The Kings-Lakers game featured all the ordinary drama amid extraordinary circumstances, namely, the Kings actually being here in Sacramento for another season-opener. It's also hard to believe the Lakers are 0-2. But now that the deadline crunch has passed, here are a few musings, quotes, observations on the Kings' impressive home victory.
The Lakers converted one of 16 three-point attempts. While their offense at times featured the familiar ball and body movement (21 assists on 37 baskets), and backcuts that would please ex-coach Phil Jackson (and the legendary Pete Carril), that 06.3 percent efficiency rate from long range is tough to overcome.
Marcus Thornton, who re-signed for an average salary of $8 million over four years, might be a steal of the offseason. He scores with such ease, and with such efficiency. His 27 points came on 9-of-13 shooting. Additionally, his quick motor forces the Kings into faster pace and to capitalize on opencourt opportunities.
Rookie Jimmer Fredette made some rookie mistakes, mainly, gets caught in the air, deciding whether to pass or shoot, but has no trouble creating the all-important space for his shot. His floor leadership in the third quarter was probably most impressive. The Jimmer has a knack for penetrating and instinctively finding open teammates.
Fellow diminutive rookie Isaiah Thomas shouldn't be overlooked. Generously listed at 5-foot-9, the Kings second-round pick gets in trouble because of his tendency to dribble into a crowd. But if he can consistently knock down a shot, he could become one of those Michael Adams or Earl Boykins' change-of-pace squirts and enjoy a long NBA career. And Paul Westphal is never shy about going with offbeat lineups. Thomas, Fredette (6-2) and Thornton (6-4) were on the court when the Kings moved out a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter.
John Salmons heard it from the crowd a few times for not passing the ball (5-of-14, no assists), but he sank three of five three-pointers and played excellent defense. Still not sure the Kings can thrive with a starting lineup of Evans, Thornton and Salmons - all of whom are primarily scorers - but time will tell.
The upside of the victory: The Kings received efforts from almost everyone who played, and basically, won because of their defensive commitment. The downside of the victory: The Kings still attempted too many jump shots and resorted to one-on-one play, which makes it tough to win on the road. Cousins' unique passing and low post skills need to be incorporated into the offense.
Defense, down the stretch
In the final 3:15, the following occurred: Chuck Hayes - whose subtle contributions contrast with his thick body - blocked a shot. Tyrkeke Evans swatted away Derek Fisher's jump shot from behind. Cousins swiped a defensive rebound and outmuscled Pau Gasol for an offensive board, deflected another rebound off Gasol, took a charge, converted a free throw, then led cheers as the game ended.
Metta World Peace wreaks havoc
The former King formerly known as Ron Artest, said he wasn't offended if people in Sac still calledk him Ron. And last night, in the familiar Power Balance Pavilion, he looked like the old Ron Artest. The wide-bodied forward went for 19 points, four rebounds and four assists. And, as usual, he had something interesting to say. Asked whether he thought teams with younger players had an advantage in the compressed 66-game scheduled, he shook his head and gave the edge to veteran squads. "Young and dumb, old and tired," he said, adding that he would opt for the latter. He also said he liked the Kings' rookie - "What's his name?" Artest asked. Told that it was Jimmer Fredette, Artest added, "I really liked him in college."
NBA, in the house
I didn't get a chance to catch up with him because of everything else going on last night, but NBA vice-president Chris Granger, who oversaw the league's aggressive, boots-on-the-ground marketing efforts here when the team returned to Sacramento instead of relocating to Anaheim, was seen chatting with Kings co-owners Joe and Gavin Maloof at their courtside seats. Granger also headed the NBA's marketing efforts when the Hornets returned to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.