SACRAMENTO -- There isn’t much you can take away from a 135-96 win over a team like Maccabi Haifa. The Kings shot 67.1 percent from the floor. They knocked down 52.5 percent from long range and they handed out 30 assists. They led wire-to-wire and it wasn’t even close.
This isn’t an NBA caliber team so you have to look deeper than just the numbers. With so little on the line, Dave Joerger was able to get creative with his squad and try new things. Sample size is small, but the Kings’ new coach might have found something very interesting.
Speed kills and the Sacramento Kings have some flat out burners. During the third quarter, Joerger and his staff turned to a combination of players that they haven’t even matched together in practice.
“It was fun, we got the ball off the rim, got rebounds or stops and we’re just running,” Lawson said of the small ball lineup. “Everybody’s getting open shots.”
Joerger began the third quarter with a lineup of Lawson, Darren Collison, Ben McLemore, Anthony Tolliver and Kosta Koufos and the impact was immediate. Joerger has gone small plenty of times, but not like this. In fact, Lawson and Collison hadn’t even played together in practice.
“I thought it was fun today,” Collison said. “We got a chance to get up and down the floor and not just be a half court team. We can go out in transition. Ty’s a willing passer, I’m a willing passer. We can use our speed.”
Both Lawson and Collison played the first 5:17 of the third, pushing the Kings lead from 27 at the half to 39 midway through the quarter. Lawson scored four points and handed out five assists during the stretch, while Collison hit for five points on 2-for-2 shooting.
“They’re two electric guards, I think they’re going to be great for us this year,” DeMarcus Cousins said. “All the doubt Ty came in with, it’s early, but I think he’s proven a lot of people wrong. I’m happy about that. We get those two guys playing together, that could be a scary combination.”
Both Lawson and Collison have experience playing in dual point guard sets. Last season Collison played alongside Rajon Rondo for plenty of minutes and he started plenty of games next to Chris Paul with the Clippers before joining the Kings. Lawson saw time with Nate Robinson, Jameer Nelson and Andre Miller with the Nuggets under George Karl.
With the tempo heating up, it was McLemore that seemed to awaken. While plenty of his points came after the point guard tandem had hit the bench, the pace of the game didn’t slow. McLemore scored 11 of his game-high 18 in the quarter as Sacramento pulled away. He looked more comfortable in an up-and-down game with pace than he has all preseason.
Joerger is busy installing a high-post offense, which will take time to perfect. But in the meantime, he can go small to change the tempo of the game and maybe steal a few easy buckets.
“We get in passing lanes, we’re small (and) quick, I feel like the perimeter guards will have a tough time dealing with that,” Lawson said.
The Sacramento Kings are a major work in progress. But while they are developing an identity as a regimented offensive and defensive unit, they may have stumbled onto multiple different combinations of player groupings that open the floor and change the flow of the game.
Giants fans in the house
As the game neared its conclusion, the arena appeared to have cleared out of many of the listed 16,000 in attendance. But late in the fourth quarter, a huge contingency of fans hanging out in the new Sierra Nevada Draught House exploded when Conor Gillaspie roped a triple over the head of the Cubs centerfielder to give the San Francisco Giants a 4-3 lead.
The Draught House was packed with wall to wall people who had both an incredible bird's eye view of the Kings game and plenty of screens to watch as the Giants eventually pulled out the win and extend their playoff run for at least another game.