In front of a sellout crowd tonight at Power Balance Pavilion, the Kings avenged last season’s emotional home finale defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers by beating their Southern California Rivals, 100 to 91.
If not for the city’s tenacious fight to keep the Kings last Spring, this evening’s game might have been played in Anaheim rather than Sacramento.
“It’s nice to be back,” said Head Coach Paul Westphal following the win. “It was loud in there and our players really liked the feeling of that game. The fans were just fantastic.”
With less than a minute-and-a-half in the fourth, Marcus Thornton iced the game for Sacramento, sinking a 21-foot jumper to extend the Kings lead to double figures, 99-89. He finished as the Kings’ leading scorer with 27 points.
“Marcus is a really good player,” said Westphal. “He showed that last year after he played and had a chance to start consistently and had a good summer working hard. He was ready. The guys have a lot of confidence in him, and he has a lot of confidence in himself and he has a game to back it up.”
Twice in the game, the Kings led by as many as 15 points this evening. Following Thornton’s lead, Sacramento went on an 8-0 run to turn a 92-89 lead into a 100-89 advantage with less than 30 seconds remaining.
The Kings travel north tonight for their first road test of the season tomorrow against the Portland Trailblazers.
Player of the Game – Marcus Thornton
Final line: 27 points, 9-13 from the field, 4-7 from three, 5-5 from the free throw line, three assists and five rebounds.
Notes and Analysis
- Jason Thompson (7:29), Donté Greene (:30) and Francisco Garcia (DNP-CD) combined for eight minutes of play on the night. In last season’s opener, those three players combined to play 80 minutes. This is a very different Kings team.
- The Kings had 16 assists on 35 made baskets. The Lakers played some tough defense. The Kings need to do a better job of moving the ball.
- Jimmer Fredette and Isaiah Thomas played a combined 38:43 minutes. Not too shabby for two rookie point guards off the bench. The duo combined for 11 points and five assists.
- Chuck Hayes does little things. Chuck Hayes does big things. Chuck Hayes is very impressive. He tied a career-high with three blocks and added seven points, nine rebounds and three assists in his debut.
- Marcus Thornton scored 12 of his team high 27 points in the fourth quarter. Many of those baskets came after he took a less than clean shot to the face from Matt Barnes.
- The Kings are going to go small a whole lot this season. At one point, the Kings had Thomas, Jimmer, Thornton, Travis Outlaw and Chuck Hayes on the floor together.
- The Lakers desperately need Andrew Bynum back in the line-up. Bynum has two more games to serve from his four-game suspension and Los Angeles has very little depth in the front court in his absence. With Bynum’s penchant for injury, the Lakers could really find themselves in a bind if they can’t add another body.
- Ron Artest err… Metta World Peace is still a load in the post. The Lakers should really consider starting World Peace at power forward until Bynum is back and with his loss of foot speed, a permanent move to the post is probably warranted.
- Three-point shooting was a deciding factor in tonight’s Kings victory. The Kings made 9-18 from beyond the arc (50 percent) compared to an atrocious 1-16 by the Lakers (6.3 percent).
- Stat of the night – Tyreke Evans had zero turnovers.
Chuck Hayes on his emotions before and during the game.
You know what, I had a couple key moments emotionally. One, I was nervous, a little bit – it felt like my freshman year in college. I got excited when they introduced me and said Modesto Christian – that was a great moment. Once I got my first rebound, I was okay, my jitters were gone.
Marcus Thornton on coming through in the clutch.
The fans – for me, it was the fans. The fans stayed into the game the whole game. They were on us – they were on us if we did good and when we did bad. And to have my teammates have confidence in me the way they do is all a player can ask for.