Photo by Darren Hall
Originally published on SacramentoPress.com on April 11, 2013
When Keith Smart earned the head coaching position for the Sacramento Kings, he said that his team would be a “running” team that would play at a quick pace.
Smart’s philosophy has always been to have a quick pace offense that gets on the opponent’s defense quickly and doesn’t allow them to plant their feet. Smart believes that it is important for a team to get out quickly and keep an opponent running early in a game, especially when at home.
In order to promote a quick offense from his team, Smart has shortened the shot clock at times during practice and the players are seeing results.
“The emphasis in practice the last couple of days has been running: getting the ball up in 14 seconds and making something happen. It all carried over to the game,” said Kings guard Marcus Thornton.
One result the Kings were able to see occurred against the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday night when the team scored 23 fast-break points, while scoring 121 points for the entire game. According to NBA.com, the Kings rank fifth in the league with 1,296 fast-break points on the season, a state that reinforces Smart’s opinion that his team is beginning to play like he wants them to.
The quick pace used by the Kings has allowed them to rank 10th in the league with 100.2 points per game. The only problem is that the team must improve its defense to win games, as a fast-break offense is dependent on forcing turnovers and not allowing the other team to score.
The Kings are successful when they force turnovers and allow their offense to push the tempo, as was proved on Wednesday when they had 10 steals and seven blocked shots, while forcing 17 turnovers by the New Orleans Hornets.
“You know, when we’ve had our highest scoring games, it’s been because of our defense. It hasn’t really been because of our offense,” Smart said of his philosophy. “Obviously you’re making shots, and that helps, but look how many times we got a deflection and turned it into points. How many times we got a blocked shot or something happened and we turned it into buckets? I thought our guys didn’t run to the three-point line but I thought we ran to the rim for opportunities.”
Sacramento shot nearly 60 percent from the field all game and finished at 55 percent, a result of the Kings hurrying up the offense and finding the open man. The result was a game in which the Kings finished with 26 assists and just 12 turnovers.
“We got off to a good start, making the extra passes and not really forcing it,” Kings forward Jason Thompson said. “The stuff was getting easy on the offensive end. The games we have high assists and low turnovers, it usually translates into winning basketball.”
Smart knows that he must find a way to play the way they did Wednesday night in order to have his team compete every night, the problem is finding the way that works.
“Maybe I have to do days like I did yesterday: have to be more of a strong vocal, take over the practice like I did yesterday. Take over the shootaround this morning like I did this morning,” Smart said of his coaching prior to Wednesday’s game. “But you can’t do that for 82 games, I’d be done. That’s where the pros come in, that’s why I tell them they have to be professionals and the pros have to set the tone of a practice and a shootaround.”
Originally published on SacramentoPress.com on March 11, 2013
Kings' center DeMarcus Cousins isn’t helping his reputation. The 22-year-old center was ejected from Sunday night’s game as the Kings fell 115-113 to the Milwaukee Bucks.
The ejection marks a league-high fourth time the King’s big man has been sent to shower early.
Cousins got into an altercation with Milwaukee Bucks forward Mike Dunleavy, resulting in him being disqualified in the third quarter for the remainder of the game.
The young big man has built a reputation of being troubled and continues to hurt the Kings with technicals (12 this year) and early showers.
But the fact is the Kings need the talented center, and need him to be on the court.
With so many holes on the roster, the Kings need all the talent they can get and Cousins brings it. Cousins was having a monster game with 24 points and 10 rebounds before being ejected Sunday.
He’s averaging 17 points and 10 rebounds a game this season and has the potential to grow.
Cousins’ large frame and agility, along with the ability to hit the outside shot, gives the Kings much needed talent.
Having him on the floor disrupts the opponents’ defense as he has the potential to get right by them if they guard against his jump shot.
The combination of size and speed that Cousins possesses is difficult to find which is why the Kings must try and find a way to get the best out of their 6-foot-11, 270-pound center, and that means keeping him on the court.
Cousins has built himself a reputation of being immature and has found himself on the bench or even suspended by the team. The team was forced to suspend him earlier this season because of a reported argument with head coach Keith Smart.
Cousins has the potential to become one of the greatest big men in the league if he can get his head together, but based on his recent behavior, the Kings may never see him reach that potential.
Originally published on SacramentoPress.com on March 4, 2013
The Sacramento Kings returned home after a five-game road trip and defeated the Charlotte Bobcats 119-83 in Sunday, March 3's matinee rout.
“I thought we did a good job and did what we were supposed to do,” Kings head coach Keith Smart said of his team’s performance after the game. “We got home, played in front of our fans and played some pretty good basketball from a numbers standpoint.”
The trip home marked the first time for the newly acquired Kings to take the court in front of the home crowd.
Kings general manager Geoff Petrie completed a controversial trade in late February that sent Thomas Robinson, Francisco Garcia and the Kings second-round pick next year to Houston for Patrick Patterson, Cole Aldrich and Toney Douglas.
The biggest parts of the deal were definitely Robinson, who was the Kings fifth-overall draft pick just last year, and Patterson, who played with Kings center DeMarcus Cousins at the University of Kentucky.
Patterson finally returned to Sacramento on Sunday to make his home court debut, and though he finished with only five points on the day, the young forward was able to show some of what he brings to the team. Patterson scored both of his field goals with his picturesque jump shot, including one from behind the three-point arc to show his floor-spreading ability. Patterson was averaging just over 11 points a game on over 51 percent shooting from the field with the Rockets this season.
“I think one thing you see is he has the ability to spread the floor,” Smart said of his new player. “I like his awareness of where he needs to be on the floor. What he needs to do is keep space on the floor and rebounding. The guy has shown in the couple of days he’s been here, the way the guy sets screens.”
There’s no question that Patterson can spread the floor much greater than Robinson, who he is replacing on the roster. Robinson possesses more rebounding potential and the ability to get to the rim, but currently lacks Patterson’s outside shot.
Smart appreciates what he has seen from Patterson, but believes that he can get more out of the young forward in categories he has yet to excel at.
“He’s going to blossom into what we want him to do,” Smart said. “I think he’s still trying to understand like one team had him spacing. I’m trying to get him to where he can get to the basket on some occasions, post up wise. He understands defense very well.”
One of these aspects Patterson needs to improve at is his rebounding, an attribute for which he has been criticized in the past. Smart knows this and has emphasized the need for better rebounding since he first met his new forward on the Kings’ road trip.
“The challenge that I have for him when I talked to him in our meeting in New Orleans, I said ‘You know, you need to try every game to go get five rebounds,” Smart said. “That’s your focus right there. You should be a better rebounder, and if you focus on that, with everything else you do, it’s going to help your game.’ Because I think he can be a much better rebounder than what he has on his career so far.”
Patterson has averaged just 4.3 rebounds per game in his young career, considerably low for a power forward.
Patterson is excited to see what he can do for his new team, but believes he just needs to pick up where he left off during his time on the Houston Rockets.
“It’s not really starting over. It’s just coming to a new team, a new environment and just playing basketball,” Patterson said of switching teams midseason. “It’s not a new start, it’s not a new beginning, I just have to pick up where I left off in Houston. It’s just coming to a new team, learning a new system, getting offensive plays down, fitting in with the team and that’s it.”
Cousins joked around after the game about knowing Patterson, who he has reportedly remained friends with since they both left Kentucky.
“I think he’s going to have to shave down his mustache, besides that, he’s a pretty good teammate. I don’t know much about him though,” Cousins joked.
Photo by Ron Nabity
Originally published on SacramentoPress.com on Feb. 11, 2013
Kings’ point guard Isaiah Thomas is taking advantage of his increased playing time, after spending much of the season in a three-man point guard rotation.
Earlier this month, Sacramento head coach Keith Smart made the decision to use primarily Thomas and Jimmer Fredette as his two point guards, fellow point guard Aaron Brooks to become an observer from the bench for the majority of the time. In fact, Brooks has tallied just 14 minutes of playing time in the last four games including three games where he did not see the floor at all.
Thomas has responded by producing the same types of plays that earned him the starting job last season after he was drafted 60th overall out of the University of Washington, the very last pick in the draft.
Since the start of the month, Thomas has averaged 19.4 points, 4.6 assists, 3 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game.
Thomas’ play Sunday night in the Kings’ 117-111 win against the Houston Rockets was another reminder of the energy he brings to the team. Trailing by 10 points in the fourth quarter, the “Hustling Husky,” as TV broadcaster Jerry Reynolds calls him, put the team on his back by slashing through the Houston defense and scoring 17 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter.
“I wanted to force the issue when I got back in the fourth quarter because I felt like the first three quarters I really wasn’t being aggressive, not just for myself but the [team], make plays for others,” Thomas said after the game. “I felt like there was no other time to do it than the fourth quarter. We were down when I came in and we had to push it so we did a good job of that and guys got some energy off of me just trying to be everywhere on the floor.”
On top of his 23 points, Thomas also racked up six assists, one rebound and two steals.
Thomas helped the team push the tempo in the fourth quarter, something that Smart wants to see more of with the rest of the season.
“He’s definitely pushing it. He’s definitely pushing the tempo. I see him pushing the ball, so that’s good for us. We are able to get the ball up and down the court,” Kings forward John Salmons said of the young point guard. “If he can continue to push the plays like he’s doing and getting us to run, we’ll play better basketball. We move the ball better when we run like that.”
Smart installed an 11-second shot clock for practices in an effort to get his team running the floor more.
Smart and his players know that they must play up-tempo, as it gives them the best chance to succeed with their young team.
“It’s hard for a team to stop us when Isaiah is playing like that,” Kings veteran Francisco Garcia said. “He runs the floor and was shooting the ball good tonight.”
Though Thomas has always been a scorer, averaging 16.4 points per game in college, he knows that as a point guard he needs to do what is best for the team at that time.
“Whatever the team needs me to do, I’m going to just try and make the right play each and every time,” Thomas said of his game. “If that’s to score, I’m going to do that. If that’s to assist somebody, I’m going to do that.”
Thomas’ play has earned him an appearance in the 2013 BBVA Rising Stars Challenge, a game played in Houston on Friday with former players Shaquille O’Neal coaching one team and Charles Barkley on the other. Thomas was selected by Team Chuck.
Photo by George H. Young
Originally published on SacramentoPress.com on Feb. 10, 2013
Sacramento Kings fans showed up in full force as their team defeated the Utah Jazz 120-109 for what was dubbed, “Here We Buy” night, by local grassroot campaigns attempting to keep the team in Sacramento.
Kings head coach Keith Smart knew the atmosphere would be overwhelming before he even made it into the arena.
“To come in this building today and see the fans and the level of appreciation while they were out in the parking lot, that was a huge key for us as myself and everyone else coming into the arena, driving in here ready for a game, saw the fans in the parking lot first,” Smart said.
Fans kicked the night off with a planned tailgate in the parking lot prior to the game where fans of all ages joined the festivities while showing off their love for the Kings with jerseys, homemade shirts and signs while the familiar noise of cowbells filled the air.
A group of young boys from Sacramento set up a table with a sign saying, “Kids-4-Kings,” featuring lemonade for the fans attending the tailgate, while accepting donations to help keep the Kings in Sacramento.
“We are trying to raise money to save the Kings and the lemonade that we are selling is free but we accept anything because anything helps to save the Kings,” said Gil, Jack and Wyatt, ages 11, 10 and 7, respectively.
Those weren’t the only donations made for Here We Buy night. In an effort to fill Sleep Train Arena, fans that were unable to attend the game were able to donate money that would go towards buying tickets for other fans. In association with the Here We Stay group, former Sacramento King Donte Greene’s Circle of Success Foundation, 3Fold Communications and the Center for Fathers and Families helped give out over 600 tickets to local families and children.
While they did not succeed with creating a sellout, they certainly succeeded in creating an atmosphere reminiscent of the “Arco Thunder” of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Kings fans remained loud and into the game from the very start to the very end with their cowbells and coordinated chants.
The 16,193 fans bellowed chants of “SAC-RA-MEN-TO,” “Let us match” and “Here we stay” through the air anytime the Utah Jazz were at the free throw line. Fans topped it off by creating “the wave” that circled around the arena numerous times and even had the Kings bench participating.
“I’ve never had a chance to do the wave, so I made sure I included myself in that,” Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins said following the game. “It was an incredible experience. I got a little fatigued there at the end. I didn’t expect it to last that long, but it kinda did but I stuck through it.”
The Sacramento region quickly banded together after word got out that the team was being sold to a group with the intentions of moving the team to Seattle. With the sale announced and the Seattle group’s application for relocation already filed with the league office, Sacramento must hope for the league to not approve the sale or the relocation. A majority vote out of the remaining 29 NBA team owners is needed to approve the sale, whereas three-fourths is needed for relocation.
The team’s fans recognize that other aspects of this region will be impacted as well, should the team be cleared to relocate.
“It would be horrible. I mean, you’re talking a few hundred to a thousand full-time, permanent jobs gone, then you’ve got all the neighboring businesses, small businesses that will probably suffer greatly from not having the team be here in Natomas,” said 29-year-old Brandon Sanchez of Sacramento. “And then on a bigger scale, the Kings are our global identifier. You hear stories about people in China and Germany, people going overseas and being Kings fans. It’s Sacramento.“
Since the announcement of the sale, fans and team advocates have been doing what they can to show NBA Commissioner David Stern the team belongs in Sacramento, while mayor Kevin Johnson assembles his own group of potential buyers. One thing is clear: Sacramento and the region won’t back down as long as the deal is not finalized.
“I think it’s great, it just shows that almost anything is possible,” said 28-year-old Andrew Zaragoza who comes from Woodland to attend Kings games. “We haven’t quite finished the deal yet but I just feel like when the rest of the country says that no matter what we do doesn’t matter, we still don’t care. We’re still going to do it.”
The support and efforts to show NBA Commissioner Stern that the team belongs in Sacramento have been staggering, and Saturday night was further evidence for this region’s case.
“I think it says that we’re never going to stop fighting,” Sanchez said of Kings fans coming together to keep their team. “We are known for boxing, Tony Lopez and people like that, Urijah Faber. We’re never going to give up, it’s in our nature.
Photo by David Alvarez
Originally published on SacramentoPress.com on Jan. 27, 2013
The Sacramento Kings remain winless since Monday when reports came out that the Sacramento Kings owners have entered a “binding agreement” with an equity group from Seattle that would send the team up to the Pacific Northwest.
Ironically, the Kings fell to Seattle’s former team, the Oklahoma City Thunder 105-95 at Sleep Train Arena to extend their losing streak to three games.
Players were reportedly distracted by the news on Monday as they attempted to practice, and that distraction may have carried over into the games this week.
Kings forward Jason Thompson has been with the team for five seasons now and this isn’t the first time he’s dealt with possible relocation, though it is the first time he’s seen the team actually sold. Thompson does admit that the Maloofs' business can be distracting at times.
“It is tough, every time you might have an appearance, it’s tough when people are always asking you, thinking that we are the reason and we want to move,” Thompson said. “Obviously we want to stay here and we love this city, it’s a tough city. Every year I’ve been here they’ve talked about us moving, from Anaheim to Virginia Beach.”
Kings head coach Keith Smart maintains that the losses are not a result of the team’s sale being a distraction, but merely a result of inconsistent play from his young team. Much of the Kings’ struggles this year have stemmed from the inability to maintain the same kind of ball movement and energy throughout a game.
“I thought we played a really good half of basketball the first half, except about three minutes of the first half,” Smart said following the game. “Just closing the quarter, it came down to the tail-end of each quarter, we didn’t close those the right way and you can’t make those mistakes. But I thought our guys did a good job but obviously came out very, very flat and turnover prone in the third quarter, and that’s where the game made a big turn in the third quarter.”
The Kings got off to a quick 23-9 lead against the Thunder, but then struggled in the third quarter as the game quickly got out of hand and the Thunder ran away with the win.
“We had so many miscues in that third quarter to start the third quarter,” Smart said. “I think if we could have capitalized on a couple of those points, I mean, you’re down seven points and you don’t score on six positions and they come down and score, now you have a 14-point lead, you have a 16-point lead. Any really good team can capitalize really quickly.”
Inconsistent play has been a problem for the Kings all year as they seem to always have at least one quarter in which they struggle and get outplayed. Against Phoenix on Wednesday it was the fourth quarter, getting outscored 32-19; against New Orleans, on the day the team found out about the sale, the Kings were outscored 64-39 in the first half.
Coming out flat forces the team to come from behind and puts a lot of pressure on a young team like the Kings.
Veteran forward John Salmons believes much of the problem with the team is they lose confidence when the opposing team makes a big run.
“I thought we went off on our own, and that’s what happens when you play these good teams. They go on a run and then I feel like we panic as a group and everyone tries to do it individually. Against a good team, a championship caliber team, it’s not going to work.”
Whether it is the distraction of the recent sale of the team or the team is just playing inconsistently, the team will need to get back on track as they head out on a tough six-game road trip starting with Denver on Saturday night.
Smart is not worried about his team’s mentality and the idea of this losing streak spiraling out of control with the road trip.
“You have to play every game one at a time first,” Smart said. “You can’t go into the whole road trip. You’ve got to go play some tough places and some tough travel venues, but you’ve got to play the game. You can’t escape it, you’ve got to play it. You never know what could happen, something can come together and we win a couple out there on the road, you can bounce back pretty quickly.”
Photo by Darren Hall
Originally published on SacramentoPress.com on Jan. 14, 2013
The Sacramento Kings took the court once again as their future in the state’s capital remains uncertain as prospective buyers continue to emerge.
With the team’s future still uncertain, the team’s identity on the hardwood has also remained inconsistent. They fell 128-99 to the NBA Champion Miami Heat on Saturday night.
The team’s frustration continues to build while the losses pile up, especially after four straight losses that include three 20-plus point losses.
“It shouldn’t matter what the team is, we should have an identity on the team like every other team has,” Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins said after the game. “Our problem is we switch up how we play and we can’t play that way.
“It is frustrating,” Cousin continued. “I know the way we can play and we aren’t playing that way.”
Sacramento struggled to find the correct ball movement once again against LeBron James and the Heat. They turned the ball over 17 times. The Kings currently hold a 1.5 assists-to-turnovers ratio, the sixth worst in the NBA.
Meanwhile, the Kings are only averaging 14.5 turnovers per game, ranking them in the better half of the league, meaning that it is their lack of assists that is causing them to struggle. The Kings are averaging just 19.8 assists per game, with forward John Salmons leading the team with just 3.3 assists per game.
Though the Kings were able to tally 23 assists in their contest on Saturday night, many of them occurred later in the game when the team found point guard Isaiah Thomas, who kept knocking down the shots en route to his career-high 34 points.
“My teammates found me when I was open and I knocked down the shots,” Thomas said. “It wasn’t nothing that I was trying to do, my teammates found me and I made the shots.”
Sacramento attempted to move the ball around early, but assist attempts turned into turnovers much like they have for most this young season. Head coach Keith Smart knows that his team needs to take better care of the ball if they want to accumulate more wins this season.
“[They] had 22 points off of turnovers in the first half,” Smart said. “The game is set and every possession for you is critical and we didn’t have what we needed and it’s unfortunate that we didn’t have that with a nice crowd here tonight, so I was embarrassed for our fans.”
Thomas knows that the Kings struggled in the beginning and got out of their own game plan that they strived to play after quickly falling behind.
“The way they played they kind of made us play at a tempo where we were out of control,” Thomas said. “We did miss about four or five layups in that first quarter, but other than that we had way too many turnovers and we were kind of playing to their tempo, which we didn’t want to do.
“Once we turned the ball over they got out in transition and they got easy baskets. It’s hard to come back from the deficit that we put ourselves in, especially against a championship caliber team.”
Much of the problem with the Kings’ lack of an identity is their lack of chemistry on the court due to injuries and what seems to be an ever-changing player rotation. Players with strong roles on the team such as Tyreke Evans have missed significant time this season, causing Smart to go to an impromptu lineup.
These injuries have forced the team to learn each other's strengths on the go and this has shown growing pains, even while the team tries to assimilate players back into the lineup.
“We are not clicking because our chemistry is not right, it’s being shifted,” Smart said. “We are incorporating guys back into a fold. And that happens. That happens on a team when you try and get guys back into it again and they’re not 100 percent yet and you try and get things moved around.”
The team is capable of accumulating the assists, as they have done so on occasions this year. It’s just a matter of finding that identity and keeping it consistent.
The Kings will have to find a way to get the ball movement going if they want to increase their winning through the second half of the season.
Kings bench crucial to winning
Photo by Darren Hall
Originally published on SacramentoPress.com on Dec. 24, 2012
The Sacramento Kings bench came up big in the Kings 108-96 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers at Sleep Train Arena on Sunday night, Dec. 23.
With big man DeMarcus Cousins out, due to a team suspension, and guard Tyreke Evans still out with a knee injury, the bench scored 43 of the team’s points. The bench needs to have productive nights like this in order to keep winning.
The team was able to use solid ball movement all night in order to find the open man, something that the team has struggled with all season. Sacramento had a season-high 31 assists on this night.
“The number one thing was 31 assists, that tells the story right there,” Kings head coach Keith Smart said after the game. “Obviously making shots, but 31 assists for this group after everything we’ve been through the last couple of days, for them to pull together.”
In fact, it was the bench that got the Kings back into the game, after quickly falling into a 10-point deficit early in the second quarter. But it was the bench that went on a 16-0 run that gave the Kings the lead.
Former Trail Blazer Travis Outlaw was a big factor in the game, as he scored 15 points in just 16 points against his old team, 13 of which came in the second quarter when the Kings needed it most.
"I want to do well every night," Outlaw said. "I mean, it's nice going against your former team and playing well. You just got to be thankful for the opportunity you get and make the best of it and hope it leads to more.”
Smart joked after the game that Outlaw must hold a grudge against Portland since he always seems to produce against them.
“They must’ve done him real wrong,” Smart said while smiling. “They must’ve did him very bad in Portland. Obviously that young man is another guy on our team that works every day, doesn’t complain.”
The Kings need the same kind of production from their bench every night in order to keep obtaining wins.
The backcourt pairing of Jimmer Fredette and Isaiah Thomas has been clicking well as of late. Smart will need to make sure he finds a way to get the pair in the game at the same time, even when he gets bodies like Evans and Francisco Garcia back from injury.
Getting Fredette on the floor with Thomas gives the team an added ability to spread the floor with either guard, while having a big man in Chuck Hayes that has solid passing capabilities.
“It’s just all guys that can handle the basketball, pass it, shoot the ball, spread the floor, and we try to get up and down in transition as much as we can,” Fredette said. “We’ve been working really well together and that’s our jobs right now, to come off and give our team a lift.”
Should Smart decide to put Marcus Thornton back on the bench when Evans returns, the bench will have plenty of capable scorers; it’s just a matter of execution.
Players will always want to be in the starting lineup, but it’s more important to stick together as a team and understand everybody’s role until the time comes. The team needs to be urging each other on, no matter who is on the floor.
“It felt great, everybody was into the game, cheering for one another, and that’s what we need,” Thornton said following the game.
Image by Ron Nabity
Originally published on SacramentoPress.com on Dec. 6, 2012
The Sacramento Kings returned home to defeat the struggling Toronto Raptors 107-100 on Wednesday night, Dec. 5, for just their fifth win of the season.
A big part of the victory was the return of Kings guard Tyreke Evans, who missed the previous two games due to a bruised left knee.
Evans returned to his starting shooting guard position and got off to a slow start, but quickly found himself as a key piece of the victory as the team pulled away late. The fourth-year guard scored 10 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter, including two big three-point shots that put the Kings ahead for good.
“I was just trying to get a feel for it,” Evans said of his return to the court. “When you sit out for a long time like that, it’s always tough just trying to come in and play good, so I wasn’t trying to force it. I was trying to take what the defense was giving me, I was thinking too much. In the second half, I started being aggressive again and getting to the line.”
Kings head coach Keith Smart appreciated the aggressiveness they saw from Evans, as his effort assisted in the team’s 56 points in the paint against the Raptors. The ability to get into the paint with ease and then pass if needed was missed during Evans’ absence from the hardwood.
“We weren’t getting into the paint,” Smart said, following the game. “We weren’t getting the basketball in the paint. In the last couple of games, the guy that got into the paint to move the ball to other people was Jason Thompson, and he had 18 of those trips of getting into the paint and moving the basketball. I thought our guys did a great job and obviously Tyreke did a great job with getting into the paint with his penetration.”
Evans credits the Kings’ loss to the Los Angeles Clippers to his motivation to be aggressive and try and get into the paint in order to force the defense to make a play.
“That’s one thing that I wanted to do tonight was drive the paint and draw the fouls and get into the paint,” Evans said. “When we played the Clippers, they got into the paint a lot so I just wanted to get into the paint a lot.”
Evans’ aggressiveness earned him a trip to the line 12 times, though he made just seven shots.
The guard’s biggest contribution toward the victory came when the game was tied 95-95, with just 2:16 remaining on the play clock for the game. Ironically, it was arguably Evans’ weakest part of his game that made the biggest difference.
Forward John Salmons drove the floor and kicked it out to Evans on the wing, who took the wide-open three and made it. The pair hooked up on the exact same play on the next drive, earning the same results to give the Kings a late six-point lead 101-95.
Afterward, Evans looked at the Raptors bench with something to say.
"They were just talking over there, you know. They said, ‘Leave him open,’ and I said, ‘Leave me open and I'm going to keep shooting it,’ and I just made the shots."
Evans also made his presence felt on the defensive side of the court as he came back down the floor to block a three-point attempt by Raptors guard Kyle Lowry as Toronto was attempting a late-game comeback.
Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins knows that Evans can be a dangerous player if he can consistently hit the outside shots.
“I just told him after the game, ‘That’s the first time since I’ve been in the league that I’ve seen you hit two threes in a row,’” Cousins said. “I’m happy for him, he’s been working his tail off, especially with his outside shooting. If he continues to get confidence in his jump shot he’ll be an incredible player.”
Smart has confidence in Evans’ spot shooting, just believes that he needs to be committed to it at times and not always put the ball on the floor to drive.
“He works at it,” Smart said. “We share with him, I share with him, and everyone else has said that ‘When you’re spot shooting, your percentage is very good. And when you’re spotted up there and shooting your three, it’s a good shot for you.’ He got there and made those two threes, and I was very happy with the way he hit those two shots. He didn’t have a thought of putting it down and driving in traffic.”
Evans, along with the play of Cousins, can be a dangerous tandem in the NBA when both are playing well.
“I think it starts with us two. DeMarcus in the post and me in the pick-and-rolls getting into the paint,” Evans said.
Photo by Ron Nabity
Originally published on SacramentoPress.com Nov. 8, 2012
Second-year guard Jimmer Fredette is making the most of the limited playing time that remains ambiguous he’s getting due to a deep Sacramento Kings bench.
Fredette has seen his minutes cut down with the acquisition of point guard Aaron Brooks, who is now backing up Isaiah Thomas, a position Fredette assisted with last season. Fredette has appeared in three of the Kings five games, averaging just 8.3 minutes per game after averaging 18.6 minutes per game last season.
Head coach Keith Smart understands the challenge ahead of him in trying to keep the guys pleased with their playing time.
“It’s going to be a hard group to make sure everyone gets an equal time, and it’s not going to happen,” Smart said. “We’ve got too many good players that want to play. Some guys will play some nights, some guys don’t. The bottom line is we’re all in it together for one thing and that’s for our basketball team, the Sacramento Kings.”
Fan-favorite Fredette came in against Detroit to a loud ovation on Wednesday night and finished with 12 points in 15 minutes in the Kings 105-103 win over the Pistons. With the coach emphasizing being prepared at all times, Fredette has taken advantage of his appointed minutes by averaging 7.7 points in his 8.3 minutes per game this season thus far.
Fredette attributes his improved play and raised comfort level on the court this season to a productive offseason.
“I’m a lot more comfortable. I had a really good offseason: worked very hard, did some great things, just worked on my game and didn’t worry about anything else besides just trying to get better,” Fredette said. “I think I feel a lot more comfortable and it shows and I feel a lot better out there and I’m ready to continue to improve.”
The young guard didn’t enter the game Wednesday night until the second quarter and dropped five points on two jump shots in the first minute. Smart stuck with his second-year guard in crunch time in the fourth quarter as Fredette was able to take advantage of the minutes by hitting a big three-point field goal and two clutch free throws in the final 20 seconds to secure the Kings victory.
“You just have to be ready, you never know when you’re going to play and have that opportunity,” Fredette said. “But when you do have that opportunity you have to take advantage of it as much as you can. You can’t go out there and play lackadaisical and not be ready to play or else you’re not going to get back on the floor. You’ve got to be ready to play and earn your minutes, hopefully i’ve been doing that.”
Fredette has improved his shooting average this season as he is shooting 57 percent from the field this season as opposed to just 38.6 percent last season. While he has been more selective in his shot choices, he has also been able to knock down the open shot - an ability that the Kings could use as they’re shooting just 41 percent from the field.
Guard Tyreke Evans has been pleased with the energy that Fredette, in addition to Brooks, has provided the team.
“Jimmer and Aaron Brooks came in and did a great job off the bench and I think that’s what has been the spark for us so far,” Evans said.
Smart knows that energy guys with a strong work ethic like Fredette are what help build a team.
“The guy stays ready all the time,” Smart stated about Fredette. “He plays a game; he doesn’t play a game. I’m trying to find the right situation for him to get in the game. I thought he kept his mind right, he was at practice early working out prior to practice. He stayed with the right spirit on the floor and was able to make some big plays for us. That’s the kind of guys you got to have as your team is growing.”