For the eighth time in nine seasons, the Sacramento Kings opened on the road, this time in the Windy City against the Chicago Bulls. While the Kings showed flashes of quality basketball, their lack of consistency hurt them from start to finish. In the end, the Bulls were too much to deal with, besting the Kings 93-87.
Notes and Analysis
- Keith Smart finally announced his starting lineup tonight moments before tip-off. Isaiah Thomas, Tyreke Evans, James Johnson, Jason Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins started the contest, but Smart mixed and matched all night long in an attempt to find the right group on the floor.
- James Johnson is the best defender the Kings have had since Ron Artest was traded to the Rockets. The former Bull has a way to go on the offensive end, but was stellar against the very talented Luol Deng, who finished with seven points on just three-for-13 shooting from the floor.
- DeMarcus Cousins started and finished well, but he struggled with turnovers, coughing the ball up seven times tonight. He also battled foul trouble, even picking up his first technical of the season. If the Kings want to make a move in the standings, games like this need to stop now.
- While Cousins sat, Joakim Noah had his way in the post. The defensive-minded center led the Bulls in points with 25 and grabbed 10 rebounds. He was clearly the difference in the game.
- Jimmer Fredette played a total of six seconds, all of them coming at the end of the second quarter. It looks like it will be slim pickings early on as Smart gives Thomas and Brooks a shot to run the show.
- John Salmons missed the opener due to personal reasons. While the Kings have been quiet on the subject, radio play-by-play man Gary Gerould tweeted out that Salmons’ wife gave birth and that he will rejoin the team tomorrow. Salmons has missed substantial time during training camp and will have to work to get back into the rotation.
- Stat of the Night: In a six-point game, the Bulls more than doubled the Kings chances from the line. They finished 25-for-33 from the stripe, while the Kings went 13-of-16.
1. Who finishes the game for the Sacramento Kings?
While they didn’t start, veterans Aaron Brooks, Marcus Thornton and Chuck Hayes played the majority of the minutes down the stretch with starters DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans. Jason Thompson played well in the third as the Kings stormed back while James Johnson logged just 22 minutes as a defensive stopper.
2. Who cracks Keith Smart’s rotation?
The biggest surprises were the 21 minutes played by rookie Thomas Robinson and the eight minutes by veteran Francisco Garcia. Smart went to the bench early, spreading the minutes pretty thin for both his starters and his reserves. The rotation seems set for now with Brooks, Thornton, Hayes, Robinson and Garcia complimenting the starters.
3. Can the Kings win the point guard match-up?
Isaiah Thomas outplayed veteran Kirk Hinrich in the battle of starters, but Nate Robinson was more efficient than Brooks, who ended up losing part of his front tooth late in the game. Overall, the Kings point guards outscored their Bull counterparts 17 to 10, but the Bulls won the game.