Notes and Analysis
- For the first time this season, DeMarcus Cousins was completely dominant, finishing with game highs in points (23) and rebounds (15). He turned the ball over twice in the early first quarter, but finished with just three total turnovers in the win.
- While his defense has been nothing short of stellar, newcomer James Johnson is off to a horrendous start on the offensive side of the ball for the Kings. After another rough shooting night (two-for-eight), Johnson is now shooting just 23 percent from the field in the team’s first four games.
- Tyreke Evans had a night to forget. The Kings starting shooting guard scored a season-low three points on one-for-nine shooting in 29 minutes of action. He still seems to be finding his way in the offense.
- Marcus Thornton was hot in the first half, scoring 14 points on five-for-10 shooting. He cooled down after intermission, going one-for-six from the field and finishing the game with 16 points.
- You could easily overlook Chuck Hayes contribution on the night, but that would be a mistake. The veteran post player scored four points and grabbed three rebounds in 11 minutes, but his play goes well beyond the numbers. He is leading the second unit and making crucial stops on the defensive end in crunch time.
- The point guard assist totals continue to be cause for concern. Isaiah Thomas played 21 minutes and finished without a single assist, while Aaron Brooks had just two in his 20 minutes of action. The duo has just 11 total assists through the first four games of the season.
- Stat of the Night: The Kings and their new found defensive spirit have allowed an opponent to shoot 40 percent or better in just one of their four games this season. In defeat, the Warriors shot 39.7 percent from the field.
Three answers to three questions pondered
1. Can the Kings win the battle on the glass?
Through their first three games, the Kings were out-rebounded by a margin of 12 boards per contest. On Monday, the Kings controlled the boards against Golden State, out-rebounding the Warriors 43 to 38. Sacramento managed to grab 33 of their 43 total rebounds on the defensive end, including a timely rebound off a potential game winner by Warriors’ guard Klay Thompson.
2. Does Keith Smart continue use Aaron Brooks as his closer at point guard?
Once again, Brooks was called into duty in crunch time. And the veteran Kings point guard responded by hitting some critical shots to keep the Kings ahead. Of his 12 points, Brooks scored five of them in the final five minutes. After the game, Smart complimented Brooks’ ability to handle late game situations: “Having a pickup like that with two young points guards that we have on our roster already with a veteran guy that understands game situations late is just going to keep helping our team get better.”
3. Do we see a sellout at Sleep Train Arena?
Indeed, it was a sellout at the newly renamed arena in Natomas. According to the final tally, 17,317 fans attended Monday’s win over the Golden State Warriors.
- Jonathan Santiago
Inside the building
The scoreboard is a prime spot for corporate sponsors to advertise at Sleep Train Arena. One of the companies that had premium real estate on the big screen last year was Thunder Valley Casino and Resort. They chose not to renew their partnership with the Kings this season, but the team has yet to take down their signage from the scoreboard.
As a temporary fix, the Kings have covered the Thunder Valley ads with black tarp. But because of the noise and raucous atmosphere inside the building Monday, some of the plastic coverings came unhinged and fell onto the court during the game. Here’s a look.
In total, four pieces of draping fell throughout the contest. Following the first instance, head coach Keith Smart ran onto the court to clean up the mess. He joked about the mishap after the game.
“I was worried about slipping though when I stopped,” Smart said with a smile.
An embarrassing moment for the Kings, but clearly a win for Thunder Valley, who ended up with free advertising during the biggest night of the season so far.
WiFi capability was another issue that hindered the fan experience Monday. The Kings eliminated their game night programs in order to upgrade the arena’s wireless internet. But because the building was packed, WiFi connectivity lagged for fans during the game. It’s an issue that the Kings say they’re looking into fixing.
The Mayor of Sacramento, Kevin Johnson was in the house. He sat courtside with his wife Michelle Rhee on the sideline opposite the Warriors’ bench. He couldn’t help but jump into the fray about the scoreboard debacle, taking to Twitter to voice his thoughts. He also exchanged pleasantries with the Maloof Family before the game tipped off.
Speaking of the Maloofs, Gavin, Colleen and Phil sat in their usual sideline seats next to the TV crew of Grant Napear and Jerry Reynolds.
Former Kings center Brad Miller was also in attendance Monday. He was spotlighted on the big screen after halftime as he walked towards the tunnel closest to the Kings’ locker room. Miller acknowledged the crowd then exchange pleasantries with Kings president of basketball ops Geoff Petrie, who typically watches every game from that vantage point.
- Jonathan Santiago
Quotes of the Game
DeMarcus Cousins on how comfortable he is now four games into the season:
I’m still trying to get comfortable. I mean, we kind of switched back to the old offense which helped us out a lot tonight because we were struggling in our new offense. Not to say it didn’t work, but it just didn’t really fit us as a team. Coach made a great adjustment and it showed.
Aaron Brooks on the adjustments the Kings made on offense tonight.
Just moving the ball. We’re still not there and it’s scary because our defense is good. We’re playing real good defense and we never thought offense would be a problem, but that’s a good problem to have.