CK Press Box Report: Kings 103, Jazz 96

by Jonathan Santiago & James Ham

In game that featured 20 lead changes, the Sacramento Kings came out on top.  Powered by a re-energized capital city crowd, the Kings defeated the Utah Jazz 103-96 to win their eighth home game this season.

“I came into the arena tonight, and so many people…were all just excited,” said Kings head coach Keith Smart of the mood in the building following yesterday’s big news from Orlando.  “This is huge for our team and our city and the franchise to do what they’re doing with this basketball team.”

Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins led Sacramento recording his 21st double-double this season.  Cousins finished with game-highs in points (22) and rebounds (18).  Meanwhile, rookie Isaiah Thomas continues to impress since his promotion to the starting lineup, finishing with 18 points and eight assists.

The win improves the Kings’ record to 12-22 overall, 8-5 at home.  Next for Sacramento?  A match-up Thursday evening against Chris Paul and Blake Griffin’s Los Angeles Clippers.

Notes and Analysis

  • Devin Harris had a big night for the Jazz.  He led Utah with 18 points and seven assists.  Harris hit 3-for-4 from 3-point land, including a long bank shot early in the game.
  • Thornton and Thomas combined for 29 points in the second half.  The backcourt duo went 9-for-16 from the field and 10-for-11 from the line after intermission.
  • The Jazz finished the game with 13 steals – nine better than the Kings.
  • Cousins finished with 18 rebounds in 32 minutes against a tough Jazz front line.  Eight of those rebounds came on the offensive end.
  • Jason Thompson put in a workman-like 36 minutes, scoring 10 points, grabbing eight rebounds and blocking three shots.  Thompson continues to get the lion share of the minutes at power forward under coach Smart.
  • Tyreke Evans struggled offensively finishing with only 13 points on 4-for-12 shooting, two rebounds and two assists.
  • For only the second time this season in 27 games played, Thornton went scoreless from beyond the arc (0-for-4).
  • Major figures from the political realm were in the house following yesterday’s big news.  Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, California State Senator Ted Gaines, Sacramento County Supervisor Jimmie Yee and Sacramento Councilmembers Angelique Ashby and Jay Schenirer all took in tonight’s action courtside.
  • Francisco Garcia and John Salmons played big minutes off the bench in the fourth quarter.  Smart said postgame that Garcia (9:29) and Salmons (6:58) provided the Kings with much needed energy and effort on the defensive end.
  • The Kings shot over 52.4 percent from the field in the second half compared to 35.7 percent in the first half.
  • Stat of the Night:  According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Thomas has scored 96 points in his first five starts, which matches a rookie record set by Otis Birdsong in 1977, for most points scored in the first five starts as a Kings rookie since 1970-71

Video: Joe and Gavin Maloof thank the fans.

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