You can never put too much stock into preseason games, but it’s always a positive to see the Sacramento Kings shoot the lights out. After a quick, evenly-played first half between Sacramento and the Los Angeles Lakers, the Kings came out in the second half and buried the Lakers with jumpers. Led by Travis Outlaw, Sacramento outscored the Los Angeles Lakers by 20 in the second half, shooting 53.7 percent en route to an easy 104-86 victory in Las Vegas.
THE THIRD POSITION BATTLE – Most Kings fans have been focused on the battles that figure to be played out for the point guard and power forward positions. But is the small forward spot locked up by anyone? With assumed starter Luc Mbah a Moute sitting out, two veterans made their cases for the job. Outlaw (24 MIN, 18 PTS, 7-9 FG, 4-6 3FG, 6 REB, 1 BLK), who started, found a groove in the third quarter and punished the Lakers for leaving him open. As a plus, he played solid defense and hit the boards. John Salmons (26 MIN, 8 PTS, 4-8 FG, 4 REB, 1 BLK) was less impressive, but also hit a hot streak in the second half and beat the Lakers with his patented isolation-midrange game. Let’s face it — the Kings small forward options aren’t great. But that just means the position could be up for grabs up until the season opener.
JIMMER STARTS HOT – After sitting out the preseason opener, Jimmer Fredette (21 MIN, 7 PTS, 3-5 FG, 1-1 3FG, 3 AST, 2 TO, 2 STL) got the start at shooting guard and made the most of the opportunity. Jimmer showed confidence in his shot, letting it fly at the first sight of daylight. The results were positive. It was also of note to see Coach Malone slide Jimmer to point guard when the first batch of subs entered the game. Fredette will have to fight to earn minutes, and clearly the coaching staff wants to be sure he can handle either guard spot.
BOOGIE BOUNCES BACK – DeMarcus Cousins (26 MIN, 16 PTS, 8-13 FG, 12 REB, 3 AST) had an unimpressive opener, forcing way too many shots from the low block. It was great to see the Kings center bounce back with a much better game Thursday. After getting a few midrange shots to fall early, Cousins clearly gained confidence. He complemented his outside game with some pretty dribble drives and finishes at the rim. As usual, Cousins dominated the glass and was quick to find a guard. No forces inside. No bad behavior. No masquerades as a point guard. Strong game for Cousins.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS – Patrick Patterson (23 MIN, 5 PTS, 2-9 FG, 3 REB) got the starting nod at power forward and proceeded to miss all six of his first-half shots. With Carl Landry still sitting out, it remains to be seen how Coach Malone will handle his stable of power forwards … Ben McLemore (29 MIN, 12 PTS, 5-11 FG, 2-4 3FG, 5 REB, 2 AST, 3 TO) was again a bright spot for Sacramento. The rookie continues to shoot the ball well and flashes athleticism on both ends that makes your jaw drop. It’s still hard to see him starting to open the year but if Marcus Thornton (DNP) or the team falters, McLemore would definitely be in line for the gig … The Kings had six players score in double figures, including second-round pick Ray McCallum (21 MIN, 10 PTS, 4-9 FG, 4 AST, 1 TO) … Chuck Hayes (16 MIN, 2 PTS, 10 REB) is moving at his usual slow-snail pace, but the Wagon did a great job carving out space on the glass against the Lakers bigger interior players … The Kings next preseason game is the home opener Monday against the Clippers.