In a loss that wasn't nearly as embarrassing as the final score might indicate, the Kings actually showed some positive things tonight. Tyreke Evans actually played like a NBA player (it's a nice change), Isaiah Thomas had a career night going off for 20 points in the 3rd quarter (a season high in a quarter for a Miami opponent) and 24 points for the game (a new career high), and the ball movement at times from the entire team was something to behold. But, when you run into a championship contender who have all the answers you simply won't win. That's Miami in a nutshell.
Okay, onto some thoughts. First, here is the box score. And now onto the bullets......
- Whatever Tyreke Evans did for the most part tonight against Miami, he needs to duplicate it for the rest of the year. There were some missed shots, but for the most part the decision making was of NBA caliber. Against Miami this doesn't mean you will win, especially on Miami's home court, but against pretty much every other team in the NBA it is possible to beat them when Tyreke plays that way. Therein lies the rub.
- DeMarcus Cousins struggled tonight and this is part of his progression. The most surprising part of Cousins' night was that he ended up playing 31 minutes. That's.....something. I'm hoping to see a great bounceback game from Big Cuz tomorrow.
- Jason Thompson had a great start to the game and then sort of was either forgotten or faded away as the game went on. Whichever it was, JT needed to get better scoring opportunities than the opportunities he did get. Part of that is on the Kings as a whole unit, and part of that is that JT did get opportunities that were sometimes blocked by Miami. They are a tough opponent after all.
- I found it interesting that John Salmons didn't play (due to a sore hip), JJ Hickson didn't play, and Jimmer Fredette didn't play. I don't think there is anything imminent necessarily on the trade front, but it's worth keeping an eye on.
- Kings turned it over 16 times and Miami turned these Kings turnovers into 24 points. This can't happen if you want to win in Miami.
- The rebounding which started out as a double digit lead for the Kings by the middle 2nd quarter ended up being even as the game wore on. Whatever happened to that effort needed to continue, and didn't. I'm not sure the Kings win this game, but the score is a lot closer than the 12 point final score indicates if the rebounding continues on the same trac as it did in the early parts of the game.
- The points in the paint, another early advantage for the Kings, dissipated rather quickly and ended up being tied with Miami at 48 points apiece. That won't get it done on a nightly basis. In order to beat teams, you must have an advantage against them. Simple peezy yep n eazy.
- Marcus Thornton had a good shooting night which helped the Kings stay with Miami for 3 quarters. Hopefully this carries over into tomorrow night.
- Congratulations to Udonis Haslem for moving into 2nd place on the Miami Heat's total rebounding list. There are plenty of guys whom you could say: "He's a good guy." Haslem is one of those. One of the remarkable stories of a player overcoming odds to make the NBA, and Haslem will have a 10 year career anyway.
The tendency will be to say that this is a moral victory, and I suppose it kind of is. Miami is a terrifying team for a group like the Kings that do not play cohesively in any manner remotely resembling consistently. On the other hand, the Kings hung around against a team that has been known the last few years to blow them out of the water without having to work too hard at it.
As all good things come last, here is how good Isaiah's night was. 7-14 from the floor (5-8 from 3 including that last second miss), was 5-5 from the line, had 5 assists and 3 rebounds tonight. Isaiah had a 53.1 TS% coming into the game, and after the remarkable performance tonight (in 36 minutes) has a season TS% of 54.5% (which is above the league average of 52.4%). Jason Thompson after his 7-12 from the field, 2-4 line performance is now 2nd on the Kings with a 53.2 TS%. Marcus Thornton, who has a good shooting night for him, now has a season TS% of 53% good for 3rd on the Kings. It's not an accident these 3 are the most efficient Kings shooting wise because A) JT takes relatively few shots and B) Isaiah/Marcus are good shooters both from the FT line and from the 3 pt line. That makes you more efficient as a scorer. This is a trend we should be watching to see which Kings improve their shooting %'s as the season goes on.
Last but not least, I'm interested to see how this team performs tomorrow night in Washington who had the night off after a grueling trip for them out West. Even though the Wizards have a day off, the Kings have plenty enough to get a W against Washington if they execute anything near the way they did tonight against the Wizards in DC tomorrow.
Until the flip side magically appears then.
I was pleasantly surprised by how the Kings played in the 3rd quarter. It looked at first like they were going to bag it but surprisingly they fought their way back into it. I think we are past the moral victory phase of this rebuild but I would say that the Kings played well for 3 quarters and overall it was a respectable showing. IT had a remarkable game, 3rd quarter in particular and really kept us in the game when it looked like they were ready to fade. Small player, big heart!
@Bluejohn Yeah BJ, I was happy a great deal with Isaiah. With so many real negative storylines surrounding this team right now, Isaiah's development much more quickly than expected is the pleasant kind of surprise that keeps someone like me interested in this team.
I agree about the "moral victory" deal, but I never expected the Kings to win last night. I knew Miami was too tough a spot for the Kings to pull out the victory. It was simply never very likely.
Small player big heart, I like that! Well done sir!