The Sacramento Kings finished the preseason strong tonight, knocking off the star-laden Los Angeles Lakers 94-82 in San Diego. The Kings conclude the exhibition schedule with a 5-2 record.
Notes and Analysis
- Isaiah Thomas led the way with 20 points, but it was the strong play of Jason Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins in the post that racked up fouls early and often on former Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard.
- James Johnson appears to have won the starting small forward position. The Kings don’t have another player like him. He can run the floor, defend, pass and he brings incredible energy to the lineup. The Kings may have found a perfect “fit” piece when they sent a future second-round pick to Toronto for the 25-year old wing out of Wake Forest.
- When Keith Smart went to his bench tonight, it wasn’t pretty. Off nights happen and I’m sure coach Smart is ok with a rough evening from a handful of players in a blowout win. It was interesting to hear the Lakers broadcast team rave about the Marcus Thornton/Aaron Brooks combo as they came in the game. If nothing else, teams are going to have to gameplan for the duo of high-scoring guards the Kings may feature off their bench.
- Chuck Hayes is a different player. After a disastrous first season in Sacramento, Hayes is lighter and looks ready to earn the four-year free agency deal he signed a season ago. His statline won’t jump out at you, but he anchored the second team defense and rebounded well.
- Jimmer Fredette received his first DNP-CD of the season tonight in San Diego. While some folks will read something into that decision by Smart, Jimmer played quality minutes in the team’s first six preseason games. The reality is that Jimmer is the fifth guard on this team right now. Some nights he will play and other nights he might sit. The positive news is that he has shown a lot of growth from what we saw in his rookie campaign.
- John Salmons continues to miss games with what is being deemed a “personal issue”. Tonight, rookie Thomas Robinson joined Salmons on the inactive list, missing the game due to personal reasons.
- Stat of the Night: Turnovers were the story of this game. The Kings took care of the ball on the offensive end, turning the ball over only seven times. That was not the case with the Lakers, who finished with 21 miscues (eight unforced). Sloppy play, especially in the third quarter, opened the door the for the Kings and they took advantage.
1. Will Tyreke Evans be aggressive from the perimeter?
Evans started the game slowly on the offensive end, but when Cousins went to the bench with two fouls in the first quarter, he became a lot more aggressive. When the Kings came out of half-time, Evans went right at the Lakers defense on back-to-back plays. He finished with a solid 14 point, 5 rebound, 5 assist night in 23 minutes. If tonight was any indication, Evans will start at the shooting guard when the Kings open the season next week in Chicago.
2. Will the Kings’ rest their key players?
The Kings went at the Lakers as they rightly should have. With the season less than a week away, Smart needed his rotation to get some game action together against someone other than fellow teammates. Thompson led the way with 28 minutes of play, but the Kings’ top nine players each played 20 minutes or more. Smart went for the win, which is bound to make Kings fans happy.
3. Do the Kings keep the Lakers winless this preseason?
The Lakers finished the preseason with a record of 0-8, with the Kings were responsible for three of those losses. With Kobe Bryant out with injury and Dwight Howard in foul trouble, the Kings ran all over the Lakers. Preseason means absolutely nothing when the NBA’s 82-game schedule tips off, but the Kings have to be feeling confident after a very strong showing in all but two of their games.