That was a fun game…the rare game where all 10 Kings who stepped on the court made a positive contribution. Riding a four-game losing streak, Sacramento needed to come out with energy to knock off a 9-31 Cavaliers team. They did just that, and to make things easier, several Kings found their offense. An early 13-point lead was whittled down by Cleveland, but Sacramento stepped up the defense when needed and grabbed a 124-118 victory.
SIZZLING BENCH GUARDS – This one was a seesaw affair until Keith Smart inserted his second unit guards for the night, Marcus Thornton and Jimmer Fredette. It was quite a relieving sight for Kings fans to see Thornton (30 MIN, 20 PTS, 8-14 FG, 3-6 3FG, 2 STL, 3 TO) light it up like he did — he’s a player the team has been missing for some time. Marcus had his swagger back, showing no reservations about letting it rain threes. Jimmer, meanwhile, made the most of his 13:38 of court time. In the first half, Fredette (16 PTS, 5-8 FG, 3-4 3FG) got loose and drilled some open looks. Smart trusted Jimmer down the stretch, and while he was frequently getting burned by Dion Waiters, he came up with a big defensive stop of Kyrie Irving in a crucial moment. Additionally, he drove the basketball to the rim and took care of the ball. This is the reserve duo that should see minutes off the bench.
DOMINANT DEMARCUS – DeMarcus Cousins (32 MIN, 26 PTS, 7-14 FG, 12-12 FT, 14 REB, 6 AST, 3 TO, 2 STL, 3 BLK) was the immovable object down low. With Anderson Varejao out, Cleveland really couldn’t matchup with the Kings big man. Sacramento took advantage. With the game on the line, the Kings confidently dumped the ball down low to Cousins and let him work. And more often than not, Cousins made the right choice, powering to the rim, kicking out of the double team or drawing the foul (and he was perfect from the line). On the other end, Cousins showed flashes of strength as a weakside shot blocker, something rare to see from the big fella. There were a couple outbursts — a technical for mixing it up Tyler Zeller and a flagrant foul on Zeller. But Cousins put these incidents behind him quickly and focused on helping the team win.
T-ROB FINDING HIS NICHE – Someone must have said something to Thomas Robinson about playing his game because lately T-Rob has been a relentless beast. Against Cleveland, Robinson (28 MIN, 12 PTS, 6-10 FG, 7 REB, 4 O-REB, 2 AST, 1 BLK, 0 TO) got it in his mind that he was going to attack every opportunity for offensive rebounds. Countless possessions were created by his hard work, whether he actually snared the board or kept it alive for others. This is all the Kings need from Robinson — do your job to the best of your ability. You don’t have to force your offense, overdribble the basketball or fire up ill-advised jumpers. Be an animal. Attack the glass. Play stout defense. Mop up around the basket. The numbers will come, and you’ll be a great asset for the team.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS – Tyreke Evans (25 MIN, 18 PTS, 6-6 FG, 2-2 3FG, 4-4 FT, 4 REB) played a terrific all-around game. His perfect shooting night stands out in the stat sheet, but equally important was his crunch time defense on Waiters … Aaron Brooks was active but didn’t see the court after missing two games with an illness. And for this team right now, that’s the way it should be … Isaiah Thomas (31 MIN, 6 PTS, 2-8 FG, 6 AST, 1 TO, 2 REB, 1 STL) certainly didn’t have the stroke going like he did against Miami, but his defense on Kyrie Irving and generating of offense for others was enough in this one … Credit Chuck Hayes (14 MIN, 4 PTS, 1-2 FG, 4 REB, 3 O-REB, 1 STL) for some good hustle minutes. He’s seen his playing time reduced in the past month, and it looks like his conditioning is suffering, but Chuck battled well in this one … John Salmons (32 MIN, 14 PTS, 5-12 FG, 4 AST, 2 STL, 2 REB) continues to play well. He particularly stepped up in the third quarter, becoming the Kings primary weapon for a brief stretch … Omri Casspi got a nice ovation from his former home fans. Omri was really effective in the first half, penetrating and finishing at the basket. But he was a non-factor in the second half. He shared embraces with Francisco Garcia, Cousins and Jason Thompson after the game.