SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Sacramento Kings are going nowhere for the 10th straight summer.
The future of their head coach and top scorer are uncertain, and the team’s longest home losing streak in eight years brought boos from the home crowd on Friday night.
So they’ll seize any opportunity to enjoy a win, and Friday night’s 116-94 blowout of the Phoenix Suns brought a rare one.
“When you have your teammates screaming at you to shoot a 3-pointer, and you’ve never shot one in your life, that felt good,” Kings rookie Willie Cauley-Stein said after scoring a career-high 26 points on a night that couldn’t be stained by his two errant attempts from behind the arc late in the fourth quarter. “Really good.”
Cauley-Stein, a 7-foot rookie center who makes a living far closer to the basket, hoisted up a career-high 19 shots, all but the final two coming from close range. By the time he shot his first 3-point attempts of his season, the Kings were up 114-94 and he had 17 points in the second half.
He wasn’t the only Kings standout.
Guard Rajon Rondo put his name in the Kings’ record book with 12 assists, and center DeMarcus Cousins just missed doing the same with a game-high 29 points and 11 rebounds.
Rondo, the NBA assists leader at 11.9 per game, moved past guard Reggie Theus for the most assists in a season in Sacramento history with his 789th in the third quarter.
Rondo has at least 10 in a game 47 times this season, and with 10 games left, he has 795. Theus set the previous mark of 788 in 1985-86, the Kings’ first season in Sacramento.
Cousins fell a point shy of his 26th 30-point game of the season, which would tie Hall of Famer Mitch Richmond’s 1996-97 total for the most in any season in Sacramento history. Cousins did not play the fourth quarter.
The Kings (28-44) didn’t need him. They led 89-67 entering the final 12 minutes and never let the lead get below 18.
In doing so, the Kings moved no closer to securing the eighth and final playoff spot. They stayed 7 1/2 games behind the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference, but they did end a seven-game home losing streak that was their longest since November 2008.
“The home court has been a mystery that has frustrated everybody,” Kings coach George Karl said. “Tonight, we had some good balance with our defense, which we haven’t had enough here.”
Sacramento, allowing an NBA-worst 109.0 points per game, limited the Suns to 67 points after the first quarter. The Kings outscored the Suns by a combined 45 points in winning both matchups at home this season.
“The last home game was the first time I’ve heard boos by the home base of fans,” Cauley-Stein said of Sacramento’s 123-108 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on March 16. “It struck in the heart. This is the kind of energy we need to play with. We’re not playing for much right now. From here on out, we need to play for them.”
Rookie Devin Booker scored 21 points to pace the Suns (20-52), who played without guard and leading scorer Brandon Knight after he suffered food poisoning earlier in the day.
But Booker also had a season-worst nine assists, eight of them coming before halftime.
Booker, who like Rondo, Cousins and Cauley-Stein played at Kentucky, is averaging 22.2 points per game in March. He and Rondo matched up often Friday.
“To go up against an experienced guy like Rondo, things like that are going to make him a much better player,” Suns coach Earl Watson said.
Mirza Teletovic added 12 points off the bench but made just 5 of 16 shots from the field for Phoenix. Teletovic, who already has broken Danny Ainge’s team season mark for 3-pointers, was just 2 of 9 behind the arc.
Forward Quincy Acy scored 14 points, guard Seth Curry added 12 and guard Darren Collison had 11 for Sacramento.
NOTES: Back spasms kept Suns C Tyson Chandler on the sideline for the second straight game. The absence ensured that he will play fewer than 70 games for the second straight season and for the fifth time in the past six. … Kings C DeMarcus Cousins, the NBA’s technical foul leader with 15, played his eighth straight game without one. Cousins, who has led the NBA in technical fouls in three of his first five seasons, receives a one-game suspension if he’s slapped with another one. … Suns G Devin Booker trails only Minnesota C Karl-Anthony Towns in scoring among NBA rookies during March. Booker averaged 22.2 points and 5.1 assists in March entering Friday’s game, the latter figure also second among rookies. … How bad have both the Suns and Kings been on defense? Phoenix has surrendered at least 110 points in 28 of its 72 games, and the Kings did the same in 35 of their 72. They rate 29th and last, respectively, in the NBA in that department.