Notice the title: I said jump out and maintain a big lead. That's exactly what the Kings did for the most part with the exception of the 2nd quarter when Boston got back into it. Then the Kings blitzed Boston with 41 points, which for Boston is a season high in points allowed in a single quarter, and that was pretty much game. Ray Allen hit some 3's to keep Boston with theoretical striking distance, but Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo did not play very well. That meant at some point Doc Rivers would throw in the white flag, and with about 6 mins remaining in the game Rivers did just that.
As far as the Tyreke Evans stuff pregame, I knew he was doubtful for the game. I didn't write it because, well, I didn't care and didn't see whether it mattered or not.I still don't for that matter. But speaking of Evans, I think it's fair to question whether or not the Derrick Coleman/Isaiah Rider effect is in play with Tyreke. Will Tyreke be one of those guys with the great amount of talent but whose attitude absolutely kills the team around him? Who knows, but given that this team has played well against other big time teams with Evans I suspect playing well is not what tonight was really about. It was about the lights, and nothing else. The Celtics have an old team and were affected by the tremendous play of Jason Thompson, Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Thornton and DeMarcus Cousins (when he wasn't acting the fool of course).
Here is the box score of magnifence.
First things first. Jason Thompson, in my opinion, played his best game as a pro. 21 points (9-11 floor & 3-3 line), 15 total boards (11 defensive!!!), 4 assists (not a typo), lots of tremendous help team defense and a steal later, yeah. I'm not sure what else I can say. Just hats off to Jason for showing why he's such a tremendous talent and valuable player. That was starter material right there. Everything that JT can do was on display tonight: Running the floor, excellent rebounding, excellent team defender, excellent defensive player individually, a few post moves and some Jumpers mixed in along with passing from the high post. That's all JT's doing. His game has come along nicely, and it would be nice to see him have more impact on the games the way he did tonight. That talent is clearly there.
Marcus Thornton had a great scoring/shooting game tonight where he went off in the 2nd half especially. Thornton scored 26 of his 36 points in the 2nd half ending with 13-24 shooting (5-10 from 3 and 5-6 line), had 4 boards, 5 steals and 4 assists. (Strange I know.) Thornton got hot, and carried the Kings when the Celtics might have made a run to get back into the game. Considering the circumstances, this might have been Thornton's best game of the season.
Isaiah Thomas had 13 points, 10 assists, and frankly it was more the way the game flowed then anything Isaiah did specifically that I noticed. I thought that Isaiah was in the background despite those types of numbers seems what makes Isaiah special. It wasn't his greatest game by any means, but Thomas certainly was more productive than Rajon Rondo most of the night and did everything the Kings asked of him.
DeMarcus Cousins had an interesting game to speak of. Cuz only grabbed 7 boards in 26 minutes. had 5 TO's, a tech (that's understandable), a couple fouls that were especially silly, and in general had one of his "reputation" games. The reputation: A talented headcase who can't keep out of his own way. On the other hand, Cuz did some of the things Smart has been asking of him. Cuz shot 9-17 from the floor (which is close to the 55% Smart is asking of him), had 4 assists, and in general took Kevin Garnett out of the game. Even though Garnett locked up arms with Cousins and frustrated Cousins quite a bit tonight, part of that is Cousins letting Garnett do that to him. Once Cuz realizes that was the only defense Garnett had to stop him in the post, the same Kevin Garnett who was throughout his career was one of the 3 or 4 best NBA players for about a decade, was to frustrate him and lose his top, hopefully Cousins will get why. When you are successful teams will try everything, including dirty stuff, to try and stop you. That's the name of the game after all: To win. Nothing is fair about that. Once Cousins, and a lot of these guys realize that, I think they will be significantly better off.
John Salmons had a small impact on tonights game, but despite that ended with 7 points (3-6 floor 1-2 line), 4 assists and 3 rebounds. Not terrible for an "off" night.
Travis Outlaw had his best game as a King, and had 11 points (3-6 floor, 1-3 from 3, 4-4 line), and 4 rebounds (and two that were just spectacular gets). Outlaw wasn't incredible or anything, but he was effective. That's a start.
Donte Greene had an effective outing from a statistical standpoint, but was hardly incredible in any measure. Nonetheless, seeing Donte making the extra pass (something he didn't get a year ago) a couple times tonight is nice to see. From a personal standpoint, I like Donte and want him to have a career. From a pragmatic and honest standpoint, I'm not really sure how Donte fits in with the Kings long term.
Jimmer Fredette had only one shot, a made 3, and a beautiful assist in transition to Jason Thompson who was the trailer. Not a bad night considering.
Tyler Honeycutt got his first real action tonight in the 1st qtr, and given the circumstances did not disappoint in my opinion. There was one play in particular where Honeycutt got back in transition and tipped the ball. Then, after tipping the ball straight to Rondo, altered Rondo's shot (in part because Rondo gets skittish around the basket when challenged because he doesn't want to get to the line) enough so that the Kings could get the ball back (because Rondo fouled Donte Greene after the ball went up). Honeycutt showed his ball handling skills and defensive abilities. He reminds me a lot of Tayshaun Prince (both skinny, both can shoot, handle, and both can defend like dickens without fouling). If anything, and I'm still hoping for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist no doubt, that if the Kings could run out Kidd-Gilchrist, Evans and Honeycutt as a trio that would be incredible for the Kings long term. But, we'll see. There is a long ways to go before that happens, and Honeycutt playing his way into a starting role might be the most difficult thing to project of what I just said. (Although, picking in the top 2 given the Kings have done it exactly once in Sacramento history is probably more difficult in reality.)
The Kings scored 52 points in the paint (to Boston's 46), had 15 turnovers (to Boston's 19), and scored 26 points off those turnovers (Boston 21). The Kings had a season high 29 assists, outrebounded the Celtics 45-28, and despite the early edge in FT's for the Celtics the Kings and Celtics ended up with 21 apiece.
Long term I think this was a win that the Kings can duplicate if only you know, they could be consistent. Gee, where have you heard that one before? I'm not feeling ill about this the way I was against San Antonio (most notably), but I am feeling that this team is so frustrating. Jason Jones had a great tweet that exemplified this:
Kevin Garnett said he hadn't seen Kings play as a "unit" like they did tonight, said that wasn't there in recent games he watched.
Kevin Garnett NOTICED that the Kings shared the ball more than he had noticed the previous games he had watched the Kings play. KEVIN GARNETT NOTICED HOW THE KINGS PLAY. Let me restate that again: Kevin Garnett noticed that the Kings moved the ball. Okay one more time: Kevin Garnett noticed the Kings actually moved the ball. Trust me Kevin, you were not the only one who was in a state of shock.I'm always surprised to see an extra pass with this group, and I've seen it about 10 or 12 times this season already. (I'm not too picky, but extra passes every game on every possession often work.)
What am I expecting Sunday? Little honestly. A close loss or a close victory where the Kings eek out a victory. Getting up for the Ricky Rubio-less Timberwolves doesn't make them that much of a challenge and thus the Kings sleep walk through the game and still win. Cuz you know, that strategy worked so well against Golden State and Detroit.
Tonight is not a real example of why the Kings would be better without Tyreke Evans. Tonight is, however, a strong example and indictment of the many dumb and terrible things Tyreke Evans does on a night in night out basis. Without that, it seemed like a lot of guys were willing to help each other, hedge on screens, challenge a shooter when the guy gets beat, that sort of thing. You don't see that far too often when Tyreke is in the game. Why? Because Tyreke doesn't do those things, and why should the other players do the same thing? If it's okay for Tyreke to be a lazy stupid butthead, it's okay for them too. (Okay, not really, but it sure seems like it.)
I was impressed with the Kings won the game by running against the Celtics and pounding them inside where they were pretty weak considering. I just wish I could figure this team out more than anything. Which is why I'm not really jumping for joy over this victory.
Until the flip side at some point which may or may not appear as a black hole.