311_Omri Casspi against the Cavaliers.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
It took Omri Casspi just one game to work his way back into the Sacramento Kings’ starting five, and if he keeps performing like he did on Saturday night he will quickly become a staple in Paul Westphal’s first team.
The 22-year-old Israeli forward scored 20 points in 42 minutes in Sacramento’s 107-104 victory at the Cleveland Cavaliers, hitting a career-best six of seven shots from beyond the arc.
Casspi scored seven of 10 shots overall, while also adding four rebounds and two steals.
“I felt like everything went in for me today,” said Casspi, who had just seven points in 20 minutes in his first start of the season against New Jersey on Friday.
“I felt great especially defensively. I’m happy I helped my team to win. I worked a lot over the summer on my game. I got a lot better, I think I got a lot more confident and I am happy that coach trusts me. I know what coach wants me to do."
“We talked a lot about my defense last year. He wanted me to get better at it. The key to my defense is having hands up all the time, helping on the weak side and being there for my teammates, and I am happy I did it tonight.”
Tyreke Evans scored 21 points for Sacramento, which trailed by 16 in the
first half. Beno Udrih had 12 points and 11 assists, and rookie
DeMarcus Cousins finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Cleveland, which has lost two straight after beating Boston in the opener, was led by Ramon Sessions, who had 21 points.
The Kings went 2-1 on their season-opening road trip and host Toronto in
their home opener on Monday. They had a chance at a perfect start but
they blew an eight-point lead late in Friday night’s game against New
Jersey and lost 106-100.
The Kings fell behind 60-44 in the second quarter on Saturday and
trailed 67-53 at halftime, but erased the deficit and then some in the
third. Cousins’ rebound basket tied it at 80 with 2:22 left. Darnell
Jackson’s two free throws against his former team gave the Kings their
first lead since early in the second, and Jackson hit a jumper in the
closing seconds of the quarter to make it 84-82 Sacramento.
Leading 94-93, the Kings scored nine consecutive points, forcing Cleveland coach Byron Scott to call timeout with 5:50 left.
Carl Landry hit a jumper, Cousins made two free throws, Casspi nailed a
three-pointer and Evans converted a layup to give the Kings a 103-93
lead and it was all over.
AP contributed to this report.