SACRAMENTO — Kings coach Keith Smart found out 30 minutes before Friday night’s game against the Orlando Magic that swingman Tyreke Evans left knee would keep him out of the contest.
So Smart began the game with veteran Francisco Garcia playing for Evans and never stopped making moves until he found the right combination.
Most of the fourth quarter that combination consisted of reserves Jimmer Fredette, Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Thornton, Thomas Robinson and Chuck Hayes, and it was enough to lead the Kings to a 91-82 victory over the Magic in front of an announced crowd of 16,305 at Sleep Train Arena.
The victory was the second consecutive home win for the Kings (6-12) and permitted them to even their home mark at 6-6. Sacramento plays at Portland on Saturday night to start a four-game road trip.
“The lineup Orlando used allowed me to do that rotation (Friday night),” Smart said. “(The Magic) didn’t look to post-up their guards.”
Smart’s rotation put some of the team’s best shooters on the floor.
“I knew that I had to get spacing and shooting,” the coach said. “I had to go with high-percentage shooters or at least I had to get more than I had on the floor before.”
Center DeMarcus Cousins had his second consecutive strong game with 17 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and three steals. Yet, the performances of Fredette, Robinson and Thomas, all off the bench, proved crucial to Sacramento’s victory.
Thomas matched Cousins with 17 points, while Fredette scored 15. Robinson scored just one point but his energy resulted in seven rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Sacramento outscored Orlando, 29-18, in the fourth. Part of the reason for that was the play of Robinson.
“He had a real impact on the game and didn’t even score a bucket,” Cousins said of Robinson. “That’s the way he needs to play all the time.”
The Magic’s 82 points were a Kings’ opponent season low total.
Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said the Kings ability to pick up the pace was the killer. The Kings had 25 fast-break points to Orlando’s 14.
“We allowed them to get into transition which we didn’t want to do,” Vaughn said. “Their fast-break points probably doubled ours and their second-chance points were the difference in the game.”
The Magic (7-12) was led by Glen Davis’ 20 points and Aaron Afflalo’s 18.
The Magic bounced back in the third quarter from a dismal first-half shooting performance. Orlando made 14 of 40 field-goal attempts in the first half.
However, the third quarter was a different deal. Orlando opened the period by outscoring Sacramento, 25-8, in the first 5 1/2 minutes and quickly took a 59-54-lead.
The team that sparingly made baskets in the first half, shot 56.3 percent, led by point guard Nelson’s 4 of 4 third-quarter shooting. Meanwhile, the Kings made just 6 of 19 field-attempts (31.6 percent) in the third quarter.
The Kings’ 46-34 halftime advantage was their biggest lead of the game to that point.
Sacramento won the final rebounding battle, 51-40.
Notes: This game featured two of the league’s highest scoring reserves. Sacramento’s Thornton entered the game as the NBA’s fifth highest scoring reserve at 14.4 points per game, while Orlando’s J.J. Redick was seventh at 13.9 points per game. … Orlando concludes its five-game road trip on Sunday night in Phoenix against the Suns. … The Kings’ home attendance average of 12,563 is the lowest in the league. … Smart has been pleased with how his players have stayed together during its slow start. “One of the things you can see when you watch the tape is how involved the players on the bench are during the game,” Smart said, “especially when things are going well. You can see guys up and encouraging their teammates. Now when things aren’t going well you can see it by the way guys seem to be in their own little world. That’s to be expected. But our guys seem to be staying together and that’s a good thing.”