The Sacramento Kings took care of their home court in their second preseason game, beating the Toronto Raptors 113 to 106 behind some very unselfish play. While DeMarcus Cousins led the way for Sacramento with 19 points, he was joined by 5 other Kings in double-digit scoring, and 4 more with at least 6 points.
Sacramento got off to a slow start but was able to hang in the game due to aggressive takes to the basket and getting to the line. The Kings eventually outshot Toronto 50 attempts to 24 from the charity stripe, a big reason why the Kings won despite Toronto having 86 Field Goal Attempts to just 67 for Sacramento. The Kings were efficient on what Field Goal Attempts they did have, shooting 55.2% for the game after being held under 36% for the first quarter.
Despite the offensive outburst, Coach Michael Malone probably wasn't too thrilled with Sacramento's defense. Toronto shot 48.8% from the field and 41.7% from three. Sacramento also didn't have any answer for Kyle Lowry or DeMar DeRozan, who finished with 25 and 23 points respectively. When they came out of the game for good in the 3rd quarter, they had been responsible for 48 of Toronto's 66 points (72.7%).
Sacramento went with a new starting lineup for the second preseason game, starting Ramon Sessions, Nik Stauskas and Reggie Evans in place of Darren Collison, Ben McLemore and Jason Thompson. Off the bench, Omri Casspi also saw major minutes while Derrick Williams had the night off, an almost inverse situation of the first preseason game. Casspi made the most of his opportunity, having perhaps the most well-rounded game of any Kings with 15 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and a block.
The Kings now have a day off before they head to China for two games against the Brooklyn Nets in Shanghai and Beijing. They'll be back in town next Saturday to take on Maccabi Haifa in the last home game of the preseason.
- I really like Nik Stauskas. The guy is so incredibly smooth offensively. He finished with 13 points on 5-6 shooting and didn't miss until the fourth quarter. His shots weren't all wide open either, as he made some with hands in his face or with very little separation. Defensively, he's still a work in progress, but he was also giving a lot of effort on that end and was able to stay in front of a driving DeRozan several times. Given how easily the game comes to Nik and also his seeming reliability, I would not be surprised if he is our starting Shooting Guard sooner rather than later.
- As for our other young Shooting Guard, Ben McLemore again had a Jekyll-Hyde game. His first half was pretty bad, as he would do everything right on a play except finish. He looked much better in the second half and hit a few big shots in a row that broke the game open. He finished with 12 points on 5-10 shooting. As usual, he just needs to slow down and let the game come to him. I did like that he took the ball strong to the basket a few times and finished to boot.
- Rudy Gay didn't have the prettiest stat line (9 points on 3-9 shooting) but it wasn't like he was taking bad shots either. Several of his shots came right near the basket but just rimmed out. In fact, a couple of the shots he did hit were more difficult than most of the ones he missed. I'm not too worried that Rudy hasn't really gotten in a groove yet during these first couple preseason games.
- DeMarcus Cousins looked sluggish to start the game (particularly on defense) but definitely came in with more energy in the second half and ended up leading the Kings in scoring thanks to about one quarter of work. The Raptors had no answers for him on the block and he was able to get really deep positioning. One note to Big Cuz though: No more Magic Cousins please. Early in the game he tried to run two fast breaks by himself without giving the ball up and both plays resulted in turnovers.
- Speaking of Cousins, he did get a tech in the game, but it was as weak a technical call as you'll see in the NBA.
- When Reggie Evans is in the game, the Kings are simply running way too many plays through him for my liking, especially in the high post. He's Reggie Evans, not Vlade Divac.
- Jason Thompson had a very good outing off the Kings bench. He definitely looks trimmer and he was playing with confidence. His 11 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks and a steal in 26 minutes off the bench were much appreciated.
- I mentioned above that Omri Casspi had the most well-rounded game of any King. I really liked what I saw from him. He was crashing the boards, running ahead on the breaks for easy basket opportunities, and also moving the ball quickly on offense. Right now I would say Casspi is ahead of Derrick Williams in the rotation and deservedly so.
- Speaking of ball movement and tempo, Sacramento's two big points of emphasis this preseason, I really liked what I saw from the Kings. While the team still did have a lot of turnovers (20), they also managed 20 assists, which didn't really tell the whole story, as so many passes led to shots near the rim that were called for shooting fouls (again, 50 free throw attempts). I also liked that the team was trying to find the open guy, particularly in the corner and at the rim, two very efficient areas. There weren't very many moments where the ball was stuck in one person's hands particularly long. One particular moment in the second half that ended with a Ryan Hollins jam saw almost every King touch the ball without it hitting the floor until it went to the wide open guy for an easy dunk.
- The Kings are definitely taking Malone's wish to push the pace to heart. Sacramento was up and into their offense very early into the shot clock, a welcome sight after many years of the "Seven-Seconds-On-The-Shot-Clock-Or-Less" offense
- I think our one-two Point Guard punch of Darren Collison and Ramon Sessions could be pretty good given time. I still think Sessions is better suited coming off the bench, but both players are more than capable of running the offense as well as scoring.
- Carl Landry only played 14 minutes but still managed to put up 7 points and 8 rebounds. Carl was aggressive inside and definitely looked more like his old self rather than the injured version we saw last year.
- The new court looks awesome in person. I saw a couple people complaining on Twitter that the light wood didn't translate particularly well on television, and it did look a little bright on the scoreboard screens but still, I like the change. The new jerseys also looked great.
- Speaking of the scoreboard screens, it looks like the Kings installed new ones around the current jumbotron, and they look really nice. Kevin took a picture if you want to see what they look like. I'm not sure if they're only temporary or if they're permanent. Personally I hope they stick around.
- Remember when we saw Tyreke Evans and were like "man, if only that guy could learn to shoot?". DeMar DeRozan is the same type of guy, except he DID learn how to shoot. He's improved so much from his first couple years.
- Raptors Rookie Bruno Caboclo, the guy nobody had ever heard of, actually had a pretty impressive shooting stroke, nailing both his threes. He's a lot closer to being a rotation player than Fran Fraschilla's "two years away from being two years away" comment would lead you to believe.
For the opponent's perspective, be sure to visit Raptors HQ.