(photo credit: REUTERS)
Omri Casspi’s excellent start to the NBA season reached a new high on Tuesday night when he led the Sacramento Kings to a 99-89 victory at the New Orleans Pelicans.
The 26-year-old Israeli rejoined Sacramento in the summer after being released by New Orleans just two weeks after he was traded to the team from the Houston Rockets.
He showed the Pelicans what they are missing out on with a season-high 22 points on 9-of- 14 from the field, while also grabbing four rebounds in 36 minutes.
Casspi, who was just two points shy of the career-high he set in his rookie season in Sacramento in 2009/10, was making his first start of the season, replacing the injured Rudy Gay. He was set to be in the starting lineup once more when the Kings visited Houston on Wednesday night.
“At the time I was playing mostly at the four [power forward] for Houston,” said Casspi in an attempt to explain why the Pelicans had no interest in his services. “They were kind of loaded at the four spot.
And they didn’t value me as a three [small forward.] I’m happy the Kings valued me as a good three.”
Casspi scored 14 of his points in the second half, with center DeMarcus Cousins adding 22 points and 13 rebounds to lift Sacramento to 9-5, its best start since getting out of the gate 13-5 in 2004/05.
“I’m not trying to be somebody I’m not,” Casspi added.
“I’m going to play my game.
Play hard, run the floor, offensive rebound, do what I do.”
Casspi improved his averages this season to 8.4 points and 3.4 rebounds per game, while ranking first in the team in field goal percentage (.541).
“In my short time in Sacramento, this might be the best win we’ve had,” said head coach Michael Malone.
“The only reason I say that is because one, New Orleans is a very good team in their building and you’re without Rudy Gay and Darren Collison.
“So for us to come in here and see the contribution from Omri Casspi, who played terrific tonight with 22 points, to see Ray McCallum and Nik Stauskas come off the bench and make big plays, Jason Thompson’s defense on Anthony Davis, the list goes on and on. I’m just so proud of our guys.”