The Kings caught a depleted Minnesota team, but with Sacramento, nothing can be taken for granted. It was very encouraging to see the team come out with a renewed energy after Saturday’s embarrassment against New Jersey. The Kings got up and down the floor, moved the ball nicely and shot a terrific 50.6 percent from the floor. The T-Wolves erased an early double-digit deficit, but the Kings didn’t crumble, executing well late to nab a 116-108 victory.
REKE-ING HAVOC — We’ve made this point before. Tyreke Evans’ biggest weakness on offense is obviously his jump shot. Against stout defenses like the Spurs, this is a problem because they will pack the paint. But against weaker opponents like New Jersey and Minnesota, jumpers aren’t needed. At times against the T-Wolves, it looked like Tyreke (38 MIN, 24 PTS, 8-14 FG, 10 REB, 7 AST, 1 TO, 2 STL) was shot out of a cannon. Minnesota’s defense had no answer for Evans’ speed-power combo around the rim. And it was great to see Evans efficiently exploit the weakness in the Minnesota defense. There were very few instances of forced dribble drives, and Evans was sharing the rock. A truly commanding performance by Tyreke.
THE EVOLUTION OF THE JIMMER — Even when the results aren’t perfect, you can see the strides being made in Jimmer Fredette’s game. The most notable is clearly on defense, where Jimmer went from maybe the worst defender I’ve ever seen to a serviceable guy who actually plays passing lanes and stays in front of his man. Against Minnesota, Jimmer (25 MIN, 19 PTS, 7-15FG, 2 REB) displayed his evolving offensive game. He’s no longer tentative. Early in the season, he was patient to a fault, dribbling too much as if he was searching for the perfect shot. And while there was at least one instance of that against the T-Wolves, Jimmer is more often than not just playing his game, letting it fly from all over the court. His 15 shots against Minnesota were a team high. Fredette caught fire at various points in the game and also made a couple nice plays penetrating into the lane. This guy will become a key asset on the team in due time.
T-WILL’S VERSATILITY — Another game and another impressive performance from the Kings newest addition, Terrence Williams (32 MIN, 12 PTS, 5-11 FG, 12 REB, 3 AST, 2 TO, 2 STL). The Doug Christie comparison really isn’t bad, as long as Williams is content with that. As we know, Doug was the ultimate team guy who looked to set up teammates before looking for his own shot. T-Will is a young guy and sometimes it can be hard to convince a young player, especially one trying to prove himself in the NBA, to play that type of game. But so far, Williams is doing it to near perfection. Against the Wolves, Terrence did a great job of aiding on the boards. This also helped him quickly start fast breaks and allowed him to set up his teammates for a number of open looks. Not surprisingly, Williams’ out-of-this-world athleticism helped him create scoring opportunities for himself as well. The glue-guy role is there for the taking and Williams is a great candidate. Here’s hoping he keeps it up the rest of the season.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS — If you can’t support opposing players under any circumstance, I apologize. But watching Brad Miller tear up the Kings for the first five minutes of the game was awesome. It was the B-52 from the Sacramento glory years. The precision passing, the effective perimeter game, the unmatched athletic ability (jk). Great gesture by Coach Adelman to let him start his final game at ARCO before retiring this summer … Marcus Thornton (8 MIN, 4 PTS, 2 REB) took a knee to the calf in the first half, and he sat out the rest of the game. It gave others a chance to step up, but hopefully MT23 is OK … I’ve been ripping him lately so it’s only fair to say I thought Chuck Hayes (13 MIN, 2 PTS, 3 REB, 1 AST) had a nice first half stint. Good defense and made his only field goal attempt. That said, I was happy to see Hassan Whiteside (13 MIN, 4 PTS, 2 REB, team-high +17) get more minutes in the second half. Develop that youngster.