via ww2.hdnux.comThe Kings fell to the Blazers 103-86 Tuesday night taking a giant step backwards in their maturation. Their old death by dribble habits crept back Tuesday night and proved fatal for an offense that for the most part was actually humming nicely through the first half.
James Johnson led all Kings with 16 points. Jimmer and Thornton added 13 and 14 respectively. Jason Thompson who stepped in for the suspended Cousins had eight points and 11 rebounds. The Kings were outrebounded 44-33, the Kings are now 0-6 when they are out- rebounded.
It’s time for the panic button.
This team is promising but as constructed seems destined for the same result. These young Kings spend every play whining in vain to the officials. Each foul called a personal attack on their character. The Kings’ somewhat stout defense had dozens of leaks tonight. That was evident when the Blazers stormed out to a 74-58 late in the 3rd quarter. That third quarter was a miserable one where the Kings were outscored 24-4 in the last seven minutes. The team really could have used Cousins in the post tonight. DeMarcus of course sat out the last of a two-game suspension tonight for his altercation with Spurs announcer Sean Elliott.
"You can have all the guidance in the world but actions speak louder than words" Jason told Kings TV in reaction to the Cousins suspension. "At the end of every practice we like to say family, try to lift everybody up, but at the end of the day everyone has their own accountability" Thompson added.
Jimmer Fredette led the charge in the first half that cut the Kings deficit from 15 to two. Jimmer saw extended minutes when Aaron Brooks came up injured in the first half. Brooks left with an ankle sprain and did not return. Jimmer missed his three three-point attempts but Fredette was mostly efficient shooting the ball and had a tremendous pass to Robinson that ended in a buzzer-beating slam dunk. Fredette is really excelling in his sophomore year, his numbers on the offensive end are up over the 37 games he appeared in last year.
Kings Coach Keith Smart stressed defense this offseason and the hard work has paid dividends. The Kings rank second in three-point field goal defense holding opponents to 26 percent. The feisty Kings are also ranked sixth in forcing turnovers, teams cough up the ball about 17 times a game against Sacramento. Those defensive numbers are improvements on what were already stellar ranks dating to last year.
Another note of interest has to be the Kings’ emerging bench depth. It’s an identity being forged by Marcus Thornton who has been relegated to the bench of favor of Tyreke Evans. Thornton has been aided by the emergence of Jimmer Fredette who has come out of the gate shooting with renewed confidence.
In fact, Jimmer leads all Kings coming into tonight’s game shooting 50% from long-range. That’s a mark Kings fans would love to see him finish with. The play of the bench could translate to more wins for a young team with emerging prospects. When the Kings bench outscores the opposing bench Sacramento is 2-3 on the year. One of those losses being the double-overtime stumble against Indiana.
Although the Bayou Bomber hasn’t started a game this season he’s playing about the same in minutes as Evans. Marcus Thornton has played 209 minutes to Evans’ 233. When you include the offensive numbers between the two well….they are surprisingly the same. Thornton is shooting 25 percent from the field [gasp] while Evans’ three-point mark of 11 percent is equally horrific. Evans has been abysmal on offense to start the season but has kept his minutes by playing tough defense and making plays. Opposing guards also haven’t fared well when Evans is on the floor this season and that could explain why Smart is sticking with Evans, for now.
Tonight’s game also featured some reunions for some players and coaches. Travis Outlaw spent six and a half seasons in Portland but did not play tonight. J.J. Hickson also celebrated a home-coming, The big man was signed with lofty expectations by the Kings but couldn’t live up to them. Hickson was waived by the Kings last March before signing with Portland in the offseason.
The last time these two met was in April when the Kings were able to steal a 104-103 victory on Thornton’s jumper with three seconds left.
Stats/ Elias Bureau-NBA