by Jonathan Santiago & James Ham

 
Keith Smart made changes to his starting five, but the end result was much of the same.  The Sacramento Kings fell 99-90 to the Brooklyn Nets at home in Sunday’s afternoon affair.  Sacramento has now lost five straight games.

Quotes of the Game

Tyreke Evans on whether the changes to the starting lineup helped:

I can’t really tell.  The game was in a good flow the first half until the last two minutes, they kind of pulled away.  Then after that, we just kind of were trying to get back in the game.  We got back, cut it to three and they just played harder than us.  We (need to) try to match their (the opponent’s) momentum every game.

Marcus Thornton on the performance of the Nets’ bench.

They came in and played well.  Guys like C.J. Watson and Andray Blatche – they just had a good game.  Against teams like that, you can’t let guys like that go off.

Andray Blatche on his near-perfect shooting performance:

Just getting open shots and making the shots is pretty much it.  Teammates were looking for me and when a double-team came to them, I was there to make the open shot.

Notes and Analysis

  • The Nets bench scorched the Kings today, outscoring the home team’s second unit 52-26.  Andray Blatche was unstoppable in the first half, scoring 18 of his team-high 22 before the break.  When he wasn’t scoring on the inside, MarShon Brooks and C.J. Watson killed the Kings from the perimeter.  Brooks finished with 14 points on 5-for-6 shooting, while Watson kicked in 13 points, hitting three of his four attempts from distance.
  • The Kings tried a new lineup, but came away with the same results.  Keith Smart inserted veterans Aaron Brooks and John Salmons into the starting line-up and sent Isaiah Thomas and James Johnson to the bench.  The duo combined for six points in 46 minutes, but the Kings looked more cohesive.
  • Jason Thompson drew the ire of coach Smart in the third quarter when he picked up his second technical of the season for yelling at an official.  Thompson was frustrated after he thought he was fouled on two consecutive moves in the post and he let the officials hear it as he ran down the court. Smart sent Thompson to the bench for the next 15 minutes of the third and fourth quarters.
  • Both DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans had solid games today.  The duo is supposed to be the franchise’s cornerstones, but lack of cohesion on the floor has that notion in serious doubt.  Cousins finished with 29 points and seven rebounds, while Evans came away with 21 points and seven rebounds of his own.  Flashes of brilliance are there, but the Kings need these guys to figure out a way to win.
  • The three-headed hydra at point guard continued for coach Smart.  Brooks started, Jimmer came in the second and Thomas played substantial minutes down the stretch.  The trio combined for eight points and four assists and got blown away on the defensive end by the Nets.
  • Stat of the Night: The Kings went 10-for-19 from the free throw line and lost the game by nine.
- James Ham

Three answers to three questions pondered

1. What changes will we see to the Kings’ starting lineup?

Isaiah Thomas and James Johnson lost their starting jobs to Aaron Brooks and John Salmons.  Unlike Friday’s game, the new lineup played a much better first quarter than the five who started against the Atlanta Hawks.  Salmons and Brooks didn’t impact the box score, but they were able to provide some decent floor spacing  early, which benefitted Tyreke Evans.  The Kings swingman ended up playing his best game since the opening night loss in Chicago.

2. Can we expect a tighter Kings’ rotation?

Smart still played 10 guys off his bench and doesn’t expect that to change as the season moves forward.  However, those minutes were distributed a little bit differently today.   Jimmer Fredette, not Thomas, came in to relieve Brooks first.  But Thomas would wind up playing more than Fredette, earning all of  his 14 minutes in the second half.

3. Do the Kings continue to let their offensive struggles dictate their play on the defensive end?

The Kings hung around throughout most of the game.  But during a six-minute stretch in the fourth quarter, they scored just two points, allowing the Nets to rebuild their lead.  For most of today’s contest, the defensive effort was there for the Kings; it’s their offense that continues to be an issue.

 

- Jonathan Santiago