@aykis16 If you're going to be a crappy team, at least make it entertaining. These games have been far more entertaining— John (@HeuristicLineup) March 9, 2013
That quote from our own HeuristicLineup after the game is very true. Sacramento Kings fans have had little to cheer for, particularly these past few months, and that's just factoring in the on-court product. The Kings have been far more competitive and fun to watch as of late as they finally are sharing the ball and playing more unselfishly.
In tonight's matchup between the two worst teams in the Western Conference, there were definitely still some bumps in the road for the Kings, namely a wholesale lack of defense. Fortunately, Phoenix wasn't playing any either, especially without big men Marcin Gortat and Jermaine O'Neal. They were forced to start Luis Scola at Center, and for possibly the first time in NBA History, start twin brothers in Markieff & Marcus Morris.
None of those players were able to stop Sacramento's big men, particularly DeMarcus Cousins, from getting whatever they wanted inside. Cousins scored 8 points in the first 3 and a half minutes of the game, and was only slowed down after Phoenix started throwing double and triple teams at him, as well as getting into foul trouble of his own. There was one instance in particular during the 3rd quarter where Cousins missed a shot where he thought he get fouled but didn't get the whistle and he then angrily tried to slap the ball from Goran Dragic, missing, and picking up the foul instead. That was a completely avoidable and unnecessary foul, and it resulted in him sitting the rest of the quarter. Cousins finished with 22 points (9-13 from the field), 14 points, and 7 assists.
Sacramento's guards also shone. Isaiah Thomas had another great game, scoring 27 points on 8-13 shooting with 5 rebounds, 6 assists and 5 steals. His partner in the backcourt, Tyreke Evans, also had a great night, scoring 25 points on 9-12 from the field and setting a career-high for three pointers made with 4. Evans is now 32 of 86 from three on the season, or 37.2%, a very respectable number and far above his previous season-high of 29.1%.
Marcus Thornton also got back on track with 23 points, 9-13 from the field, and 5-7 from downtown. Thornton hit several of his threes down the stretch to help seal the deal for Sacramento. He also did his damage in just 24 minutes.
Cousins, Thomas, Evans and Thornton combined for 97 points, 35 of 51 (68.6%) from the field and 13 of 18 (72.2%) from three.
Newcomers Patrick Patterson and Toney Douglas saw a good amount of playing time off the bench. Patterson scored 8 points on 4-9 shooting to go with 6 boards, 2 assists and some solid defense on Michael Beasley. Toney Douglas didn't score but played scrappy defense and ran the team. I did have a bit of an issue with Douglas playing most of the 4th quarter while Isaiah Thomas sat on the bench, but that wasn't an indictment of Douglas more than of Keith Smart not playing his leading scorer with the game on the line.
Sacramento finished with another 30 assist game and had just 15 turnovers to boot. Phoenix actually beat them in that category, dishing out 33 assists to 13 turnovers. Goran Dragic had 16 assists to go with his 17 points. Michael Beasley led Phoenix in scoring with 24 points, most of that coming in the fourth quarter. Former Top-5 pick Wesley Johnson scored 19 in a rare starting role.
Sacramento now gets a day off before facing the Milwaukee Bucks at home on Sunday. Sacramento has matched their win total from last season, and needs to go 8-10 the rest of the season to reach 30 wins. They also need to win five of their 11 remaining home games to finish above .500 at home. Those are goals I think it'd be nice for the Kings to strive for in this otherwise lost season.
For the opponent's perspective, visit Bright Side Of The Sun