It didn’t help that three hours before taking on Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol the Kings learned they would be without DeMarcus Cousins. But really, Sacramento’s problems ran much deeper than an undersized frontline. Missed shots and sloppy ball-handling were again the staples of the Kings offense. The Lakers cruised to a 103-90 victory, as Kings fans were forced to take in an embarrassing performance.
LOSING THE INTERIOR BATTLE – The Kings chose to slide Jason Thompson to center and insert Travis Outlaw at the power forward. To be honest, both guys fought hard defensively. Outlaw (26 MIN, 11 PTS, 5-9 FG, 3 REB, 2 AST, 2 BLK) provided hustle and shockingly knocked down some shots, and Thompson (34 MIN, 15 PTS, 4-10 FG, 7-9 FT, 10 REB, 3 AST, 2 STL, 1 BLK) was easily the Kings best player by a wide margin. But Sacramento’s lack of size was an obvious weakness. Rebounding was a chore all night, and the Kings struggled to keep Howard and Gasol away from the basket. Thompson fouling out only compounded the problem, although at that point the game had already gotten away from the Kings. The undersized frontline will pick up Thomas Robinson for Tuesday’s game against LaMarcus Aldridge and the Blazers.
CAN’T BUY A BUCKET – It stinks to have to harp on it, but again, Sacramento just did not make shots. Give the Lakers some credit but really, the Kings should shoulder most of the blame. Marcus Thornton, Aaron Brooks and Francisco Garcia — three shooters the Kings hope will provide a lift off the bench — combined to go a disgusting 2-for-18 from the field. And while Isaiah Thomas (23 MIN, 13 PTS, 6-11 FG, 2 REB, 1 AST) took a team-high 11 shots, it would have been great to see him look for his shot even more. The Kings were dying for offense in the early second half, and Thomas, as the only shooter on the floor, should have been more aggressive.
JIMMER EARNING TIME – Keith Smart can’t ignore it anymore. Jimmer Fredette (17 PTS, 7-9 FG, 3-5 3FG, 2 REB, 1 AST) does deserve more playing time. The second year man is in a great rhythm offensively, and it makes no sense for him to play just 10:45. Erase the meaningless minutes to Francisco Garcia and roll back John Salmons’ playing time a touch. After the game, Smart said, “I’ve got to make minutes for him…I gotta find ways to get him on the floor.” Good to see he recognizes it. Jimmer is scoring on the perimeter and has also connected on some nice floaters in the lane. The Kings need offense, Jimmer provides it. It seems simple.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS – Chuck Hayes (28 MIN, 6 PTS, 8 REB, 2 STL, 1 BLK) can’t rebound with Howard but he certainly stymied him defensively, slapping away three balls from Howard’s hands as he attempted to rise and shoot … Thornton (22 MIN, 2 PTS, 1-10 FG) may have been slowed after landing hard in the first half on a drive to the basket. He missed badly on attempts in the lane that he usually converts … James Johnson (27 MIN, 4 PTS, 2-8 FG) played solid defense and will be a nice guy to throw at Kobe Bryant during future meetings. But he can’t shoot and still tries to do too much on offense. Aggravating … Tyreke Evans (26 MIN, 9 PTS, 4-9 FG, 4 REB, 4 AST, 2 STL) started well but faded as the game progressed. He is now averaging just 11.4 points per game this season.