At the buzzer: Sacramento Kings 102, Phoenix Suns 96
Instant observations and analysis following the Sacramento Kings’ 102-96 victory over the Phoenix Suns
The final numbers: DeMarcus Cousins came out and established himself in a big way on offense. In 26 minutes, the Kings’ big man finished with 21 points on five of 15 shooting and nine rebounds. Tyreke Evans, meanwhile, had a quiet night for the Kings. In 25 minutes, he recorded just nine points, four assists and seven rebounds on four of 10 shots from the field. Off the bench, Thomas Robinson ended the game as the Kings’ third leading scorer, finishing with 12 points and eight rebounds.
Storyline of the game: Jimmer Fredette clearly looked more assertive and sure of himself on the floor. Instead of dribbling aimlessly around the court, he handled the ball with confidence and used screens with purpose. Fredette also looked to shoot first, which actually helped open up passing lanes for him. Statistically, he didn’t have a great night, finishing with 10 points on two of eight shooting in 20 minutes, but there was purpose to Fredette’s outting this evening.
1. Who are tonight’s starters?
The game’s probable starters turned out to be the game’s actual starters. Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Thornton, Tyreke Evans, Jason Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins began the contest and played more than half of the minutes in the first quarter. The bigger story was who Smart employed off the bench. Jimmer Fredette, not Aaron Brooks, was the first guard of the reserves to play. John Salmons played heavy minutes at shooting guard in the first half. And in the front court, Thomas Robinson, James Johnson and Chuck Hayes all saw substantial playing time throughout the game. Notable Kings not seeing any action tonight – Francisco Garcia and Travis Outlaw.
2. Will off-the-court chemistry translate to on-the-court success?
The Kings’ progress on the defensive end was evident tonight. Players were more vocal and help-side protection appeared improved. James Johnson and Thomas Robinson brought in tremendous energy off the Kings’ bench. While on the floor, Johnson displayed some impressive athleticism and timing for the Kings, blocking three shots on the night. The Kings also showed some progress with their communication on offense.
3. How will Tyreke Evans perform from the perimeter?
Evans didn’t have a big scoring night. In the first half alone, the Kings guard only attempted three shots from the field, two which were from the perimeter. However, Evans wasn’t looking to force the issue tonight. When he did have opportunities to shoot the jumper, he took them and attempted them without hesitance.