by Jonathan Santiago & James Ham

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Playing their first game at home since the announcement of a deal to sell the team, the Sacramento Kings lost to the transitioning Phoenix Suns 106-96 at Sleep Train Arena.  The Kings got off to a good start, leading 57-49 at halftime.  However, they let Phoenix breathe life in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter.  The Suns’ victory was powered by a strong final period in which they outscored the Kings 32-19.  With the loss, Sacramento falls to 16-27 overall and 12-11 at home.

Notes and Analysis

  • Michael Beasley torched the Kings for 13 of his 19 points in the deciding fourth quarter.  The 2008 No.2 pick shot 8-for-15 from the field in 22 minutes of action.
  • DeMarcus Cousins notched another double-double, finishing with 15 points and 15 rebounds in 37 minutes.  He added five assists, but turned the ball over a team-high six times and shot just 7-for-18 from the field in the loss.
  • Thomas Robinson is starting to come into his own.  The rookie forward finished with 12 points and 14 rebounds in 26 minutes.  With Jason Thompson slumping, the Kings need a consistent effort out of Robinson every night.
  • Tyreke Evans filled the stat sheet once again, scoring 16 points, grabbing six rebounds and handing out four assists.  Evans added two steals, a block and hit his lone 3-point attempt in the loss.
  • James Johnson looked like a star in the first half and that is usually not a good thing.  He scored 11 points on 5-for-5 shooting and blocked two shots before the break, but in his second stint, he got greedy on the offensive end.  Johnson turned the ball over three times in the second half, shot 1-for-4 from the field and got lit up by Beasley.
  • Isaiah Thomas struggled with his shot, finishing with six points on 2-for-10 shooting. He finished with a team-high seven assists, but turned the ball over three times.  Aaron Brooks scored eight points in 15 minutes off the bench, but like Thomas turned the ball over way too much.  The point guard tandem finished with eight assists and seven turnovers on the night.
  • Jimmer Fredette played four minutes in the first half, scoring two points and handing out one assist.  The Kings ran a +7 in his lone stretch, finishing the half on a nice run and taking a 57-49 lead into the break.  With everyone healthy, Jimmer’s lost in a numbers game right now on the Kings’ bench.
  • Stat of the Game: The Kings finished the game with 23 assists and 24 turnovers in the loss.  The Suns finished with 30 assists and 11 turnovers in the win.
- James Ham

Three answers to three questions pondered

1.  Will the fans be a factor in tonight’s match-up?

Tonight was the first home game in Sacramento since a deal to sell the team was announced.  Despite the news, the crowd was surprisingly decent.  In a match-up of two of the Pacific Division’s worst teams, 12,741 fans attended tonight’s game.  That’s right around the ballpark of Sleep Train Arena’s 13,153 average this year.  The crowd initially looked sparse, but the building filled up as the game got going.

2.  Can the Kings avoid another sluggish start?

Unlike Monday’s game in New Orleans, the Kings managed to score more than 18 points in the first quarter.  They trailed by three after the first period, but came alive in the second to outscore the Suns 30-19.  The Kings would go into halftime with an eight-point lead and shot better than 50 percent from the field.  But because of turnovers and other costly mistakes, the Kings let the Suns steamroll after halftime.  Tonight’s game was only the fourth time the Kings lost after holding a lead at half.

3.  Will Jimmer Fredette earn his third-consecutive DNP – Coach’s Decision?

After playing sparingly against the Memphis Grizzlies and sitting out the last two games because of Keith Smart‘s decision, Fredette returned to floor.  However, the former BYU superstar’s time on the court was brief.  Fredette checked in late in the second period and played just under four minutes.  That would be all Kings fans got to see of the second-year point guard tonight.  He scored just two points on one field goal in his first action since Friday.

Quotes of the Game

James Johnson on how it felt in the locker room knowing that they turned the ball over so much:

Sickening.  What’d we have?  25 and they had 27 points on them or something?  You can’t win basketball games like that, especially with a team that’s shooting that well.  They came down and were scoring on every turnover and then every time we scored, so it was just hard to get a stop when the cut was that thick.

Aaron Brooks on if it’s alarming to see so many turnovers against a team like the Suns:

Kind of – seeing that they’re not a defensive team.  They seem to play a lot better with Lindsey Hunter as coach.

Suns coach Lindsey Hunter on getting his first coaching win:

That was really exciting.  I’m more excited for the guys than I am anything else.  They’ve worked so hard for me these past couple of days.  This is a long, long journey and this is just the beginning for all of us.