SACRAMENTO -- Just when you thought the Sacramento Kings had cashed in the season, they rallied Wednesday night against the best the Eastern Conference has to offer. The end result was a 120-111 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, but it wasn’t a lack of effort.
Kyrie Irving led the way for the Cavs, catching fire in the third and fourth quarters. The All-Star guard finished the night with a game-high 30 points, 18 of which came in the deciding second half.
After dropping a triple-double on the Kings in their first meeting, LeBron James posted 25 points, six assists and 11 rebounds this time out.
Tristan Thompson added 18 points and 15 rebounds, Kevin Love chipped in 17 points and 10 rebounds and JR Smith kicked in 15 as Cleveland improved to 45-19 on the season.
With Timofey Mozgov out due to illness, DeMarcus Cousins put up big numbers for Sacramento. The two-time All-Star dropped in a team-high 29 points and added 11 rebounds in 36 minutes of action.
Rudy Gay came out firing against James. He finished the night with 19 points, three assists and six rebounds and he made James work for everything he got on the offensive end.
Omri Casspi came out of the intermission like a man on a mission, scoring 13 points on 6-for-9 shooting. Darren Collison chipped in 15 points and eight assists starting for the injured Ben McLemore and Rajon Rondo went for 11 points and six assists.
In the second quarter, George Karl pointed to the end of the bench and summonsed veteran wing Caron Butler and “Real Tough Juice” answered the call. After riding the pine since Dec. 21, Butler delivered an inspired seven points on 2-for-4 shooting in 11 minutes of action.
Irving got hot to end the third, dropping in 10 of his 30 points as the Cavs erased an 11-point Sacramento lead. He continued his streaky shooting in the fourth, helping the Cavs put this one away.
With 1:32 remaining and the Cavs lead at just three, Love dropped in a 3-ball from the corner as Collison fouled him running by. The four-point play gave Cleveland a 115-108 lead and they never looked back.
Ben McLemore (right middle finger), Marco Belinelli (mid back) and Seth Curry (sprained right foot) all missed the game due to injury.
The Sacramento Kings return to their home floor on Friday to battle the Orlando Magic.