Updated at 11:52 pm
After playing an entertaining and hard fought game Wednesday night against the Golden State Warriors, the Sacramento Kings fell in Los Angeles, losing to the Clippers by the score of 97-85.
Notes and Analysis
- Could the Kings be finally running out of patience with DeMarcus Cousins? After an altercation with Keith Smart early in the game, Cousins was told to stay in the locker room and not come out in the second half due to “conduct detrimental to the team”. There is no word on what this means for Sunday’s contest against the Portland Trail Blazers, but there is no question that this has been building for some time. Cousins finished the game with nine points and five rebounds in a little under 20 minutes of action.
- In Wednesday night’s barnburner, the Kings had seven players score in double-figures on the night. Tonight in L.A., only five players reached that modest milestone, with no one scoring more than 16. The Kings couldn’t get anything going and the Clippers toyed with them before putting them away late.
- Jimmer Fredette led the Kings with 16 points off the Kings’ bench, but it wasn’t nearly enough. The former BYU star shot 4-for-10 from the field, buried three of his four 3-point attempts and added three steals in the loss.
- James Johnson scored in double-figures for the second time this week, hitting a late jumper from the top of the key to reach the 10-point mark. If he can figure out his offensive woes, Johnson might be able to fight his way back into Smart’s rotation.
- Jason Thompson had another solid performance for coach Smart’s Kings. The veteran forward had to play a lot of center after the Cousins situation and he responded with 10 points and eight rebounds.
- Blake Griffin set the tone in the post, finishing with 21 points on 9-for-16 shooting and adding 12 points for the solid double-double. Every time the Kings play the Clippers, you can’t help but wonder what if. Griffin brings an energy and zest that very few players have.
- Chris Paul was his typical All-Star self. CP3 could do no wrong, adding a second double-double to the Clippers’ box score. Paul scored 24 points and added 12 assists and four steals on the night. The Kings had no answer, but very few teams do.
- Stat of the Night: DeMarcus Cousins was asked not to return to the Kings’ bench after halftime. So far this season, Cousins has seven technical fouls, three missed games due to league suspension and now this. You have to wonder where the Kings go from here with their talented, but mercurial center.
Three answers to three questions pondered
1. Will the Kings rejuvenated offense reign supreme over the Clippers’ dominant defense?
Absolutely not. The Kings looked lost and frustrated for much of the game. After scoring 131 points against the Warriors on Wednesday, the Kings struggled to reach 80 tonight. They fought hard late, but the Clippers defense was stifling, holding the Kings to just 85 points on evening.
2. Can the Kings come strong out of the gates?
The Kings lost the first quarter 29-21 and trailed by 12 going to the break, so no, they didn’t really get off to a fast start. Jason Thompson picked up two early fouls in the first five minutes of the game which is a very bad thing when you are facing a player like Blake Griffin.
Jordan was a non-factor, finishing with five points and eight rebounds, but Griffin was a star. The Kings had no answer for the All-Star power forward who scored 21 points and added a game-high 13 rebounds in the Clippers win.
Quotes from Keith Smart on Cousins’ benching
On his decision to bench DeMarcus in the second half:
“Just something that happens. Conduct that’s detrimental to the team and we left it at that.”
On DMC’s behavior being a recurring issue with this month and this season:
“I don’t know. I’m going to try and focus on the next game that we have and not get caught up in what’s happening here. I thought our guys…we’ll focus on the group that played on the floor tonight and they did an admirable job to pull themselves back together and go out and play and compete on the floor.”
On if Cousins will play Sunday vs. Portland:
“I’m going to focus on tonight. I’m going to focus on tonight and move onto the next day.”
On the incident that may have stemmed Cousins’ benching that occurred in the first quarter:
“Well, I don’t (want to) get caught up too much on what takes place on the court. Because players gets hot and say things, I say things on the court as well. It’s a situation (where) his conduct at the moment. And we’re trying to set a standard for all of our players and all of our guys that are here. And when guys don’t fall in line to that, we gotta move on, we gotta move forward.”
UPDATE (10:47 pm): According to reports out of Los Angeles, DeMarcus Cousins addressed the media following the game and admitted he was at fault.
“I messed up. I’m apologizing to all my teammates for it, for responding the way I did, and we’ll move on from it…I grow from all of my mistakes.”
For more quotes from Cousins on his benching, visit this Sulia post from Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee.