Game Notes: Raptors at Kings
Triple-double has fans standing with ‘Reke.
by Jonathan Santiago / @ITSjonsantiago
Both the Sacramento Kings and Toronto Raptors came into last night on the tail-end of a back-to-back. The Raptors, however, were coming off a more heart-wrenching loss to the Los Angeles Lakers which saw Kobe Bryant being…well, you know…Kobe Bryant.
In the midst of a Playoff race, the Raptors have something to play for as the regular season winds down. They had lost six of their last seven games and stood only a half-game ahead of the Charlotte Bobcats for the sixth seed out East coming into Sacramento.
But, the Kings had something to play for yesterday evening too — at least marketing wise.
Last night’s game was themed “Rally for RekeROY Night”, in honor of none other than their stand-out rookie, Tyreke Evans.
As expected, Evans wound up leading the rally, guiding the Kings to a 113-90 victory over the visiting Raps, tallying his first-career triple-double in the process.
Right from the get-go of the pre-game show, it was all about Tyreke. During the XO Crossover, one the Kings pregame entertainment mainstays, Lamont Peterson, AKA @TyrekesTrainer, sat down for a one-on-one conversation about Evans with Kings PA Announcer, Scott Moak. Fans probably couldn’t hear much of the conversation because of ARCO’s bad acoustics.
Not surprisingly, Hedo Turkoglu looked at home. He exchanged pleasantries with some familiar faces who have remained with the organization since his departure. He also received the largest applause during team introductions from the ARCO crowd, as most players do from that golden era of Kings basketball.
FIRST HALF NOTES
For the Raptors, the first half was characterized by missed opportunities. By the five minute mark of the first quarter, the Raptors were shooting a blistering 69 percent. They didn’t have trouble executing their offense, scoring early in the shot clock. But, they never got on a scoring run to capitalize on the Kings porous defense. Their lead never ballooned to double-digits, peaking at nine. And at halftime they were only up by five.
On the other hand, the Kings were unable to score — no credit necessary to the Raptors defense. Sacramento simply missed easy buckets in the paint during the first quarter and settled for jumpers in the second, resulting in shooting 39.1 percent from the field.
It wasn’t a great first half for Evans, just making 3-9 shots and only attempting four free throws. But with less than three minutes to go in the second quarter while driving to the hoop, Evans hit a ridiculous behind-the-backboard shot and was fouled in the process by Chris Bosh. It took the referees a few moments of deliberation to finally count the basket. But this bucket seemed to get Evans on track en route to his first-career triple-double.
• I haven’t gotten a chance to see much of DeMar DeRozan this season. But for the most part, he looked comfortable out there on both ends of the floor. Starting at the two for the Raptors had him matched-up against Evans. He did what he could to keep the leading Rookie of the Year candidate from getting to the basket.
• During a timeout with 2:56 left to go in the first quarter, former NBA All-Star and current Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson addressed the crowd. He gave a spiel on why the city needs to rally around Tyreke’s rookie of the year campaign. He mentioned good rookies in both Golden State and Milwaukee. No love for NOLA, KJ?
• During a few timeouts, in accordance with the Reke ROY theme, Kingsvision featured canned interviews of various NBA personalities speaking highly of Evans’ ability. Chauncey Billups, Carmelo Anthony, Brandon Roy and Jason Kidd were some of the players beaming positives about the Kings rookie’s game. Even good old Craig Sager, in a purple suit no less, gave his two cents on the leading candidate.
SECOND HALF NOTES
Facing only a five-point deficit, the Kings looked confident right out of the halftime gate. They scored 10 unanswered points in less than two minutes, taking advantage of fast-break opportunities. The Kings also moved the ball better, leading to improved shot attempts. By midway through the third, the Kings wound up shooting a higher percentage than the Raptors. They would finish shooting 50.5 percent from the field to the Raptors 43.9 for the game.
Bosh was ineffective in the first-half for the Raptors. But he was completely shut-down in the second. A play indicative of his rough night came in the fourth quarter when he established himself perfectly in the paint underneath the basket. Despite Bosh’s effort to get in ideal position, Kings forward Jason Thompson made an even better play, breaking up the intended pass from the Raptors Andrea Bargnani then running the floor to finish the fast break with a layup.
Around the same time, a fan sitting behind me wondered aloud, “How’d this turn into such an a** whooping?” Toronto’s defense, which I mentioned earlier had nothing to brag about in the first half, broke down in the third and fourth quarters. As the Kings picked up the tempo and started making baskets they should’ve made in the first half, the Raptors simply couldn’t keep pace.
Second Half Bullets
• Though the night belonged to Evans, Kings point guard Beno Udrih shined as well. He finished with 24 points on 10-14 shooting, 8 assists and only 2 turnovers. That performance earned him the post-game radio interview.
• Throughout most of the game, the Kings entertainment crew tried to lead chants of R-O-Y in honor of Evans. The crowd didn’t seem very into it in the first half but bought in during the second when, of course, the Kings started winning. The Portland Trailblazers come into town on Friday. They might want to drop that R-O-Y chant by then.
• In the game’s final two minutes, Evans grabbed his tenth rebound and notched his tenth assist. He pumped his fist after teammate Francisco Garcia sunk a 17-foot jumper to seal the deal on his first career triple-double. 19, 10 and 10 may not be as eye-popping as 36, 13 and 10. But at 20, five and five all season long, Evans’ first triple-double is just the icing on the cake for an ROY trophy that’s his for the taking.