The “Open Practice” is a hit.

Tonight the Sacramento Kings opened the creaky doors of Arco Arena for a free to the public, general admission affair. Doors opened at 3:30.  By 3:15, the line to get in went from the main entrance to the front gate. Thousands got there early to get a good seat for the show, and a few of the Kings came ready to perform. Here are the highlights:

No, this isn't a scene from Teen Wolf.

Coach Westphal divided the players into two teams, black and white.

Team Black:

  • Marcus Landry- 10 points (4-6 shooting), 3 rebounds, 1 assist
  • Carl Landry- 5 points (2-5 shooting), 5 rebounds, 5 assists
  • Samuel Dalembert- 6 points (2-2 shooting), 5 rebounds, 1 assist
  • Tyreke Evans- 17 points (7-16 shooting), 5 rebounds, 4 assists
  • Beno Udrih- 8 points (3-6 shooting), 2 rebounds, 3 assists
  • Omri Casspi- 14 points (5-10 shooting), 5 rebounds, 1 assist
  • Darnell Jackson- 10 points (5-8 shooting), 7 rebounds
  • Joe Crawford- 7 points (3-5 shooting)
  • Luther Head- 2 points (1-7 shooting), 2 rebounds, 3 assists

Team White:

  • Donté Greene- 7 points (3-8 shooting), 2 rebounds, 1 assist
  • Jason Thompson- 12 points (4-12 shooting), 8 rebounds, 4 assists
  • DeMarcus Cousins- 13 points (5-10 shooting), 12 rebounds, 2 assists
  • Francisco Garcia- 16 points (8-12 shooting), 1 rebound, 1 assist
  • Pooh Jeter- 8 points (4-7 shooting), 1 rebound, 6 assists
  • Antoine Wright- 6 points (2-3 shooting) 1 rebound, 2 assists
  • Connor Atchley- 4 points (2-4 shooting), 2 rebounds, 1 assist
  • J.R. Giddens- 4 points (2-5 shooting), 4 rebounds
  • Donald Sloan- 4 points (2-6 shooting), 1 rebound

Team Black came out victorious in a tight 79-74, hard fought game. The game was somewhat in doubt until the last minute, but unforced turnovers stymied Team White’s chances. Here are some thoughts on the game:

  • Darnell Jackson is no longer a “throw in” from the Jon Brockman trade. He rebounds, bangs in the paint and has a nice 18-20 foot jumper. Dare I say…he is a more complete NBA player than either Jon Brockman or Sean May. Jackson still might not make this team but it won’t be for lack of effort or skill- purely a numbers thing.
  • Marcus Landry is no longer just Carl’s little brother. Marcus hit both of his three pointers, played ball-hawking defense and finished the game with a flying dunk from outside the key on the left baseline. Jackson, Jeter and Landry are the talk of camp so far. It will be interesting to see if all three or just Jeter are on the opening day roster.
  • Pooh Jeter (pronounced like cheddar with a J….so Jeddar) showed some flash that was unexpected. The coaching staff has heaped praise on the young point guard all pre-season, but they have used safe terms like, “he doesn’t make mistakes,” or “he has really matured.” Jeter made a couple of very nice assists to get to 6, including a flat out nasty behind-the-back job to Connor Atchley on the baseline.
  • Donald Sloan looked good but had some issues finishing. The rookie point guard out of Texas A&M finished with zero assists but only one turnover. I’m really hoping the Kings use the NBDL on this kid because he has a very nice frame to work with.
  • If the battle for the small forward spot was based on tonight, Omri Casspi would be the winner, Garcia would be second and Donté Greene would come in a distant third. The idea was pretty clear, put Greene in the game with two bigs that board in Cousins and Thompson so Greene could play outside. Donté was the 10th leading scorer on the night and he provided very little else to point to as a plus. Hopefully he turns it up in Tuesday’s pre-season opener or this is going to be a very short competition.
  • Casspi looked strong, confident and ready to shoot from the perimeter. Garcia was impressive in all the same ways, even going head to head against Evans for much of the game.
  • Dalembert looked…bad. He was no match for Thompson or Cousins in the post. He let two balls hit him in the chest because he wasn’t ready for the pass. Coach Westphal pointed out in yesterday’s practice that Dalembert was a week or two away from being in game shape because he missed the first week of practice with a groin injury. Tonight he showed it.
  • Joe Crawford is going to have a hard time making this team because of the numbers, but I must say that he is a much different person in game action than in practice. He is a leader on the floor and he really takes the ball to the hole hard.
  • Carl Landry is still out of sorts. Teaming him against two giants in Thompson and Cousins really limited his ability to move around, and defensively, he was no match. Hopefully he shakes his early camp rust and comes out firing Tuesday.
  • Cousins is a star. He has game from everywhere on the court, and hopefully that won’t be a problem. He has to do a better job hitting his free-throws but he hustled- even jumping on a small child in the stands to try to get an errant pass. He rebounds and he has Brad Miller-like vision on the outlet pass. Look for Omri Casspi and DMC to hook up a couple of times a game on the old cherry pick play.
  • Jason Thompson was solid. He had 3 or 4 shots crawl off the rim or he would have had a stellar night. He and Cousins both grabbed a rebound early in the game and although they were on the same team, they fought over it for a good 2 or 3 seconds. His rebounding totals tell the story- 9 trips to the line is impressive when there is a defender like Dalembert down there.
  • For those Kings fans who wondered why the Kings didn’t bring back Ime Udoka, it is because Antoine Wright is the same player, just younger and with 8 inch longer arms.
  • Luther Head looked rusty although he only missed an afternoon of practice. I don’t want to say he is on the bubble for a roster spot but with Wright, Garcia and possibly Marcus Landry available to back up the shooting guard position, he might just be.
  • Connor Atchley and J.R. Giddens look like training camp bodies right now. Atchley can really shoot, but he is out matched just about everywhere else. Giddens is an elite athlete, but at 25, he doesn’t seem to have put the pieces all the way together yet, which is a shame because you can’t teach what he has.

Overall, it was a fun night for the crowd. The players really played hard and put on a show. According to the Bee’s Jason Jones:

“Jeter injured his groin late in the scrimmage.”

I will post an update tomorrow as the team learns more on the Jeter injury and relays the information.


James Ham

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