This one just had a different feel to it, a new energy that has not been seen in Sacramento in quite some time. Playing their first game since Sunday’s blockbuster trade, the Kings suited up 10 players and ran the Dallas Mavericks to death. The first benefit of the deal was evident from the tip, as new starter Isaiah Thomas injected life into a previously slow unit. The result was an uptempo masterpiece; Thomas the conductor and four others working their tails off. The Kings steamrolled Dallas, taking a 112-97 victory and bringing an excitement to Sacramento that may only be the start of great things to come.
ISAIAH’S BIG CHANCE – It’s taken a few years and included some inferior competition, but it appears that the Sacramento Kings are finally Isaiah Thomas’ (38 MIN, 24 PTS, 7-16 FG, 4-6 3FG, 6-6 FT, 12 AST, 2 TO, 2 REB, 1 STL) team to run. If Monday’s game is a sign of what to expect, Kings fans are in for a treat. No offense to the departed Greivis Vasquez, but Sacramento was dying for energy out of the gate, and Greivis just wasn’t that guy. Isaiah took the reins Monday and set the pace of the game from minute one to minute 48. His teammates followed his lead, and the Kings played with constant speed. Thomas was a pass-first point guard, but he didn’t hesitate to do his own damage if the opportunity presented itself. Unsurprisingly, not only Thomas enjoyed great success, but two teammates also had career nights. Isaiah is the Kings ignition, and he’s got the running mates now to really make this a fun team to watch.
DMC DOMINATES DALLAS – DeMarcus Cousins should never bring the ball up court. Now that we got his one negative out of the way, we can talk about the monstrous performance that Cousins (36 MIN, 32 PTS, 10-17 FG, 12-14 FT, 19 REB, 3 AST, 3 STL, 1 BLK, 9 TO) provided Monday. The Kings big man was an absolute force against the Mavericks, who had no hope at all of stopping Cousins on this night. DeMarcus finished at the rim, powered through defenders, got to the line, stepped out and hit jumpers, and owned the glass. Even with the Kings playing a more uptempo style, Cousins never got lost in the shuffle, establishing himself down low as an offensive beast. He and Isaiah showed great chemistry — Thomas was more than willing to find a posting Cousins or drop off a pass after a pick and roll. It was total domination by Cousins, and his presence opened up a lot of looks for his teammates.
D-WILL EXPLODES – With Rudy Gay coming to town, Derrick Williams (35 MIN, 31 PTS, 12-16 FG, 3-5 3FG, 5 REB, 5 STL) made sure Kings fans don’t forget about the team’s previous acquisition. Williams caught fire Monday, showing a beautiful touch from the perimeter. His athleticism is such a gift, and he showed it to the Mavericks, taking the ball strong to the rack, then showing deft touch to finish in traffic. Williams certainly benefitted from the quick pace of his new lead guard, Isaiah Thomas. The pair connected on multiple alley-oops with Thomas always keeping an eye on the athletic forward. It remains to be seen where D-Will slots in when Rudy Gay debuts Wednesday, but it’ll be hard to bench him after Monday’s career performance. A Williams-Gay frontline would be one heckuva fastbreak threat.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS – The only time this game got hairy for Sacramento was when the depleted second unit came in during the first half. As such, Coach Michael Malone elected to give his starters extended minutes in the second half to secure victory … Jason Thompson (30 MIN, 10 PTS, 3-7 FG, 7 REB, 3 AST, 1 BLK) played a strong game as the starting power forward. Where ever you put JT, you know what you’ll get — a heady player who just works hard on both ends. Hoping he doesn’t get sent packing, as has been speculated. He’s always made perfect sense as a third big man, which should be his role going forward … It’s sad to watch how far Marcus Thornton (24 MIN, 1 PT, 0-4 FG, 7 REB, 1 BLK, 2 TO) has fallen. From No. 1 crunch time option to untrusted reserve. It’s clear his confidence is gone, but the Kings have to hope he gets it back. He could fill such a valuable role for this team as a bench scorer if he could just get his swagger back … Ray McCallum (5 MIN, 2 PTS, 1-4 FG, 1 TO) got some extended run in garbage time, much to the delight of the Kings crowd. Hard to judge him, but he knocked down one nice jumper off the dribble. Also had his pocket picked bringing it up court, but it would be nice to see him given a chance to be the team’s backup point guard. Jimmer Fredette (10 MIN, 2 PTS, 1-3 FG, 2 REB, 2 TO) was ineffective in his first half stint in that role … New Kings Rudy Gay, Quincy Acy and Aaron Gray watched the game from a luxury box and received a great ovation when they walked down to the court at the end of the game. All are expected to be available Wednesday against Utah.