Preseason Road Reaction: Sacramento Kings 110, Los Angeles Clippers 100

Updated at 11:32 pm PT
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Against a Los Angeles Clippers team that played at full strength, the Sacramento Kings wrapped up the preseason on a positive note.  They overcame a sluggish start at the Staples Center to defeat the Clippers 110-100 in their exhibition finale.

The Kings finish the preseason at 5-2 for a second-consecutive season.  The finish marks the first time that the Kings have had back-to-back winning records in the preseason in the Sacramento era.  With the exhibition season finished, they now look ahead to Wednesday’s regular season opener against the Denver Nuggets at Sleep Train Arena.

Notes and Analysis

  • Greivis Vasquez once again got the start at point guard tonight.  To tip-off the game, the fourth-year guard looked a step slow, particularly on defense, and wasn’t able to create for teammates, who missed shots he set up.  But in the third quarter, Vasquez was the player the Kings hope he will be this season.  The 26-year-old guard racked up nine of his 12 assists after halftime, doing so in a precise manner.
  • Isaiah Thomas proved to be the yin to Vasquez’s yang tonight.  With Vasquez stacking up assists, Thomas stacked up points.  Thomas sparked a lethargic Kings’ offense off the bench, scoring 12 of his 27 points in the second quarter to bring Sacramento back from a double-digit deficit.  With their efforts tonight, Thomas and Vasquez clearly didn’t make the decision at starting point guard any easier for head coach Michael Malone.
  • After not playing Wednesday against Golden State, Marcus Thornton started at shooting guard and had a vintage Marcus Thornton game.  The fifth-year guard logged 34 minutes and scored 17 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the field.  It sure does seem like Malone will decide between Thornton and Jimmer Fredette, who did not play tonight, to split time at shooting guard with Ben McLemore this season.
  • DeMarcus Cousins was shaky to start this game and showed flashes of the Cousins’ of old.  He settled a bit from the perimeter and found himself in foul trouble early in the first quarter.  After sitting out the  second quarter, the 23-year-old center bounced back and scored 12 of his 20 points in the third period.  Cousins scored on array of post ups and cuts to the basket, which helped him shoot better than 56 percent for the game.  There’s no reason Cousins can’t flirt with an All-Star appearance in 2014 if he shoots better than 50 percent from the field this season.
  • Patrick Patterson got another start at power forward and put up subpar numbers in the Kings’ final preseason game.  Like Cousins, he got into foul trouble early, picking up three quick personals in the game’s first six minutes.  He ended up playing just roughly 19 minutes and scoring nine points and grabbing three rebounds.  Patterson knows that he’ll have to rebound much better than that if he wants to be this team’s starting power forward.
  • Patterson’s start meant Jason Thompson came off the bench and the sixth-year veteran found himself playing heavily at center tonight.  Malone opted to run Thompson as Cousins’ backup and paired the 27-year-old forward with both Travis Outlaw and Chuck Hayes on the frontline throughout the game.  He finished with nine points and eight rebounds, but struggled from the free throw line, where he shot 3-of-10.
  • John Salmons got the start at small forward and didn’t shoot particularly well (3-of-9 from the field for 12 points).  But while Salmons had trouble connecting with the basket, he managed to set up teammates and dished out five assists to just one turnover.  As mentioned above, Outlaw saw some time at power forward, but also played a little small forward, too.  Outlaw scored eights points on 1-of-4 shooting from the field.  Meanwhile, Luc Mbah a Moute, who had hoped to play in the Kings’ final two preseason games, did not see any action tonight.
  • The Kings went small at points in this game, which helped them speed up their offense.  But it was nice to see that going small didn’t hurt their cause on defense.  In fact, the Kings shored up defensively when Malone went to a lineup that featured Thomas, Thornton, McLemore, Outlaw and Thompson in the second quarter.
  • This game was won by the Kings inside.  They outscored the Clippers 48 to 26 in points in the paint.
  • Stat of the Night: The Kings scored an abysmal 20 points to open the game on 30-percent shooting.  But, they went on to score 69 points and shoot better than 57 percent in the second and third quarters combined.

Quote of the Game

Greivis Vasquez on tonight’s game

I thought it was a great team effort. I thought tonight was our best game defensively too. We played like a team. We moved the ball pretty well. I wouldn’t say we were a complete team right now because we’ve got a long way to go, but we show signs of how good we can be.

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About: Jonathan Santiago

Jonathan Santiago serves Cowbell Kingdom as senior editor specializing in writing, podcasting and video production. He also handles the majority of CK’s day-to-day beat coverage of the Kings.