Photo credit: Charles Bertram Lexington Herald – Leader
by Charlie O. Mallonee
The Sacramento Kings and Washington Wizards met in a NBA preseason game to wrap up the “Big Blue Madness Weekend” which kicks off the NCAA basketball season for the Kentucky Wildcats. The game featured four former Wildcats – DeMarcus Cousins, Willie Cauley-Stein, Skal Labissiere and the Wizards’ John Wall.
The Kings won the game 124-119 for those who care and there were many people in Kentucky who did not seem to care. The Rupp Arena where the game was played has a seating capacity of 23,000 for basketball. Basketball fans in the Lexington area have to drive three hours (192 miles) west to Indianapolis to see a NBA game, so you would think a game in their own backyard would be a big draw. You would be wrong. Just 8,472 people showed up to see a game that featured four former Wildcat professional players.
The score will tell you that the game was not one that featured much in the way of defense. In fact, the final score has more in common with the 2015-16 Kings than it does with the new edition under the guidance of Dave Joerger.
The Kings were led in scoring by DeMarcus Cousins and Darren Collison who put up 22 points each. Before getting too excited, do not forget that Collison will not be with the Kings for the first eight games of the season while he serves his NBA mandated suspension.
Omri Casspi scored 16 points in 22 minutes on the floor while Willie Cauley-Stein put up 12 points, grabbed five rebounds, had four steals and added one block shot in his 22 minutes of playing time. Lamar Patterson scored 14 points in 12 minutes of playing time coming off the bench.
Ben McLemore got the start at shooting guard in the game and played a team-high 29 minutes but had a tough game. He scored just eight points- five in the first half which came with less than two minutes to play and three points in the second half. McLemore shot just 2-for-6 from the floor and was 0-for-1 from beyond the 3-point line. He was a perfect 4-for-4 from the free throw line. Joerger is giving McLemore the playing time but young guard does not seem to be giving the needed production back in return.
Sacramento shot an impressive 60.0-percent (42-for-70) from the floor and were an outstanding 9-for-19 (47.4-percent) from 3-point land. The Kings went 31-for-38 (81.6-percent) from the charity stripe. They had 26 assists but turned the ball over 27 times. The Kings out-rebounded the Wizards 40-32.
The Wizards shot 48.5-percent (47-for-97) from the field and went 8-for-31 (25.8-percent) from beyond the 3-point line. Andrew Nicholson was their leading scorer with 19 points. John Wall – who is recovering from knee surgery – played 22 minutes and scored 11 points.
Kings head coach Dave Joerger started all three of his former Kentucky players – Cousins, Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere. Labissiere went scoreless in 16 minutes on the floor but did haul in four rebounds, block two shots and got two steals.
The Kings Rudy Gay, Ty Lawson, Arron Afflalo, Isaiah Cousins and Matt Barnes were held out of the game by head coach Dave Joerger for rest and to give others playing time.
The Kings are now 3-2 in the preseason and will play their final warm up contest on Tuesday night in Sacramento against the Los Angeles Clippers. The first game of regular season will be played on Wednesday, October 26 in Phoenix.