Posted by: Kingsguru21 | October 30, 2009

Kings lose to Chris Paul (and Emeka Okafor in the last 2 minutes) 97-92

Okay, maybe the title is a bit facetious, but I am quite a bit serious. This game wasn’t as much about the Hornets vs the Kings, but about Okafor and Paul vs the Kings tonight. When the game was on the line, defensively Okafor altered and/or blocked shots defensively. Paul simply controlled every Hornets possession as if it was there last.

In short, the Hornets were the veteran team that was taken to the brink. So, thoughts will commence.

* The Hornets do not look like anything more than a 1st round and out right now. Maybe that will change, but I doubt it. There are too many flaws at too many positions where they just don’t simply create enough matchup problems for championship caliber teams like the Nuggets, Spurs or Lakers.

* Jason Thompson shot 4-16. He did other things like grab 12 boards, and dish out 6 assists. (JT also had a block.) But when you shoot 4-16, I call Mulligan for a guy who didn’t simply finish well tonight. I see 2 issue’s here. The first is that JT does not have advanced post moves, and like every astute member of StR will tell you, JT does not finish well using his left hand. Here’s hoping the left hand part changes at least. There is no reason to be a big man of JT’s caliber and shoot 4-16. I’m hoping this doesn’t become a trend for JT. On the flip side, though, he did play well defensively and posed problems for David West and Emeka Okafor scoring inside. (West had 13 points on 5-13 shooting, and Okafor had 11 points on 5-8 shooting.)

* Jon Brockman is a lumberjack wrecking ball. Where he grabbed 10 rebounds in 19 minutes, he also missed 4 of 5 Free Throws including one at the end of the game with about 25 secs left. I really enjoyed this clip of Mancakes just grabbing an offensive rebound and putting it back up. There wasn’t any great indicator of what Brockman meant to the game tonight in this particular clip, but you can expect to see this ALOT in the future.

* Kevin Martin had a frustrating shooting night, and had he got 3 or 4 foul calls that he should have probably gotten, maybe the Kings win. That’s the NBA for you. Otherwise, I thought Martin did an okay job defensively, and was trying to force the action a bit offensively. Hopefully, we don’t see too many 9-29 nights from Kevin this year. That’s very Ron Artest’ish, but the difference is that Martin had to take at least 10 shots where he had to bail the team out from a bad offensive possession.

* Beno Udrih had a very nice game in controlling the pace and the flow of the game. Even though he didn’t shoot well (Other than Sean May (3-4), Tyreke Evans (7-13) and Andres Nocioni (5-8), noone on the Kings shot very well tonight) and was 1-4 (including 1-3 on 3’s), he did have 4 assists and no Turnover’s.

* The Kings out-rebounded the Hornets 52-43 including a 21 to 10 advantage in offensive rebounding. Part of that was clearly the Kings were awful offensively shooting wise, but a real part of that was the Kings were more aggressive than the Hornets in rebounding for the last 2 1/2 quarters of the game.

* I will take shooting 37%, having 10 Turnovers, and outrebounding your opponent (even if you’re responsible for bricks that inflate the difference in rebounding) in the 2nd game of a season when the core of your team under 25 years old. Plus, I’d rather have a team shoot 37% and turn the ball over 10 times as opposed to turn the ball over 17-20 times and shoot 45%. One of the reasons the game remained relatively close throughout was that neither team turned the ball over excessively (both teams combined for 21 TO’s), and easy baskets were pretty scarce most of the time.

* Sean May shot well (3-4), and grabbed 7 boards in 22 mins. Desmond Mason, in 18 mins, shot 2-5 for 4 points, grabbed 6 boards, and had an assist and block too. It was the little things that each guy did tonight that convinces Paul Westphal he should keep these two in the starting lineup for the time being.

* Spencer Hawes is not helping himself given that he didn’t shoot well again (1-6), and only played 14 mins. I hope the early season struggles translate to something more meaningful down the line because the Kings can’t win consistently if they don’t have a 3rd offensive option. In my humble view, Spencer is the ideal 3rd option if the Kings can rely on him to take quality shots within the flow of the offense. So far, through limited pre-season interaction, and 2 regular season games, we have yet to see that consistently from Spencer.

* As poorly as Tyreke Evans played vs Russell Westbrook on Wednesday, he played that well vs Chris Paul tonight. Not only did he dictate the entire game in terms of how New Orleans defended the matchup’s with the King tonight, he also did a fairly reasonable job on Chris Paul convincing Paul Westphal that doubling Paul was not the way to effectively stop him. Evans only garnered 2 assists (hardly shocking given that the Kings shot 37% and blew many layup’s), but it’s pretty amazing when you consider that Chris Paul himself (who had 31 points on 8-14 shooting, including 14-15 from the line) only had 4 assists too. Point Guard is a truly brutal position in the NBA, and when you have to face Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul and Tony Parker in your first 3 games, and you’re still standing and leave a major impression to boot, you’re doing quite well from where I stand. Thank Heavens for Tyreke Evans. If you watch this youtube clip, you can expect to see Evans have these types of battles, and win, in the future. If this doesn’t excite you, you’re not really a fan.

* Paul Westphal isn’t afraid to shake things up, or try different lineup’s. With such a young and distinct team in so many ways, I think that makes a lot of sense. I thought not using Casspi much (he only played 10 mins and was largely ineffective) made use of the realities that went on tonight. Andres Nocioni played out of his mind (especially in the 1st half), and in the 2nd half there were other players who simply were performing better than Casspi had. We saw why Casspi was a rookie, and, yet, it’s easy to remain encouraged about Casspi developing into a quality SF that can complement Tyreke Evans and Kevin Martin. I don’t expect him to start any time soon because I think the bench would suffer as a consequence, and by extension the Kings would suffer with Desmond Mason coming off the bench, but I think when Francisco Garcia comes back that changes. Especially if Casspi can continue his impressive upswing that he’s had in the month of October. That being said, Paul Westphal has as the head coach figure out which lineup’s are working for his team at a particular time, and Casspi just never quite got it going. Unlike Kevin Martin who is valuable at the very least as a decoy, if Casspi isn’t producing you simply won’t have minutes to hand out for Casspi in that situation.

If that seems like a fine line (or a cop-out) I understand. It’s not. Paul Westphal had other players on the front line playing well, and using them for the majority of minutes seemed wise and prudent tonight. There will be match-up’s where Jon Brockman won’t get off the bench and where Omri Casspi is incredibly valuable. And, vice versa. Tonight was one of those matchup’s that favored Brockman’s talents. Especially given the porous shooting and, at times, interior defense.

* I don’t prefer to question game strategy as I’m not a head coach or didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. What I do wonder is why Nocioni didn’t touch the ball in chances to shoot the ball with his feet set. In the first half he was in rhythm and had the jumper going (which also kept the Kings in the lead for the most part). Yet, as the game progressed the Kings forgot Noc and I think that their offensive production greatly diminished as a result.

* I was frustrated with the lack of precision on offense, but I expected that with such a young team, new system, and new head coach mixing together. You factor in that it’s a Western Conference playoff team playing at home for the first time, and that’s a factor that could see the Kings being blown out by 25. Yet, the Kings nearly came out with the win. I think it’s a credit to this group that I’m already criticizing their lack of spacing, chemistry with each other, and in general being impatient. It’s really not hard to see this group having some level of success in the near future if this rate of success keeps up.

* Sam Amick alluded to it in the questions he asked both Paul Westphal and Tyreke Evans in the post game quotes, but you get the sense (and I know I’m not alone in this–alot of long time Kings fans sense this as well) that this team hasn’t figured out how to make end of the game plays work quite yet. That comes with being young and having a really new team. I can live with that. Rather than being angry, or distraught at the loss, I’d rather the younger players look at this as a stepping stone for improvement. And, if you judge the responses by the tone, I think you get that impression. (Kevin Martin not included. He was pretty angry at himself for missing all the shots he took.)

Here is Paul Westphal talking:

Here is Jon Brockman, Tyreke Evans and Kevin Martin talking:

Tomorrow is San Antonio which finishes the 3 game road trip. It’s a 2nd game of a Back to Back, and then it’s back to Arco for 2 games against Memphis and Atlanta. With 9 of 13 games at home during the month of November, hopefully this team figures out how to win some games, especially at home, and let the non-patient fans know that this team does in fact have a future.

Coming off a 17 win season that featured a ton of blowout’s and seemingly indifferent play, I’ll take a 5 point loss to a WC Playoff team like the Hornets on the road after a semi-blowout against Oklahoma City 2 days prior. Opening up on the road to start the season is rough on any team, but for a young team it can truly throw them the Gaylord Perry Vasoline ball. Everybody has to play 41 on the road (except the Lakers and Clippers), but that’s part of the NBA. It’s a learning curve, and you have a group that is going to make baby step’s this season. None of this may not translate to more than 25 wins this season (which may result in a high draft pick that could end up taking this team to the next level sooner than fans might think), but in the long run this team has a lot of development to do. Part of developing is being patient and recognizing that change won’t happen overnight.

If you believe in the power of the Kings, to infinity and beyond!

I think the Kings are on their way. That in itself is encouraging. There are 80 more of these games to go, and while I know I’m alone, I’m not discouraged by the results of the first 2 games so far. If anything, I want more now. To infinity and beyond!

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Responses

  1. Shoot Pook, I can’t believe you got this up after 300 posts at StR or thereabouts.

    Great game. I just re-watched the last quarter. It really was a one possession game, we were down 1 point with 15 seconds to go and it could have gone either way. We got beat and I’m ok with that. Sloppy as heck

    They held CP3 to what, 4 points the first half, were in it to win it the whole way, you could tell they were having fun. Big change from last year.

    I think JT is going out of his way to avoid stupid fouls this year that’s making him a little tentative at the rim. It’s obvious that he needs to work on his off hand but I think he’s trying to stay in the game. Can’t remember too well but I don’t recall
    him wasting time doing his B Miller impression this game, even when he went down hard.

    Spencer, who knows, he’s obviously regressed so far this season and I don’t get it. We need his 15/7 or whatever he can bring. He’s really flustered out there right now.

    Brockman, beautiful game for an ugly gamer. Loved the grit and hustle from the whole team which is mostly what I’m looking for this season. I am amazed at the contrast between the team of last season and this bunch of kids.

    Good post. Tomorrow!

    • Thanks for reading, and for the excellent comment, BJ.

  2. […] night, we saw a tough team take on a playoff caliber team. We know the Kings came up short, but that’s not really that big of a […]

  3. […] Paul is back. We remember last time. Last time it didn’t end so well in Nawlinz, and last time was last […]


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