Keith Smart took a more hands-on approach to practice the last few days and it paid off. From the outset, the Sacramento Kings jumped on the New Orleans Hornets and defeated the visiting team 121-110 in their second-to-last-home game this season.
The Kings head coach emphasized running and shortening their offensive possessions at practice yesterday and shootaround today. Smart’s adjustments showed in their play as the Kings outpaced the Hornets 23-16 on fastbreak points and shot 27-of-38 from attempts around the rim.
The Kings improve to 28-50 overall and 20-20 at Sleep Train Arena. They begin their final road trip in San Antonio on Friday and return home for what could be their last game ever in Sacramento next Wednesday.
- Jonathan Santiago
Notes and Analysis
- With DeMarcus Cousins in foul trouble and Patrick Patterson missing his second-straight game with a sore lower back, Jason Thompson showed up big. JT played a team-high 34 minutes, scoring 20 points on 8-for-12 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds.
- John Salmons had one of those breakout games that happens ever so often. The veteran wing finished with a team-high 22 points on 7-for-10 shooting, including two makes from long range. The Kings are a different team when Salmons shows up on the offensive end.
- Marcus Thornton was all over the court tonight, dropping in 20 points on 4-for-8 shooting from 3-point land. Like Salmons, Thornton has become a hit-or-miss scorer, either going big or hardly making an impact. It helps that he played 30 minutes, but the glut in the backcourt is something this franchise will have to deal with in the offseason.
- Isaiah Thomas was aggressive and went right at the much-larger Greivis Vasquez tonight. But he struggled when Hornets coach Monty Williams went to Brian Roberts. The 27-year-old rookie kicked in 20 off New Orleans’ bench, including 10 in the third quarter. Thomas finished with 15 points and three assists in 27 minutes of action.
- Robin Lopez did a number on Cousins tonight, dropping in 20 points and five rebounds in just 22 minutes. Cousins scored 11 points, dished out five assists and grabbed four rebounds, but fouled out in 25 minutes.
- If it weren’t for a history of knee issues, a ridiculously large contract and some behavioral issues, Eric Gordon would be a prime target for a team like the Kings. The multi-talented guard out of Indiana led all scorers with 23 points and added seven assists and three rebounds in the loss. He’s a player you could really see playing well alongside Cousins, if not for some giant question marks.
- Stat of the Game: The Kings were on fire tonight, shooting 62.8 percent during the first half and 55.3 percent overall. It didn’t hurt that they went 10-for-20 from 3-point land in the win.
- James Ham
Three answers to three questions pondered
1. Who will maintain the lead for the West’s second-worst record?
The young and inexperienced Hornets stayed true to their reputation tonight. Playing their second game in as many nights, New Orleans came out flat and let the Kings run all over them. In the first half alone, the Hornets shot just 41 percent from the field while allowing the Kings shoot 63 percent.
2. How will Ryan Anderson perform in front of his home crowd?
Tonight was not the homecoming the Sacramento-area native was hoping for. The former Oak Ridge High star struggled all game long, finishing with just nine points on an abysmal 3-of-13 shooting from the field in defeat. His 31-minute performance on Wednesday came no where close to the 22 points he averaged in his previous two games against the Kings this season.
3. Who wins the match-up of Kentucky alums: DeMarcus Cousins or Anthony Davis?
Cousins had Davis’ number to start the game. In the first quarter alone, Cousins manhandled his fellow Wildcat, scoring nine points on 3-of-6 shooting. However, neither center had standout performances for their respective teams. Cousins fouled out of the game in the fourth and finished with just 11 points. Davis also exited the game in the final frame, injuring his knee while taking a charge from Marcus Thornton.
- Jonathan Santiago
Quotes of the Game
Marcus Thornton on what was different at practice the last few days:
The emphasis at practice the last couple of days has been running, getting the ball up with 14 seconds and making something happen. We all carried it over to the game.
Monty Williams on the status of Anthony Davis, sprained his left knee:
I think he’s okay. I don’t want to jump the gun. I didn’t see the play yet, but he said Marcus (Thornton) landed on his knee. He said he’s a little sore. I’m just glad it wasn’t a buckle or a ligament or anything like that. You don’t know that for sure, but usually when somebody lands on it, it could be a contusion. It’s probably more scary than anything else, but we have to let the doctors check him out to make sure.
Statistical support provided by NBA.com.