Find out how Patterson is approaching his first game against his former team. Plus, Johnson dishes on fatherhood and Thomas’ recent play.
– As the Kings prepare to take on the Rockets for the first time since the two teams completed a six-player trade on Feb. 20, Head Coach Keith Smart knows Patrick Patterson, Toney Douglas and Cole Aldrich will be eager to shine against their former squad.
“No matter how you try to say, ‘It’s just another basketball game,’ especially when you just left a team … (you’ve) circled the game on (your) mental calendar because it’s just the nature (of players and coaches),” said Smart.
Leading up to the contest, Patterson – who’s stayed in touch with many of his ex-teammates – is focused on not allowing his emotions cloud his performance.
“If you make a mistake of longing for it, wanting it more than other games, you tend to do things you normally don’t do throughout the game,” explained No. 9. “This is definitely a game (in which) I just have to get a normal, regular routine … go out with great energy, play hard and try not to step outside of my element or do things I normally don’t do just to make a point.”
The Kentucky product believes his familiarity with Houston’s gameplan will help Sacramento thrive in Wednesday’s matchup.
“Cole, Toney and I, coming from Houston, we know the type of offense and the type of things they run,” he said. “Also, (we’ll utilize) our viewpoint of just playing alongside the guys, knowing their tendencies and knowing what they like to do.
“(The keys are) just coming out with great energy, playing extremely tough, stopping their perimeter (shooters) from scoring, and most importantly, getting back in transition because they run up and down like crazy.”
– Wednesday’s tilt also features the first time Francisco Garcia and Thomas Robinson return to the River City as members of the visiting team.
“Everyone on that team has been getting steady (minutes), everyone has been playing exceptionally well, from James (Harden) to Francisco – who had a great game last time – to Thomas – who’s starting to get some good minutes – and, of course, the starters — Omer (Asik), Chandler (Parsons), Jeremy (Lin) — are playing exceptionally well, too. It’s just all about getting them uncomfortable, and for the entire game, just playing great basketball.”
– James Johnson rejoined the team prior to Saturday’s contest, and on Monday, the forward participated in his first formal practice in nearly three weeks.
“I feel good,” said No. 52 afterward. “Every time I was done feeding my son late at night, I’d always come to the gym with (Kings Special Assistant) Ross (McMains), and he and I would get a work out in, so I wasn’t too rusty.”
Johnson returns to the team eager to help the Kings build upon their most successful month (seven wins) since 2007-08, and will be honoring his newborn child every time he steps on-court. The first-time father now proudly displays his son’s name and birthday across his neck.
While closely watching Kings games on TV during his time away, Johnson has been impressed with the team’s recent offensive surge and its starting point guard’s strong leadership.
“I think ball movement (has been better), but Isaiah Thomas has gotten extremely confident,” said the Kings forward. “I think he was confident before the trade, but now he’s scoring the ball at will, getting into the lane and shooting (at) a high-percentage clip. I think that’s what’s getting our team rolling right now.”
– See Tyreke Evans and the Kings battle Jeremy Lin and the Rockets on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Sleep Train Arena. Plus, save on tickets to the Western Conference matchup with Kings Wienerschnitzel Wednesdays! To learn more, Click Here.