rudy Gay helped Sacramento pull away.
After a free throw from Cousins broke the tie, Gay made a pair of long jumpers, sank a pair of free throws then scored on a layup to make it 99-91.
Jeff Green stopped the run with two free throws, but Thomas made six straight free throws down the stretch to secure the win.
“It’s a physical game and we can’t let people get under our skin and get in the way of what we’re trying to do,” said Sacramento coach Michael Malone, whose team had 18 turnovers. “We’ll take the win, but we have to get a lot better.”
Derrick Williams and Carl Landry scored 10 points apiece off the bench for Sacramento. The Kings never trailed and limited the Celtics to one basket over the final 71/2 minutes after Boston tied the game midway through the fourth quarter.
Green scored 29 on 7-of-25 shooting for the Celtics. Humphries added 19, while Bayless had 16 off the bench.
Rondo was resting on the tail end of a back-to-back while Sullinger – who had 31 points against Sacramento earlier this season – is experiencing concussion-like symptoms after getting hit by an elbow from the Los Angeles Lakers’ Chris Kaman on Friday night.
Down to nine players, the Celtics got off to a slow start and couldn’t catch up.
Sacramento held Boston to 16 points in the first quarter, led by as many as 16 and limited the Celtics to 34 percent shooting before the break.
Sacramento also was short-handed.
The Kings announced before the game that Jason Terry will spend the remainder of the season rehabilitating his left knee. The announcement came two days after the Kings got Terry and Reggie Evans from the Brooklyn Nets for guard Marcus Thornton.
The Kings led the entire first half and were up 49-33 with 2:28 left following a pair of free throws by Cousins. Green, who missed 10 of his first 13 shots, made a pair of mid-range jumpers and added a 3-pointer to cut the gap to 51-43 by halftime.
NOTES: Cousins said his hip is continuing to bother him. “I had to do a couple of exercises on the sideline just to loosen it back up,” he said. “It tightened up on me during the game a few times. It’s bothering me a lot right now. Just running up the floor was tough.” … Thomas’ double-double was his sixth of the season. … Gay scored 20 or more points for the 18th time in 31 games since being traded to Sacramento. … Boston remained winless on its four-game road trip. … Green missed his first nine shots from the field but made a career-high 13 free throws.