SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Sacramento Kings found their winning recipe.
After a 1-5 start to the regular season, head coach Michael Malone had seen what didn’t work. His starting lineup was maddeningly inconsistent on both sides of the court, so he demoted two-guard Marcus Thornton (who was shooting 27.6-percent) and power forward Patrick Patterson (36.6-percent) in favor of Ben McLemore and Jason Thompson respectively.
“It wasn’t Marcus Thornton, (and) it wasn’t Patrick Patterson why we were 1-5,” Malone clarified after beating the Brooklyn Nets. “I wanted to shake things up, and to both of their credits they came in the game off the bench and had a huge impact.”
The Kings were unrecognizable on Wednesday’s 107-86 win and not simply due to new names. They outhustled the visiting Nets and played with the poise expected (but lacking) from their veteran opponents. Sacramento forced Brooklyn into more turnovers (15) than assists (14) while recording 26 dimes and only four turnovers of their own. As for the new bench-brothers, Thornton awoke from his haze by scoring 24 points on 52.6-percent accuracy, as Patterson hauled down 10 rebounds and led the Kings with a +30 point differential.
The revamped Kings starting five received strong performances from DeMarcus Cousins (15 points, nine rebounds) and Greivis Vasquez (17 points, 12 assists) in addition to Thompson who was one point from a double-double. The big crashed the glass with attentiveness and pressed admirable post defense on Brook Lopez. However, McLemore looked the part of a rookie, as he used poor shot selection and finished 1-for-8 from the floor in his first NBA start. Malone wasn’t discouraged.
“Ben didn’t have the night that he’s (going to) have most nights…I think he was a little excited about that. He was going against All-Stars over there…but he’ll settle down, and he’s (going to) be fine next game.”
Malone stated that he is committed to the current lineup, and it’s easy to see why. The Kings played with urgency, and more importantly they had fun. The team is buying into Malone’s philosophy, which wins like Wednesday’s only reinforce.
“When we defend, we rebound, we get out and run, and we share the ball, we’re a decent basketball team.”
Photo Credit: Randy Pench / Sacbee.com