Posted by: Kingsguru21 | October 28, 2009

Thunder paste the Kings 102-89

Well, actually, the Thunder pasted the Kings in the 1st qtr, 39 to 22. The rest of the game? The Kings 67 points, and the Thunder 63 points.

That’s the way it goes sometimes, and that’s the way it goes sometimes.

The good: Omri Casspi shooting 7 for 9 from the field (and was 1-2 from the line), and had a block, steal and a turnover. 3 rebounds (1 offensive), and no assists to go along with that.

Jason Thompson’s statline, 11 points on 3-4 shooting (and 2-2 from the line) along with 9 boards (5 offensive) will jump out. His interior defense was poor, and got himself into foul trouble in the 1st half when the Kings got blown out and lost the game.

The best for last: Kevin Martin had 27 points, 5-19 floor (3-8 from 3 and 14-14 line) most of which came in the 1st half just to keep the Kings afloat. Unfortunately, Martin only scored 3 points in the 2nd half.

The bad? Oh, there’s a lot of that. Spencer Hawes shot poorly (40% is not what I was hoping from him), and that was after some garbage time shots he made in the 4th qtr. His interior defense was poor, and he wasn’t as aggressive at all times. He didn’t lack effort, but he did look a bit off kilter.

So did the entire team.

Drew Packham of NBA.com ranked the likelihood of the Rookie Race, and Tyreke Evans came out first. Games like tonight, though, showed why Evans is a rookie.

Quite often, Evans look tentative tonight where in the pre-season he was said to be aggressive most of the time. Russell Westbrook, the young stud PG of Oklahoma City, attacked Evans all night, and more importantly, shot so well from the outside that it stung Evans a bit. Westbrook’s jumper has improved, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to shoot that well consistently all night again.

On the other hand, Tyreke Evans, as several people in the StR game threads noted, does not play off the ball on defense anywhere as well as he does on the ball. (Westbrook’s jumpers were absolutely wide open. RW0 should hit 90% of those if he’s an All-Star.)

Sean May did not grab a single rebound tonight. In 18 minutes. I really wonder if Paul Westphal can afford to continue starting May & Thompson together when May was so ineffective. The Hornets are definitely a playoff team in the West, and they have a player you might have heard of in Chris Paul. (He’s pretty good, yeah?)

I do think, though, that there is an emotional component that Hawes & Thompson have together as a duo. They both have a bigger pep n the step with each other on the court. They know their futures will be intimately tied together forever, both within the organization and outside, and they act like it. I think Paul Westphal made his point to Spencer Hawes by starting Sean May, but starting Sean May vs the Hornets would be a massive mistake.

So would starting Desmond Mason be a mistake? No. I think Westphal got that one right, and it does make sense. There are more reasons, other than starting Omri Casspi, to start Desmond Mason. He doesn’t have to play more minutes than Casspi, but he is a reasonable fit (given where the Kings are at) with Evans, Martin, Thompson and Hawes as the other 4 starters. He plays defense (guarding Kevin Durant is not exactly simple work), and will do little things that matter to his coach.

Did Paul Westphal make any mistakes tonight? Eh, not really. These games are likely, and pretty likely to happen once in awhile over the course of an 82 game season. It obviously wasn’t an ideal way to start a season, but these losses aren’t the end of the world. OKC stayed hot, and maintained a big lead. The Kings competed throughout, and while not always in wise, efficient or useful fashion still they competed. This team didn’t quit being down in the low 20’s with OKC playing well on their home court.

The point? OKC won tonight as much as Sacramento played terribly in the 1st quarter.

There is something to be said for that. I have a hard time throwing this team under the bus after one game on the road vs another young up & coming team with top flight talent of their own. (It helps quite a bit that you get the 2nd & 5th pick–Durant & Green–in 2007, the 4th overall pick in 2008–Westbrook–, and the 3rd overall pick in 2009–Harden–3 consecutive years.)

So why do I think the Kings lost? Partially it was rebounding, although the Thunder only grabbed a couple of offensive rebounds in the 2nd half (by my memory–they might have grabbed 3 or 4 by the end of garbage time), and after looking at the play by play, the Thunder did in fact have 6 o-boards for the 1st half.

The Kings had 20 of their boards in the 2nd half, and the Thunder had 22 boards. So while the Kings got out-boarded by 7, most of that was in the first half.

Also, the Kings shot awful tonight (40%), and the Thunder shot 50%. Ball game.

So what would I change heading into New Orleans? The Sean May starting experiment is over, and 0 rebounds proved that. Also, as I said, the energy of Hawes & Thompson is crucial to both getting the most out of their abilities, and I think PW would be remiss to ignore that. Desmond Mason needs to play better, but I don’t mind him starting. As long as Omri Casspi can perform off the bench, it’s a nice safety valve to have for a team that could lose a lot of games this season. (And most likely will lose a lot of games.)

What I want from this road trip, and I didn’t state it explicitly here or anywhere else, was to see competitive games each time out. It’s easy to get pasted on the road. That happens. On the other hand, it says something that you didn’t quit when you could have.

If you were hoping that this was a 35 win team, keep hoping. Until then, all you can really hope for is the team plays hard, and with intelligent passion.

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Responses

  1. I agree with you on almost everything except one thing: Desmond Mason.
    He was completely awful yesterday. Guarding Durant (or Jeff Green) is not easy, I know, but they was left wide open most of the time, and on offense Mason gave us the infinite pleasure to see one of the few NBA player that shoots worse than a normal person shooting long distance jumpers (and obviously missing them) with 10-14 seconds on the shot clock.

    I’m not saying that we should start Casspi, because the problem is a little more complex: the Kings are definitively not a good team (if someone before yesterday had the illusion they’d become a good team with the single addition of a rookie, even if that rookie is damn good – and Tyreke is damn good – they had a bad night yesterday), and the talent difference between our starters and our bench players is not big, which is a bad thing overall, but gives us the opportunity to make some good runs when our bench is playing against opponents’ bench (I think our only unanswered points came in the 2nd and 4th quarter when many bench players were in). Casspi is a great player coming from the bench because he has a good offensive instinct and great energy, but it won’t be this good starting, because he’d have to steal some shots from KMart & co.
    So who start at SF? Garcia, obviously! Effing phisyoballs!
    Sincerely I think that the starting spot should go to Noc, with Mason coming from the bench for very limited minutes to put some pressure (and spend some hard foul) on the Durants, the Bryants and the Lebrons of this league.

    About Tyreke: he will be a future superstar, and I take this for granted. But no one can take an awful team at 19 and leading it with 250 points, 97 rebounds and 44 assists like many expected from him. He’s young, super-talented and he runs the most difficult position in the game, plus yesterday was playing against an explosive and very difficult to guard player…let’s give him some time, uh?
    He will play his first three professional games against Russel Westbrook, Chris Paul and Tony Parker…he will struggle a lot, but I still haven’t seen a player who doesn’t struggle against this three.

    I’d add that OKC yesterday was clearly “in the zone”, shooting far better than their usual (not only for our bad defense) and that, cutting the first quarter, the total of the remaining three quarters has the Kings up 4 points.

    • Yep Panzer. I see your point on Mason, but right now I don’t agree. As far as the Kings outscoring the Thunder by 4 points the rest of the game, I agree with that point. The Thunder were hot, and the Kings kept fighting but things really didn’t work out the way they hoped.

      I’m hoping for a competitive game tomorrow night.

      • The Hornets will be very motivated to do well on their home opener after last season’s disappointing playoffs, and they have sure a better starting lineup…but they still are very poor in depth and quite bad on some positions (especially small forward and guard), so we could take advantage of this.

        The main difference between this year’s Kings and last season’s is that, if the opponents are not shooting like 5 Millers-Killers on the floor (like OKC two days ago) this team is going to fight and could win even when the opponent’s talent level is overwhelming. So I hope to read (I’m not going to see this match at all and I’ll see the San Antonio one only a few days later – thanks League Pass – for I’ll be away) that the Kings have definitively put on a good game. If we lose against this two teams, anyway, it’s quite normal, they are playoff and contending teams, far away from our current level.

        And now, as Kyrilo Fesenko is for Aykys, I’ll launch my personal player’s feticism in:
        TRADE FOR AK47!

        • Well, I can’t say I want AK47 given his price tag and what he does. But, I can say I hope you have fun during your time away.

          • Maybe the thing gets better if I explain my personal feticism for AK47:

            1. Maybe Utah could agree on a Nocioni-Thomas for AK47 trade. They’d save very little money this year but huge money the next one. It seems to me that Westphal’s doesn’t count very much on Noc and Kirilenko had problems with his franchise

            2. His contract is huge far beyond reasonable, but he’d be a huge expiring contract next season. So you’d pay 200k dollars more this year and then you have 16million expiring contract next season to make the team better (adding an high draft pick).

            3. He is one of the most complete player in the league, and it seems he has found his stroke back this year

            4. He has the most kickass nickname in the league

            Is this not enough?

            • Eh, I’m not convinced.

              I think any deal that Utah makes will have to save them money.

              I also think that any deal the Kings take back that is big will have to be for a better larger impact player than AK47. The reality here is that Kirilenko makes a lot of money, and that can be hard to move. Unless you’re taking back serious money (and usually a superstar or a malcontent like Zach Randolph) in the long term, I’m not really sure what advantage it is to have a big expiring contract like Kirilenko’s would mean.

              Case in point? Denver traded Allen Iverson’s big expiring contract, but took back Chauncey Billup’s contract for the next 2 seasons (plus a team option that will owe Billups money) in exchange.

              There is a price for making a deal, and be careful what you ask for. Right now, I don’t think the Maloof’s want to make that deal. And, given where the Kings are at a franchise, both business and basketball wise, it makes a great deal of sense.

  2. Common Pook you can’t begrudge a guy his fetish. it’s like a guy that get get’s turned on by women’s feet…………um, what’s wrong with that? And yes AK47 is the most kickass name in the league. It would even be more kickasser if he was still playing like he did in the 04-05 season.

    • I don’t begrudge Panzer his AK47 fetish. I don’t share it. (Just like I don’t share any foot fetish with men who have that particular affliction.)

      And, I don’t think the team will pursue a big dollar contract to have that expires in 2011. I just don’t BJ.

  3. […] game against OKC, Jeff Green scored 24 on 9-13 from the floor (and 4-5 from 3). That can’t happen again if the Kings are going to […]


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