That’s what we get for getting our hopes up. The Sacramento Kings reminded fans Thursday that they are far from a polished product. After a three-game stretch that included impressive wins over Miami and Houston, the Kings returned home to play an underrated, yet beatable, Philadelphia 76ers squad. In a game marred by constant whistles, it was the Sixers who asserted themselves, taking advantage of a Kings team that came out with little fire and terrible execution on both ends of the court. Minor runs were all Sacramento could muster, as Philadelphia maintained control throughout and walked out of Sleep Train Arena with a 113-104 victory.
KINGS BREAKDOWNS ABOUND – It looked like the Kings were turning a corner, especially after an emotional win in Houston that was as much about defense as it was offense. But Thursday, the Kings fell right back into old habits. To start, the energy level was noticeably low out of the gate and against a vibrant Sixers team, this was bad news. Philadelphia constantly broke down defenders off the dribble, creating holes throughout the Kings defense. Seemingly every Kings defender had his share of miscues. To compound matters, Sacramento’s offense was far from smooth. Lazy passes and forced dribble drives were the weapons of choice, and the 76ers converted 23 Kings turnovers into 27 points.
NIGHT OF A MILLION WHISTLES – Referee Dan Crawford set an awful tone in this game, whistling DeMarcus Cousins for a ticky-tack illegal screen just 11 seconds into the game. From that point on, it was a referee show…surely what fans came to see. In a game with 58 fouls, there were no doubt awful calls both ways. On the Kings side, DeMarcus Cousins (28 MIN, 33 PTS, 10-16 FG, 13-19 FT, 14 REB, 2 AST, 2 STL, 1 BLK, 5 TO, 5 PF) was a consistent victim for his screen setting, and even Isaiah Thomas (36 MIN, 23 PTS, 7-18 FG, 4-9 3FG, 5-6 FT, 7 AST, 3 TO) grew frustrated to the point of a technical foul. More than anything, the incessant whistles completely ruined the flow of the game; each ref trying to outdo the other or make up for a weak call on the other end. Not an enjoyable brand of basketball to watch.
JIMMER’S MINI EXPLOSION – Kings fans have long dreamed of the “BYU Jimmer” showing up and dominating a game. Thursday night may have been the closest they have ever gotten to that dream becoming reality. For three glorious minutes in the fourth quarter, it was the Jimmer show, and the Kings de facto backup point guard was in perhaps the best zone of his NBA career. With his team down 13, Fredette (17 MIN, 15 PTS, 5-9 FG, 3-6 3FG, 4 REB, 3 TO) reeled off 12 straight Kings points to ignite a willing crowd and cut the Sacramento deficit to just five. The confident Fredette hit from the perimeter, used screens, penetrated, got to the line, let it fly with no hesitation…every shot pumping up the decibel level inside Sleep Train. Alas, Jimmer and the Kings could not sustain the momentum — Coach Michael Malone gave him a chance, but the magic wore off and Philly tightened the screws. Jimmer has his faults and an upgrade would be welcomed, but when he plays like that, like he did in college, it’s magic.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS – How Cousins managed to put in 33 points with all the distractions is beyond me. It seems like he spent the night focused on one-on-one battles with the individual Sixers (Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes each had run-ins with DMC) while also trying to overcome some questionable calls. When the actual game becomes secondary to the sideshow stuff, it’s not as enjoyable to watch Big Cuz … Speaking of Hawes, he was rightfully booed when announced and every time he touched the ball before fouling out. Hawes was a vocal Seattle supporter during the Kings relocation saga … 1-for-11 from the Kings shooting guard tandem of Ben McLemore and Marcus Thornton in 43 minutes. Hard to win when one spot on the court is virtually non-existent … Isaiah had trouble penetrating against the longer Michael Carter-Williams, but some nice shooting stretches helped him stay effective … Derrick Williams (25 MIN, 11 PTS, 4-7 FG, 3-4 FT, 2 REB, 3 BLK, 2 TO) was utilized a little better in this one. The Kings found him around the basket for some vicious throwdowns and he put his athleticism on display with some strong rejections … Rudy Gay (30 MIN, 18 PTS, 7-11 FG, 4-5 FT, 7 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 3 TO) was again effective, but he was again an afterthought down the stretch (1 FGA in the 4th quarter).
Tags: Sacramento Kings