The Sacramento Kings opened the 2013 preseason on Monday, something we thought we may never see given the events of January. So the fact that two of the Kings' four major offseason acquisitions (Greivis Vasquez and Carl Landry) didn't play, the fact that the Kings lost 94-81 and the fact that team star DeMarcus Cousins was 2-10 from the floor with five fouls in 22 minutes -- none of that really matters. Because, basketball.
Cousins was pretty rough on offense, with that rusty shooting coming with five turnovers and an overall -14 night. But he was engaged defensively, rotating well and frequently and hustling back on defense almost every time. (He did loiter to argue a non-call or two.) He had trouble with Andrew Bogut's length and smarts, as most big men do. It's easy to forget that before the first in a string of horrible injuries, Bogut was the best defensive center in the East.
The Kings actually led or were within a couple points most of the night, until Mark Jackson brilliantly put Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut back in to face the Kings' back, back bench (like, uh, Travis Outlaw) early in the fourth. That let the margin explode. Isaiah Thomas was the Kings' best player on offense, scoring 15 points on 6-11 shooting (two threes and some layups) and six assists. But I.T. also had six turnovers in what was a huge problem for the team overall (26 turnovers in 101 possessions, which is almost double what you want).
Ben McLemore was a lot of fun, with two blocks, two steals, three three-pointers in six tries and 13 points overall on 4-8 shooting. He also had four turnovers and one assist, which is one more assist than he had in all of Summer League. With Vasquez sitting as he tries to get that ankle fully healthy, Ray McCallum got 18 minutes at point guard. He had five assists and just one turnover (good!) but the offense was noticeably less aggressive when he replaced Isaiah on the court.
One thing I find interesting: there was no rotational funny business, even in preseason Game 1. Isaiah and McCallum combined for 48 minutes. Marcus Thornton (who is the same Thornton you remember, but more frequently engaged defensively) and Ben McLemore split 48 minutes. John Salmons (abysmal), Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (not great) and Travis Outlaw (uhh ...) split 48 minutes at small forward. Four bigs, including a rather thick Chuck Hayes, played 93 of the 96 big man minutes, with Hamady N'Diaye getting scraps in garbage time. (Landry sat due to a minor quad strain. I get the feeling he would certainly have played were this the regular season. Same with Vasquez.)
It seems like for Malone it might be the case that point guards are point guards, shooting guards are shooting guards and big men are big men. We'll see.
No court time for Jimmer Fredette or any of the fringe roster players but N'Diaye. No technicals whatsoever. More than 900 comments in the game thread. Basketball, man.
Next game is Thursday in Vegas against a Pacific Division foe that only dreams of being the Warriors.
More from Sactown Royalty:
- Kings vs. Warriors preview: Our first look at the new Sacramento
- Kings Individual Ticket Sales Begin on October 10th Along With "Top-10" Game Pack
- Kings schedule: Preseason Week 1 is here, everyone!
- The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: 2013-14 Season Premiere
- Q&A: Kings co-owner Chris Kelly on the new downtown arena