The Sacramento Kings put yesterday’s heartbreaking defeat behind them and beat the Utah Jazz 108-97 at Sleep Train Arena on Saturday. For a third consecutive game, the Kings scored at least 100 or more points after breaking the century mark just once in their first 10 contests. The win moves the Kings to 4-9 on the season.
Notes and Analysis
- Tyreke Evans is starting to roll. After struggling to find his shot early, the Kings guard has averaged 21.3 points per game over his last four contests, which includes tonight’s big 27-point effort against the Jazz. With DeMarcus Cousins ejected from the game, Evans became the star attraction, scoring eight of his 10 fourth quarter points from the line.
- DeMarcus Cousins really could have hurt his team tonight. With 1:35 remaining in the third quarter, the Kings big man picked up a technical foul for swiping the ball out of Enes Kanter‘s hands. While the Jazz went to the line to shoot the freebie, Cousins continued the conversation with officials, picked up tech No. 2 then received an automatic ejection.
- Instead of folding, the Kings fed off the crowd’s energy and put Utah away. Cousins is now tied with Carmelo Anthony with five technical fouls on the season.
- Aaron Brooks appears to have grabbed a strangle hold on the point guard position. The veteran out of Oregon finished with 13 points tonight on an incredibly efficient 5-for-6 shooting. Brooks knocked down three of this four attempts from long range and is doing a solid job of providing spacing for both Evans and Cousins.
- Jason Thompson continues to excel this season. The Kings big man scored 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds against a very good Utah frontline. Over his last nine games, Thompson is averaging 13.3 points, 7.9 rebounds and just 2.7 fouls per game.
- Thomas Robinson scored seven of his nine points in the deciding fourth quarter. The rookie is making the most of his limited opportunities off the Kings bench as a high-energy rebounder and aggressive offensive weapon. He needs to find a pivot foot and stick to it, but this is a customary issue for young NBA players.
- Stat of the Night: The Kings shot 54 percent from the field tonight. That marks the third consecutive game the Kings have shot better than 50 percent from the field after failing to do so in any of their first 10 games this season.
Three answers to three questions pondered
1. Will we see the same players play the same minutes for the Kings?
Keith Smart went deep into his bench Saturday. He played 11 players, including Isaiah Thomas, who did not play the previous night. Thomas and Jimmer Fredette split minutes in the second quarter while Aaron Brooks played throughout the other three periods. Smart also looked to Chuck Hayes and Thomas Robinson in the final quarter after DeMarcus Cousins was ejected late in the third. The Kings rookie filled the scoring void left by Cousins, scoring seven of his nine points in the final frame.
2. Which team wins the bench mob battle?
Unlike last night, neither bench produced any eye-popping numbers Saturday. But, both teams got some much-needed contributions from their reserves. In the absence of Mo Williams, Earl Watson stepped up as Jamaal Tinsley‘s backup (more on this in the answer to question No. 3 below). And as mentioned above, Thomas Robinson picked up the slack after DeMarcus Cousins was booted from the game. He was a perfect 4-of-4 in the Kings’ win.
3. Will the Kings see a heavy dose of Mo Williams, Jamaal Tinsley or Earl Watson?
No Mo Williams for the Jazz after he injured his right ankle yesterday. Jamaal Tinsley started in his place and got the bulk of the minutes at point guard. He didn’t match the 12 assists he dished the night before, but he did finish with 14 points and seven assists. Earl Watson, meanwhile, picked up the slack off the Jazz’s bench in just 17 minutes of action. The veteran point guard scored six points on 3-of-4 shooting and recorded five assists in defeat.
– Jonathan Santiago
Quotes of the Game
Keith Smart’s opening remarks:
I thought that this was the game that we wished we had played last night. We had every opportunity to win the game last night, but it wasn’t in the cards for us. Overall, I saw a lot of changes from last night. I thought our guys did a great job of being in a position to win that basketball game. We got back here, travelled back in and made a few adjustments for playing the same team back-to-back. I thought we came out with the right mindset.
These games are hard to play in. Both teams are tired because they just flew in and it is the team that has the most energy that comes out and obviously, our bench came out and provided something for us. Tyreke Evans obviously led the way and played hard. I thought DeMarcus Cousins was playing at a good pace and playing well. Aaron Brooks played well and all of those guys did a great job of keeping us in the game.
Thomas Robinson on his contributions in the fourth quarter in the absence of DeMarcus Cousins:
My job has been (to be) a role player off the bench and staying prepared when things like that happen. So I just came in and did what I was supposed to do.
Al Jefferson on the Jazz’s defense:
I think when they made their run, we kind of got sidetracked. We didn’t stick to what we were doing earlier. They made big-time shots then everything started going their way.