Hornets suffer costly loss to Kings
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Rudy Gay had 33 points and nine rebounds, leading the Sacramento Kings past Charlotte 101-91 on Friday night for their second victory over the struggling Hornets in 10 days.
The loss was a costly one for the Hornets. A victory would have moved Charlotte past Indiana and Boston into the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics and Pacers both lost earlier in the evening and are tied for eighth place, a half-game ahead of Charlotte.
Gerald Henderson had 20 points and Kemba Walker scored 18 for the Hornets, who have dropped three straight and five of six after beginning March with five consecutive wins. Al Jefferson scored 17 points and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had 13.
Derrick Williams had two resounding dunks in the second half and scored 13 points for the Kings. Although he scored just four points, Reggie Evans had 16 rebounds in 20 minutes and helped the Kings own a 48-36 advantage on the boards.
The Kings played without leading scorer and rebounder DeMarcus Cousins (right calf strain) for a second straight game. Sacramento is 3-13 when Cousins is not in the lineup.
Despite a tendency to squander fourth-quarter leads, the Kings never lost the lead in the fourth this time and swept the season series. Williams had eight points in the fourth when the lead was never less than six.
The Hornets entered as the only team that had lost to Sacramento in the last two weeks, a stretch that saw the Kings lose eight of nine.
Trailing by 11 at halftime, the frustration grew for the Hornets in the third quarter when both Walker and Williams drew technical fouls. After the lead was cut to three early in the period, the Kings built it back to an 11-point margin heading into the fourth.