Talk about ending the preseason on a high note. Against a Clippers team that was far more formidable than the one the Kings saw a couple weeks ago, Sacramento finally seemed to gel. Coach Mike Malone has yet to announce his starters, but the presumed rotation was in effect, and the results from both lines were terrific. After a sluggish start, the second unit ignited the team, and the starters finished the deal. The Kings 110-100 over Los Angeles gave them a finishing mark of 5-2 this preseason and sends them into Wednesday’s season opener with a good deal of momentum.
BENCH MOB REVIVAL – The reserves get top billing Friday because it was their energy that got the Kings going. More specifically, Isaiah Thomas (27 MIN, 27 PTS, 8-15 FG, 2-6 3FG, 9-10 FT, 4 REB, 4 AST, 2 STL, 4 TO) was a one-man spark plug that completely turned the game around. Sacramento’s starters lacked energy in the first quarter, and the backups did what they’re supposed to do. Along with Thomas, Ben McLemore (22 MIN, 8 PTS, 3-9 FG, 1-6 3FG, 6 REB, 3 AST, 1 STL) flashed his constant motor yet again, running the floor and showing his gifts from the perimeter. Travis Outlaw (19 MIN, 8 PTS, 1-4 FG, 5-5 FT, 2 REB) played well as the power forward in the Kings small lineup, and Jason Thompson (27 MIN, 9 PTS, 3-7 FG, 8 REB, 1 BLK) had his midrange game going. If these are the reserves come Wednesday, the Kings second unit definitely showed it can bring life to a flat team.
STARTERS FINALLY CLICK – Again, it’s unknown if this will be the starting lineup on Wednesday. But it was great to see the lineup of Greivis Vasquez-Marcus Thornton-John Salmons-Patrick Patterson-DeMarcus Cousins finally find a rhythm. It didn’t happen in the first quarter, but after the second unit showed them the way, the Kings starters produced the team’s best quarter of the preseason in the third. Vasquez (22 MIN, 0 PTS, 0-5 FG, 12 AST, 0 TO, 2 STL) commanded the team and whipped the ball around the court with precision. He finally looked like the player the Kings thought they were getting; could be him getting more comfortable after his ankle injury. Thornton (35 MIN, 17 PTS, 7-13 FG, 6 REB) started attacking the basket, rather than hoisting tough outside jumpers. And Cousins (19 MIN, 20 PTS, 9-16 FG, 7 REB, 3 TO) was an absolute monster who never settled for jumpers. DMC scored on a variety of beautiful interior moves and dominated the quarter. As a bonus, defense was a constant, and the Clippers high-powered offense was stymied to 20 points. After a lackluster preseason from this unit, it was a welcome sight to see them deliver Friday.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS – Jimmer Fredette and Luc Mbah a Moute sat out via coach’s decision. It remains to be seen if Mbah a Moute, who has battled injuries this preseason, will have a role with the team for the regular season … The Kings turned the ball over just 11 times, highlighted by Vasquez’s 12 assist-0 turnover line … Sacramento outscored the Clippers, 48-26, in the paint, a feat considering the Clippers first four baskets were dunks.