SACRAMENTO -- There are a lot of people around the NBA screaming “I told you so” this week after the Sacramento Kings once again spun out of control. Every writer with access to a computer heaped on the struggling franchise. The word count alone could fill the lower bowl of the half built Golden1 Center in downtown Sacramento.

The DeMarcus Cousins vs. George Karl feud is must see drama. Everyone loves drama. It is the golden ticket in the ever developing world of clickbait media.

The Kings have repeatedly made themselves an easy target. It’s a reality that they can’t seem to avoid. But this particular mess spilled into almost every facet of the Kings world.

Even though he had nothing to do with the latest blow up, Rajon Rondo’s name was brought up plenty of times. His mere presence in Sacramento made him part of the piñata that was beaten nearly to death.

How did Rondo respond? The same way he has for much of the season - with an incredible effort.

For the third time in four games, the 29-year-old point guard dropped in a triple-double, the latest Friday night against the Nets. With Sacramento missing Rudy Gay and Darren Collison, the Kings second and third leading scorers respectively, Rondo posted a 23-point, 14-assist, 10-rebound performance.

[REWIND: Cousins putting Kings on his back; Acy supplies energy]

“I think I’m in a good rhythm,” a humble Rondo told CSNCalifornia’s Kayte Christensen following the game. “Obviously I’m playing a lot of minutes, but my teammates have been very unselfish setting picks to get guys open, we’re all team rebounding. The most important thing is, we got two wins in a row. That’s what it’s all about.”

 

Over his last four games, the four-time All-Star has averaged 14.8 points, 14 assists, 9.8 rebounds and four steals in 46 minutes per game. To say he is stuffing the stat sheet would be a miscarriage of justice.

“I kind of get caught up watching him play,” Cousins said. “It’s just amazing being able to just watch his efforts on a nightly basis. I don’t really have to say much, you guys see it.”

“It’s crazy,” Ben McLemore added. “I love being out on the floor with him. He sees the floor, passes, does everything, rebounds, score, whatever he needs to do for this team.”

The outside world means very little to this Kings team. Whatever preconceived notion of who and what Rajon Rondo is, this group of players aren’t buying it. He has instantly become part of the family in Sacramento and his teammates would love to see him stick around long-term.

The Kings are 2-2 over Rondo’s incredible four game stretch, but they have won two straight and are finally looking like a team and not a collection of individual players. He is the straw that stirs their drink and they all know it. His ability to play all or most of the game is inspiring his teammates and his production has them in awe.

“Not too many people can play 48 minutes on a nightly basis when all of our other point guards are out,” Quincy Acy said. “And he’s getting triple-doubles and whatever it takes for us to get wins. That’s a leader right there. He’s doing it by example and showing that nothing can get in his way of helping the team win.”

More than the numbers, or the fact that he is playing the most important position on the floor without a backup, Rondo has his teammates buying into his style of play. The moment he signed with the Kings, he instantly ascended to a leadership position.

While there may have been a few heated moments behind the scenes over the last month and half, Rondo is becoming the glue holding this team together. His experience and knowledge of the game is drawing his teammates in. While the team has yet to find the perfect chemistry on the floor, they are a tight group off the court.

For young players like McLemore and rookie Willie Cauley-Stein, he is teaching them how to improve their game through film study and one-on-one work on the floor. For veteran players, he is getting them involved wherever he can.

“He’s a great guy, a great teammate, a veteran that helps me a lot,” McLemore said. “He helpes me watch film. He tells me what I need to do to work on my game. He’s always constantly talking, always communicating with us whatever we need to do to get the win.”

 

There is no question that Rondo is a complex person and player. Things didn’t work out in Dallas and he has paid a huge price for that situation. But he is making an impact on a team that has been rudderless for nearly a decade.

The Kings were a chaotic group before Rondo’s arrival and they will likely continue on that path. But it has very little to do with him, at least at this moment.

For now, Rondo is an All-Star level player doing everything in his power to will his team to victory. It hasn’t been easy. The Kings are 3-7 on the season, but they have played just one game this season with their full compliment of players.  

“He’s playing great,” Karl said. “It will be fun to add the other pieces and see how we can balance out the offense where everybody’s aggressive and confident.”

Rudy Gay should be back on Sunday after missing the Nets game with gastroenteritis. Darren Collison’s return from a strained left hamstring is getting close as well. If you add these pieces to Rondo and Cousins, the Kings might just have a chance to turn this ship around.