With the exception of a few stretches where isolation basketball reared its ugly head again, the Sacramento Kings played solid offensively in their 117-100 win over the Portland Trail Blazers Monday night. But their defense took a slight step back in their second exhibition of the preseason.
Performance of the game: Marcus Thornton came off the bench tonight and didn’t miss a step. The Kings shooting guard was still able to score at a high volume and finished with 23 points on eight of 11 shooting in 23 minutes. Honorable mention: James Johnson followed up an impressive debut against the Phoenix Suns with another great outings. Just like last Wednesday, Johnson played with high ENERGY off the Kings’ bench, was active on defense and proved effective on offense without the basketball.
Standout moments: Francisco Garcia played for the first time this year and came off the Kings’ bench with a bang. Subbing in for rookie Thomas Robinson, who picked up three quick fouls early in the second quarter, Garcia lit the Blazers’ up with his three-point shooting. The Kings veteran would hit back-to-back threes, leading to a 9-2 run by Sacramento midway through the second quarter. The Kings would go onto a 62-42 lead at halftime.
1. Does Keith Smart start the same five players?
Smart went with a different look to start tonight’s game. Thornton and Isaiah Thomas came off the bench tonight in favor of Aaron Brooks and Travis Outlaw. By making Thornton and Thomas reserves, the Kings played an especially small second-unit. But they were still effective offensively and the reserves combined to score 59 total points.
2. Who will be the first point guard off the bench?
Well, this was answered in question one. Jimmer Fredette wouldn’t come off the bench until about the four minute mark in the third quarter. Jimmer again played aggressively and looked for his shot on offense. But his performance on defense tonight regressed from last week as he was caught repeatedly flat footed against the opposition. Jimmer did play 16 minutes to Thomas’ 11.
3. Will Damian Lillard leave the Kings wondering “what if?”
The rookie point guard had a pretty subpar first half, scoring just three points on one of six shot attempts. But coming out of half time, Lillard made adjustments. He scored 17 of his 20 points in the second half. The Oakland native impressed with his ability to shoot off the dribble and looked comfortable playing in pick-and-roll situations. Lillard looks like he’ll have long career in the NBA.