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The Sacramento Kings returned home after a five-game road trip and defeated the Charlotte Bobcats 119-83 in Sunday, March 3's matinee rout.
“I thought we did a good job and did what we were supposed to do,” Kings head coach Keith Smart said of his team’s performance after the game. “We got home, played in front of our fans and played some pretty good basketball from a numbers standpoint.”
The trip home marked the first time for the newly acquired Kings to take the court in front of the home crowd.
Kings general manager Geoff Petrie completed a controversial trade in late February that sent Thomas Robinson, Francisco Garcia and the Kings second-round pick next year to Houston for Patrick Patterson, Cole Aldrich and Toney Douglas.
The biggest parts of the deal were definitely Robinson, who was the Kings fifth-overall draft pick just last year, and Patterson, who played with Kings center DeMarcus Cousins at the University of Kentucky.
Patterson finally returned to Sacramento on Sunday to make his home court debut, and though he finished with only five points on the day, the young forward was able to show some of what he brings to the team. Patterson scored both of his field goals with his picturesque jump shot, including one from behind the three-point arc to show his floor-spreading ability. Patterson was averaging just over 11 points a game on over 51 percent shooting from the field with the Rockets this season.
“I think one thing you see is he has the ability to spread the floor,” Smart said of his new player. “I like his awareness of where he needs to be on the floor. What he needs to do is keep space on the floor and rebounding. The guy has shown in the couple of days he’s been here, the way the guy sets screens.”
There’s no question that Patterson can spread the floor much greater than Robinson, who he is replacing on the roster. Robinson possesses more rebounding potential and the ability to get to the rim, but currently lacks Patterson’s outside shot.
Smart appreciates what he has seen from Patterson, but believes that he can get more out of the young forward in categories he has yet to excel at.
“He’s going to blossom into what we want him to do,” Smart said. “I think he’s still trying to understand like one team had him spacing. I’m trying to get him to where he can get to the basket on some occasions, post up wise. He understands defense very well.”
One of these aspects Patterson needs to improve at is his rebounding, an attribute for which he has been criticized in the past. Smart knows this and has emphasized the need for better rebounding since he first met his new forward on the Kings’ road trip.
“The challenge that I have for him when I talked to him in our meeting in New Orleans, I said ‘You know, you need to try every game to go get five rebounds,” Smart said. “That’s your focus right there. You should be a better rebounder, and if you focus on that, with everything else you do, it’s going to help your game.’ Because I think he can be a much better rebounder than what he has on his career so far.”
Patterson has averaged just 4.3 rebounds per game in his young career, considerably low for a power forward.
Patterson is excited to see what he can do for his new team, but believes he just needs to pick up where he left off during his time on the Houston Rockets.
“It’s not really starting over. It’s just coming to a new team, a new environment and just playing basketball,” Patterson said of switching teams midseason. “It’s not a new start, it’s not a new beginning, I just have to pick up where I left off in Houston. It’s just coming to a new team, learning a new system, getting offensive plays down, fitting in with the team and that’s it.”
Cousins joked around after the game about knowing Patterson, who he has reportedly remained friends with since they both left Kentucky.
“I think he’s going to have to shave down his mustache, besides that, he’s a pretty good teammate. I don’t know much about him though,” Cousins joked.