There is a calmness that Patrick Patterson has brought from Houston to Sacramento. On a team that’s faced chaotic circumstances both on and off the court this season, his presence has been a welcome addition.
That composure will be tested on Wednesday when the Sacramento Kings square off against Patterson’s old team, the Houston Rockets. It’ll be the first meeting between them since the blockbuster deal that brought Patterson along with Toney Douglas and Cole Aldrich to Sacramento.
The Kings’ prized acquisition from the transaction swears he’s not out for revenge against his former team. Rather, Patterson says he’s approaching Wednesday’s game just like any other.
“If you make the mistake of longing for it,” Patterson said following practice yesterday. “Wanting it more than other games, you tend to do things you normally don’t do throughout the game or even leading up to the game.”
However, this is new territory for Patterson, who up until February had played for one team his entire career. He’s never been in this position before and emotions could become a factor heading into the game. But, the third-year forward believes that maintaining his regular routine and staying within himself will help combat any butterflies he feels before tip-off.
Patterson has studied up for Wednesday’s game, noting that the Rockets have become more perimeter-oriented following his departure. The 24-year-old big man thinks his old team has tightened up its rotation and relied heavily on its trio of Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons and James Harden.
“They’ll go small and force their opponents to guard them on the perimeter,” Patterson said of the Rockets. “Force them to run up and down with them and will trap the bigs on the post (and) on the defensive end.”
Patterson also spoke highly of Thomas Robinson, last year’s fifth overall pick and the centerpiece of the deal for Houston. Patterson thinks Robinson is playing “more freely” as a member of the Rockets.
“They’re looking for him on the pick and rolls, pick and pops,” Patterson said of Robinson, who is playing just 14 minutes a game for Houston. “He’s getting some one-on-one opportunities, so I’ve definitely seen some new changes.”
Since the trade, the Kings have posted an 8-11 record while the Rockets have gone 12-7. While Houston’s offense has continued to produce at a high clip, Sacramento’s scoring has skyrocketed following the move. The Kings have averaged 108.7 points per game while shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc. They’ve also averaged 23.6 assists per contest, just about three assists better than their season average.
Patterson thinks his arrival along with Douglas and Aldrich has brought an infusion of “positive energy” to the Kings’ locker room.
“The vibe I get from everyone is just laughter, fun, just enjoying themselves and having a good time,” Patterson said of his Kings teammates.
James Johnson returns
He didn’t play, but the fourth-year forward made his return to the sidelines Saturday when the Kings matched-up against the Los Angeles Lakers. Johnson missed most of March to be with his wife and newborn son due to complications in her pregnancy.
Fortunately, all is well with Johnson and his wife. The 26-year-old wing and new father described the birth of his first-born, Naymin, as one of the most exhilarating experiences of his entire life.
“My wife’s a strong woman and hopefully my son gets her genes,” Johnson said with a beaming smile of pride after practice yesterday.
While away from the Kings, Johnson says he did his best to stay in basketball shape. Often times, Johnson would workout late at night at the Kings practice facility following feeding sessions with his newborn son.
His absence from the team allowed him to see the Kings’ recent offensive improvement with an outsider’s perspective. Though the new additions of Patrick Patterson, Cole Aldrich and Toney Douglas have made a difference, Johnson believes their turnaround has started and ended with the play of the Kings starting point guard.
“Isaiah Thomas is a guy that’s extremely confident,” Johnson said. “I think he was confident before the trade. But now (after) the trade, he’s scoring the ball at will, getting to the lane, shooting a high-percentage clip. I think that’s what’s getting our team rolling right now to be honest.”