Road Reaction: Phoenix Suns, 101, Sacramento Kings 90

After getting blown out yesterday in Sacramento, the Kings fell apart in the third quarter tonight, losing to the Phoenix Suns by the score of 101-90. 

Notes and Analysis

  • The Suns had no answer for Jimmer Fredette tonight.  The second-year guard out of BYU scored 12 points in the first half, but sat out the entire third quarter when the Kings were run out of the gym.  He returned in the fourth and quickly hit a 3-ball to get the Kings started, but by that point the damage was already done.  Jimmer finished with a career-high 22 points on 7-for-13 shooting.
  • DeMarcus Cousins had a disastrous game.  The Kings center played only 26 minutes because of foul trouble, but that may have been a good thing.  He finished with nine points on 1-for-10 shooting in the loss.  He grabbed 10 rebounds and went 7-for-8 from the line, but with Evans and Thornton missing the game, the Kings needed a big night out of Cousins and they didn’t get one.
  • There was a James Johnson sighting in this one.  After struggling for most of the season, the 25-year-old wing played extremely well, especially alongside Jimmer and Isaiah Thomas.  He scored in double figures (11) for only the second time this season and for the first time in more than a month.
  • John Salmons had another rough night, finishing with six points on 2-for-7 shooting.  Like Cousins, the Kings really needed Salmons to step up with Evans and Thornton missing in action and for a second straight game, he was a non-factor in over 30 minutes of play.
  • Shannon Brown scored 22 and Jared Dudley added 20 for the Suns as they won their third-consecutive game.  When the Kings cut Phoenix’s lead, these guys came through with the big, timely baskets.
  • Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton sat out tonight’s game for the Kings.  Evans re-aggravated his sore left knee in the first quarter of Sunday’s blowout loss to the Nuggets, while Thornton continues to be away from the team dealing with personal matters.  Word is Thornton will return Wednesday when the Kings take on the Golden State Warriors.
  • Stat of the Night: The Kings led by as many as 19 in the first half, but a horrific third quarter did them in.  The Suns came out hot and outscored the visiting Kings 31-14 to take a six point lead to the fourth.  I’m not in the business of playing arm chair quarterback, but Fredette and Thomas were the reason the Kings had the big lead early and Smart should have gone back to them early when the starters came out flat in the third.

Three answers to three questions pondered

1.  Which team wins the points in the paint battle?

The Kings barely bested the Suns 52-50 in points in the paint tonight, which isn’t bad when you consider Cousins finished just 1-for-10.  The Kings were aggressive going to the rack, especially the second unit.

2. Can they Kings shoot better than 40 percent from the field?

They did, but just barely.  The Kings finished the night shooting 41 percent from the field, but that was in large part due to the bench.  The starters killed them tonight, going just 15-for-44 from the field for a lowly 34 percent.

3. Will the Kings decide to spread the wealth tonight?

The Kings continued their selfish ways tonight.  They finished with 15 assists and no player handed out more than three.  When you don’t pass the ball, you become predictable and easy to guard.  Just ask Marcin Gortat, who finished with six blocks on the evening.

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About: James Ham

James Ham provides coverage through news analysis and in-depth interviews with Kings players and staff. James is also one of the producers behind the award-winning, independent documentary "Small Market, Big Heart". James graduated UC Davis with a degree in history and is happily married with two children.