BOSTON — If Wednesday’s 106-82 blowout of the Sacramento Kings wasn’t the Boston Celtics’ most complete game of the season, it had to be close.
“That was the best game physically we’ve played, I thought, as a team,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said after his team ended a four-game losing streak with the win.
“I was a little nervous coming into today because we had two hard practices, where there were very few fouls called and there was a real emphasis on getting into bodies and getting into the ball and competing and growing as a team by competing against each other and hopefully we can build on that.”
In short, everything the Celtics tried worked. Stevens inserted Evan Turner into the starting lineup, with rookie Marcus Smart sent to the bench. Both played well. There were 32 assists on 44 baskets and the bench outscored the starters 54-52. The Celtics also made life miserable for Sacramento scorers DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay.
Boston never trailed in improving their record to 11-18. The Celtics are 2-4 since sending their captain, Rajon Rondo, to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for three players, two draft picks and a trade exception.
The Celtics are still trying to get to know each other.
“It was nice to get some reps together against each other in practice and compete against each other,” said forward Kelly Olynyk, who had 15 points.
The Turner/Smart experiment was great for the home team.
“I thought they both played well … that’s a plus-plus for today,” Stevens said. “So we’ll see moving forward how that plays itself out.”
Turner dished out a career-high 11 assists to go with 11 points, six rebounds and three steals. Smart played 28 1/2 minutes and had 11 points, added six rebounds, two steals and two assists. He also got himself thrown to the floor by a frustrated Cousins in the fourth quarter.
Smart got up and never backed down — both players getting technical fouls and Cousins getting tossed for two technicals.
“I’m one of those guys that’s not going to back down from anything,” said Smart, who went into the stands to shove a mouthy fan at Texas Tech last year. “I’m going to let that be known.”
Cousins said, “I shouldn’t have done it,” and said he apologized to his team after the game.
Boston jumped to a 9-0 lead, failed to hold it but used a 12-0 run at the end of the first half and start of the second to take control.
The Kings (13-19 and loser of nine of the last 11) cut a 15-point deficit to eight, but the Celtics scored the last eight points of the third quarter to take a 16-point lead into the fourth. The lead grew to 28.
Cousins, 1 of 8 from the floor when he got this first technical for mouthing off in the first half, finished with 11 points (5 of 17) and 11 rebounds. Cousins and Gay, who came in averaging a combined 45.9 points per game, went 9 of 36.
Stevens, talking about Cousins, said, “He didn’t have his best day, but I thought our guys were really locked in on guarding him.”
Cousins said he was “very frustrated. The game started out rough for us and I let my emotions get the best of me. I’ve got to be smarter and make better decisions.”
The loss dropped Tyrone Corbin to 2-6 as the Kings coach and came in the first game since the “interim” tag was dropped and he was told he’ll coach the rest of the season.
Forward Jared Sullinger scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for Boston, also blocking three shots in the third quarter.
Guard Darren Collison and forward Carl Landry scored 14 points apiece in the loss.
NOTES: Tyrone Corbin, named as the Kings’ interim coach after the surprising firing of Michael Malone, had the “interim” tag removed and will coach the team for the rest of the season. “You can relax on that part of it and focus more on the games and who we have and what we feel we’ll be with this group for the rest of the year,” he said on his 52nd birthday. “We can move forward on what we want to be, trying to grow on both ends of the floor.” … G Marcus Thornton (calf) was still out of the Boston lineup. … The Kings continue their four-game road trip at Minnesota on Thursday night, and the Celtics welcome their former captain, Rajon Rondo, and the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night. … Wednesday’s game was the first half of a TD Garden double-header, with the Bruins hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs at night. Several Bruins were working out in the hallway before the basketball game.
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