by Jonathan Santiago & James Ham

 
In his debut, Derrick Williams was everything and more that the Sacramento Kings had hoped for.  He grabbed rebounds, pushed the break and exhibited some high-flying athleticism that resulted in a few highlight plays.

Unfortunately for Williams and the Kings, highlights don’t necessarily equate to wins, which was the case Friday in a 104-98 overtime loss to the visiting Los Angeles Clippers.

“Besides the loss, I thought we played pretty well,” Williams said after the loss.  “Went up a few times, (but) we just couldn’t get enough stops.  But you learn from it and I think we will.”

The Kings trailed the Clippers by five in the final two minutes of regulation.  Momentum swung in the Kings’ favor after Greivis Vasquez banked in a 25-foot, 3-point attempt to cut the deficit to 92-94 with a 1:27 remaining.  Ben McLemore would get to the free throw line in the final 20 seconds to tie and send the game to overtime.

But in the extra period of regulation, the Kings faltered.  They scored the first four points to take a quick 98-94 lead off of two post-up attempts by power forward Patrick Patterson. Their execution turned spotty in the final two minutes and they allowed the Clippers to close out the game with 10-unanswered points.

“It was another tough loss tonight against a team that we’ve played against three times already,” Kings coach Michael Malone said after the defeat.  “We can’t get over the hump.  I loved how hard our guys played tonight and there were a lot of great things that came out of the game.  We don’t play again until the last week of the season and maybe by then, we’ll figure out a way to get a win against them.”

Despite the loss, Williams proved to be a bright spot in his Kings’ debut.  The 22-year-old forward finished above the rim on several occasions, including two explosive dunks (one that was waived off) in the final 2:30 of regulation.

“It took away a little ESPN highlight right there, but I tried to get another one,” Williams said.  “It’s just a play.  I was just trying to excite the crowd a little bit more.  The first one didn’t count.  I was just trying to make it up.”

The Kings, who’ve lost their last three games, fall to 4-10 overall and 3-6 at home.  They continue their four-game home-stand Sunday with an afternoon match-up against the Golden State Warriors.

“We have a good team and we have a lot of home games left,” Williams said.  “I think five of the next six are at home, so hopefully we can get those ones.”

Notes and Analysis

  • Welcome to Sacramento, Derrick Williams.  Coach Malone made the bold move of starting the 22-year old small forward just three days after the Kings acquired him from Minnesota.  The Kings didn’t pull out the W, but they put on a show for the capacity crowd.  Williams finished with 12 points on 6-for-13 shooting, grabbed six rebounds and handed out four assists.  On a side note, Williams totaled one assist in his 11 games (162 minutes played) with the Timberwolves this season.
  • It’s hard to look at 25 points, nine rebounds, six assists and three block shots in 41 minutes and still want more from DeMarcus Cousins.  But, the Kings talented young big man forced the action multiple times against an incredible defender in DeAndre Jordan.  With Williams and rookie Ben McLemore running cuts and coming off screens, Cousins can do more in the offense.  It may take a little time to figure everything out, but the Kings just became a lot more watchable.
  • McLemore and Williams had instant chemistry on the court, which led to highlight reel dunks.  The rookie shooting guard finished with 14 points on 5-for-12 shooting, with five of those misses coming on 3-point attempts.  Teams better get their track shoes on, because McLemore just found a running mate in Williams.
  • There was a John Salmons sighting again tonight in Sacramento.  The veteran wing appeared to be the odd man out in the rotation, but once again, Malone turned to the almost 34-year old and he responded with 14 points on 6-for-11 shooting.  Salmons has lost his starting job, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t contribute like he did tonight.
  • Greivis Vasquez looked like a kid in a candy store in the third quarter tonight.  With Chris Paul out, Vasquez and his new found toy, Williams, looked like the new “lob city”.  It’s early, but the Kings look like a team that can run with the best of them, but still beat you in the half court.  It’s amazing what adding one player can do for a team, at least for one night.
  • Isaiah Thomas looked out of sorts tonight, finishing with just five points and four turnovers in 19 minutes.  The Kings needed his punch off the bench tonight and for once, the well was dry.  Thomas loves to run and now he has two players that can flank him down the court.
  • After four straight DNP-CD’s, coach Malone turned back to Marcus Thornton tonight instead of Jimmer Fredette.  The results were not good.  Thornton finished with four points and five personal fouls in 17 minutes off the bench.  Most of those fouls came against J.J. Redick before he went down with an injury.  Thornton showed some feistiness on the defensive end which was nice to see.
  • Stat of the Night: DeAndre Jordan had a career-high nine blocks tonight in 40 minutes against Cousins and only picked up one personal foul.

Quote of the Game

Williams’ on whether it was difficult to get acclimated:

“At first it was pretty difficult. You don’t want to do too much, especially on your first day. But I thought I played pretty well. At first it was really tough especially with all of the plays; we have a lot of plays so Coach really tries to make it simple for us. Especially in the second half, I was playing a little bit more loose. Like I said, just trying to get the rebound and get out – that’s when we’re at our best.”

Video shot and edited by Kimani David.