Kings Continue Six-Game Trip

By Rob Small, SacMidtown.com

After a horrible start to the season, the Sacramento Kings have seemed to turn a new page for the past several games.

After showings signs of improvement late last month, the Kings have won three of their last six games for the first time earlier this season, including their first win against a team over 0.500. They now hold an 8-26 record.

Winning two of their last three games at home, the Kings are on a six-game road trip on the east coast, the team’s longest trip this season.

After making a comeback to win the first of a three-game home stretch against the Phoenix Suns, the Kings hosted former King Mike Bibby and the Atlanta Hawks.

A poor offensive start by the Kings helped the Hawks achieve a 22-point lead with 7:45 left in the game, but a furious rally led by Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins brought the Kings within four points and forced Atlanta’s main players off the bench.

The Kings outscored the Hawks 36-20 in the final 7:45 but the Hawks were able to hold them off for a 108-102 win. Cousins scored 20 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter and Evans scored 15 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter.

Two nights later the Kings hosted the Denver Nuggets on national television in what was most likely their best game of the season. Denver hosted an 18-point victory over the Kings on New Year’s Day.

Throughout the game, the Kings capitalized mistakes by Denver, scoring off forced and unforced turnovers.

Even though Francisco García hit four three-pointers in the first quarter for 12 of his 14 points and the Kings built a 16-point lead early in the third quarter, Carmelo Anthony showed why he is the hottest name on the NBA trade market.

He scored 12 of his 26 points in the third quarter to help tie the game at 79. Just when it looked like the Kings were about to collapse, Kings guard Beno Udrih nailed a jump shot to break the tie and teammate Omri Casspi’s three-pointer led the Arco Arena faithful to erupt and a time out by the Nuggets.

The Kings went on a 23-2 run leading up to a 122-102 to earn their first win over a 0.500 team this season. Evans and Cousins showed the type of duo they could become for the Kings

Evans had 27 points, five rebounds, 12 assists, two steals and only one turnover. Cousins had 20 points and 6 rebounds, including a monster dunk right in front of Chris Andersen, who can’t seem to get out of the way of Kings’ dunks.

The game came with a price though. Evans sustained a left ankle sprain that would cause him to miss the start of the six-game road trip. Their first game was against the Toronto Raptors, the Kings only game in Canada.

Jermaine Taylor, who was acquired from Houston earlier this season, started in Evans’ place.

The Kings and Raptors combined to make 13 of the first 14 shots of the game. The Kings made five of their first six shots while the Raptors went on to make their first 10 shots.

Although the game was tied at 85 to start the fourth quarter, Toronto pulled away with an 8-3 run in the last 61 seconds of the game to beat the Kings 118-112. Cousins got into foul trouble early, but he finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks.

Udrih had 25 points and Kings forward Carl Landry finished with 22 points.

In order for the Kings to keep feeling good about the progress, they’re going to need to win a couple of games on the road. A couple of their next opponents will be anything but easy, but this season has been anything but easy for the Kings.

Player of the Week

Even though he sat out yesterday’s game, Evans was the top player the Kings had. He averaged 28 points, 4.5 rebounds and 10 assists, 3.5 steals and 1.5 blocks per game in his last two games, numbers good enough to win the NBA’s Player of the Week award if he kept it up for a calendar week.

Rookie Performance

Cousins continues to be impressive as the season goes along. He’s averaged 20.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2 assists  per game in the past three games.

No doubt, he will be the starting center on the Rookie team in the Rookie Challenge during the 2011 All-Star Weekend in February.

Pooh Jeter had an interesting stretch of three games. He had four points and six assists against Atlanta, six points and no assists against Denver and six assists and no points against Toronto.

Jeter has found his niche on the team by pushing the ball and averaging three assists in 14.5 minutes per game. Last Thursday was the first time since the first game of the season he failed to notch an assists in a game.

It should be no surprise that he can push the ball from one side of the court to the opposite three-point line with 22 seconds left on the 24-second shot clock.

His sister, Carmelita, set the fourth-fastest time in history for the women’s 100 meter dash in 10.64 seconds.

The Kings announced Sunday that they recalled rookie center Hassan Whiteside from the Reno Bighorns of the NBA Development League. In 14 games, including three starts, with Reno, he averaged 4.4 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game.

Whiteside played only 10.5 minutes per game and didn’t play on Saturday for the first time since joining the team. He won’t join the Kings on their road trip but will work out with assistant coach Pete Carill here in Sacramento, according to Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee.

Play of the Week

Evans’ laser pass through traffic to Casspi for the dunk was the top play the Kings had in the past three games.

What’s Next?

The Kings have a road trip to finish, but they won’t finish this week. They have back-to-back games, playing the struggling Washington Wizards today, followed by the defending Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics.

Two days later they start another set of back-to-back games against the much-improved New York Knicks on Friday and the Detroit Pistons on Saturday.

They’ll finish their road trip with a nationally televised game against the Hawks on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Evans is a “game-time decision” against the Wizards, according to the Sacramento Kings, via Twitter. Kings television play-by-play announcer Grant Napear reported earlier that Evans would not play tonight.

In other Kings news, it looks like Arco Arena will have a new name after Arco’s naming rights expire next month.

“I can’t talk about that right now” Kings co-owner Joe Maloof said. “You’ll just have to wait. But everybody is going to be surprised.”

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Posted by on Jan 11 2011. Filed under Kings/NBA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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