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With the Kings down Beno Udrih and Samuel Dalembert out and the small forward position up for grabs, Coach Paul Westphal is still searching for a winning starting lineup.
The Golden State Warriors held it close for three quarters Tuesday, but it was the Kings who secured their second preseason win by pulling away in the final period to win 116-97 at Arco Arena.
The Kings had six players scoring in double figures and a balanced rebounding effort making for a solid fourth quarter. A three-point lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter turned into a 22-point lead late in the game thanks to a strong defense and converting turnovers into points.
Both teams had stretches of sloppiness, each with more than 20 turnovers. That, along with 59 total fouls in the game, made for an interesting evening.
The starting lineup was Tyreke Evans, Carl Landry, DeMarcus Cousins, Luther Head and Donte Greene. Head started in place of an injured Udrih.
Things started out quickly for the Kings as they opened with a 10-2 run that was aided by two early turnovers from the Warriors.
Greene was really asserting himself, racking up six points, four rebounds and two steals. He has not received many minutes yet this preseason, but he looked refreshed in his first preseason start.
The Warriors, who will have an improved inside-outside game this season with Monta Ellis, Stephen Curry and newly acquired David Lee, attained a six-point lead late in the first quarter as they rebounded nearly every missed shot by the Kings and scored.
As the first quarter ended, the Kings were only down 30-29.
The second was a low-scoring and sloppy quarter. Even though the Warriors incurred four fouls in less than two minutes, the Kings had seven personal fouls and seven turnovers of their own.
Omri Casspi's aggressiveness helped keep the Kings close as he had six points and three rebounds in the period.
After a disjointed second quarter, the Kings led 53-51.
Fouls plagued the Kings in the third quarter. Cousins and Jason Thompson fouled out. It appeared that without them, the middle would open for the Warriors and allow them to drive unobstructed to the rim. If it wasn’t for Evans’ outstanding play in the third, the Kings could have easily trailed going into the fourth.
The fourth quarter got under way with the Kings leading 80-77. Cousins hit a nice three early on, and both he, Head and Jeter led the charge on the court with hustle and determination, helping their team clinch the win.
Good performances from Greene (10 points, 4 boards, 3 steals), Carl Landry (15 points of 7 of 10 shooting), Cousins (20 points, 8 rebounds), Evans (17 points), Head (15 points, 2 steals) and Casspi (11 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks) helped create a balanced attack for the Kings.
“The guys did a much better job of getting back on defense,” Westphal said. “They kept the paint tight in many of the half-court sets, and offensively we moved the ball like we want the Kings to move the ball. We dominated the boards, played good defense, and I thought we made really good decisions as far as sharing the ball and getting the ball inside out and attacking the
Westphal said that Darnell Jackson did a good job of coming in when the other Kings big men were in foul trouble. He said he gave great minutes – plugging the middle, rotating on defense, covering up and getting rebounds in traffic.
Jackson is not as easily satisfied.
“My effort was okay, but I want to really give credit to my coaches; Coach Mario (Elie) and Coach Truck (Robinson),” Jackson said. “Those two coaches talk to me every day. When you include Coach O (Otis Hughley), those three right there are talking to me every day saying, ‘C’mon Jack, c’mon Jack.’ My whole mindset is to soak everything in on and off the court.”
The strangest stat of the night is that even though the Kings were outscored in the paint 54-34, they out-rebounded the Warriors 46-33.
The only two Kings to not get any floor time were Marcus Landry and Antoine Wright who, ironically, are both trying to nab a wing spot with the team.
The Kings will go on the road to Las Vegas to face the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday. Francisco Garcia will not make the trip, as he had a slight sprain of his ankle during the game. Dalembert may also miss four to six weeks, after an MRI confirmed his left adductor strain.