Preseason basketball at its absolute finest. The Sacramento Kings were coming off of two strong victories to open their preseason schedule. But on Wednesday night against the Golden State Warriors, it was a different story. The Kings were ice cold from the jump, missing nearly every open look from the perimeter. To make matters worse, the referees apparently wanted to practice their whistle-blowing. 63 fouls in 48 minutes — an absurd total for a preseason game. The excruciating night ended with a 98-88 win for Golden State, dropping the Kings to 2-1.
LINEUP CHECK – Still nothing can really be read from Keith Smart’s starting lineup. Any lineup that features Travis Outlaw (16 MIN, 4 PTS, 0-3 FG, 2 REB, 2 TO) cannot be one seriously considered for opening night. Rounding out the starting five were Aaron Brooks, Tyreke Evans, Jason Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins.
CRITIQUING A-BROOKS – Aaron Brooks, as the Kings lone free agent signing, needs to bring something substantial to the table. And based on my early observations, he will be a strong addition. Against the Warriors, Brooks (17 MIN, 8 PTS, 2-6 FG, 2 AST, 1 TO) was again a steady presence who kept the offense in line. However, it would be great to see him play with a little more aggression. He seemed a little timid, sometimes passing over his own offense for weaker options. Again, it’s only preseason and that may not be his focus. But with his speed, penetrating skills and perimeter shooting, he has the ability to really be a dynamic offensive player for the team, and it’s clear offense will be needed.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS – As a frequent basher of Chuck Hayes, I like to make it a point to praise him when he excels. Defensively against the Warriors, Chuck (25 MIN, 6 PTS, 3-4 FG, 6 REB, 2 BLK) was a stud. Pulling the chair on youngsters, bodying up vets like David Lee and Carl Landry. If Hayes can give the Kings 10-15 minutes of solid defense a night, it will be easier to overlook his offensive deficiencies … Tyreke Evans (25 MIN, 8 PTS, 3-13 FG, 3 REB, 2 AST) still doesn’t seem comfortable with his offensive role. His jumper wasn’t falling against the Warriors, which limits his effectiveness off the ball. Defensively, he played terrific man-to-man defense. But the team needs to find a way to exploit his strengths on offense. Bring back Beno Udrih? … James Johnson was sloppy offensively, but again brought massive energy to the floor. Looking like a superb addition … The Kings had 9 assists to 23 turnovers. Yeah, that’s not a good ratio … 25-for-75 from the floor (33.3%) and 3-for-21 (14.3%) from downtown won’t win any games.