Head coach Keith Smart addresses the media following the Kings' 113-96 win over the Los Angeles Lakers at Power Balance Pavilion.
Kings 113, Lakers 96
The Kings finished their season Thursday night by defeating a Lakers team that was resting its key players in preparation for a playoff run.
That's a position the Kings want to be in next year, which would be significant progress for a team that finished this lockout-shortened season 22-44.
After Thursday's season finale, head coach Keith Smart presented each player with a copy of a book titled "Talent Is Never Enough."
"There were several games this year where we were probably a little more talented than the team we played based on them having some players out with injuries, and we didn't close the deal," Smart said. "We didn't win those games. Hopefully next year we can win those basketball games.
"All the things we did this year were really building up toward summer preparation and then next year, to get us off to a great start. But it's going to require them being committed to it. And it's going to require myself and my staff and everyone else to be committed to them following through with the plan."
The plan for Thursday night's season finale against the shorthanded Lakers, said the Kings' Tyreke Evans, was "to play hard, get the win and let's get out of here."
They did so, jumping out to an 11-point lead after one quarter in a game that was never really close afterward. The Kings led by as many as 24 points.
DeMarcus Cousins finished with 23 points and 19 rebounds. Evans added 21 points and Jason Thompson had a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
The Kings scored 24 points off of 15 Lakers turnovers, and outscored the Lakers on the fast-break, 25-5.
Josh McRoberts had a team-high 16 points for Los Angeles. Ramon Sessions and Devin Ebanks each added 14 points.
The Kings won two of their final three games to finish one game ahead of the last-place New Orleans Hornets in the Western Conference.
"We just didn't get off to a great start, and that's what hurts you, especially in shortened seasons," said guard Jimmer Fredette. "I felt like we're continuing to get better, getting to know each other more as a group. But it's all about this offseason now, and working as hard as we can to get back and be better next year."
Kings 90, Lakers 74
There isn't much suspense left in this one. It does appear, though, that the Kings will escape a last-place finish in the Western Conference.
The New Orleans Hornets lost earlier this evening, so if the Kings hold onto this lead against the Lakers' backups they will finish a game ahead of New Orleans in the standings.
DeMarcus Cousins has 19 points and 17 rebounds to lead all players. Tyreke Evans has 19 points and Jason Thompson has 14.
Devin Ebanks and Ramon Sessions have each scored 14 points for the Lakers.
Rookie forward Tyler Honeycutt played the first half of the third quarter and made his first three-pointer of the season.
Kings 56, Lakers 43
DeMarcus Cousins already has a double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds and the Kings lead the Lakers by double digits at halftime.
This gives Cousins 36 double-doubles for the season.
The Kings are shooting 48 percent, while Los Angeles has shot just 39 percent.
Jason Thompson has 12 points and seven rebounds for the Kings, while Tyreke Evans has 10 points. Terrence Williams threw down a highlight-reel dunk late in the second quarter.
No Lakers player is in double figures. Josh McRoberts has seven points and six rebounds.
Forward Tyler Honeycutt is in for the Kings to start the third quarter.
Kings 35, Lakers 24
The Kings are apparently better than the Lakers' B-team.
The Lakers are sitting Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum and the Kings have taken advantage. The Kings already have 20 points in the paint.
DeMarcus Cousins has nine points and nine rebounds to lead the Kings. The Kings are shooting 56 percent.
The Lakers are shooting 37.9 percent. Jordan Hill started at center and has six points, tied for the team lead along with Devin Ebanks.
Ramon Sessions is the only starter that has played for the Lakers.