Another game, a decent effort, and mostly ridiculous mistakes made by a team that is still not even close to playing winning basketball on a consistent basis.
Here is the Box Score.
Where to start.........
- Jason Thompson had a strong game. JT was 6-9 floor (but 0-3 line--grr!--and JT is now 37% from the FT line on the season) for a game 66.7 TS%. JT also grabbed 4 rebounds (too little), but mainly what I wish to talk about was JT's activity level. JT is the one player on this Kings team who understands how to move without the ball. It would be nice if a few of his teammates were taking notes.
- John Salmons had a decent shooting night until he shot himself right out of that. This doesn't really matter as the Salmons missed shots didn't cost the Kings the game necessarily, but it is frustrating. Salmons missed 3 more 3's tonight lowering his 3pt% from 19.5% to 18.1%. It can't get worse right? On the flip side, Salmons does play defense with a reasonable amount of effort and plays with effort. That is something. (I reiterate: Salmons is not really the problem or solution to this team ill's.)
- Francisco Garcia had a successful shooting night raising his season TS% from 39.4% to 46.5% with his 4-6 shooting (2-4 from 3 2-3 line). That's.....pretty good actually.
- Cousins had some bouts of immaturity again tonight, but he did raise his season FG% from 41.9% to 42.8%.
- Donte Greene is getting too many minutes from Keith Smart right now. Whatever Greene is showing Smart is not something I happen to be seeing. The problem I think Smart has is that Greene is simply the best of a lousy set of options at the disposal of a head coach for playing time. The sad reality of Donte's minutes is it exposes the hole that Chuck Hayes has left.
- If I never see Donte dribble drive to create a shot for another teammate again, I'll be very happy.
- JJ Hickson is making a lot of fans question Geoff Petrie's decision making, and it's fairly understandable. Hickson has shown very little flashes of what made a few fans (and Petrie certainly) so willing to take a risk on Hickson. The good news is that the Kings aren't desperately needing a young player every season to add to the roster as the team is so ridiculously young already. Since the Kings (barring a complete turnaround and/or miracle and/or both) almost certainly won't lose the draft pick to the Cavs until 2013 at the very earliest, this isn't that big of a deal.
- I kept wondering where Isaiah Thomas was tonight. Hopefully it was a matchup issue and not Keith Smart losing confidence in LSG.
- Tyreke Evans had a statistically fairly good game sans his poor shooting, but nothing to write home about IMO. His decision making is still suspect in many instances and Tyreke simply needs to balance the need to score vs the need to create for others. He still looks lost doing so. If Tyreke wants to play with the ball in his hands, he needs to recognize that he has to create for others without interrupting the flow of his own shots. It's not a simple thing to do, but Tyreke has to do it if he wants to be successful in the NBA. It's really what it comes down to at the end of the day.
- Both teams DRB% were virtually even (65.1% for Sacramento; 65.9% for Minnesota) but Sacramento had an edge early. That edged dissipated in large part due to the fact that the effort on the boards got worse as the game went on. Tyreke Evans, to pick on him, had 7 boards at the half and ended the game with 8 boards. He is better than that even if 8 boards is an excellent number for a G.
- The point is that Minnesota picked it up and as per usual the Kings crumbled when another team turned up the heat. When that team is 4-8, and whether it's on the home or road shouldn't make a difference, it illustrates how much further this team has to go.
- Sacramento's FT shooting was a bugaboo again. 60% will never be acceptable from the FT line when you are in the NBA. (Or in College, High School or even Junior High probably.)
The good news is that there were some decent things accomplished tonight. There was ball movement when Tyreke had the ball (although not with Thornton which is a different problem), and Cousins actually made a pass to John Salmons for a layup in the late 1st quarter.
Cousins blocked 2 shots tonight which won't hurt his season average of 1.7 coming into the game. Cousins is getting better at using his size and long arms to both alter shots and block shots outright. More often that not, when Cousins does block a shot it usually results in a fast break going the other way.
With 6:43 to go, Jimmer hits his Fadeaway Jumper to pull the Kings within 2 at 75-73. Ricky Rubio makes 2 FT's, Salmons misses a Jumper but Donte gets fouled by Kevin Love and proceeds to hit 1 of 2 FT's. At this juncture, the Kings are down 77-74. Kevin Love hits a Jumper, Donte hits his miraculous runner/half layup to bring the Kings back within 3.
In the next minute and half, Wayne Ellington hits a 3, Ricky Rubio hits a 3 and Love hits a layup. Kings are down 87-76. That was ballgame. This team simply doesn't understand that it has to play every minute of every game to have a chance of winning games in the NBA. You've got to execute and hit shots to win games consistently. It's really that simple.
The Kings don't understand that mental lapses, and they have many throughout the game, combined with poor effort, poor execution and poor attitude will cost you games.
Until the Kings can get consistent effort from Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins (don't be dumb enough to put this trainwreck on the other guys), and get actual star effort from both that merits the primmadonna act both are consistently putting on, this crap will continue.
See ya on the flip side.
UPDATE: Keith Smart's postgame comments (listen to them):
The one thing I disagree with is Cousins, but that's okay. I think Smart's message's was on point from A-Z and something that needed to be said. I've said it before, but I think Isaiah Thomas needs to be the lineup change. I'm not sold that JJ Hickson off the bench would help more than Jason Thompson (I like JT off the bench because he's reliable and you know what you're getting with him).
Either way, it's good to see that Smart is considering changes. It'll be interesting to see what happens if anything does happen.