Going in, you knew defense wouldn’t be a priority in this one. You also knew the Kings should beat a team like Phoenix, a franchise with a far less talented roster (you might take the Kings top four before any Suns). The Kings and Suns had a mini-shootout Friday night, trading baskets as neither team could get much separation. But Sacramento hit the Suns with a multi-pronged attack, as four players passed the 20-point mark. Only Kings-killer Michael Beasley could do the same for Phoenix, and as a result, Sacramento outraced the Suns for a 121-112 victory.
BOMBS AWAY – The Kings held a massive size advantage, but it was their guards who did the most damage against the Suns. Isaiah Thomas (33 MIN, 27 PTS, 8-13 FG, 4-5 3FG, 7-7 FT, 5 REB, 6 AST, 2 TO, 5 STL) got started early, catching fire in the second quarter to knock down three triples in a two-minute span. Sacramento’s speedy point guard was also determined to get in the lane and was a gnat on defense. Marcus Thornton (24 MIN, 23 PTS, 9-13 FG, 5-7 3FG, 3 REB) started a bit slow, but he enjoyed a strong second half from the outside. Thornton hit four long balls in the final two quarters. He also provided a huge momentum boost at the end of the third, swiping the ball away from a Suns rebounder and burying a corner three-pointer with less than a second remaining. And surprise, surprise…Tyreke Evans is finally making some progress with his outside shot. Since the All-Star break, Evans (35 MIN, 25 PTS, 9-12 FG, 4-6 3FG, 2 REB, 5 AST, 6 TO, 2 BLK) has connected on a triple in eight of 10 games. Against Phoenix, Evans was a marksman. Great form, no hesitation…Evans stepped up and buried the Suns with two late three-pointers to thwart Phoenix’s comeback attempt.
COUSINS’ NIGHT – You almost felt like he could have done more, but it’s hard to argue with the stat line that DeMarcus Cousins (35 MIN, 22 PTS, 9-13 FG, 4-4 FT, 14 REB, 7 AST, 4 TO, 2 STL) put up against the Suns. Phoenix basically started three power forwards, none of which could seriously contend with Cousins down low. It wasn’t always pretty, but Cousins effectively got to the rim and finished well. Of course, Cousins couldn’t get through the game without some trouble, and the Kings center picked up five fouls. But Cousins more than played his role, serving as the game’s lone big man presence.
EARLY RETURNS ON PATTERSON – Patrick Patterson is already establishing himself as a solid role player for the Kings. Patterson (26 MIN, 8 PTS, 4-9 FG, 6 REB, 2 AST, 1 BLK) has provided instant energy in every game he’s entered, and you can tell he’s determined to destroy his poor-rebounder label. Against the Suns, Patterson again hit the glass on both ends, creating second chances on offense and shoring up the Kings sketchy defensive rebounding. Offensively, Patterson knows what he’s doing. Aside from the occasional forced outside shot, he’s efficient both inside and out. Patterson earned the right to finish the game Friday with his relentless effort, and he’s been a fun player to watch.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS – Toney Douglas (13 MIN, 0 PTS, 0-3 FG, 2 AST) played a majority of the fourth quarter in place of Thomas. It wasn’t warranted based on Thomas’ play, but the Kings maintained the lead so Keith Smart decided to let it play out … The Kings shot 54.9 percent from the field and dropped 13-of-27 from downtown … Evans redeemed himself with clutch outside shooting, but he was again too sloppy with the ball. He had a one-minute span in the fourth quarter with three turnovers that allowed the Suns to cut an 11-point lead to three.