The Kings didn’t let the Warriors run away this time.
In possibly the final installment of the Bay Area hoops rivalry, Sacramento matched its hosts in fastbreak points and got several heroic plays from Marcus Thornton in a 104-103 victory.
Thornton hit only seven of his 17 field goal attempts and missed all four of his long-distance launches, but he put up 21 points, including four in the final minute to preserve the victory. This came less than 48 hours after his seven points in the final 2:30 almost willed the Kings to a win in Memphis on Friday.
This performance, coupled with another lackluster outing by Tyreke Evans, served as more ammunition for those who believe Thornton, not Evans, might be better suited as the team’s offensive focal point going forward.
It’s clear to even casual observers that Evans, while prodigiously talented, is essentially a soloist. He had five assists Sunday, but each was a pass to a stationary teammate for a standstill jumper.
He went only 3-13 from the field, and while two of his baskets were assisted, neither came as the result of movement on offense. The ball stops when he touches it.
His counterpart, Stephen Curry offered ample evidence that while Evans may have won last year’s Rookie of the Year battle, the advantage in the war thus far goes to the player with the slight build and the Golden Gate Bridge on his jersey.
Curry’s sweet stroke accounted for 27 points on 11-17 shooting, including 3-6 from three point range. His smooth-arcing jumper served as a visual antidote to the flat, clanging attempts that Evans repeatedly unleashed after dribbling in place. Even his meaningless 30-footer that narrowed the final margin to 104-103 as time expired was a thing of beauty.
Dorell Wright’s long arms were the game’s other enduring image, as the emergent defensive threat came away with a career-high six steals. The Warriors had 13 thefts in forcing 23 Sacramento turnovers.
Seven of those giveaways were the work of rookie DeMarcus Cousins, who had another of his feast-or-famine efforts. He repeatedly attacked the basket and, in what has become a recurrent theme, repeatedly failed to get the call. His 15 points and 13 rebounds looked good on the stat sheet, but the turnovers – several of which led to runout layups or dunks – and six personal fouls almost undid all of his production.
Still, Cousins has shown as much talent and skill as any rookie this season, including Blake Griffin, and will hopefully mature to the point that games like this become a memory.
The Kings’ future hopes got another slight boost in the form of Jason Thompson, who despite his questionable basketball instincts has shown recent promise as an energy player. He’s averaged 11 points and 8 rebounds in the past five games while shooting 62% from the field. Many teams would welcome that production from a player who never has plays run for him, and if Thompson can keep focusing on what he does well, he’ll emerge as a fine complement to Cousins and Samuel Dalembert in an intriguing frontcourt rotation.
About the Author
Written by Steven Jones
Portland native, Highland Park resident, middle school teacher/basketball coach.