CK Press Box Report: Sacramento Kings 95, Washington Wizards 94

by Jonathan Santiago & James Ham

 
In a game with 17 lead changes, the Sacramento Kings fought back from an 11-point deficit to narrowly defeat the Washington Wizards 95-94 at Sleep Train Arena.  After tying the game at 84 at around the seven minute mark in the fourth period, the Kings outscored the Wizards by a thin margin of 11-10 to come away with the victory.  The Kings move to 15-24 overall and 12-10 at home.  Sacramento has won two games in a row after losing their previous four.

Notes and Analysis

  • DeMarcus Cousins had his hands full in the post, but he managed to still fill up the stat sheet.  The Kings starting center finished with 21 points, 16 rebounds, five assists, three steals and six turnovers in the win.  It was a battle, but this is the type of game the Kings need out of Cousins every night.
  • The same thing could be said about Tyreke Evans, who scored 21 points, grabbed eight rebounds and handed out eight assists.  This is the player the Kings thought they had when Evans won Rookie of the Year in 2009.  Hopefully he can find some consistency and stay healthy.
  • John Salmons was clutch tonight.  The veteran wing was the third King to score 21 total points and the third King to play over 40 minutes.
  • Jimmer Fredette may have been the difference in this game.  The second-year guard scored 12 points and handed out two assists, but there was a lot more to his game tonight than the numbers.  After sitting out the first half, he was composed down the stretch and played very solid defense for his second straight game.  If he keeps playing like this, Smart is going to have a difficult decision to make with his backcourt rotation.
  • Jason Thompson‘s struggles continue.  Through the first 35 games of the season, Thompson was a rock for coach Smart, but over his last four games, he is averaging just five points and three rebounds.
  • With Jimmer playing 21 second half minutes, Marcus Thornton was limited to just eight minutes of action on the night. He finished with four points and three rebounds.
  • Bradley Beal was very good tonight for the Wizards.  The rookie guard set a new career-high with 26 points on 9-for-14 shooting from the field and 6-of-7 shooting from 3-point range.  It took him a while to get his sea legs in the NBA, but he is definitely going to be a player in this league.
  •  Stat of the Night: At their current win rate, the Kings are on pace to win 32 games on the season.
- James Ham

Three answers to three questions pondered

1.  Will Thomas Robinson continue to play at a high level?

In his last four games, the rookie power forward was almost averaging a double double off the bench.  Tonight, he didn’t come close to sniffing those numbers.  Robinson only saw time in the first half, playing six and a half minutes in the second period.  He scored zero points and grabbed just two rebounds in his limited appearance Wednesday night.  His decrease in playing time was a result of Smart turning to the veterans, specifically Chuck Hayes.  The 29-year-old big man played 21 minutes in the win.

2.  Does James Johnson return to the Kings’ rotation?

The fourth-year forward returned the floor after riding the pine Monday night against the Cavs.  His appearance, however, was brief.  Johnson entered the game in the final 3 minutes of the first half and wouldn’t appear in the game after that.  In his two and a half minutes of playing time, the 25-year-old forward managed to grab two rebounds and attempt one shot for no points.  With Tyreke Evans back in the mix, it appears that Johnson’s minutes will come at a premium from here on out.

3.  Does Aaron Brooks return to the Kings’ rotation?

After sitting out the last game due to a coach’s decision, the veteran point guard did indeed find time on the floor tonight.  Brooks checked into the game for the Kings late in the first quarter and went on to play halfway through the second period.  However in the second half, Keith Smart went to Jimmer Fredette and the second-year guard responded.  Fredette scored eight of his 12 points in the third period and played significant minutes in the final frame.   Brooks, meanwhile, finished with just four points on 2-of-3 shooting in just under seven minutes of action.

Quotes of the Game

Keith Smart’s opening remarks:

I told our team this morning that this was going to be a tough game to play and a tough game to try to win.  And that came true.  You don’t coach against the record of a team; you coach against that moment in that environment and against that personality that the game takes on.  I knew that this team was going to be tough because they have legitimate post-up guys and guys that can get hot at any moment, especially with Bradley Beal and Martell Webster, who can both shoot a basketball.  We found a way.  We had to search through the bench a little bit, but we found some guys that could make some plays.  I thought that our fourth-quarter defense was really good and got us back into the game.

Bradley Beal on the last possession:

It was a double chain on the baseline for me.  I was open at first because I set my man up.  One of my bigs set a great screen on Salmons and he was stuck, so I was wide open for a second.  Last minute, they switched and I had Chuck Hayes on me.  As soon as he jumped out, he took kind of a bad angle and then he got into my body a little bit.  I had to take a tougher shot than I wanted to, but we had a second look at it and we just didn’t execute.

John Wall on missing two free throws at the end of the game:

I was upset, but I knew were getting the ball back, so I just tried to get the ball back.  They missed one and made one, so we still had a chance to win the game.

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