Playing their first game of a five game road trip, the short-handed Kings played a solid three quarters of basketball before falling apart in the fourth and losing to the Hawks by the final of 122-108.
Al Horford led the way for the Hawks, scoring 24 points, grabbing eight rebounds and handing out six assists. Jeff Teague gave the Kings backcourt all they could handle, finishing with 20 points and 10 assists in 32 minutes as a well-balanced Atlanta team won easily down the stretch.
Notes and Analysis
- Thomas continued his big surge following his appearance in the Futures Game at All-Star weekend. The Kings starting point guard scored scored a game-high 30 points and added a big eight assists in the loss. Thomas shot 9-for-18 from the field, 4-for-5 from behind the arc and extended his free throw made streak to 47 before bricking a late freebie. I find myself saying this every game now, but this is quickly becoming Thomas’ team.
- Cousins was a beast, finishing with 26 points, 13 rebounds and three steals in 38 minutes. It was an impressive performance against a solid defensive Atlanta frontline, but still not enough to get the win. It would be nice to see Cousins string a few more of these big games together.
- Evans was solid early, but struggled late, finishing with 15 points eight rebounds and six assists. The Kings need Evans to post this type of stat line every night. They don’t need 25 points out of the former Rookie of the Year, but they need a balanced stat line.
- Jason Thompson came away with a solid nine-point, 10-rebound, two-block performance in 30 minutes tonight. Thompson struggles with the quicker forwards like Josh Smith, which Patrick Patterson will help with. If the Kings were going to win this one, they needed a big night out of all five starters, which they didn’t get.
- Travis Outlaw is the forgotten man in Sacramento, but he is always ready to play. The veteran forward scored nine points off the bench in 17 minutes of action. With Patterson coming aboard this weekend, expect to see Outlaw sparingly down the stretch, but hats off to Outlaw for being a pro while he sits at the end of the Kings bench.
- Marcus Thornton started out well, scoring all eight of his points in the first half, but his teammates seemed to have forgotten about him. When a player gets hot, you have to find a way to get him involved and 3-for-6 shooting is not being involved.
- Stat of Night: Atlanta turned the ball over just six times tonight against the Kings, with half of those coming on steals by Cousins. It’s tough to win a game when you don’t force the other team to make mistakes.
Three answers to three questions pondered
1. Will the Kings come ready to play following Wednesday’s blockbuster trade?
The Kings came out firing in this one, scoring 66 points in the first half. Smart used 10 of his 11 available players, as the Kings turned up the tempo and found themselves in a track meet with the Atlanta Hawks. After an emotional couple of days, the Kings played well enough to be in the game, but not well enough to win it.
2. Which Kings reserve steps up in light of the Robinson deal?
Smart relied heavily on his starters tonight, but Outlaw and Thornton both played well off the Kings bench for stretches. Outlaw is a decent match-up against the Hawks big front line and when given a chance this season, he has been pretty solid. Thornton was the Bayou Bomber in the first half, scoring all eight of his points in the games first 24 minutes. The bench totalled just 20 points overall, which is probably why they lost. Jimmer Fredette saw first half action, scoring three points and dishing out two assists, but he had a difficult time with Atlanta’s athleticism in the backcourt.
3. What kind of game will Josh Smith have for the Hawks?
Josh Smith is a difficult match-up for the Kings. A true tweener, Smith finished with a solid 18-point, 6-rebound 4-assist performance after surviving the 2013 NBA trade deadline. Smith is one of the true stat stuffers of the NBA, it’s not a surprise that he was a wanted man at the deadline.