Sacramento completed a successful preseason with yet another win against the Los Angeles Lakers on the road. With a strong third quarter run to put the game out of reach, the Kings head into the 2012-13 season with some nice momentum. Five Kings scored in double-digits, led by Isaiah Thomas and DeMarcus Cousins with 20 points each. Devin Ebanks, who started for Kobe Bryant, was the only player to score in double-digits (14) for the Lakers.
Thomas, who had been shooting poorly from the field throughout the preseason, scored his 20 points on an efficient 9-12 from the field, and added an assist, a rebound and 2 steals in just 23 minutes. DeMarcus Cousins was 9-17 from the floor, with 13 rebounds, 1 assist and 2 steals. Tyreke Evans had a nice all-around game with 14 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals. The Kings as a team had 13 steals, a big factor in forcing 21 Laker Turnovers, compared to just 7 for the Kings.
Keith Smart backtracked on his comments that tonight's lineup would be the starting lineup earlier this week, but he did go with the lineup most of you who were polled in this week's lineup poll chose: Thomas, Evans, Johnson, Thompson, Cousins. However, we don't know if Thomas Robinson, who wasn't with the team due to personal reasons, might start over Jason Thompson. Both Robinson and Thompson have started about equally this preseason.
The Kings got off to a good start thanks to the extremely strong play of the starting unit. Every member of the starting lineup for the Kings tonight had a +/- of 26 or more. If there was one bad thing about this game, it was the performance of Sacramento's bench. Keith Smart essentially played two five man units tonight: The Starters, and the Bench. The Bench featured a lineup of Chuck Hayes, Travis Outlaw, Francisco Garcia, Marcus Thornton and Aaron Brooks. These players scored just 18 points (10 of which were from Thornton) on 9-27 from the field. It is not a lineup I ever want to see in the regular season. The only other bench player to play was Hamady N'Diaye, who had 1 point and 3 fouls in 7 minutes. Jimmer Fredette did not play, and John Salmons is still away from the team for personal reasons.
The Kings get six days off before opening up the regular season on Halloween in Chicago, the first of a three game road trip. If they play as cohesively as they have through the preseason, and with the same energy or more, this could actually turn out to be a pretty fun season. I can't wait.