The Kings are building quite a resume of quality wins. The Lakers, Spurs, Thunder and now Mavericks. Friday night’s domination of Dallas was the game we’ve been hoping for all season — a win that didn’t require any nail-biting. Sacramento used a total team effort full of fast-paced basketball to completely control the game and take it to Dallas, who looked old and slow. The 110-97 win is only the Kings second double-digit victory of the season, and it moves the team to 2-0 on the current nine-game homestand.
GET OUT AND RUN – We’ve heard Keith Smart say the team is going to run, but this may have been the first game where they actually did it for a full 48 minutes. Every defensive rebound was instantly pushed up the court with guys throwing quick outlets and all five guys getting up the floor. The Kings only scored 18 fastbreak points, but it was more than that. Sacramento’s fast pace seemed to tucker out the Mavs, playing the second night of a back-to-back-to-back. When the Kings had to settle down in a halfcourt set, they continued to play at a high tempo with lots of players cutting and solid ball movement. Isaiah Thomas (24 MIN, 14 PTS, 5-8 FG, 4-6 3FG, 5 AST) was the catalyst and the unselfish play was indicated by seven players scoring in double figures.
THE NEW SALMONS – No player has been ripped more (myself included) than John Salmons (22 MIN, 10 PTS, 5-8 FG, 2 AST) this year. As a starter, Salmons was a drain on the system, devoid of energy and unable to make easy shots. As a reserve, Salmons has been reborn. Coach Smart has been rewarded for his decision to make Salmons the second point guard. And John has stepped up his game. He’s playing with aggression, attacking the basket and controlling the ball. Against Dallas, there were some sketchy moments in the third quarter where it seemed like the Mavs were on the verge of a comeback run. But Salmons rose to the occasion, sticking some critical jumpers to squash the Dallas run. He’s shown a knack over his career for making clutch shots and it’s so nice to see him finally delivering for the Kings.
AILING COUSINS – Clearly, DeMarcus Cousins (31 MIN, 15 PTS, 4 REB, 5 AST, 5 TO, 3 STL, 2 BLK) was still feeling the effects of his food poisoning episode. The most noticeable weakness was on the glass where it seemed like DMC didn’t have the energy to battle Ian Mahinmi for rebounds. The hole in the middle helped Dallas grab a 44-34 rebounding advantage and 17 offensive boards. But Cousins didn’t let the game pass without putting his stamp on it. The big man fought through the sickness and made some of his typical beautiful finishes around the rim. And even with Cousins ailing, Smart played him more than any other player, saying he wanted to make sure he kept his conditioning up before a planned day off tomorrow.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS – Marcus Thornton (29 MIN, 17 PTS, 6-9 FG) was a stud, one of his best games as a pure scorer this season. Crisp moves, great patience and an assassin with the jumper … Tyreke (30 MIN, 17 PTS, 9 REB, 2 AST, 0 TO) did his best to help out on the boards and had some terrific takes to the rim in the third quarter … Donte Greene (20 MIN, 11 PTS, 4-6 FG) got the start and played solidly. Pretty good defense on Dirk and played within himself offensively … Bill Walton is so much more tolerable on the TV broadcast when the Kings are winning … Great all-around game for Francisco Garcia (21 MIN, 10 PTS, 4-9 FG, 3 STL, 2 BLK). Yet another solid performance in a string of good games for the Kings reserve … The Kings made all 13 of their free throws.