The Sacramento Kings continue to make it tough to be supportive. During this bad start to the season, the Kings have provided very few moments of enjoyment, and Sunday’s matinee was no different. Sacramento’s new starting lineup found itself briefly ahead but it was short lived. Brooklyn took control in the second quarter, and from that point on it felt like the Kings were in constant catch-up mode. The Nets were never seriously challenged, as every time the game started inching closer to even, Sacramento entered an offensive drought. Brooklyn took the 99-90 win, dropping the Kings to 2-8.
VETS IN THE LINEUP – Keith Smart made good on his promise of lineup changes, inserting Aaron Brooks (18 MIN, 4 PTS, 2-2 FG, 2 REB, 0 AST) and John Salmons (28 MIN, 2 PTS, 1-3 FG, 5 REB, 1 AST) for Isaiah Thomas and James Johnson. The two new starters combined for six points and one assist. With Smart, it has become painfully apparent that the starters mean nothing because rotations will constantly vary. There has seemingly been no rhyme or reason to who enters the game and when. Jimmer Fredette (10 MIN, 3 PTS, 1-3 FG) was the first point guard off the bench, but he played just ten minutes. Isaiah Thomas (14 MIN, 1 PT, 0-3 FG, 4 AST) didn’t play in the first half, but he played 14 minutes in the second half. It’s evident that nobody is playing well enough to earn consistent minutes, but it’s hard to see the benefits of Smart’s name-out-of-a-hat rotation.
THE STRUGGLES OF THORNTON – It’s safe to say Marcus Thornton (26 MIN, 12 PTS, 4-13 FG, 3-10 3FG, 2 REB) is mired in a legitimate slump, as he is down to just 39.2 percent shooting on the season. And as the Kings number one option from the perimeter (only option?), Thornton’s struggles are really hurting Sacramento. You can only pin so much of the poor shooting on an uncomfortability with his role. At some point, he’s got to start knocking down shots. It looked like he was on his way to rescuing the Kings against Brooklyn when he buried back-to-back long balls to open the fourth quarter. But that was the extent of it. His teammates subsequently set him up for more, but he failed to deliver. We’re talking about the Kings leading scorer last year; time to perform.
COUSINS AT THE RIM – It was a better showing for DeMarcus Cousins (34 MIN, 29 PTS, 12-21 FG, 7 REB, 3 AST, 4 TO, 2 STL, 1 BLK), who hasn’t yet looked completely comfortable on the offensive end. Against the Nets, Cousins seemed more intent on getting to the basket. While that will always have its drawbacks — he forced it needlessly on more than one occasion — Cousins showed some crafty moves at the rim to score on Brook Lopez. Cousins seemed a touch more patient, showed off a decent jump hook and maybe for the first time, passed out of the post to an open shooter for a three-pointer. Good to see some signs of effectiveness from the Kings big man.
OTHER OPTIONS – Tyreke Evans (32 MIN, 21 PTS, 8-14 FG, 7 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 2 BLK) posted a nice stat line but it seemed rather empty. His hard work on defense stood out the most … The Kings 17 turnovers and 10-of-19 shooting from the free throw line certainly didn’t help the cause … Desperate times call for a “We Want Outlaw” chant near the end of the game. Didn’t work, he didn’t play … The Kings made Andray Blatche look like an All-Star. Blatche finished 11-of-12 for 22 points in 19 minutes.