When you’re the Sacramento Kings (15-24) and a team like the Washington Wizards (7-29) come to town, you really should be feeling like a win is in the near future.
But if you look at the Kings’ wins this season, they have compiled up just as many wins against good teams – Lakers, Warriors, Blazers, Jazz and Knicks than they have against the bottom of the league – the Torontos, Orlandos, Clevelands and the Washingtons of the world. So gauging the meaning of a single victory is hard these days.
All Kings head honcho Keith Smart knows is that now is the time for W’s – wins to be chalked up onto the big board.
On Wednesday evening at Sleep Train Arena the home town put out the fire of another mediocre team’s attempt at a last-minute comeback win over them with a 95-94 win over the Wizards.
Tyreke Evans hit one-of-two free throws to give the Kings a one point lead with 11.4 seconds left on the clock and that was enough for the victory and to give Sacramento their fifteenth win of the nearly halfway gone season.
Sure, you had the usual suspects having a solid game as DeMarcus Cousins scored 21 points, had 16 boards, five assists and three steals. Also, a somewhat surprising John Salmons kept his high level of play by also scoring 21 points on 9-of-15 shooting.
But it’s the two guards that brought their “A” game to the floor on Wednesday that had me asking some important questions after the contest.
Evans scored 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting, had eight assists and eight boards to go along with three steals.
Jimmer Fredette also played well scoring 12 points, hit a couple of three’s and had two assists.
Face it. The facts are the facts. And its finally starting to rear its ugly head.
With Evans, Salmons, Thomas, Brooks, Thornton, Fredette and even throw Garcia in the mix, there are too many guards that can score on this team to (a) keep everyone happy and (b) form a solid rotation so Smart doesn’t have to answer the same question after every game.
“Why didn’t so-and-so start, or why didn’t so-and-so play more minutes" are inevitably the words that come out of some reporters mouth after each contest and rightly so!
After the win on Wednesday, upon seeing that Aaron Brooks and Marcus Thornton, two guys signed to bring the team more scoring and consistency, played only a total of 15:39, the question laid itself at Smart’s feet again.
“I was trying to maybe get certain guys in the game, but every possession was critical,” Smart said in the postgame presser. “I didn’t want a guy to be cold or not really into the game and I thought our bench did a decent job when they came in and played.”
On this night, Smart said he didn’t see enough energy from Isaiah Thomas and admitted that maybe he didn’t see enough off Brooks to judge him as well but was trying to get the floor spaced out wider and bringing in a solid long-range shooter like Jimmer Fredette does that exactly.
In doing so, Smart broke one of his own rules by letting a player play in the second half when he saw zero minutes in the first half.
This brings up probably the hardest thing for the players involved to swallow – limited playing time.
When Sean Cunningham of CBS 1140 Radio asked if Thornton was hurt or something, Smart let us behind the curtain, if ever so briefly.
“I was just focused on the game and I’ll deal with the issues I have to deal with tomorrow,” Smart said. “But, tonight, we won the game. We can get out of the building and get on the road and then I’ll face the issues that I have tomorrow. Tonight we won the game and we’ll work on that.”
That was clear enough for even Helen Keller to understand.
Guys that were brought into town to score are not going to be happy for too long if they don’t get whatever time they think they are due.
Evans looks better than ever after returning from his injury. His shooting percentage has improved, he’s not driving into a jungle of three or four players at the rim nearly as often and you can actually feel that he wants to be a part of running this team.
In Thornton, you got a guy that can score in bunches but when not hitting his shots, may be a liability on this team.
Salmons bring consistency – night in and night out.
Garcia will be fine in coming off the pine at this stage of his career.
Brooks brings instant energy and excitement. And he’s mastered those tough shots that Thomas is still working on.
Thomas is the gun-slinger of the bunch. Whenver he feels froggy, he’s gonna jump at a chance to shoot the ball. A little to loose with the ball if you ask me, but he’s making strides in his overall game.
And then there’s fan-favorite Jimmer Fredette. A guy that every time he comes into the game scores and then scores some more.
Too many players for the allotted time.
Who will be left without a chair in this sometimes painful and always confusing game of Kings Musical Chairs?
For fans, and I’m sure the players involved, let’s hope it’s not Game 82 until a logical, consistent rotation is finally formed when the music finally stops.
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