Kings Getting Back on Track

By Rob Small, SacMidtown.com

For the first time since the start of the season, the Sacramento Kings have won two out of three games. Even though the Kings were losing, it seemed that they were getting better and were putting themselves in postion to win.

It took one incredible shot by guard Tyreke Evans in one game and a 19-2 run in another to for the team to earn those wins, but Kings assistantcoach Otis Hughley knew that a breakthrough was coming.

“I think all the work that’s been put in is starting to show its fruit,” he said after practice last Tuesday. “You work hard enough and keep working you get out of it what you put in to it.

“I think it’s happening but other teams are getting better too. Nobody’s going to lay down for you.”

Those words would hold true going into  Wednesday’s game against the visiting Memphis Grizzlies. The Kings had lost 22 of their last 24 games and the Grizzlies who hadn’t made the playoffs since 2006, are in the playoff hunt.

It was a tight contest for most of the season and the Grizzlies held an 83-74 lead with with 7:53 left in the game, but the Kings rallied back to take the lead thanks to an steal and a dunk by Evans.

With the Kings leading 97-96, an unbelievable sequence of events would determine the game.

Memphis guard O.J. Mayo hit a tough two-pointer from the top of the free-throw circle to give his team the lead with 1.5 seconds left. The Grizzlies celebration started too early.

In what could be the play of the season, Evans nailed a 48-foot game-winning three-pointer that hit nothing but net from the other side of the court and the Kings won 100-97.

The shot, of course, electrified the home crowd with an energy that had not been felt in Arco Arena in a long time. Kings forward Donté Greene was jumping on the court before Evans’ shot even went in.

Evans jumped onto the scorer’s table and gave a bow to the fans followed by a celebratory huddle with his mother and teammates.

It was the Kings’ first buzzer-beater since Kevin Martin’s shot against Seattle Sonics in 2007 and the best one since Martin’s lay-up in Game 3 against the San Antonio Spurs in the 2006 NBA Playoffs.

Evans finished the game with 21 points, four rebounds, four assitts and two steals. Rookie center DeMarcus Cousins finished with season-highs of 21 point and 16 rebounds off the bench for the Kings.

Beno Udrih had 24 points four rebounds and six assists.

The buzz from Evams’ shot stayed with the team for the next couple of days and earned national attention.

“We came in talking about it,” Cousins said. “You were looking for it on T.V. They showed it a lot. It’s probably the only time this year we had a highlight reel.

“It was a good feeling to get a win, especially in that way. It gave us a lot of momentum.”

The Kings had a back-to-back schedule to start of 2011, playing in Denver against the Nuggets on New Year’s Day and flying back home to play the Phoenix Suns at home the next day.

Kings center Samuel Dalembert wasn’t feeling well and only played seven minutes in the game. Cousins started in his place.

After a poor second quarter scoring only 16 points,  the Kings cut a 12-point deficit to four points but the Nuggets, the second-highest scoring team in the NBA, were too much for the Kings and scored 35 points in the fourth quarter. The Kings lost by a score of 104-86.

Jason Thompson was the best player on the floor for the Kings last night, he scored 17 points, draining eight of his nine shots and grabbing seven rebounds.  Cousins had 16 points and eight rebounds.

The 18-point loss is tied for the second-worst of the season. They lost in Los Angeles by 23 points against the Lakers and lost by 18 points in the same building against the Clippers on Thanksgiving Day.

The Kings did have two great dunks over well-known shot blocker Chris “The Birdman” Andersen. One by Thompson and another by Darnell Jackson.

The Kings were also out-rebounded 58-35  had to shake it off quick on their flight home to face a re-tooled Suns team the next night.

With less than six minutes left in the game the Kings would have to make a comeback reminiscent of the beginning of the season to get back into the game. That’s exactly what they did.

The Kings had a 19-2 rally within 5:32 left in the game, overcoming a 10-point deficit and winning 94-89. The rally came with Evans on the bench.

Cousins had 13 of his season-high of  28 points in the fourth quarter and added another season-high of six assists to go with eight rebounds.

Even though he had five fouls he was able to stay on the floor and play good defense for the rest of the game.

Three Kings finished with double doubles. Francisco García had 21 points and a season-high of 11 rebounds, one off of his career-high. He also tied his season-high with three blocks.

Omri Casspi had 14 points and 10 rebounds and Carl Landry had 11 points and 12 rebounds to give the Kings a much-needed boost off the bench.

Even though the Kings have won two of the past three games they might have to play without Udrih. He sustained a bruised left knee when he and Steve Nash collided in the third quarter.

Player of the Week

Even though Evans might of hit the play of the season and 2010, Cousins was the team’s best player this week.

Every month it seems that Cousins is not only getting better, but more consistent as well. In the past three games he has averaged 21.67 points, 10.67 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game and has tied or set season-highs in the past three games.

Even though he might not be in the running for the Rookie of the Year award, Cousins has shown that he has the potential to be a very special player as a scorer, rebounder, defender and passer.

There’s a reason why he’s been the subject of trade rumors throughout the season. It’s because teams, despite his attitude and immaturity, want him because they know the player he can become. That’s why the Kings won’t trade him.

Given his performance the past few games, he might have earned his starting spot back.

Play of the Week

Evans’ Half-Court Game-Winner Against Memphis, Dec. 29, 2010

Did you think it was anything different?

After Mayo hit his own tough jumper Evans caught the ball on the other side of the court with 1.5 seconds left and let it go with two-tenths of a second left to snap an eight-game losing streak in dramatic fashion.

Talk about ending 2010 with a bang.

Rookie Performance

DeMarcus Cousins: (See Player of the Week)

Pooh Jeter was much needed in the fourth quarter of last night’s game. After missing the first three quarters he had all four of his assists in the fourth and no turnovers.

In the past three games Jeter played a total of 50 minutes and had 10 points and 11 assists as the back-up point guard. If Udrih misses a game due to injury, Jeter could be given the nod since Luther Head hasn’t played since Dec. 15.

Hassan Whiteside is still with the Reno Bighorns of the NBA Development League. The 33rd overall pick of the 2010 NBA Draft has been there since mid-November hasn’t had much playing time.

In the past four games Whiteside has averaged 4.75 points 2.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game in a little over 10 minutes per game and there’s no indication when he will re-join the Kings.

What’s Next?

The Kings are now 7-24 but they still hold the worst record in the league. They have to face a perennial-playoff team tomorrow tonight when former King Mike Bibby and the Atlanta Hawks roll into town.

They’ll have a rematch against the Denver Nuggets at home, which can only be seen on TNT on Thursday. Then the Kings will open up a five-game road trip against the Eastern Conference on Saturday, starting with the Toronto Raptors.

The last time the Kings and Raptors met, the Kings chipped away a 17-point deficit to win their home opener 111-108.

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Posted by on Jan 3 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.

3 Comments for “Kings Getting Back on Track”

  1. SoljaBear

    Very good article. As I watch on TV or at the arena I am looking forward to the future. I see 6 players that are worth keeping around. Most will disagree with my 6 players, but they are the future. The starting five should be PG Beno, SG Tyreke (his natural position), SF Garcia, PF Cousins, Center Dalembert, and also Whiteside. I just read he averages 1.5 in 10 minutes of game time I got to see his on TV a few times. He is one of the best I have seen in probably 10 years. The rest? trade em, send em back to the development where quite a few belong. Then start building the second team and the reserves. Melo would be nice to have as a SF. Then Garcia would be 1st. player for the second team. Also fire the coach. He can not even find and stick with a startings lineup. In 2 years we need to get Adelman back. That would then a team heading to the playoffs then. Pick up the players that are TEAM players. I could go on and on. To end, this team has the chance to bring us back to the glory days with Cwebb, Vlade, Stoyo, all them from back then. It can happen.

  2. […] 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’ […]

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