I'm going to keep this short because A) I'm sick and B) I don't feel the need to blather on.
- Tyreke Evans did some good things and bad things in this game, but the stuff that will stick out is his poor decisions shooting the ball. Again, Tyreke has not progressed offensively as a player (he did play fairly good defense tonight) in terms of offensively diversifying his game. It's not just the facilitation that Tyreke needs work on; it's simply the overall decision making and attitude.
- DeMarcus Cousins had a poor shooting night, some great offensive rebounds, a lucky (and awesome) gambling steal on Darren Collison, and 19 rebounds (12 offensive). Cousins at times made an impact, but he misses way too many easy layup's. At some point this simply has to change. Hopefully it's sooner than later.
- Marcus Thornton had a rough shooting night. I have a feeling that with the compressed time schedule, we'll continue to see poor shooting percenages from nearly all involved. Thornton figures to be the one guy on the Kings affected the most.
- A semi-poor outing by John Salmons was certainly off-set by Francisco Garcia having his best game of the season shooting percentage be damned. Coming into the game Cisco had a 46.5 TS% and after tonight has a 49.6 TS%.
- Isiaah "LSG" Thomas did it yet again. Thomas is becoming known for sparking the Kings when he comes into the game, and tonight was yet again another example. Thomas is clearly more advanced right now defensively than offensively (defense is mainly an energy endeavor after all) but given how many guys on this team look for their shot first and most that doesn't bother me in the slightest.
- I can't get away from not writing about Jason Thompson who has simply done a remarkable job of progressing as a player. JT missed too many FT's, dropping his ridiculously low FT% from 37% to 35.4%. Other than that, however, JT played a terrific game on 2 ends showing why Keith Smart made a good decision starting JT. Jason's progress as a player is one reason I'm so skeptical about the impact Paul Westphal had on players. Player progress isn't really about a head coach; it's about that player willing to do the right things to work on his game. Jason Thompson is proof that you can work effectively to get better; Tyreke Evans is proof that working ineffectively makes your game stagnant.
- My main take away from this game is that A) Keith Smart clearly has Tyreke Evans ear and B) ball movement is clearly being stressed by Smart and the coaching staff. Where I'm sure Westphal did stress it, apparently the message is getting through when Smart is preaching. That's....something.
- As far as the coaching goes, Smart got lucky that Indiana couldn't figure out to beat a zone for most of the 4th quarter. It's bad enough that the Kings only gave up 8 points in the 4th qtr, but a lot of that was what the Pacers weren't doing rather than what the Kings were doing.
- Tonight the Kings had a 52.3 DRB% which won't get it done. The Kings shot 28-41 from the FT line which is 68.3%. That won't get it done. The Kings missed many point blank layup's tonight (Cousins especially) and that is clearly a trend that won't go away until a few of these guys (Cousins especially) learn how to make shots.
- The 2 take-aways from this game is that the Kings are still very much a long way from even being a .400 team. On the other hand, some signs were available that the team will figure out to be more competitive more often.
- The other main take-away is that Keith Smart will do just about anything possible (which is his job) to search for the right combinations (something that is not easy given the high turnover on the roster and similar unproductive talent) on what will work for this team. It's clear that Smart has some sort of buy-in right now from the players on the roster. (Mainly Evans and Cousins.) The question remains: How much will they work towards a goal when things aren't going their way as they did tonight against the Pacers?
- The Kings go on the road against San Antonio Friday, Memphis Saturday, and Portland next Monday. Of the remaining 18 games before the All-Star break, 13 are on the road. This team's roughest stretch was always likely to be early which is the good news. The bad news is that there are bigger problems than health or schedule.
See ya on the flip side.