The Sacramento Kings played easily the best basketball they have played all season long. From the opening tip-off, the Kings looked like a completely different team than in the first ten games, as they defeated the Lakers 113-97.
John Salmons played with more poise and leadership than he has ever played. He answered the call, and helped this young Kings team find a way to beat the dominant Los Angeles Lakers.
The Kings had only their second 20-plus assist game, recording 23 helpers. The Kings had six players in double figures, while the Lakers had only four. Salmons was easily the difference maker in tonights game, scoring the Kings first seven points, and for the first time this season, he emerged as a veteran leader the team has desperately needed.
Jason Thompson had his fourth double-double of the year, scoring 13 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Tyreke Evans had perhaps his best game in a long time. Evans looked poised from the start of the game, and was effective on both offense and defense; shooting 7-11 from the field for 18 points and a game high six assists.
Aaron Brooks made a strong case to keep his starting job scoring 13 points and dishing out three assists. Brooks was a very vocal leader, as he is starting to lead this offense.
Chuck Hayes was a force in the post holding Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol to a combined 15 points. Hayes frustrated both Gasol and Howard all night, as he held his ground, and made them work harder than they wanted every time they touched the ball. Hayes had 10 points, two steals, and five rebounds.
Kobe Bryant was in classic form, scoring 38 points on 11-20 from the field. Dwight Howard has his most ineffective game as a Laker. The Kings’ big men did a tremendous job not allowing Howard to get to his spots, forcing him to take bad shots. Gasol was also frustrated for most of the game, as he was almost a non factor. Jodie Meeks kept the Lakers in the game in the first three quarters making 3-6 three point shots and scoring 15 points.
Marcus Thornton finally found his stroke after struggling in the Kings first 10 games. Thornton scored 23 points on 8-13 shooting, going 3-5 from three-point range. Thornton seemed to hit the big shot every time the Kings needed one tonight.
The Kings have started to turn things around with a big win against a championship-caliber team, and must take this momentum with them as they prepare to take on the Utah Jazz in Utah next. The Kings passed the ball, found the open man, and played tough consistent defense. Tonight the Kings showcased the type of team they could be if they brought this energy into every game.
If the Kings can find a way to play like they did tonight, they may have started to turn things around.