Another day, another game recap. After the jump....
First on DeMarcus Cousins. 28 points, 17 rebounds (6 offensive), 10-20 shooting (including 1 dynamite 3 that, if nothing else, proved how good Cousins stroke is on the perimeter), 5 fouls and 6 turnovers. With Cousins right now it's pick your poison but it's all there for the young man. There were times where Cousins showed a hook shot over Joakim Noah that impressed me. Cousins season TS% is now 51.1% on the season which is (and hopefully not for his career) a career high. Onward and upward as they say.
One note on Noah: I said back in December when I was invited on the 3 on 3 roundtable for Cowbell Kingdom that I thought Noah posed a huge problem. Tonight, Noah posed a huge problem after battling foul trouble all night in Sacramento that took him out of the rhythm. (Noah battled foul trouble tonight too, but it didn't take him out of the game nearly as much as it did in Sacramento.) 22 points, 11 rebounds (9 defensive), 7-11 floor and 8-9 and a month and a half later it turns out I was right. Strangely enough,Jon Santiago (co-editor of CK) and Beckley Mason (one of the guests on today's 3 on 3 roundtable) both mentioned it as their matchup to watch. Turns out, they were right.
Tyreke Evans had a decent game tonight, and statistically you would say: 26 points on 9-18 shooting, 8-8 line, 8 assists, 8 rebounds, a block, and 3 turnovers is a decent game? Absolutely for Tyreke Evans it is. Tyreke hit a midrange J in the 3rd qtr that, if he didn't fade away so often, would be far more of a weapon. Other than that, the Bulls broke down the defense far too easily tonight. Tyreke's not playing a huge difference on the defensive end played a large part in that.
Jason Thompson had a nice game with 8 points and 11 rebounds, but there were some little mistakes that JT has to work on moving forward. There were times where he didn't rotate quickly enough (a problem in the past--something JT has improved a lot on this season) and hopefully it was just an issue of dealing with the Bulls front line quickness. Either way, it was nice to see the improved JT for the most part return tonight against the Bulls.
John Salmons did not shoot the ball well. Which of course is obvious. What's not obvious is that Salmons really didn't take that many bad shots, but he just missed them. That does happen.
Isaiah Thomas' energy tonight was a major plus again. The defense on the Bulls PG's (either CJ Watson or John Lucas III) was very good for the most part. There were times Watson got free, but that's in part because Watson is really good at using screens. I'm hoping some of the Kings were taking stock of how the Bulls beat the Kings tonight: The Bulls came out expecting to beat the Kings to win. Isaiah Thomas was one of the few Kings who didn't seem afraid of the runs the Bulls were making. After getting very flustered being down 14 in the 4th qtr, the Kings came back and managed to stay within striking distance for the rest of the 4th. A big part of that was the layup and Free Throw Thomas had with 7:09 remaining.
The game was even in both fast break points and points in the paint despite all the layups the Bulls got.
The Kings outrebounded the Bulls 46-40 with big advantages in Offensive Rebounding. But that isn't an advantage if it's only negating how many poor shots you take game in game out. Hopefully the Kings, and Cousins especially, understands that.
The Kings lost tonight because the Bulls know how to execute and make plays. The Bulls used their chemistry and understanding of the game, along with the Kings many weaknesses, to beat the Kings despite the Kings hanging around all game. The bulls didn't let Derrick Rose not playing be an excuse. That's how championship teams play. I'm hoping the Kings were taking notes.
Tomorrow is the annual trip to MSG to play the Knicks. The Knicks played tonight and won on a 3 pointer by Jeremy Lin with 0.5 seconds remaining in Toronto. So the back to back part is not an excuse. The last thing this Kings team needs is more excuses.
You can complain all you want about the road games the Kings have played, but the truth is the Bulls have played more road games right now than any team in the NBA. Until the Kings finish their trip, they won't even pass the Bulls. (No really, the Bulls have played 20 road games. And are 14-6. Just saying....) Yet, on the flip side of playing 2/3 of your road games in the 1st half of the season is playing 2/3 of your home games in the 2nd half of the season. Every team this season will get 33 games on the road and 33 games on the home court. That's the way it is every year (but usually with 41 games) and that's not going to change this year. The Kings have some winnable games on this trip, and have a very real shot at .500 if the commitment and better attitude continues.
Here's to hoping that the Kings compete, and hopefully win, tomorrow in NYC.