Kings Return After Long Trip

By Rob Small, SacMidtown.com

The Sacramento Kings’ six-game road trip, the longest on the schedule, was going to be anything but easy. After losing the first game against the Toronto Raptors, the Kings still had to face two sets of back-to-back games.

The first set was against the Washington Wizards and Boston Celtics followed by the New York Knicks and Detroit Pistons. They finished the road trip with a Martin Luther King Day matinée, hosted by the Atlanta Hawks before returning home.

After the Kings suffered a close loss up north, they were in for a roller coaster ride in the nation’s capital, playing without guard Tyreke Evans for a second-straight game. They went down big at the end of the first quarter against the Wizards, trailing 38-19.

However, the game took an interesting twist when the Kings went on a 30-10 run in the second quarter to briefly take the lead.

Washington took a 13-point lead late in the third quarter and led by eight points with less than a minute remaining, but the Kings sent the game into overtime, thanks to swingman Francisco García’s seven points in 34.6 seconds and Pooh Jeter’s game-tying lay-up.

García made all seven of the Kings’ points in overtime and finished with 26 for the game, but center DeMarcus Cousins was unable to send the game into a second overtime and the Wizards won 116-113.

Other than letting the Wizards take control in the first and third quarters, the Kings were unable to stop Nick Young, who finished with a career-high 43 points.

Going into the game, he was averaging 15.9 points per game. The defending Eastern Conference champion Celtics, who hold the best record in the east, would prove to be a tough match-up as Evans missed his third game.

Although the Kings rallied from an early eight-point deficit to take the lead  in the first quarter and fought early in the first half, the battle-tested Celtics took control of the last 33 minutes of the game with a balanced attack led by forward Paul Pierce.

The Kings were blown out by a score of 119-95. Beno Udrih led the Kings with 16 points and five assists.

The Kings had a day in-between another game against the New York Knicks at the world famous Madison Square Garden, widely considered as “The Mecca” of basketball arenas.

The Kings started off well in Evans’ return with a 46-42 lead over the Knicks. With the help of defensive specialist Samuel Dalembert, the Kings defended New York well in the second half.

Udrih led the team in scoring finishing with 29 points, making 11 of his 14 shots en route to a 93-83 win for their fourth win at MSG in a row. Dalembert finished with eight points, eight rebounds and six blocks, including four blocks in the fourth quarter.

The Kings held the Knicks, who were the highest scoring team averaging over 107 points per game, to their second-lowest scoring effort of the season. The Kings won at MSG for the fourth season in a row.

Evans looked rusty in New York but seemed to shake it off the next day in Detroit.

The Kings put up 70 points in the first half to hold an 11-point lead and forward Jason Thompson made his first seven shots on his way to 20 points in the first half.

Despite the good start, their 10-point third quarter left the door wide open for Detroit. Pistons guard Will Bynum was big for his team off the bench, scoring eight of his 18 points in the fourth quarter and blocked Evans shot at the end of the game, helping the Pistons earn a 110-106 win.

Evans finished with 25 points, five rebounds, 11 assists and three steals in the loss.

Yesterday, he Kings were part of a 12-game schedule on Martin Luther King Day with a nationally televised game in Atlanta. The Kings started off with a 9-1 run to start the game and held an 82-73 lead.

The Kings went on to the fourth quarter, where they went scoreless for four minutes and thirty seconds, allowing a 13-0 run for the Hawks. Evans was able to tie the game at 98, but a pair of Joe Johnson free-throws for the Hawks and an errant inbounds lob pass by Cousins sealed the game for the Kings, losing by a score of 100-98.

Four of the Kings’ five losses could have been won, but the team let leads slip away from them on their six-game road trip. Instead, they finish with a 1-5 record on their trip and hold an overall record of 9-30.

After the loss to Atlanta, coach Paul Westphal talked about the trip after the game.

“In that locker room, our team believes we have a good team,” he said. “Our record doesn’t say that and we go out there every night thinking we have a good chance to win and we’re proving that we do.

“When we breakthrough and learn how to win the wins will start coming.”

Player of the Week

No doubt about it. Udrih has been on a hot streak. In the past five games, he made 38 of his last 56 shots, good for 67.8 percent. In that span, he’s averaged 19.4 points 3.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.4 steals per game.

He did not shoot less than 50 percent in a single game on the six-game trip.

Rookie Performance

DeMarcus Cousins continues to show flashes of his potential. He averaged 14.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game for the road trip.

He’s showing signs this month of becoming a better shot blocker with 11 blocks in the past 10 games.

Jeter has soidified himself as the back-up point guard in Westphal’s rotation. He averaged 4.5 points and 4.8 assists per game.

He also had his first career start against in Boston, finishing with 10 points and four assists in a career-high 41 minutes of play.

During the road trip, center Hassan Whiteside stayed in Sacramento to work with assistant coach Pete Carill after being recalled from the Reno Bighorns of the NBA Development League last week.

Poor Whiteside was a victim of a crime last week. The crime? Someone stole a light bulb from outside his house.

Play of the Week

Udrih went the full length of the court in MSG for a spin move into the paint and hit the lay-up while earning a trip to the foul line.

What’s Next?

The Kings will play the Portland Trail Blazers tomorrow and will travel down the road to Oakland to play the Golden State Warriors on Friday. The Kings will have another back-to-back set when they play the Blazers on Monday and host the Charlotte Bobcats on Tuesday.

Arco Arena only has a few games to go until it gets renamed next month.

Power Balance, the makers of the magnetic wrist bands that “are designed to work with your body’s natural energy field,” will rename the Kings’ current home to “Power Balance Pavillion.”

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Posted by on Jan 18 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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