The Boston Celtics went at each other hard for a couple of days. It must have worked because they didn’t let down against Sacramento.
Jared Sullinger scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to help the Celtics snap a four-game losing streak with a 106-84 victory over the Kings on Wednesday afternoon.
Known for blowing big second-half leads a handful of times this season, the Celtics coasted to the win.
“That was the best game physically we’ve played, I thought, as a team,” Boston coach Brad Stevens said. “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. Hopefully, we can build on that.”
Kelly Olynyk added 15 points, Jae Crowder 12 and Marcus Smart 11 for Boston, which never trailed and avoided matching its longest losing streak this season.
Darren Collison and Carl Landry each scored 14 points to lead the Kings, who lost for the ninth time in 11 games.
“Everything was just off tonight,” Kings coach Tyrone Corbin said. “It’s a disappointing effort, disappointing loss and we have to get better.”
Sacramento forward DeMarcus Cousins was ejected after collecting his second technical of the game midway into the final quarter. He finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
“We have to come together as a team — myself included,” Cousins said. “I’m the leader of this team. I have to get my stuff together. I can’t have games like I had tonight. We have to come together and figure this thing out.”
Cousins, who set two screens on Smart, was battling for position for a rebound with the rookie guard. He then grabbed him by the arm and flung him to the floor.
Smart got up and yelled at Cousins before they were separated. Each received a technical and Cousins was ejected because it was his second of the game. His other came in the first quarter.
Cousins headed out the tunnel near the Kings’ bench to a loud chorus of boos.
“He knows I’m not going to back down,” Smart said. “To be honest, I don’t know why I got the technical.”
Boston led by 16 after three quarters and pushed it to 23 on Crowder’s 3-pointer with just under eight minutes to play.
The Celtics went on an 8-0 run early in the third quarter, turning a 10-point halftime edge to 57-42 on Evan Turner’s fast-break layup. They maintained at least an eight-point lead for the rest of the quarter.
The Kings had closed the gap to 69-61 on Ray McCallum’s free throw before Boston scored the final eight points of the quarter, six coming on consecutive 3-pointers by Olynyk and Smart in the final 38.1 seconds.
Boston led 49-39 at halftime.
Kings: Corbin talked before the game about having the “interim” tag recently lifted by management. “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. “We can move forward on what we want to be, trying to grow on both ends of the floor.” Corbin replaced fired coach Michael Malone on Dec. 15.
Celtics: Boston coach Brad Stevens inserted Turner into the starting lineup as the point guard. “We’re still searching,” Stevens said. “We’ve got to stop searching soon. That’s the bottom line. I’m hopeful it’ll be a good change.” … Sullinger started despite missing Monday’s practice after tweaking his right ankle against Washington on Saturday.
Cousins said he “apologized” to his teammates after getting tossed and “I shouldn’t have done it” when asked what went through his mind when he got to the locker room. He was dressed in street clothes, sitting in his locker and waiting for the media.
Corbin didn’t start F Jason Thompson, who didn’t play at all, and inserted F Ryan Hollins into the starting lineup because “we needed to change something.” Hollins scored four points with three rebounds in just over 11 minutes.
Kings: At Minnesota on Thursday night.
Celtics: Host Dallas on Friday in Rajon Rondo’s return.