By Charlie O. Mallonee
The LA Clippers came to call on the Sacramento Kings Friday night. It would have seemed to be perfect timing as the Clippers had a home game on Thursday and then had to face a road game the next night. The timing did not work out for the Kings as the Clippers came out shooting at 50.0% from the field and won the game 110-101.
The Clippers came out in the first period looking like a team that was coming off a day of rest rather than playing game two of a back-to-back. The Clippers outscored the Kings 24-22. The Kings shooting left something to be desired as they shot just 38.1% from the field. Isaiah Thomas came off the bench to spark the Kings and keep the game close.
The Clippers started off the second quarter with a 9-0 run over the Kings. Just when it looked like the Clips would run away with the period, Isaiah Thomas brought the Kings back to life, but the Kings poor shooting allowed the Clippers to open up a 10 point lead. The Kings brought the game back into the paint and cut the LA lead to three with 4:26 remaining in the quarter. The Clippers used an improved shooting percentage (47.5%) to open up a 54-45 halftime lead.
The Kings shot just 38.1% (16-42) from the field in the first half. Isaiah Thomas led the Kings with 12 points.
The Clippers started off the second half much as they did the first half. Chris Paul put LAC on the board with back-to-back jumpers and strong shooting from the field (51.1%) kept the Clippers on top opening up a lead of 13 at the 7:41 mark. Following a three point play by DeMarcus Cousins, the Kings came back to life cutting the Clippers lead to 68-60 at 5:38. Isaiah Thomas came off the bench at 4:35 and sparked a charge that cut the LA lead to two with 1:25 to play in the quarter. A Travis Outlaw put back of a Cousins shot at the buzzer made it LAC 79 – Kings 77 after three periods.
A Jason Thompson field goal opened the final period tying the game at 79-79. The quarter quickly became a game of outside shooting and free throws. The Clippers would threaten to pull away and then the Kings would find an answer to keep the game close. Sacramento tied the game at 90 with a circus shot from Isaiah Thomas. The Kings took the lead at 6:43 on a Jason Thompson lay-up, but the hot LA shooting kept putting the Clippers back into the lead. DeMarcus Cousins picked up a technical foul at the 2:48 mark and gave LA a three point lead. The game remained close, but in the end the Kings could not overcome the Clippers 50.0% shooting from the field. The LA Clippers won the game 110—101.
The Kings fell to 1-1 on the young season. They now face their first road contest of the year in Oakland versus the Warriors on Saturday night.
Isaiah Thomas led all scorers with 29 points. DeMarcus Cousins added 24 and Marcus Thornton put up 17 for Sacramento. Chris Paul led the Clippers with 26 points. Blake Griffin posted 20 along with Jamal Crawford’s 18.
The key to the Clippers win was their shooting percentage. When a team shoots 50.0% (35-70) from the field and shoots 50.0% (12-24) from 3 point range, it becomes almost impossible to defeat them. The Clippers could not be defeated on Friday night.
Notes: The Kings on Thursday declined to pick their option on Jimmer Fredette for the 2014-15 season. The move will make the former first-round draft pick an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year. Fredette will be free to negotiate with any NBA team including the Kings for next season. The move may also mean that Fredette will not finish the season in Sacramento as his now expiring contract becomes a desirable piece in possible trades with teams looking to free up salary cap room. Fredette did not play in the season opener versus Denver… The Kings had two additional players that were eligible for deals on Thursday, Greivis Vasquez and Patrick Patterson. The team declined to offer either player an extension, but Kings can make both players restricted free agents at the end of the season … The Kings travel to the Bay Area on Saturday night to play the Golden State Warriors for the first time in the regular season. The Warriors will make their first appearance in Sacramento on Sunday 12/1 … The Kings won the season series versus the Warriors in 2012-13 3-1 … Because of the many connections between Sacramento and Golden State, the Kings are anxious to eliminate the references to “golden state light” that some have made about the team.