Posted by: Kingsguru21 | November 1, 2009

Kings lose to Spurs 113-94

In a shocking development that ranked up there with the sky being blue and Jesus being dead, the Kings lost to the Spurs by 19 points. Sadly for the gamblers who picked Sacramento to win, the game wasn’t that close from late 2nd qtr on.

The negatives. A lot of them. Losing tends to bring out of negatives.

From Kevin Martin’s mouth:

“That’s something I hope I never have to say again,” said Martin, who had 29 points on 8-of-14 shooting. “That’s definitely a Game 3 mistake. It’s a very big deal. In this league, you have to get as close to perfect as you can.

“It had to be a mental thing, because we were running it the other night (against New Orleans) fine. The other night we ran it like 10 times in a row right. Then tonight you’re playing a better team, you’re down 20 (points), and it could be a mental thing where guys are wanting to go one-on-one. We’ve got to get on the same page.”

Yeah, this wasn’t good. In fact, it’s not very refreshing to hear on the surface.

The reality? It’s a baby step that this team took tonight. Losing was not something they wanted, or even agree with, but it’s the reality of the NBA. What Martin said was a reality of a young team still learning how to play together.

Paul Westphal had this to say about the loss:

“The Spurs were really, really good,” Westphal said. “I don’t think anyone could have come into this arena and beat them the way they were playing tonight.”

Yuh. Pretty much.

The loss was pretty ugly from a number of perspectives. On one hand, the Spurs had the upper hand for nearly the entire game, and blew the game open in the late 2nd qtr.

On the other hand, did you really expect the Kings to win? In the long run, this is one of those games you just expect the Kings to lose for all the obvious reasons, and then some.

I never expected the Kings to win, and I didn’t really expect the Kings could win if Tony Parker or Manu Ginobili had it going. (In fact, the only thing I would have been shocked by was if the Kings had been in the game with 2 mins to go in the 4th.)

Tony Parker had 24 pts and 7 assists. He had it going. In fact, nobody on the Kings could stay in front of him. PW said as much in his post-game chat. If that wasn’t obvious, the Kings threw practically everybody at Parker. At one point Omri Casspi tried to take Parker on. Udrih, Martin and Evans had also previously not succeeded at the task. (I do think it would have been interesting to see Donte Greene take that challenge on. Another time perhaps. That is one over-riding lesson that this group will teach you: These guys have time if nothing else.)

Also, if you enjoy good PR bullshit, watch this halftime feature that was the “Preview” for the 2009-10 season. (Yeah, I too wonder why it was shown in the 3rd game of the season. Doesn’t that defeat the purpose? Meh. At least the Kings aren’t alone in this head scratcher. Consider me a stone thrower when I live in a glass house.)

So, what did I like?

I like Martin getting to the FT line again. I liked Spencer Hawes hollow numbers because it was better than seeing him throw up crappy shot after crappy shot repeatedly. I like the fact that Tyreke Evans didn’t tear all of his ankle ligaments when he went out of the game in the 4th qtr. (Actually, I don’t like the fact that he hurt his ankle at all. I don’t mind it happening the way it did though. Better in a game where Evans probably should have not been playing anyway.)

Here’s a great example of how good the Spurs were tonight: 22,27,23,27,24,25,21,21,26

What are those numbers? Those are the minutes of (in order): Tim Duncan, Richard Jefferson, Matt Bonner, Tony Parker, Theo Ratliff, Roger Mason, Manu Ginobili, George Hill and DeJuan Blair.

If that ain’t balance, and great production from stars like Parker, and Ginobili, who had the best feat of the night that we’ll show you a bit later, who had 13 points and 3 assists, than I don’t know what is.

In fact other than Jason Thompson who played 35 mins, nobody else played more than 30 mins on either team. One of those weird unusual oddities that’s pretty rare.

Onto Spencer Hawes. I know there will be the argument that Hawes numbers is hollow. He knows that. A quote from Hawes:

“Given the outcome, it’s hard to look at my performance and be too excited about it,” Hawes said. “I guess individually it’s a step in the right direction. But we’ve still got a lot of things to work on.”

Yeah. The outcome was one issue.

This is the quote (that if you suffered through the youtube clip of Westphal talking you already heard) that will catch people’s attention that Amick included in his story:

“Did he (Hawes) have a good game?” Westphal asked when a reporter’s question held that premise. “OK. I don’t think anybody really played that well for us. I’m glad he got some numbers, but we got outworked by them in every category that mattered defensively. That’s what I was looking at. I don’t mean to take anything away from him.”

I will say that this quote, if you watched it in real time, you could see PW didn’t want to answer this incorrectly. He wasn’t angry at Spencer, and the last line about “not wanting to take anything away” was actually interjected right before the next question was asked. It looks worse in print than it was, and that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Except this. Paul Westphal is absolutely right, and there’s no reason for him to be overly impressed with Spencer Hawes’ performance tonight. Nobody, including Kevin Martin who had a bounce back game with a reasonable scoring performance (26 points on 7-13 shooting, 2-4 from 3 and 10-11 line) really had anything to write home about.

So, if Martin who is clearly the best player on this team wasn’t truly magnificent, than why include Hawes? You wouldn’t.

Now, I’m not going to sit here and say these numbers mean much with regards to Hawes. The reality, or my illusion–you can argue with your multiple personalities which is which–is that Hawes needed to see the ball go in the hoop. Regardless of whether those baskets were meaningful, and they were up to a point, it could be a valuable building block.

Spencer Hawes that showed up tonight was not the Spencer Hawes of the previous 2 games offensively. He was better than either Hawes version in those contests. Some examples.

There was one play where Hawes catches it on the left block. And, initially, with, I believe, Blair on him, he initially wanted to go up with the shot. But, after being the recipient of several Tyreke Evans passes for dunks, he reciprocated and gave the ball up to Evans. It resulted in FT’s for Evans (and I believed he missed both–I think this was around the 3:39 mark of the 3rd qtr), but the point here is that Hawes didn’t take a rushed ill-advised shot. He found a cutter (in this case Evans), and delivered the ball cleanly, accurately, and quickly to Evans cutting down the lane.

That is complete progress. Another play, a minute or two before that, Hawes gets a dunk off an Evans pass. That’s not what impressed me though. Before the dunk, the Kings miss a shot, and Hawes is running back (and sprinting hard no less) to get back to defend the basket (within reason–this is Spencer Hawes) Now, you say what’s the big deal? The Spurs turn the ball over, and right as rain guess who runs sprinting down the floor as hard as he just had run down the floor a few sec’s earlier? Keep in mind, Hawes ends up dunking the ball on this next possession. He sprinted 3/4 of the court 2 ways, and ended up with 2 points because he was in the right place at the right time.

That was not a play he would have made vs OKC or Nawlinz.

Is it a small baby step? Yes. Was the game over when he did that? Yes. But, at some point, we have to give credit to Spencer for working on things that he was struggling with.

Coming into the game, Hawes had been shooting 5-16. He shot 8-15 last night. That’s progress. Is it stunning progress? Not really, no.

Hawes had 22 points tying a career high (that he set at the tail end of last season), and that’s not even something that I think matters in the long run. I think it was good for Hawes to play hard (he did grab 10 boards), and while he is not a loose ball diving savant like Jon Brockman, he is what he is. Some of what he is showed.

He put in a hook late in the game. He hit a 19 footer. He made the pass to Evans. He hit 6-7 FT’s. Let me repeat this: The 21 yr old C hit 6-7 FT’s when he had no attempted FT’s in the previous 2 games. Last season, Hawes had shot 66% from the FT line. Last season, Hawes averaged 1.8 trips to the line per game. By virtue of the 7 FTA tonight, he’s now averaging 2.3 FTA this season. If Hawes can continue to shoot at 80-85% from the charity stripe, which a big man of his shooting skills should be able to, than I think you will see Hawes add 3-5 points to his per game total this season.

It’s really not that hard to figure out. Hawes may never be the heavy foul drawer I would love for him to be. On the other hand, if he gets there 3 1/2 times a game, and hits 80 to 85% of those, that’s an extra 3 points per game for Hawes. That will increase his scoring average ALONE from 11.4 (last season) to 14.5 (with the potential increased drawing of FT’s) PPG.

THAT’S A HUGE BUMP FOLKS. And none of that mentions that shooting 46% again is acceptable. It isn’t. We’ve already covered this, but it feels worth rehashing. Spencer Hawes is a work in progress, and it seemed like a new somewhat improved smarter flexible Spencer Hawes could emerge.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Spencer has character flaws. His confidence has been shaken. Tonight was a risk-free way to show PW that he is a player PW can count on for offense. I don’t expect Spencer to shoot 53% every night, but I do expect a low post C (especially one like Spencer who should get 65-80% of his offensive opportunities there on a nightly basis) to shoot at least 50% consistently. Spencer has the talent, and the mentality that doing this shouldn’t be a problem.

Oh in case you’re wondering what is Spencer Hawes career high in FTA? Tonight. He tied his career high in makes by making 6 tonight as well. (He previously went 6-6 in a game vs Portland on 12/16/08. The Kings lost 109-77 in case you wondered.)

As far as Tyreke Evans, I’m going to leave him alone. He didn’t shine like he did at New Orleans, and that’s okay. He’s still a rookie, nein?

(I don’t shit on rookies like Omri Casspi for looking like rookies. Tonight is exactly why I’m glad he didn’t match up with Richard Jefferson, or elite SF’s quite yet. He isn’t ready for it.)

Andres Nocioni was not that impressive, or very good. That’s okay. He fits right in with this group of not doing much to distinguish himself! He’s just being one of the cool kids.

I’m beginning to feel very comfortable with Desmond Mason as the starter. I know this fly’s in the face of some believing that giving Omri the mins will speed up his development. Bleh. When Omri is ready for those mins, he will get them. But, until he pushes Mason out of the starting lineup that ain’t happenin. Given what the Kings are paying Mason, I can live with him being a stop gap and giving Omri Casspi human motivation to work his way into the starting lineup.

Last but not least, I’m glad the Kings home opener is finally around the corner. Arco should be fun Monday night with the Grizzlies in town.

Progress. Baby Steps. Ba-Bamba, Ba-Bamba, Ba-Bamba……..

PS: Manu’s Bat catching technique. And Spencer’s statement:

“I guess in Argentina, bat hunting is part of everyday life,” a smiling Hawes said. “Someone had to do it, and it wasn’t going to be me. They’ve got all kinds of diseases. … PETA’s going to have a fit about that one.”

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  1. […] because I’m because so horny for my predictions ahead of time that I’m going to take a time to self indulge. Now, I’m not going to sit here and say these numbers mean much with regards to Hawes. The […]


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