Okay, I don't really think I can add to anything that has been dropped over the last few days. But whatever, that's what I do.
Tonight? Big deal. It's on TNT, and it's more about the fans than it is about the team if I had to guess. But, it's very much about the team too. They need to show well, and win on their homecourt. The Kings need to win a high profile game and follow it up with more success. Beating a team is something this team can do at random times, but consistently? This franchise has not been able achieve that very often frequently in most recent times.
OKC's ORtg is 108.0 points (4th of 30) per 100 possessions and the DRtg is 102.9 points (17th of 30) per 100 possessions with the Pace being 93.3 (4th of 30) possessions per game.
Sac's ORtg is 98.3 points (27th of 30) per 100 possessions and the DRtg is 107.7 points (27th of 30) per 100 possessions with the Pace being 93.0 (8th of 30) possessions per game.
Matchup's? I'm interested to see how Tyreke Evans plays tonight more than anyone else. I think DeMarcus Cousins might have a strong game, but he also might not. I want to see what kind of game Evans displays tonight. Will it be another episode of Clownball, or will it be back to professional basketball again? Will Cousins be able to get better shots against Kendrick Perkins, Nick Collison and Serge Ibaka than he did against Nicola Pekovic Tuesday Night?
I'm also interested to see how John Salmons plays tonight against Kevin Durant. It's not that Salmons can't defend Durant adequately, but I am intrigued to see the quality of shots Durant gets tonight.
Hmmm. So, there it is. The Kings lost what was for parts of 3 quarters a frustrating completely god-awful game to watch. Then, the Jimmah (he's not just Jimmer; he's now the Jimmah becuz that's how we roll here at EC) got hot in the 4th and the Kings crawled back into the game. Then the Wolves defended Jimmah and the Kings forgot about him for a few moments. Ricky Rubio came in and did what Ricky Rubio does. Kings lose.
Onto the bullet points...
Tyreke Evans is a mental midget. He played like crap. The end.
DeMarcus Cousins showed exactly why he has so far to go. There's nothing wrong with that, and I'm not complaining. A month ago Cousins wouldn't have been playing meaningful minutes after what was a frustrating game where he could never really find a rhythm. 25 minutes, 10 points (3-13 shooting 4-6 line), 11 rebounds (3 offensive) and only 2 TO's. If this is a bad game, I'll take it.
2 ineffective games in a row for Jason Thompson with the exception of the few moments in the latter half of the 3rd where JT posted up Anthony Tolliver in the post. I'm very interested to see how JT responds Thursday.
JJ Hickson had an excellent game all things considered. Particularly in the 1st half, Hickson was flying around and grabbing rebounds showcasing his fabulous athleticism. On the other flip side, there were some poor decision with fouling by Hickson that hurt regardless of missed Wolves FT's.
JJ Hickson showed that he is not entirely dead. Which is not surprising given that other players have played well at times for Keith Smart who were not previously. * John Salmons did not play one of his best games. Like JT, I'm interested to see how Salmons plays Thursday.
Chuck Hayes went 1 on 1 tonight against Brad Miller. Twice. And failed twice. Other than that, Hayes was like Thompson, Cousins and Hickson in feeling frustrated how the game was called.
I don't typically speak about referees because it is such a major league copout when most fans do it, but tonight was one of those instances where the refs called a majorly choppy lack of rhythm type of game. These happen, and sometimes it's on the players for not adjusting to how the game is being called. But, some of the calls seemed very inconsistent. Refs don't have many off moments, but it felt like the whole game a lot of calls were very questionable. At least that was consistent for both sides.
The Kings shot 37% from the field, 66% from the FT line, and 34% from 3. The 1st two can't happen if you wish to be competitive on the road consistently. The rebounding advantage was 49-48 Wolves over Kings, but it felt a lot worse than that. Oh, and you might not have realized it, but the Kings had 20 assists tonight.
I'm thinking of starting the #NeverPlayDonteGreeneEverAgain movement on Twitter. It's not that Donte is terrible, but for this team he is all kinds of wrong in every way. Donte needs to go a roster where someone can A) create more shots for him and B) where Donte can play stretch 4. Donte does not work as a 3. I will say that Donte did a pretty good job on Michael Beasley in most ways down the stretch though.
I've been as big a fan of Isaiah Thomas as anyone in the Kings fanbase, but tonight in the 2nd half LSG showed all of his problematic issue's of being A) young and B) a tendency to get out of control in the wrong way. Nothing wrong with any of that, and it's a learning lesson for the young man. The 1st half for LSG was pretty good in terms of speeding the game up for the Kings, but it was bad in the 2nd half in terms of rhythm. Do I pin this loss on Thomas? Absolutely not. But his real flaws showed up in the 2nd half and real flaws do cost teams ball games fair or not.
Ricky Rubio showed why so many were high on him. While I thought Brandon Jennings would be better ultimately (I did believe that strangely enough--as of now I'm not really sure), I don't miss Rubio at all really. The Wolves benefit a great deal by having Rubio, and Rubio benefits a great deal in having a head coach who understands his style of play. Additionally, Rubio really benefitted from an ego standpoint by being blasted for his play in Barcelona. It made him embrace a franchise in Minnesota he wanted no part of in 2009, and that in turn has made Rubio's play a whole lot better. He feels welcomed, and that matters to him.
The strangest part about tonight's game was seeing Rubio miss FT's. That's the first time this year I've seen him miss FT's that way. Needless to say the Wolves dodged a bullet, and I'm glad.
Finally, the Jimmer. It was good to see Jimmer Fredette get hot, and I'm sure Keith Smart is relieved to see it. What I liked more than anything was that Jimmer didn't really force many of those shots. There was one play with 3:16 to go where Donte Greene missed Jimmer who was in the corner and ready to shoot. Instead Donte pump fakes his defender up and steps in for a 18 footer. That type of selfishness cost Jimmer and the Kings a potential tie as the Kings would have tied the game at 80 up if Jimmer does indeed hit the 3. (Or takes it.)
The point is that Jimmer got hot, and forced Minnesota to use Ricky Rubio to defend him. That's something. If you're going to lose, growth for a team that struggled to even be competitive on the road for the most part this season is not such a terrible thing.
Let's remember something: The Kings won 1 of 2 games on the road this trip in back to back nights. Ignoring the circumstances, that means the Kings are .500 for these past 2 games. And, if the Kings did that more often, the Kings overall record would be much closer to .500.
In regards to Jimmer's season TS%, it's now up from 48.9% to 50.2 TS% for the season. Not bad for a night's work.
Keith Smart and the last play of the game. I first want to say that I endorse the strategy of not calling a timeout to run a play. This is true regardless of coaching IMO. If there is anything this Kings team has shown effective in doing, it's using frenetic energy to get points. With 8 seconds and the Wolves giving up the play (and the Kings not fouling), it was good to see the Kings take the timeout. It forces the Wolves to play defense on the fly rather than set up and be able to have some idea of a counter walking out of a timeout.
Seeing how the play developed, Smart could have taken the timeout with 4 secs left and drawn up a play. But, that's not what this team's strength is. Sometimes you have to let these guys go. Part of growth is failure and recognition. The more often you do those types of things, the easier it is to recognize how to get a quality play.
Before we move on to the Minny-Sac matchup tonight, Keith Smart said something about DeMarcus Cousins I really want to highlight. Unfortunately, I transcribed this directly off the Kingsflix Youtube video stream so I apologize if you can't attribute the quote anywhere.
(This is the embedded version of the link just above.) First off, the question was asked about Jason Jones. (I know because I've heard his voice many many times now.)
Q: DeMarcus had some frustrating moments in that 1st half. He wasn't shooting the ball, he wasn't getting calls, he got a tech, how did you see him settle down in the 2nd half and get going?
A: "You know, sometimes as a coach you can overreact to a guy emotionally. And he was probably getting hammered a little bit around the basket. You know what was good? He didn't explode. That's growth. (Cousins) stayed under control, went down the floor playing basketball, and then probably said something to the official (Cousins) shouldn't have said. But nevertheless, I'm happy (Cousins) never said it within the flow of the basketball game. So that was growth right there. (Cousins) just got up off the floor and ran back down. Yet, (Cousins) knew we need him in the game; need to have his mind in the game along with his physical skills."
First, I'd like to say apologies to either Jason Jones or Keith Smart if I slightly misinterpreted here. I just mostly wanted the gist of the point Keith Smart made.
Smart talked about something that's exceptionally important with DeMarcus Cousins: Cousins must be mentally engaged to be a great player. To be an effective great player. Great talent and great players are different things.
I'm saying this for I don't know how many times now, but the challenge for any head coach with DeMarcus Cousins would never be reaching his body. It's reaching Cousins' mind. Get Cousins' mind early in his career, and you have a 10 time All-Star. That's all there is to it.
This is going to be short because A) I don't think I can offer anything the boxscore can't tell you, and B) I don't feel like writing a whole lot.
What sticks out to me is the following:
Cousins playing 38 minutes and grabbing 8 boards (7 defensive) in the 4th qtr. That really matters. The most impressive stat is Cousins 2 fouls in 38 minutes. That really really matters.
With 9:31 remaining in the 4th qtr, Tyreke Evans hit a left handed layup. *
9 total Turnovers for the Kings. 11 total turnovers for the Hornets. I'll take that every time.
Kings shot 47%. That's a good start, but against the Hornets? It means little unfortunately. The NBA, like most things, is a "put up or shutup" league. The Kings allowed 42% from the field tonight which is primarily where the difference in scoring came in. Also, shooting 8-24 from 3 (for 24 total points) vs the Hornets going 3-9 from 3 (for 9 total points) is the biggest reason the Kings won so handily.
Right now it's clear that there is at least a 7 man rotation with the way Keith Smart is distributing minutes. The starters + Chuck Hayes + Isaiah Thomas. There are at least 2, if not 3, spots up for grabs, and who grabs them and how quickly might determine the season the Kings end up having.
Jimmer still needs quite a bit of work, obviously defensively, and from the minutes I saw (what I saw of the 1st half) Jimmer starting to figure out something of a rhythm tonight. 10 minutes isn't a whole lot for a 10th overall pick, but I'll take it. It's a real start for Jimmer. This Kings team absolutely needs an offensive player off the bench, and Jimmer certainly fits that bill IMO. Can Jimmer grab the brass ring? We'll see over the remaining 42 games.
The Kings are 9-15, and 3-11 on the road (6-4 home). With 7 of the 9 next games on the road (which leads up to the AS break), that will finish the league's most brutal 1st half schedule. The good news is that tonight (win), tomorrow, @ New York, @ Detroit, @ Cleveland and @ Washington all represent very winnable games on the 6 game road trip leading up to the All-Star break.
Thornton's 3 with 3:30 to go was really important. Evans layup to put the Kings up 5 was really important.
The biggest shot of the game was probably Isaiah Thomas' 3 with 4:58 remaining in part because it happened with a defender in his face and with the shot clock running down. It put the Kings up 84-82 and they would never be trailing again. (There were several ties over the next minute and change though.)
The more "glamorous" shot was the pass by Evans that is nearly picked off and then recovered by Isaiah Thomas who hits a 3 with 2:15 remaining. That sunk the Hornets.
Demz da breakz as they say.
As far as Thomas goes, what impresses me most is A) the defense against Vasquez, B) the willingness to take big shots without fear, C) the passing and assists, and D) the 5 boards. Isaiah Thomas is clearly the 3rd best G right now, and, in my opinion anyway, that says a lot about how talented Isaiah Thomas is. Nothing he is doing is well above and beyond his capability. Hopefully the young man keeps it up.
Bottom line? You can't win games you don't play. The Kings played just enough at the right times with a few excellent performances to pull out a victory against the Western Conference's worst team on the road. Nothing to write home about, but that's the way it goes. Beating the Hornets is something you do if you want to be a 500 team.
Tomorrow Minnesota with the opportunity of (gasp in delight...) winning 4 games? Can the Kings take advantage of Kevin Love's absence? Stay tuned....
There has been plenty of talk, talk I've avoided here on purpose, about how a San Francisco hedge developer wants to bring back the NBA to Seattle. There was a lengthy piece in the Seattle Times (now the city's lone periodical after the Seattle PI shut down to onlinedom in March of 2009) yesterday about what kind of obstacles need to be hurdled in order to build a new arena in the SODO District.
First off, why the SODO district? Well, among other things, it's close to Safeco Field and Century Link Field so the infrastructure are already in the area to support a large project. If nothing else, the infrastructure will simply be an extension of those buildings. Second, SODO is almost entirely an industrial district so building a new structure there doesn't cause the same kind of traffic tie-up's that typically would be had in other places.
Hansen has acquired property south of Safeco Field's parking garage, between South Massachusetts and South Holgate streets east of First Avenue South, records show.
While sources have previously said at least one business owner has declined to sell, the issue of the city using its power of eminent domain to acquire the land is no longer a concern of Hansen's group, Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes said during a recent interview with The Times editorial board.
Holmes did not elaborate, but his comments suggest Hansen's representatives have reached some sort of agreements.
Hirsh, managing partner of Stafford Sports LLC, who has extensive experience with arena deals, has estimated the cost of building a state-of-the art facility at about $400 million.
A number of interesting things in this game that surely stuck out about why the Kings won. The big one for me, if nothing else, is that the entire starting lineup (Evans, Thornton, Salmons, Thompson and Cousins) was exceptionally productive and instrumental in the victory. Even though Isaiah Thomas, Chuck Hayes, JJ Hickson, Travis Outlaw and Francisco Garcia got minutes, none made close to the impact that the starting lineup made. Which, if nothing else, is progress for a team that many have complained about not having a rotation. It seems like Smart is doing everything short of willing hell to freeze over (and he might get his wish) to carve out a real rotation. And, for everyone who complained about Paul Westphal never carving a rotation out, this is one way a head coach does it.
Let this sink in for a moment. The starting 5 had a combined 40-87 from the floor, 9-19 from 3, 15-18 from the FT line, 46 rebounds (15 offensive), 20 assists (!!!), 13 TO's, 10 steals and 4 block shots. Combine the starting 5 minutes (rounded up) and you over 217 minutes combined as an unit.
Lotsa bullet points to point out tonight so I suppose this is as good a point to start as any.....
Well. A winnable game at home. We haven't talked about that much lately have we? Here's to hoping, eh?
The Kings check in with an ORtg of 97.3 points (27th of 30) per 100 possessions and a Def Rtg of 108.7 points (27th of 30) per 100 possessions. The Pace is 93.3 (6th of 30) possessions per game.
The Warriors clock a grip of hoes like Dolemite with an ORtg of 104.5 points (11th of 30) per 100 possessions and a DRtg of 106.6 points (26th of 30) per 100 possessions. The Pace is 92.6 (9th of 30) possessions per game.
Perhaps you have heard shooting is key to winning basketball games. The Dubs, as it were, are 6th in eFG% for the league at 50.3% and the Kings are last at 43.7%. Glorious.
Defensive eFG% is a bit more interesting as the almighty Dubs for the season sport a paltry eFG% allowed of 49%. The Kings, in part due to the especially demanding aspect of getting back in transition defense, have allowed a 50.5 eFG% on the season.
However, the Kings did give up a 47.7 eFG% against Portland which would put them in the top half of league defense. You should also note that percentages the atrocious amount of easy looks Portland got in the 1st half against the Kings Thursday night. But enough about the Debbie Downer stuff, let's get to the good things.
As far as DRB%? Yes the Kings are still last, and the Warriors are 28th in the NBA. In otherwords, whoever can get better shots consistently wins the game? Wow, what a shocking revelation.
The headline really says it all. In the 2nd half, the Kings play NBA level defense and ultimately come out on top. That's really the bottom line. And to the bullet points we go.....
I hate watching illegal streams. I usually have terrible luck with them, but tonight I didn't. I'm grateful. (And would have much rather gone to a sports bar to watch it anyway.)
Tyreke Evans has to develop a mid range jump shot, a left hand and better consistent shooting form. I will say that I thought Tyreke's setup's were of high quality for the most part, and the worst decisions were with shooting the ball. The defense by Tyreke was pretty solid if not excellent all night. All in all a fair performance by him. But without an evolving offensive repertoire, shooting poorly is all Tyreke will eventually muster.
If there is anything that makes me a bit wary of saying Tyreke has turned a real corner, it's that the Blazers weren't without Batum and Tyreke didn't take necessary advantage of a player's absence who gives Tyreke fits all the time. I'll say that's a minor quibble though. (It's not, but I'm being nice.)
One note about the long shot that Tyreke hit: All it did was go in. This was one of the better plays I've seen Tyreke make in the open court. (Also loved that Jerry compared it to Tyreke hitting the hole as a halfback.)
AsMatt Kawahara of the Bee notes in his 5 keys for tonight's game, who defends Gerald Wallace and effectively? If Salmons cannot, and Salmons is a terrible matchup for G-Dub, than I might suggest putting Tyler Honeycutt on Wallace, green NBA status not withstanding, to see how Honeycutt could fare. I doubt Donte Greene will keep Gerald from getting where he wants to go, and I'm definitely not convinced that Tyreke Evans can slow G-Dub down.
"The game has to speak for itself, first because I don't believe in all that talking," the coach said.
This is what stuck out to me. Everything else in the piece is what you'd expect for a puff piece about the two young players that matter more than anyone or anything else to the franchise (including cash poor assclown ownership and a mostly interested in self preservation head of basketball operations). But this quote by Smart stuck out to me about exactly what Marcus Thornton does that is valuable:
"He's young, but he's a veteran," Smart said of Thornton. "Even having only a couple years under his belt, he still has the savvy of an NBA-aggressive player. And you've missed that on the floor because you need it in some crunch-time situations. He can make a play out of a dead play."
This is something Thornton does ridiculously well. Evans and Cousins routinely go 1 on 1, but do not get the quality of shots that Thornton does when possessions break down. Not every broken down possession results in quality shots (it is why they are broken down possessions) but when you can get a good shot in those situations and make something work is a sign of someone who understands what's going on. Sure Marcus Thornton is a gunner in the Vinnie Johnson mold no doubt, but that doesn't mean Thornton isn't valuable in what he provides.
Stathead Final Thoughts
There are 3 players on the roster with an ORtg of higher than 102.8 which is the current league average. One is Tyler Honeycutt who has played all of 8 minutes so far on the season.
One is Isaiah Thomas who is at 105 ORtg individually. The other is Jason Thompson at 113 ORtg (his DRtg is 110--which is the only positive ORtg to DRtg differential on the Kings right now--of players getting consistent minutes that is) and this says a lot. Marcus Thornton and Tyreke Evans are both near the 102.8 mark at 101 ORtg each, and DeMarcus Cousins is at 99. Francisco Garcia and Chuck Hayes are at 98 ORtg, and Jimmer Fredette has a 96 ORtg right now. All these numbers, not to mention the defensive numbers, have the possibility in moving the appropriate direction for each metric respectively. Right now the Kings have a margin of victory at -11.3 points per game.
Sacramento's eFG% offensively is still dead last at 43.5% (which is .8% points behind Charlotte who is 29th), but that gap is actually narrowing as the Kings are having significantly better shot attempts recently from a variety of sources. The league avg for eFG% is 48.2% this season so it gives you an idea of how bad the Kings are doing in this department. But it gets worse.
Defensively the Kings are giving up 50.3% eFG% (good for 26th) right now which is 2.1% higher than the league avg of, you guessed it, 48.2%. It's not stunning the Kings are actually worse off offensively with so little offense coming from offensive sources. What is amazing is that the Kings actually may end up 20th in eFG% defensively by the middle of the season, and could improve from there by the end of the year. The problem, as you may realize, is that the Kings are also dead last in DRB% right now.
You can check all this out on the NBA page at Basketball-Reference.com. The good news is that this team has been fouling less than they did a year ago. The bad news, is that is reflected in the high eFG% given up on a nightly basis. If the Kings can continue to foul less while decreasing their eFG% given up, this has the potential for a league average defensive unit THIS SEASON.
Oh I don't have any. Other than to say I hate the NBA system of NBATV/blacking out games that I should be able to see on Broadband. When you make it more attractive to go out and find an illegal stream, you know you got problems. NBATV is a difficult channel to get because A) it's a premium channel and B) it's treated by the NBA as a widespread channel such as ESPN or TNT. I get why the NBA blacks ESPN/TNT games out; it makes a lot of sense. But blacking out NBATV games (and games like Portland for someone in the Seattle market like myself) is what hurts the NBA's staying power with casual fans. You make it this difficult on a basketball junkie with limited resources, what's going to happen for fans in other locales?
The NBA has tried long and hard to push NBATV as a national TV alternative. I doubt the NBATV channel has seen an uptick in viewership over the long haul. (I could be wrong.) The same people that had it 3 years ago have it now. The same people that do not have it do not have it. The NBA needs to stop pretending that long term emphasis will be on a premium channel that is ridiculously expensive to purchase from Comcast and/or DirecTV. The NBA definitely needs to stop screwing over fans who buy broadband (like me) from watching NBATV and/or Portland games (in my case) when it's unnecessary and not available in the broader overall cable package. I wouldn't mind being blacked out from Portland if it was available on basic cable. I get that. But being blacked out of a game that I literally have to go to a sports bar to watch or find an illegal stream is especially irritating, and seems like an unnecessary way to do business.
Then again, I've never presided over a business that has made near 4 billion dollars in a season either.
Game is at 7pm on Comcast California. As if you didn't know that already.
Am I upset about the loss? No. Not really. At least there were some good moments. Actual live real tangible touchable NBA offense was actually executed by our spoiled brats tonight. Behold Kings fans! What if they did this for 48 minutes every night?
Oh, we aren't living in fantasy land today. My bad.
Just a few thoughts because I really don't feel the need to go on & on and on & on and and on & and on and.
Tyreke Evans illustrated he can run an offense. He also illustrated he can be exceptionally limited in his decision making. The trend? It's a bad one until Tyreke consistently moves past this.
DeMarcus Cousins started fast and wasn't heard of much after the 1st qtr when Keith Smart took him out for a blow. (That's a rest; not an automatic trip to the breathalyzer after you've gone to the bar.) Playing 36 minutes though? I like what Keith Smart is aiming at here. Since Smart has taken over, Cousins has averaged over 30 MPG (30.5 MPG if you include tonight's contest). If that gets anywhere near 32-33 MPG (and it's been over 30 MPG the last 5 Kings games) on a consistent basis for the Kings, this will be a major launching point for Cousins to hopefully find that consistency that has alluded him his entire career.
Jason Thompson didn't make much of an impact as the game wore on, but early on JT was brilliant. It's been satisfying JT develoop into the player he is now.
Isaiah Thomas will most likely be talked about for hitting some late 3's, but the one play that actually sticks out to me was the pick and roll LSG ran with JJ Hickson in the 3rd qtr. As James Ham noted in a tweet, part of the issue with that is JJ Hickson actually moving towards the basket with the roll part.
John Salmons had all of his 8 points in the 3rd qtr as Salmons actually showed some of what has at times made him a very good NBA scorer in his career. But, I also thought the defense of Salmons on Monta Ellis for long stretches made Monta change where he wanted to go, and typically in the past that has not been the case when the Kings have matched up with the Warriors. #silverlinings
The Kings killed the Warriors on the glass by 15, turned the ball over 21 times and managed to perfect the art of "stand around, pound the dribble and do absolutely jack shit" for 20 seconds on a shot clock. Against the Warriors reserves of Epke Udoh, Dominic McGuire, Klay Thompson, Brandon Rush and Nate Robinson. Yes, that's right, the Kings couldn't figure out a way to keep the game in any sort of competitive fashion against the Warrior reserves.
The Kings immaturity, and how far they have to go, had it's stop in Oakland. Next stop? Against Rip City in the artist formerly known as the arena that caused a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.