Dwight Howard‘s Hollywood debut was spoiled by the Sacramento Kings, who beat the Los Angeles Lakers 99-92 at the Staples Center in L.A.

Notes and Analysis

  • Aaron Brooks didn’t play Friday, but he didn’t miss a beat when called into action Sunday.  In 18 minutes, the Kings’ top free agent acquisition scored 16 points on four of five shooting.
  • Both Brooks and Jimmer Fredette played well for the Kings at the expense of Thomas’ playing time.  Thomas started the game, but played just 16 total minutes.
  • Evans wasn’t shy about shooting his jumper this evening.  The Kings swingman attempted five of his 10 shots from outside the painted area.  He didn’t shoot particularly well from the field (40 percent), but it was good to see Evans hoisting in situations where he’d normally force a drive.
  • Hamady Ndiaye got a chance to showcase himself in meaningful minutes.  With six ticks remaining and the Kings holding a narrow 83-81 lead, Ndiaye checked in and played five minutes.  He showed some hustle when he chased and blocked a layup attempt by Metta World Peace, only to have it called goaltending.
  • The Kings took advantage of some careless errors by the Lakers on the offensive end.  Los Angeles turned the ball over 22 times, while the Kings surrendered just 13 possessions.
  • Stat of Night:  The Kings found their stroke from the free throw line.  Sacramento was a perfect 21 of 21 from the charity stripe this evening.  In a game that was decided by just seven points, free throws made the difference.

Three answers to three questions pondered

1. Will Dwight Howard don a Lakers jersey for the first time ?

Laker fans and the rest of the world got their first glimpse of Howard in his new digs and the three-time Defensive Player of the Year was impressive.  Howard scored 11 of his 19 points in the first half and grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds in the process.  He responded well to contact and is still figuring out how to play with his new teammates.  However if his first basket as a Laker is any indication, the six-time All-Star will have no trouble fitting in.

2. Will Keith Smart begin to settle on a rotation?

Smart seems settled on his bigs rotation.  And it seems like Marcus Thornton, who played his third preseason game as a reserve, is being groomed for a sixth man role.  But as far as small forward and point guard are concerned, the dust is hardly settled.  Travis Outlaw and Aaron Brooks got the call in the first half of tonight’s game, while Jimmer Fredette and Francisco Garcia earned time after intermission.  Both Brooks and Fredette played well Sunday night and it’s not going to be easy for Smart to determine who plays between them and Thomas.  That is, however, a good problem to have.

3. Can DeMarcus Cousins make Dwight Howard wish he had taken a few more days off?

Foul trouble reared its ugly head for Cousins early in Howard’s Laker debut.  Cousins picked up four of his five personals in the first half.  But the Kings center bounced back and had a solid showing against the Lakers after halftime.  Cousins adjusted to playing against the Lakers frontline and scored 12 of his 16 points following intermission.  He disrupted the Lakers’ passing lanes and recorded team-high four steals in the win. The Gasol-Howard tandem is a whole lot to handle, but Cousins managed to hold his own against the duo.