The Kings are doing little these days to keep fans interested. Aside from a spirited first half effort by the team’s second unit, Sacramento played a disorganized brand of basketball, clearly missing the hot hand of Tyreke Evans. Nonetheless, the Kings managed to hang around for all 48 minutes. But in the end, the Pacers dynamic duo of David West and George Hill came up with all the clutch baskets needed. Marcus Thornton missed a late three-pointer to tie, as Indiana exited with a 97-92 victory.
STARTING GUARDS A NO SHOW – With Evans out due to a knee bruise, Friday night’s game was a prime opportunity for Aaron Brooks and Marcus Thornton to shoulder more of the load. Unfortunately, neither truly stepped up. Brooks (30 MIN, 9 PTS, 4-8 FG, 1 AST, 3 TO, fouled out) was brought in with the thought that he’d be a scoring option. But even with Evans missing, Brooks continued to pass up open looks. And to compound matters, he wasn’t careful with the ball. Thornton (33 MIN, 15 PTS, 5-11 FG, 3 REB) never found a rhythm. He shot the ball decently but 11 attempts in 33 minutes is low for a guy who probably should have been the No. 1 option on offense.
STATS LIE FOR DMC – Credit DeMarcus Cousins for maybe the most underwhelming 19-and-16 in team history. Cousins (32 MIN, 19 PTS, 5-17 FG, 9-10 FT, 16 REB, 2 TO) was a loose cannon all game long. After showing off a smooth shooting stroke in recent games, DMC reverted to his forced dribble drives, and against the 7-foot-2 Roy Hibbert, he was thwarted time after time. If anything, Cousins got the benefit of the referees’ whistles, yet he still found plenty to complain about. It’s hard to stand behind the big man when he insists on hopeless, out-of-control, one-on-one plays. It’s detrimental to the team when he’s in that mode.
UNLIKELY OFFENSIVE SOURCES – With the starters sputtering, Keith Smart turned to two guys who have been glued to the end of the bench. Jimmer Fredette and Francisco Garcia got the call and both made the most of it. Fredette (18 MIN, 12 PTS, 5-10 FG, 3 AST) effectively penetrated the Pacers defense and converted some pretty runners in the lane. Garcia (15 MIN, 12 PTS, 5-7 FG, 2-4 3FG), who entered the game having played just 47 minutes all season, knocked down his first two perimeter shots. That seemed to boost his confidence, and Garcia has never needed much before hoisting up shots. The two reserve guards saved the Kings, who were floundering midway through the opening quarter. Fredette has seemingly done enough to earn more time, but Smart has shown that nothing is guaranteed. Garcia could eat into James Johnson’s bench minutes once Evans returns.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS – Thomas Robinson (25 MIN, 7 PTS, 2-8 FG, 7 REB, 2 AST, 3 TO, 3 BLK) got extended run with Jason Thompson struggling. T-Rob showed his tenacity by blocking two transition attempts by Indiana and crashing the boards, but he again failed to finish his layups. Someone should show Robinson a video of Shawn Kemp; just flush it with authority … Isaiah Thomas played literally two seconds in the fourth quarter. The point guard rotation remains a question mark from game to game … Chuck Hayes played strong defense against David West when the teams met earlier this year. But Friday, Hayes wasn’t called upon to shut down West by himself. Robinson also drew the assignment, though nobody could slow West on this night.