Keith Smart channelled his inner Don Nelson as the Sacramento Kings used small ball to defeat the Orlando Magic 91-82 on Friday Night. With Tyreke Evans missing another game because of his left knee, the Kings closed out the Magic using Isaiah Thomas and Jimmer Fredette together in the backcourt. The win brings Sacramento’s overall record to 6-12 and home record to 6-6. The Kings now take their act on the road for a four-game trip, which begins tomorrow night in Portland.
Notes and Analysis
- Just when you think Keith Smart will do one thing, he does another. For the first time in a long time, Smart used a small-ball lineup of Isaiah Thomas, Jimmer Fredette and Marcus Thornton to change up the game. The plan worked incredibly well, as Jimmer and Isaiah used their speed and scoring ability to pull away in the second quarter and finish the Magic off in the fourth. The two guards combined for 32 points on 10-for-17 shooting off the bench.
- The use of Jimmer and Isaiah was not the only oddity in this game. With Tyreke Evans sitting out his third contest of the year due to a sore left knee, Smart turned to seldom-used Francisco Garcia to start in the backcourt with Aaron Brooks. Garcia only scored five points, but he had three big blocks and two steals in 22 minutes.
- Who didn’t start was Marcus Thornton. After shooting 1-for-7 against Toronto on Wednesday, Thornton repeated that performance tonight. On a team of scorers, Thornton looks lost right now.
- DeMarcus Cousins had a solid effort, picking up his sixth double-double of the season. He finished with 17 points, 14 rebounds and four assists in the win, but he appeared to tweak his right ankle late in the game. He walked off under his own power, but Chuck Hayes replaced him in the lineup.
- After playing in the Kings’ first 17 games, forward James Johnson received the dreaded Did Not Play – Coach’s Decision against the Magic. Johnson has really struggled to find his place in the Kings’ offensive sets and he may have fallen behind Garcia in the rotation.
- Tyreke Evans had an MRI on his left knee earlier in the day and the results were negative. He is experiencing swelling and appears to be day-to-day. He is hopeful that he can play tomorrow, but that will most likely depend on how his knee responds to the rigors of travel.
- Stat of the Night: The Kings’ bench outscored Orlando’s bench 44 to 22. Jimmer and Isaiah carried most of the scoring load, but Hayes and Robinson also gave the team a boost.
Three answers to three questions pondered
1. Can the Kings contain the Magic’s balanced scoring attack?
Four players carried the load for the Magic on offense Friday. Glen Davis, Arron Afflalo, Jameer Nelson and Andrew Nicholson all finished in double figures for Orlando. However, the Magic scored just 82 points and shot just 37.5 percent from the field. If not for the Magic foursome, who combined to score 69 points, Orlando could have lost this game pretty handedly. Though they’ve played decent basketball early this season, it’s not difficult to see why Orlando will struggle to put points on the board in the long run without a go-to-scorer.
The Kings’ frontline tandem wasn’t nearly as efficient Friday against the Magic as they were on Wednesday. Thompson did start strong, scoring 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting in 19 first half minutes. But because of Thomas Robinson‘s play late, the Kings starting power forward would score only two points and play just eight minutes in the second half. Meanwhile, Cousins shot 5-of-13 from the field for a meager 38-percent shooting. Offensively, the Kings center didn’t force the issue, but he did settle a bit more from outside on Friday. Seven of his 13 shots came from the perimeter.
3. Can the Kings get to the line more times than the Magic?
The Kings were on the verge of letting the lowest free-throw shooting team in the league out-shoot them from the line tonight. Trailing by double figures at halftime, Orlando used the charity stripe to get themselves back in the game. In the third period, the Magic made 9-of-10 attempts from the line en route to a 30-point quarter. Headed into the fourth, Orlando had shot eight more free throws (18 to 10) than the Kings in the game. But, Sacramento picked up the pace in the final period, resulting in a more aggressive attack on offense. Their efforts were rewarded as the Kings shot 16-of-18 from the line in the fourth quarter and finished with seven more free-throw attempts (28 to 21) than Orlando in the win.
- Jonathan Santiago
Quotes of the Game
Keith Smart’s opening remarks:
I saw a few different things with our guys running the floor tonight. Again, our bigs got up and down the floor. I thought we needed to push the tempo, as I said earlier, and we had to make this team run. Half court was not going to work for us and I thought we did a great job with that.
Thomas Robinson did an excellent job. He only scored one point, but he had a huge impact on the game. We could just keep going down the list of all of our guys, because we had another team effort in this basketball game.
Our small ball came to life with Isaiah Thomas, Jimmer Fredette and Marcus Thornton, who had a great amount of time on the floor. They pushed the tempo and stayed in the right area of the floor. I thought all of them did a great job. Isaiah did a good job on Jameer Nelson. Our front point of attack was incredibly important. Jimmer did a great job chasing J.J. Redick, where had to negotiate a lot of screens and I thought that was really big. He made a couple of big plays and shots for us as well.
When we got the news that one of our guys wasn’t going to play and I was looking at who to put in, I went with Francisco Garcia right away. That guy is always ready and I knew that I would get the right energy from him right away. The defensive effort would come from him right away and the right spacing came with him on the floor.
All of those are huge positives for our basketball team. They had a great defensive night, with 38 percent shooting and then 27 percent defending the 3-point line.
DeMarcus Cousins on Jimmer Fredette’s style of play:
Dog, Jimmer got moves, dog. That *expletive* crazy! I just said *expletive* huh? Damn. But Jimmer got moves, it’s crazy. Man his moves are crazy! You just don’t expect it from Jimmer and he hits you with something crazy. But we’re definitely excited. Always feels good to have your teammates playing well, so that’s how it should be.
Magic power forward Glen Davis on defending the Kings:
I feel like we let them back in the game. We really gave them momentum with the fast breaks. That’s what they like to do. They really like to get out and go and run. We let them do what they do best. Offensively, I think we had good shots. We had some really good looks and missed, but we just have to make sure we finish a game. We have to play through the calls and not let the referees dictate how we play. I think we kind of let the referees dictate our momentum.