by Jonathan Santiago & James Ham

 
DeMarcus Cousins came back from suspension, but the Sacramento Kings didn’t play any better in his return, losing 116-96 to the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night.

Quotes of the Game

Keith Smart DeMarcus Cousins’ first game back after suspension:

He was rusty.  He has been out of rhythm for two games.  Sometimes you come back and you’re probably being hard on yourself, trying to get out of that slump.  We’re having a very rough time back and it’s not fun for anyone.  You’re going to keep playing, obviously.  All it takes is heart to turn this around and then win two or three or four in a row, but we have to get to that first win first.  That’s the first thing.

Hawks head coach Larry Drew on beating the Kings:

These last couple of days have been a little bit stressful.  I thought we played well enough to win in Golden State but we came up short.  Coming into this game I knew that this team would be a really fesity team.  They have a number of guys that can score the basketball.  They play well at home, but it feels real good to get the win.  It makes this plane ride back to Atlanta.

Jason Thompson  on the emotions after game in the locker room:

Just trying to get better. Obviously we want people to know that we’re not satisfied with what’s going on.  So we thought it was only right to make each other accountable and say what was on our minds because at the end of the day when we put our hands in together, we say ‘family’ and we mean it.

Notes and Analysis

  • Defense was the Kings’ biggest issue tonight in the loss.  The Atlanta Hawks shot a whopping 55.3-percent from the field and 53.3-percent from 3-point land in the win.  Kyle Korver shot 7-for-9 overall, but nailed all five of his long range shots for 22 points in victory.
  • When Korver wasn’t draining three’s, Lou Williams and Jeff Teague were wreaking havoc on the Kings defense. The backcourt duo scored a combined 36 points in the rout.
  • Jason Thompson always plays well in front of his parents, who were in attendance tonight.  The Kings starting power forward scored a team-high 19 points and snatched 10 rebounds in a strong 33 minutes.
  • DeMarcus Cousins returned from suspension to score just nine points, but he set game highs in rebounds with 16 and assists with seven.  Unfortunately, he picked up his third technical of the season after yelling at an official in the first half.
  • James Johnson‘s struggles continued.  The veteran wing had another abysmal shooting night, finishing 1-for-7 from the field.  In a little less that eight third quarter minutes, Johnson missed all five of his mostly wide open baseline shots.  With changes coming to the starting line-up, Johnson is most likely the first to go.
  • Aaron Brooks had an incredible run in the first half.  The Kings backup point guard scored 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting and handed out three assists in 12 minutes of action.  After trailing by 14 to start the quarter, the Kings finished the half down by just two and Brooks was a big reason for that.
  • Stat of the Night: The Kings had a season-high 25 assists on the night.  Too bad it came in a 16 point loss.
- James Ham

Three answers to three questions pondered

1. Will the Kings come into tonight’s game fractured or united?

Once again, we saw a team playing like a group of individuals rather than a cohesive unit.  Cousins’ return didn’t make much of a difference for the Kings, as they played much like they did in his absence.  Sacramento dug themselves into a hole early, trailing by 14 points through the first quarter.  But in the second period, they picked up their pace, forced deflections and came back to cut the Hawks’ lead to two.  However they came out flat in the third quarter, were outscored 28 to 14 and it was all downhill from there.

2. Can the Kings stop the Hawks from three-point land?

The Kings allowed the Hawks to find their shooting stroke from deep in the first half.  Atlanta scored 18 points off 3-pointers before intermission and finished 8-of-15 for the game.  The Kings shot well from beyond the arc in the first half, making 7-of-11 attempts.  But after halftime, Sacramento went cold,  making only 1-of-9 three-point attempts.

3. Who gets the upperhand in the match-up between DeMarcus Cousins and Al Horford?

Horford started off slow, but proceeded to make an impact after halftime.  The Hawks big man scored 15 of his 20 points and grabbed six of his 10 rebounds in the second half.  Once again, we witnessed another low-percentage night for Cousins, who shot 4-of-15 from the field for 26.7 percent.  He did affect the game in other ways, namely through assists (seven) and rebounds (16).  However, the Hawks big man ultimately came away with the win.

- Jonathan Santiago