Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Energetic Bench Propels Kings To Win Over Orlando

If you only caught the first three quarters of this one, what a shame. For 36 minutes, Orlando and Sacramento played what looked like a poor rec league game. After the Kings coughed up a 14-point third quarter lead with flat, uninspired ball, Keith Smart turned to his bench. And the Kings reserves provided one of the better periods of Sacramento basketball this season. The Kings took down the Magic, 91-82, and now take a two-game winning streak into Saturday’s tilt in Portland.

SMART STUMBLES ON GOLD – Even a broken clock is right twice a day. Keith Smart likes to play the rotation roulette on a nightly basis, and Friday against the Magic, he finally hit. Smart went with the unorthodox combo of Jimmer Fredette, Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Thornton, and the results were huge. Thornton (24 MIN, 5 PTS, 1-7 FG) was a relative non-factor, but Thomas and Fredette played terrific together. Isaiah (29 MIN, 17 PTS, 5-10 FG, 7-8 FT, 5 REB, 4 AST, 1 TO) played with the energy Kings fans became accustomed to last season; he ignited the team. Jimmer (21 MIN, 15 PTS, 5-7 FG, 4 REB, 4 TO) made a handful of crucial baskets inside and out. Fredette also did an adequate job defending the shooting guard spot, as his sole responsibility was to chase J.J. Redick around. Now, Smart found a lineup that produced…what are the chances we see it again tomorrow? Please, Coach, give it another shot.

TENACIOUS T-ROB – Easily the best game Thomas Robinson has played and he only finished with one point. Incredible energy, hustle and just a total selling out for the team win. Robinson (17 MIN, 1 PT, 0-5 FG, 7 REB, 3 AST, 2 STL) was a force on the second unit, primarily on defense where he showed great skill in contesting shots. Offensively, T-Rob made two perfect passes to set-up baskets. And throughout his stint, Robinson had eyes on every loose ball. It was awesome to watch. You’ve got to figure he puts it together offensively in time, so it’s encouraging to see him already showing great instincts on both ends. He can contribute immediately thanks to his crazy athleticsm. But Friday, Robinson gave Kings fans a glimpse into his future potential.

THE CALL FOR ISAIAH – Plain and simple, Isaiah Thomas needs to play more. There’s no good reason for him to sit out entire games — Aaron Brooks hasn’t set the world on fire, and the Kings primary goal should be to their develop young talent. Thomas showed the type of impact he can have (and has had in the past). He pushed the tempo, ran the offense and brought a general excitement to the floor that this team sorely lacks. As Sacramento saw against Orlando, it doesn’t have to be Jimmer vs. Isaiah. Why not both? You’re forgiven if the starting combo of Francisco Garcia and John Salmons didn’t have you on the edge of your seat. Limit the vets’ minutes. Roll with the young guns…they produce, they’re entertaining and they need the time.

OTHER OBSERVATIONS – DeMarcus Cousins (32 MIN, 17 PTS, 5-13 FG, 7-10 FT, 14 REB, 4 AST, 4 TO, 3 STL, 2 BLK) again performed well. It got physical down low and DMC remarkably committed just two fouls, kept his cool and helped the Kings control the interior … Aaron Brooks (19 MIN, 11 PTS, 5-9 FG, 4 REB, 3 AST) and Jason Thompson (28 MIN, 12 PTS, 5-11 FG, 6 REB) gave way to the bench wave that took over the game. But both guys delivered solid performances, especially in the first half when the Kings built up a 12 point lead … Tyreke Evans was a late scratch with his sore knee. No word on his status for tomorrow, but it’s hard to imagine him being ready to go … The Kings committed 18 turnovers. Nonetheless, the ball movement seemed better … Bill Walton can sometimes drive you up a tree as the color commentator, but he gave one of his best performances. From comparing Jason Thompson to the Sacramento River to asking for DeMarcus Cousins’ “foot-long”. It was an entertaining evening.

  • David Echard

    Two bad teams playing each other. Isiah is siting on the bench for a reason. Half the time he makes poor decisions offensively. Last night. Penetrating wildly against a bad Orlando team. When facing more formidable opponents, Thomas is shut downHe’s great off the bench, but is not a starter. his lack of height is a problem as well.

    • Scott Levin

      Agree about the questionable opponent. Makes it hard to get really excited. But Isaiah played well last season in extended minutes as the starter. And it’s not like Brooks is running away with the job. He’s playing solidly but Thomas should be getting decent run every night off the bench. Maybe his ceiling is as a reserve, but nonetheless, he still needs consistent minutes to develop. Play him with Jimmer when the matchup allows it.

  • Marilyn Kenyon

    Nice write up! The fourth quarter last night was a blast. Who would have, could have predicted Jimmer and Isaiah Thomas would play so well together? The whole bench -Thomas, Jimmer, Thornton, Robinsin, and Hayes were fun to watch. By the way, Jimmer was a +13. Can we ask for an encore? Agree on Bill Walton! He was actually fun to listen to last night. The twitter came alive with his wanting the12 inch over the 6 inch version. Good times.