Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE
The Sacramento Kings went to 3-1 in preseason tonight by defeating the Lakers 103-98 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. Marcus Thornton had another efficient night, scoring 19 points on 7-11 shooting to lead the Kings in scoring. Thornton also had 5 rebounds and 2 steals. Kobe Bryant led Los Angeles with 22 points (on 7-12 shooting), 6 rebounds and 4 assists. Pau Gasol and Devin Ebanks both chipped in 20 points for the Lakers, and former King Metta World Peace was the only other Laker in double digits with 10.
Sacramento led the game most of the time, although it was close throughout. The Kings went with their 3rd different starting lineup this preseason, featuring Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Thornton, James Johnson, Thomas Robinson and DeMarcus Cousins. It was the first starts for Johnson and Robinson, and this unit played very well together. The ball movement, which had all but disappeared in the loss to the Warriors on Wednesday, made a reappearance as the Kings finished with 19 assists to 16 turnovers and shot 44.4% from the field, including 9 of 22 from deep. Isaiah Thomas had 8 points, but more importantly 10 assists to just 1 turnover, a good bounceback performance after committing 6 turnovers against the Warriors.
DeMarcus Cousins had 18 points, 10 rebounds, 3 steals and a block in 30 minutes of play, but also had 5 turnovers and 5 fouls. Cousins and Evans with 5 turnovers each led the Kings in that category, with no other King having more than 2.
Both Johnson and Robinson played well in their first starts. Johnson had a poor shooting night, scoring 12 points but needing 13 shots to do so, but he did a bit of everything else, with 5 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal and a block in 28 and a half minutes. Johnson also showcased a bit of range for the first time, sinking 2 of 5 three pointers. Johnson has won me over as a fan with his energetic play on both ends of the court this preseason. Robinson played just 18 minutes but looked more in control, scoring 8 points on 3 of 5 shooting to go with 5 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal. He also committed just one foul.
Off the bench, Tyreke Evans and Jimmer Fredette both chipped in 14 points. Evans was quiet in the first half before exploding in the 3rd quarter with a series of good slashing attacks. He also had two blocks and a steal, although he was very sloppy with the ball, with no assists to go with his 5 turnovers. Jimmer Fredette had easily his best game of the preseason, looking confident with the ball. His 14 points came on an efficient 5 of 9 shooting. He didn't have any assists, but he also had no turnovers.
Jason Thompson didn't get the start but ended up playing the 2nd most minutes (29). He had 4 points (on just 1-6 from the field), 8 rebounds, 2 assists and a block. Francisco Garcia had 6 points in 16 minutes and Chuck Hayes contributed 2 rebounds and an assist in his 14 minutes of action.
The Kings rotation was surprisingly tight for a preseason game. Travis Outlaw didn't play at all, and Aaron Brooks only played 53 seconds. John Salmons didn't travel with the team, missing his third game due to personal reasons. Tyler Honeycutt, who had recently been cleared to practice and scrimmage and was suited up, did not play.
This was the first of three matchups with the new-look Lakers, with the next game being Sunday on Los Angeles. That game will be televised on NBA TV and reports have indicated that it could feature the Lakers' debut of Dwight Howard.
If you were at the game or happened to catch the Lakers broadcast of tonight's game, observations are encouraged.