SACRAMENTO, Calif. — DeMarcus Cousins found himself in an unusual place Sunday night, sitting on the bench the entire fourth quarter. Sacramento’s center liked the feeling of not being needed in a rare lopsided win by the Kings.
Isaiah Thomas scored 26 points to lead the Kings to their third straight win with this season’s biggest rout, a 124-80 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The 44-point victory margin was the largest in the NBA this season, according to STATS and the third largest margin in franchise history.
The Kings scored 16 straight points in the third quarter and led by 28 points heading into the fourth. The three-game winning streak is Sacramento’s first since December 2012.
Cousins, an All-Star hopeful, finished with 16 points, 11 rebounds and two blocked shots in just under 30 minutes.
“It felt weird, sitting out the whole fourth. Unless I fouled out, I don’t think I’ve ever been in that situation” Cousins said. “It felt good to see some of the guys play a lot of minutes and get out there and have good games. It was a good win all around.”
These are rare times indeed for the Kings. The three-game win streak has been no fluke. Sacramento defeated Portland, then followed with a 20-point victory over Orlando and the victory over Cleveland, their highest point total of the season and easily their most impressive victory.
The Kings allowed Orlando to score 83 points, a season low until Cleveland only scored 80.
“Consistency isn’t something we’ve shown defensively, but the last three games I think the defense has been consistent, the effort has been there, and the communication has been there,” Kings coach Michael Malone said. “We bought in the last three games and protected our home court. That’s great.”
C.J. Miles had 14 points and Luol Deng added 12 for the Cavaliers, who had won two straight.
Cleveland went just over five minutes without a basket in the third quarter, when it shot 4 of 20 and was outscored 30-11. The Cavaliers were outscored 65-30 in the second half.
Kyrie Irving, the Cavaliers’ leading scorer, missed 11-of-14 shots, 3-of-4 free throws and finished with seven points.
“It was just one of those nights. The shots were not falling,” Irving said. “Like coach said, we just have to bring it in more and be more together during the hard times. Especially when I am having a bad shooting night. That’s part of the game. We just have to continue to compete, including myself.”
It was Deng’s second game since arriving from Chicago in a trade for Andrew Bynum and three draft picks. Deng, who has been bothered by a sore left Achilles, had 10 points in 21 minutes in his Cavaliers’ debut, a victory Friday night in Utah.
“In the first half we were able to get whatever we wanted,” Deng said. “In the second half, we should have recognized what was going on and focused on our defense a lot more. They did switch their game plan and started playing ‘D’ and that’s what we should have done.”
Rudy Gay scored 20 points for the Kings, who concluded a five-game home stand with a 3-2 record. Both Derrick Williams and Jimmer Fredette scored 13 points.
The Kings made 15 of 30 3-pointers, shot 52 percent, and outrebounded the Cavaliers 50-32. The Kings also had eight blocks, including three by Gay.
“They shot the mess out the basketball. I give them and Mike Malone credit,” Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. “From top to bottom, they kicked my behind and everybody else in a Cleveland Cavalier uniform. It wasn’t just Rudy Gay and Isaiah Thomas. It was the whole … team.”
Thomas made consecutive 3s and Ben McLemore and Williams each had another in a span of two minutes, giving the Kings a 106-68 lead with 8:55 left in the fourth quarter. The lead reached a high of 46 points in the fourth quarter.
“This is very fun. Winning cures a lot of things,” Thomas said. “We’re playing hard right now.
Gay and Thomas both scored nine points in the third quarter when the Kings hit 12 of 13 free throws, outrebounded Cleveland 16-7 and took an 89-61 lead.
Leading by nine points at the half, the Kings expanded their lead in the third quarter. They ran off 16 unanswered points in building an 86-58 lead. Cousins and Gay started the run with consecutive three-point plays and Thomas ended the spree with a layup.
Gay and Thomas both scored 11 first-half points for the Kings, who led 59-50. Sacramento outscored the Cavaliers 29-18 in the second quarter. Miles had 11 points and Anderson Varejao 10 for Cleveland.
It was a difficult opening half for Irving. The talented Cavaliers point guard shot 1 of 7, missed both free throws, and had two points in 19 minutes.
Miles made a contested 40-footer to end the first quarter. The 3-pointer gave Cleveland a 32-30 lead.