Posted by: natehughart | January 13, 2012

Rockets beat Kings 103-89

There are times where a team plays a bit better than you, and where they hit all the rights shots at the right time. That’s not the only problem the Kings had in this game (it was mainly hitting open shots), but that was what kept the Kings ultimately from making any kind of push in the 2nd half.

Some thoughts about tonight’s game.

* Tyreke Evans played pretty good for the most part. The most impressive parts of the game were the transition passes made to Francisco Garcia and Isaiah Thomas. Tyreke was 12-22 for the game, 4-4 line and 1-3 from 3. Tyreke’s TS% for the season is now 52.9% (and very nearly 53% even) and that was his mark for his rookie season.

As far as other stuff, he did quick shoot the ball too much for my taste at times. This was especially true when the Rockets were hitting 3’s in the 4th quarter.

So that’s something. And there is progress. But if this doesn’t keep up? I don’t even know what to say on that one.

* DeMarcus Cousins struggled again tonight. He had difficulty getting quality shots against Dalembert in the halfcourt and that’s not a new problem. When Cousins struggles, he tends to force shots on the inside a lot and repeatedly.

Not surprisingly, the one offensive possession where Cousins didn’t look completely terrible was shooting a Jump Shot (and that was off balance quite a bit). Cousins will have to learn where, when, and how he can play inside/outside in this league. Because right now, it’s obvious he doesn’t understand he can’t go inside on everyone.

You can bet that Cousins ORtg for the year will dip under 100, and will likely go back over with a strong efficient offensive outing tomorrow in Dallas. The worst part for me was that Cousins only played 18 minutes, and picked up 3 fouls in a 2 minute span (I think it was that short) in the 3rd quarter taking Cousins out of the game effectively.

* Donte Greene had an effective stint tonight. Whatever Greene is doing, he should keep doing it. Right now he’s playing consistent enough to merit minutes at the backup 4 and the backup 3. Greene even raised his season TS% from 46.9% to 50.7% (it’s early–these type of swings are pretty common).

The most important play for Donte came right at the end of the 3rd quarter where he saves the ball from gonig out of bounds to Isaiah Thomas (LSG!!!!)

Here is the video of the end of the 3rd quarter. 2 things, one is that end of the quarter shot by Tyreke literally must have missed the buzzer by just a hair because it really was that close. Two, is when you watch the video don’t listen to it with the sound on because all your hear my heavy mouth breathing. (I don’t suggest it.)

If you click on the link, hopefully you saw what I saw: The ball barely leaving Tyreke’s fingertips. I’m not sure why it wasn’t allowed, but I’m fairly sure (I need better evidence) that layup should have counted. But such is life.

The real point is that the Kings actually made a play to end the 3rd quarter, Thomas and Evans ran out to get a shot and very nearly did. That’s something to build on.

Where the problem came in was not getting that bucked seemed to deflate this team, and they started taking worse shots. Or, they didn’t take worse shots and simply missed the open shots they did take. Either way, that can’t happen. As every coach in the world says, can’t get too high or too low. You can’t have a memory. Always play the next play. Tonight the Kings got another lesson in a season littered with those lessons end to end.

* Isaiah Thomas should really start at this point. There are 3 reasons: One is that Thomas is a sparkplug the Kings need to start the game, Two is that Thomas and Evans seem to play well off each other, Three is that there seems to be a relationship between Thomas and Cousins, and Four it would allow Jimmer to come in off the bench to be the primary scorer. Something has to give, and whatever it is the Jimmer/Tyreke backcourt isn’t working as well as we all would hope.

Additionally, Thomas had another effective outing shooting the ball and raised his season TS% to 53.2%.

******

The biggest negative (and why the margin of victory for the Rockets was so big) was the rebounding \as the Kings got pounded 55-36 on the glass. Some of that was a struggling Cousins, but some of that was just poor positioning and the Rockets out-hustling the Kings at times. The Kings had a 61% DRB% (30 Defensive Boards out of 49 Rocket missed shots). Meanwhile, the Rockets grabbed 37 rebounds out of 45 Kings missed shots. That works out to a whopping 82.2% DRB%.

2 other things that I think are really important for the game that shows me that this team is listening to Keith Smart. One is that the Kings didn’t turn the ball over as much as it may have seemed (11 total—The Rockets only had 12—and Tyreke Evans had 4 of them) and the Second is that the Kings went 15-16 from the FT line. That’s a low number for this team, and part of that was the Rockets simply are a smart team in terms of how they foul players.

If you were a fan of Keith Smart, and were hoping for leadership that wasn’t from Paul Westphal, I think you might have it. The biggest test for Smart comes tomorrow against Dallas, and see how this team performs.

The good news is that Dallas played tonight (beating Milwaukee handily) but nobody for the Mavericks played more than 25 minutes (Jason Terry). Again, if the Kings come out (especially Cousins) with a strong game from the outset (I’m hoping Thomas starts and, in part, to help relieve some of the pressure off Jimmer) I think they can be competitive against Dallas. Beating them? Well, that’s a different story. That takes a level of capability the Kings haven’t shown unless they are hitting their shots. When anybody gets hot, or simply makes a lot of shots for whatever reason, you will win some games.

Even though the loss was by 14, I think that was pretty much an illusion in some ways. The Kings were in the game for the most part if they hit the shot at the right time or Lowry doesn’t hit one of his late shot clock 3’s. Kyle Lowry is an All-Star caliber player so that’s something that will happen from time to time. Sometimes it’s best to tip your cap and move on. That’s what this game really was.

Just a few days ago in Philly, the Kings got smoked in a good opponents building in part because they couldn’t even do the little things. Sure, the Kings struggled in running their offense and getting quality shots during this game too. But this team also gave themselves a shot to win in the 4th quarter too. That’s something that this group hadn’t done on the road up until now.

Baby Steps. Until tomorrow then.

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