BOSTON — The Boston Celtics enjoyed a season-high scoring day to keep their current winning stretch rolling along.
Avery Bradley scored 25 points, Isiah Thomas had 22 and the Celtics held off the Kings 128-119 on Sunday for their ninth win in 10 games.
"Whenever you get a chance to run up and down and move the ball like we did tonight, it’s fun," Bradley said. "And not only that, we were making shots. When everybody’s making shots, everybody’s happy."
The loss may also fuel recent reports on the shaky status of Sacramento coach George Karl’s future.
Jared Sullinger matched his season high with 21 points, reserve Tyler Zeller had a season high 17 with seven rebounds and Thomas added nine assists for Boston, which committed a season high 24 turnovers but shot 56 per cent.
"The one thing is our offence has been pretty good the last 10 games," Boston coach Brad Stevens said. "I don’t think we’re 128 points good. We’re probably due for games like that. You’re going to have games like the other night when we’re struggling to get to 100."
Boston’s previous high was 120 points in a win over Brooklyn on Nov. 20.
DeMarcus Cousins led Sacramento with 31 points. Marco Belinelli and Darren Collison each had 16 points. The Kings have lost seven of eight, prompting rumours about Karl’s possible firing in the near future.
"We’re in a losing mode," Karl said. "We’re losing games, but our basketball has not been bad basketball. It’s been not good enough to win basketball, which happens in the NBA every night. Just because you lose doesn’t mean you don’t play good basketball."
The Kings had sliced a 21-point deficit to 97-91 early in the final quarter before Bradley nailed a pair of 3-pointers and scored eight points during a 15-6 spree that was capped by Evan Turner’s 3-point play with just less than 6 minutes to play.
"Biggest thing I guess we’ve got to find a better energy and effort as a team," said Cousins, who said after Friday’s loss that the team had a "bigger issue than just energy and effort" but wouldn’t elaborate.
"We’ve got to find a solution, because right now whatever we’re doing isn’t working," he said following the loss to Boston.
Sacramento closed it to five points with under 2 minutes left, but Thomas scored nine of 11 points for Boston to seal it.
Coming off a buzzer-beating 3-point shot by Bradley that lifted Boston to an improbable victory in Cleveland on Friday night, the Celtics started fast, nailing five of their initial seven on 3-point attempts to pull to a 38-22 edge late in the first quarter.
The Kings cut it to 59-51 before Boston went on a 9-0 spree en route to a 74-58 halftime lead.
The Celtics pushed their advantage to 21 points on Thomas’ 3 from the right wing early in the third, but the Kings followed with a 15-2 run to close the gap to 95-87 after three.
Kings: F Rudy Gay missed the game with a left ankle injury he sustained early in a loss at Brooklyn on Friday. . Cousins picked up a technical in the first quarter.
Celtics: They wore warmups with "Cooper" and the number 11 on their backs, honouring Chuck Cooper as the first African-American player drafted by an NBA team as part of Black History month. Boston selected him with the second pick in the second round.
NO D AT START
Both teams seemed intent to just shoot and played little defence in the opening quarter. The Celtics scored a season-high points for any quarter this season, grabbing a 46-37 lead after one.
Boston also allowed a season high for a quarter, as did the Kings. Sacramento shot 63.1 per cent (14 of 22) and Boston ended up 58.1 (18 of 31), connecting on 7 of 13 from beyond the arc.
The last time Boston scored 46 in a first quarter was Feb. 12, 1982 during the Larry Bird era, at San Diego.
Kings guard Rajon Rondo got a nice hand in pregame introductions. He was a part of Boston’s 2008 championship-winning team. He had 14 points and 15 assists. "It’s always great to play here," he said after the game.
The last time the Celtics scored 74 in the first half was six years ago, when they had 74 against Dallas at home on Jan. 25, 2009.
Kings: At Cleveland on Monday.
Celtics: At Milwaukee on Tuesday.