Energetic Bench Propels Kings To Win Over Orlando


Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

If you only caught the first three quarters of this one, what a shame. For 36 minutes, Orlando and Sacramento played what looked like a poor rec league game. After the Kings coughed up a 14-point third quarter lead with flat, uninspired ball, Keith Smart turned to his bench. And the Kings reserves provided one of the better periods of Sacramento basketball this season. The Kings took down the Magic, 91-82, and now take a two-game winning streak into Saturday’s tilt in Portland.

SMART STUMBLES ON GOLD — Even a broken clock is right twice a day. Keith Smart likes to play the rotation roulette on a nightly basis, and Friday against the Magic, he finally hit. Smart went with the unorthodox combo of Jimmer Fredette, Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Thornton, and the results were huge. Thornton (24 MIN, 5 PTS, 1-7 FG) was a relative non-factor, but Thomas and Fredette played terrific together. Isaiah (29 MIN, 17 PTS, 5-10 FG, 7-8 FT, 5 REB, 4 AST, 1 TO) played with the energy Kings fans became accustomed to last season; he ignited the team. Jimmer (21 MIN, 15 PTS, 5-7 FG, 4 REB, 4 TO) made a handful of crucial baskets inside and out. Fredette also did an adequate job defending the shooting guard spot, as his sole responsibility was to chase J.J. Redick around. Now, Smart found a lineup that produced…what are the chances we see it again tomorrow? Please, Coach, give it another shot.

TENACIOUS T-ROB — Easily the best game Thomas Robinson has played and he only finished with one point. Incredible energy, hustle and just a total selling out for the team win. Robinson (17 MIN, 1 PT, 0-5 FG, 7 REB, 3 AST, 2 STL) was a force on the second unit, primarily on defense where he showed great skill in contesting shots. Offensively, T-Rob made two perfect passes to set-up baskets. And throughout his stint, Robinson had eyes on every loose ball. It was awesome to watch. You’ve got to figure he puts it together offensively in time, so it’s encouraging to see him already showing great instincts on both ends. He can contribute immediately thanks to his crazy athleticsm. But Friday, Robinson gave Kings fans a glimpse into his future potential.

THE CALL FOR ISAIAH — Plain and simple, Isaiah Thomas needs to play more. There’s no good reason for him to sit out entire games — Aaron Brooks hasn’t set the world on fire, and the Kings primary goal should be to their develop young talent. Thomas showed the type of impact he can have (and has had in the past). He pushed the tempo, ran the offense and brought a general excitement to the floor that this team sorely lacks. As Sacramento saw against Orlando, it doesn’t have to be Jimmer vs. Isaiah. Why not both? You’re forgiven if the starting combo of Francisco Garcia and John Salmons didn’t have you on the edge of your seat. Limit the vets’ minutes. Roll with the young guns…they produce, they’re entertaining and they need the time.

OTHER OBSERVATIONS — DeMarcus Cousins (32 MIN, 17 PTS, 5-13 FG, 7-10 FT, 14 REB, 4 AST, 4 TO, 3 STL, 2 BLK) again performed well. It got physical down low and DMC remarkably committed just two fouls, kept his cool and helped the Kings control the interior … Aaron Brooks (19 MIN, 11 PTS, 5-9 FG, 4 REB, 3 AST) and Jason Thompson (28 MIN, 12 PTS, 5-11 FG, 6 REB) gave way to the bench wave that took over the game. But both guys delivered solid performances, especially in the first half when the Kings built up a 12 point lead … Tyreke Evans was a late scratch with his sore knee. No word on his status for tomorrow, but it’s hard to imagine him being ready to go … The Kings committed 18 turnovers. Nonetheless, the ball movement seemed better … Bill Walton can sometimes drive you up a tree as the color commentator, but he gave one of his best performances. From comparing Jason Thompson to the Sacramento River to asking for DeMarcus Cousins’ “foot-long”. It was an entertaining evening.