Road Reaction: Kings fall to the Nets by the final of 97-95
In the first of two preseason match ups overseas in China, the Sacramento Kings struggled late and fell to the Brooklyn Nets early Sunday morning by the final of 97-95.
Ramon Sessions led the way for Sacramento, dropping in 18 points and handing out four assists off the bench. Fellow point guard Darren Collison added 15 points, while veteran big man Reggie Evans chipped in seven points and 10 rebounds in 22 minutes.
Brook Lopez scored a team-high 18 points for Brooklyn, but it was a huge 3-point shot by Mirza Teletovic with less than a minute left in the fourth that earned the Nets the victory.
With head coach Lionel Hollins under the weather, the Nets turned to former Sacramento Kings head coach Paul Westphal to run the show. The Nets improved to 2-0 in the preseason, while the Kings dropped to 1-2.
These two teams match up again Wednesday in Beijing, China at 4:30am PST .
Notes and Analysis
- For the second time in three preseason contests, coach Michael Malone turned to Darren Collison, Ben McLemore, Rudy Gay, Jason Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins to start the game. When Malone went to his bench early, he used Thompson at the five, with Reggie Evans playing the four and for the second straight game, Omri Casspi was the first small forward off the Kings bench.
- Darren Collison is the odds on favorite to win the starting point guard job, but Ramon Sessions is going to play plenty for the Kings this season. Malone has tinkered with plenty of small ball sets, including a two point guard look, with both Stauskas and McLemore getting minutes on the wing. The duo combined for 33 points and eight assists in 56 total minutes.
- Casspi played solid ball in his 22 minutes of action, finishing with nine points and three rebounds in the loss. At this point, it appears that Casspi is ahead of Derrick Williams for the reserve power forward spot, although Malone used the tandem together in a small lineup during the second quarter. Casspi is running the floor well and aggressively attacking the rim. He has quickly earned the trust of Malone through training camp and three preseason contests.
- McLemore and rookie Nik Stauskas struggled in this game. The pair of 21-year-old guards combined to score 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting. The Sacramento Kings had plenty of games last season where they received little to no production out of the shooting guard position. This season, Malone will turn to Collison and Sessions when things go south with the young guys.
- Ryan Hollins received his first extended look with the Kings and the veteran didn’t disappoint. He ran the floor, brought energy, played goalie and even hammered down a few dunks. Hollins finished with eight points, eight rebounds and a pair of blocks in his 12 minutes of action. Off the floor, Hollins has worked overtime with Cousins as a mentor. This was another sneaky good offseason pick up by Pete D’Alessandro. He won’t blow you away with his numbers, but Hollins is quickly fitting in as a glue guy on this team.
- Malone is taking an ultra cautious approach to playing Cousins and Gay during the preseason. With both players coming off a busy summer with Team USA in Spain, there is little need to extend either player during meaningless games. Cousins finished tonight’s contest with nine points, four assists and three rebounds in 13 minutes, while Gay logged 22 minutes and scored nine points.
- After sitting out the previous two games as a healthy scratch, rookie big man Eric Moreland made his career debut for the Kings tonight. Moreland played the final four minutes of the fourth quarter alongside Hollins, finishing with two rebounds and a foul.
- Stat of the Night: After struggling with their assist-to-turnover rate the first two games, the Sacramento Kings handed out 17 assists and only turned the ball over 11 times.
Quote of the Night
Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive on the future of interacting with Chinese fans:
“We view the game of basketball ultimately as a social network and as a global social network. So for us, the Chinese fans are a extremely important part of that social network. So from our perspective, we will invest heavily in making the Kings experience available to the fans in China. But we also want to be able to learn from those fans and so we fully expect to get their ideas, to crowd source, to get their innovation and make it a part of the Sacramento Kings experience.”