The Sacramento Kings started their season exactly how they had hoped. Four minutes into the game Patrick Paterson made a great lead pass to Marcus Thornton as he was leaking out into the open court. Here’s where Thornton showed the maturation of his team as he lobbed the ball into the air for a dunk that set the tone for the rest of the game.
Sacramento was scrappy and energetic on the defensive and offensive ends of the floor, as the Kings out-hustled a very talented Denver Nuggets team. While the Kings still need to continue to work on moving the ball, they did space the floor very well and seemed to find DeMarcus Cousins–who was seemingly unstoppable all night. Cousins scored 30 points and shot 50 percent from the field shooting 13-for-26 and grabbed 14 rebounds. Cousins also had two blocked shots and two steals.
Greivis Vasquez helped provide consistent scoring and leadership throughout the majority of the game. Vasquez shot a very efficient 6-for-9 from the field for 17 points, while also adding four assists. Isaiah Thomas came off the bench and provided exactly the type of energy and consistent playmaking abilities the Kings needed. Thomas was crucial in beating Denver Wednesday, scoring eight of his 16 points in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
Both Thomas and Vasquez were on the floor together several times throughout the course of the game and in the fourth quarter, with multiple playmakers on the floor for the Kings, the Nuggets were unable to stop the Kings’ offense.
The battle of the boards was a tie at 41 apiece, but the key statistic of tonight’s game was turnovers. The Kings forced the Nuggets into 19 turnovers and limited themselves to 14. The Kings also shot a very poor 69.6 percent from the free throw line in comparison to the Nuggets 88.2 percent. The Kings never seemed comfortable from the line and will certainly need to improve as the season begins.
The Nuggets seemed to struggle to find their offensive flow for most of the game and the Kings managed to create problems for several Denver players. JaVale McGee has always seemed to give the Kings problems with his size and athleticism, but had the tables turned by DeMarcus Cousins, who seemed to have McGee confused most of the evening. Ty Lawson was the only bright spot for the Nuggets scoring 20 points with eight assists. Lawson struggled from the field like most of his teammates, shooting only 5-for-15 on the night.
While the Kings managed to hang on in the final minutes for a very close 90-88 victory, they will have a lot to work on before Friday when a hungry Clipper team comes to Sacramento.