Kings Survive Late Run To Pick Up First Win


Credit: Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE

No parts of that game could be confused with good basketball. The Kings and Warriors showed why they are two teams hovering around the bottom of the standings. But when the final buzzer sounded, the Kings had their first win, a 94-92 nailbiter. And yes, that’s a helluva lot better than losing.

GOOD HOOPS? NOT HERE — Hard to feel overly excited about this win. The Kings still looked disoriented on both ends. There were again moments of solid effort on defense, but offensively, the Kings are a disjointed bunch. Against the Warriors, Sacramento continually turned to one-on-one ball, especially down the stretch when baskets were crucial. The ball movement has all but disappeared, and Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins are like two separate entities on one team. Only the Warriors equal ineptitude allowed the Kings to escape with a victory, and while you want to feel good about the W, it’s not easy.

INEFFECTIVE EVANS — That was certainly one of Tyreke’s (29 MIN, 3 PTS, 1-9 FG, 2 AST, 2 TO) worst games as a King. He could not buy a bucket, and instead of focusing on setting up more productive teammates, he chose to force the issue. He insisted on taking the ball into traffic and was thwarted time after time. Keith Smart probably should have pulled him late in the game. This is a big season for Evans and the Kings, who have to figure out if he fits into their future plans. We all know how good Tyreke can be, but this isn’t an individual game. Until he starts playing team ball, the questions will linger about his fit on this roster.

BROOKS OVER THOMAS — Isaiah Thomas (21 MIN, 10 PTS, 4-8 FG, 0 AST) hasn’t gotten the minutes anyone was expecting coming into this season. On Monday, Aaron Brooks (20 MIN, 12 PTS, 5-8 FG, 2 AST) again was the point guard on the floor in the closing minutes. And really, he played well enough to merit the time. Brooks hit some clutch baskets, even if the shots may have been ill-advised. But the team needed points and Brooks provided it. It still begs the question: Thomas is the Kings best pure point guard, should he be given the keys to the offense without interference? Keith Smart hasn’t really let him run things; Thomas handles one possession, Evans gets the next, Brooks gets extended run. Sacramento lacks any flow offensively, and whether it’s Thomas not asserting himself or Smart jerking him around, the Kings still need a floor general.

OTHER OBSERVATIONS — Four pieces of tarp fell from the scoreboard during the game at various times. One prompted a “New Arena” chant from the sellout crowd … DeMarcus Cousins (34 MIN, 23 PTS, 10-16 FG, 15 REB, 2 STL, 2 BLK) played a strong game. You’d still like to see him just pop that midrange jumper as opposed to driving into the lane. But his work level was high and he really battled the Warriors interior players … Jason Thompson (27 MIN, 6 PTS, 6 REB) hasn’t had the impact he did last season. Last year, he was a key glue guy. So far, JT has been a non-factor … Marcus Thornton (30 MIN, 16 PTS, 6-15 FG, 2-8 3FG, 4 REB, 3 AST) was a 1st half standout but his impact was close to nil in the 2nd half. Thornton often gets lost in the offensive shuffle when one-on-one ball becomes the norm, and he’ll sometimes compound the problem by forcing shots just to ensure his own involvement. Brooks and Evans were the primary ball-handlers in crunch time against the Warriors.