by Jonathan Santiago & James Ham

 
It was a total team effort as the Sacramento Kings bested the visiting Los Angeles Lakers 113-97 at Sleep Train Arena.  The pre-Thanksgiving Day win ended a five-game slide for the Kings, who now move to 3-8 on the season.

Quotes of the Game

Keith Smart‘s opening comments:

Well, obviously we needed a win.  And with all of the people to win against, we needed this.  It went back to the basics.  I told these guys you’re going to stay focused on what we set our goals to this year.  We’re not going to waver from that.  We’re going to keep working everyday and we did that the last couple days of practice.  We’re not going to change or panic or drop our heads.  We’re going to keep on the course that we’re trying to set.  We’re going to have some bumps and we understand that, but overall, we’re not going to listen to the outside.  We hear it, but we’re going to focus on that group within this organization and where we’re trying to go.  I think our guys did that.

Questions were asked a couple days ago about what the morale is like on this team.  Unless you’re in that locker room, in our practice everyday, in our film session, you don’t know what our team is doing.  You can’t buy into what you may see or create.  We know what these guys are doing everyday.  They are consistently doing their pre-practice shooting, they’re consistently doing their post-practice-shooting (and) their film sessions.  They are staying the course and that’s what we are going to (continue) to do here.

Marcus Thornton on what was different about the preparation for tonight’s game:

Guys asked questions if we didn’t know how to be able to stop or contain Kobe (Bryant), Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol.  So I think we did a good job coming into this game.  We were focused and we just went out there and played.  We played like we know we can play and hopefully, like you said, we carry this over to Utah.

Mike D’Antoni on the Lakers’ lack of energy:

Dwight’s (lackluster play) a little understandable.  (It was the back-end of a ) back-to-back and he’s still coming on.  They were great all over him.  Pau (Gasol) didn’t have his legs.  They’re playing minutes.  We have to get the bench going and help them out a little bit.  We have to cut their minutes down because obviously you can’t come out on a back-to-back like we did tonight.  It gave Sacramento hope.  And once they smelled some blood, and obviously they’re an NBA team and they played well, we didn’t snuff them out.  If we’re going to be a championship team, we have to take control early.

Notes and Analysis

  • Welcome back Marcus Thornton.  After a series of rough games, the Kings’ leading scorer from a year ago scored 23 points on 8-for-13 shooting tonight against the Lakers.  A career 36-percent 3-point shooter, Thornton came into tonight shooting just 26-percent from deep.  He improved that number with a solid 3-for-5 performance from behind the arc.
  • Jason Thompson notched his fourth double-digit rebounding game of the Kings’ last five tonight, but that tells only half the story.  The 6-foot-11 Thompson played incredible defense against both Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard with DeMarcus Cousins battling foul trouble, Thompson finished the game with just one personal in almost 41 minutes of action.
  • After a slow start to the season, Tyreke Evans is finally coming around.  Over his last seven games, the former Rookie of the Year is shooting 49 percent (38-for-77) from the field and tonight, he looked like a rejuvenated player.  Evans finished the game with 18 points, six assists and four rebounds in 29 minutes of inspired play.  The Kings really need this to be the norm.  Regardless of what position he is playing, Evans needs to get back to the five-plus assists per game he was known for from his first two seasons in the league.
  • John Salmons loves to battle fellow Philadelphia native Kobe Bryant.  The 32-year-old wing played a solid 31 minutes tonight, scoring 13 points and grabbing two steals.  With coach Smart preaching to his team that they need more energy early in games, at least one player was listening.  Salmons scored nine of the Kings 15 points in the opening frame, including 2-for-3 from 3-point range.
  • Chuck Hayes stepped up big-time tonight with Cousins in foul trouble.  The veteran big man took a beating, including a head-butt from Thompson that cost him five stitches above his right eye.  While Hayes’ numbers won’t jump out of the box score, he does all of the little things and plenty of big things as well.  Tonight he shutdown Howard, holding the NBA’s premiere center to just seven points and nine rebounds in 41 minutes.  Howard tried to back down Hayes plenty of times, but the man known for his low center of gravity wouldn’t budge.
  • Kobe Bryant has made a career out of beating the Sacramento Kings and tonight, he tried his best to continue that legacy.  The first-ballot hall of famer scored a game-high 38-points on 11-for-20 shooting.  He also shot 5-for-9 from long range, twice cutting the Kings lead down to nothing by hitting a pair of long balls.  Kings fans won’t miss him when he is gone, but when he is in the zone, he is something else to watch.
  • Stat of the Night: The Kings outscored the Lakers in the paint by a total of 50-22.  When you consider the talent the Lakers have in the post, that number is astounding.
- James Ham

Three answers to three questions pondered

1. Will the Kings break the century mark?

The Kings scored 100 points for the first time since their last win, which came against the Detroit Pistons two weeks ago.  The 113 points they scored tonight was a season-high, besting the 105 points they scored against the Pistons. The Kings also recorded a season-best 44-made field goals. The offense was in rhythm for Sacramento as the Kings shot 54 percent from the field in Wednesday night’s win.

2. Can the Kings contain the Lakers’ new offense?

Outside of Kobe Bryant, the Lakers just couldn’t match the Kings’ energy.  Bryant was the only Laker to score more than 20 points, finishing with a game-high 38 points, while Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard combined for a meager 5-of-14 from the field.  Coming off two days rest, the Kings played a lively game on both ends of the floor, but made things especially difficult for Los Angeles on defense.  In defeat, Los Angeles shot just 44 percent from the field.

3. Which point guard has a standout game for the Kings?

The point guard carousel continued tonight for the Kings.  Keith Smart used several players to facilitate his offense with Aaron Brooks and Isaiah Thomas getting the bulk of the minutes.  Of the Kings point guards, Brooks had the best game statistically.  He had a big third quarter, making 4-of-5 shots and scoring 11 of his 13 total points following intermission.  Jimmer Fredette played just eight seconds in the game, all of them coming in the final possession before halftime.

 

- Jonathan Santiago