LAS VEGAS – Defense led to offense for the Sacramento Kings this evening. The Kings held the Los Angeles Lakers to less than 40 percent shooting and shot better than 50 percent themselves in a 104-86 win at the MGM Grand Garden Arena this Thursday. Below are notes, quotes and reactions following tonight’s game in Sin City.
- Travis Outlaw was the player of the game tonight. The veteran small forward earned the starting nod from head coach Michael Malone and responded by leading the Kings in scoring with 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting and six rebounds. He played good defense as well, often timse staying in front of his man and pestering the opposition with his activity.
- Head coach Michael Malone on Outlaw: “Travis is a great kid. He came in early in August, he was all around all September, had a good training camp and the short minutes that he played in Golden State in the 4th quarter, he came in and made an impact. So, I wanted to give him an opportunity, wanted to give Jimmer (Fredette) an opportunity and both of those guys took advantage of the opportunity that was given to them tonight. And Travis shot the ball well and he did some really nice things on defense as well so (I’m) proud of him and my challenge to him is now I expect that on a consistent basis.”
- DeMarcus Cousins put together a well-rounded performance for the Kings. The 23-year-old center posted a double-double, 16 points, 12 rebounds, on 8-of-13 shooting from the field. The Kings were able to space the floor well in tonight’s win against the Lakers. That extra room was vital to Cousins’ early success here Las Vegas and will be important to his game moving forward. “Just being able to have that space and being able to (operate with room),” Cousins said. “Instead of everything always being an iso, it’s timed to run an iso, it’s timed to run a set. All that comes into play and it makes the game really easier.”
- Isaiah Thomas posted a terrific line from point guard spot this evening. The 24-year-old starter racked up nine assists to go with an efficient 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting. Like Cousins, Thomas credited the team’s spacing to his success passing the ball tonight. “Oh that’s everything,” Thomas said. “You see every good team has a good spacing. Guys are in the right spots, point guard has outlets and I had that tonight. The guys knocked down shots, so if we can keep working on that and have that every night, these guards on this team can get high assists.”
- After not playing in the Kings’ first game against the Warriors, Fredette found himself in the starting lineup, playing next to Isaiah Thomas in the backcourt. Fredette finished a modest 3-of-5 from the field for seven points and made his lone three-point attempt of the evening. “It felt good to be out there,” Fredette said of getting the start Thursday evening. “Just to play and get your bearings right, you know the first game that I played this season. So it was great, it was a lot of fun. We played really well as a team. And we really shared the ball well tonight and looked good, played good defense. So it was a great for me to get out there and get the win.”
- In Malone’s eyes, the Kings have continued to make progress on the defensive end. The Kings head coach was happy with the team’s effort this evening, stifling a Mike D’Antoni-led offense to 34-percent shooting from the field.. “I thought it was terrific,” Malone said of the Kings’ defense. “I mean I really did. We had a couple stretches where it wasn’t where it needed to be…but it’s a constant work in progress. By no means are we anywhere near where we need to be. Our challenge is every day we’re gonna harp on it. We’re gonna hold guys accountable and we’re gonna get better at it. “
- With Outlaw and Fredette starting this evening, Marcus Thornton and Luc Mbah a Moute were the odd men out of the rotation. Both men didn’t play after appearing in Monday’s loss to Golden State. Malone said he informed Thornton that he wanted to give Fredette an opportunity to play extra minutes at the off-guard spot and the fifth-year guard responded professionally. Meanwhile like Greivis Vasquez and Carl Landry, Mbah a Moute is easing his way back to health after tweaking his ankle in international play this summer. Malone says the training staff’s priority is to make sure he’s 100-percent healthy for the regular season.
- Additional notes: Chuck Hayes came off the bench and grabbed double-figure boards in limited playing time. The nine-year veteran grabbed 10 rebounds in 15 minutes. Vasquez (ankle) and Landry (strained quad) both sat out tonight’s game.
- Stat of the Night: The Kings addressed their turnover woes from Monday and it resulted in a stellar night moving the basketball. Sacramento finished with 28 assists and just 14 turnovers in Thursday’s 18-point victory.