Posted by: Kingsguru21 | November 3, 2009

Kings win in OT over the Grizz: 127-116

Wow. That’s all I gotta say. Box Score here.

Before I continue I’d like to quote myself 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 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

I’m only horny for myself for this reason, and this reason alone: There is a huge segment of the fanbase who want Spencer to be a tough guy. That isn’t who he is. Jason Thompson is a bit tougher, and made a fraction of the impact that Spencer did tonight. That isn’t a knock on JT at all. I love his game, and what he does do. It’s just that the combination of skills, mean streak and anger when mixing right in Hawes makes him a better player than JT. That’s the reality here. You saw it tonight.

There were people who will say that Hawes doesn’t rebound well. Well, fine. 11 boards in 44 mins is just fine with me. (The Grizzlies absolutely slaughtered the Kings on the boards tonight, 57-40, with 10 more offensive rebounds.)

I’ll be honest. It really didn’t seem that there was a great advantage to Memphis on the boards though. Then again, Marc Gasol had 16 boards (along with 16 points), Rudy Gay had 13 boards (along with 21 points), and Zach Randolph had 30 points and 16 boards himself.

A great front line performance by that trio. (Yet, in the 2nd half Gay openly complained repeatedly about not getting to the FT line. Have I mentioned that I want no part of Rudy Gay?)

Other than Hawes with his 21 points (9-17 floor, 0-3 from 3, and 3-4 line), 11 boards and 7 assists (yeah, that’s awesome), you also had Kevin Martin with 48 points tonight too. (That made my night.) UPDATE: TZ has a reasonable argument that last night was Kevin Martin’s greatest game ever. And he is so right, it was so very ho-hum.

The play of the game was the last score for the Kings in regulation. Spencer gets the ball at the top of the key and drives to the elbow. He makes a perfect bounce pass to a cutting to the hoop Beno Udrih who lays it in. That play was so Vlade Divac-esque I wanted to shit my pants. It’s kind of unfortunate that I’m constipated, but what can you do?

Omri Casspi impressed me tonight, and he played a high impact high energy game that he specializes in. There was a couple of plays late that I thought Omri didn’t get the benefit of the official’s, but you know what? That’s the NBA for you. It happens to veterans too. You have to play through it.

For the most part I thought the game was decently officiated with a few exceptions. That was nice to not complain about a potential ref call at this juncture or that juncture. (I hate that.)

Omri Casspi was 7-9 from the floor including 3-4 from 3, had an assist, 2 steals/blocks, and for good measure just irritated everyone in Iran by being valuable. He was impressive on 2 counts. The first was that he didn’t force up any shots that I can rememer. The second is that his frenetic energy brings quality counter point to the offensive skill that Hawes & Martin bring.

Of course, I can’t forget talking about Andres Nocioni who had a couple of big baskets in OT (including the 3 with 48 secs left in OT that PW would have killed Noc if he had missed), and his attitude probably meant more. Noc doesn’t like to lose, and tonight he played like it. Noc was 4-9 from the floor, had a few 3’s, and had 2 blocks. I love that.

If you’re curious, Memphis had 21 Turnovers. The Kings had 13. (That was one reason the Kings won.) Another factor was that the Kings as a team were 14-25 from 3 land. The Grizzlies were 5-9. From the FT line, the Grizzlies were 21-27, and the Kings were 23-36. When you add it up, the Kings basically won because they didn’t turn the ball over much, hit a lot of 3 balls to make up for being murdered on the boards, and got to the line despite a low conversion rate.

And, that’s exactly what PW will remind his team about. All night Memphis could have been knocked had the Kings executed better at various stretches. Part of the reason the Kings suffered was due to the sprained ankle of Tyreke Evans, and his normal self was not evident tonight. That being said, the kid gutted out a performance, while not flashy, did help the Kings win on a small fashion.

Beno Draino!

Beno played almost 29 mins. (Easily a season high.) He went 7-12 from the floor. (Season high. Yeah, this is a theme.) Hit 2 3’s out of 3 attempts. Had 4 boards. 6 assists. (Did have 3 TO’s though.) 16 points overall. It was beautiful to see that Beno can play that way. The only challenge with Beno is not to see him play well, but merely to do it consistently.

I love Tyreke Evan’s game, and I love the potential compatibility of Martin and Evans together as a backcourt. But, when Beno plays well it adds that extra dimension any team needs. You need as much production off the bench as often as you can get it, and when Beno plays as well as he did tonight it doesn’t make Evans sprained ankle (a concern to me coming in–still is actually) less of an immediate concern. It affords the luxury of resting Evans if it the ankle gets worse. That’s hardly a bad thing.

I recognize Beno Udrih could lay an egg against Atlanta next Wednesday. I know all this. It was just nice to see the team play well with Beno leading the charge. Beno needed that. Hell, Paul Westphal needed that. Maybe the surprise of the night was to see how aggressive Beno was defensively against Mike Conley and Allen Iverson. (Did I just write that? Excuse me, I’m going to have bash my brain in with a spoon.)

The reality that this game went about expected. The Kings came out slow out of the gate to the tune of being down 17-4 after 7 mins of play. Then Noc, Beno and Hawes came in. From then on out, the game was a pretty good back & forth affair.

Obviously the defense wasn’t superbly great. But, who cares? Rome wasn’t built in a day.

I know the Grizzlies aren’t the top tier team of the world, and they were very beatable on the road in the 2nd game of a back to back after having played @ Denver the night before. I think the Grizz played hard with every intention. Saying they were stuck on a b2b gives thpse guys an excuse they don’t deserve. Every team has to fight through similar scenarios.

Tonight, the Kings found a way to mix Spencer Hawes, Beno Udrih, Omri Casspi, Andres Nocioni, and Kevin Martin as weapons. This team will get that much better if Tyreke Evans becomes a consistent weapon for the team offensively (particularly on the low block). Evans has a ton of abilities, and one of them is to create mis-matches everywhere by simply using his size to get whatever he wants from whoever he wants.

The problem, naturally, is that unless this is within a flow where other players are getting shots and the decisions are always made with a chance of getting quality shots up, it’s going to be difficult. Evans is 20 years old. He’s not Gary Payton quite yet. To expect him to morph into something that he’s not quite yet is a bit far-fetched. Tonight though the other players on this team make me wonder if Evans is a natural fit, and that some of the offensive struggles have come from trying to adjust to what he does well as a player and what not. Make no mistake, that is an adjustment, and for a guy like Spencer that may be why he had more of a comfort zone. (Of course against San Antonio Evans drove and created 3 dunks for Spencer. I’m not sure I’m too worried about this right now.)

The funny thing is I think the best break for the Kings tonight was Jason Thompson fouling out. He could not handle Zach Randolph (Randolph was hot too to be fair), and that allowed PW to substitute Kenny Thomas into the game.

Kenny did not have a monster stat line, nor did he have a bigger impact on the game than any player I’ve mentioned. Yet, Kenny did his part and was a professional about it. This may not be the biggest factor in why the Kings won, but Kenny Thomas is a better post defender than Jon Brockman is.

I’ll say this to make it clear; The Kings sacrificed their best team on the boards to play better post defense and cause problems for the Grizzlies defensively. (Randolph managed to foul out in OT. That was when the game really turned.) The Kings were down 112-110 with 3:27 to go when Randolph fouled Martin and sent him to the line.

From then on, the Kings scored 17 points, and the Grizzlies 4. Ballgame.

It’s sometimes simple. You hit more 3’s than the other guys, or you do something at the right time, and there you go: Eureka!

Tonight wasn’t pretty statistically. What the kings didn’t do (start well; get murdered on the boards) was counter balanced by a relentless attack from 3 and to the line (led by one Kevin Martin). Sprinkle in a low number of turnover’s, 26 assists, to Memphis’ 17, and that ball movement led to a balanced attack that counter-acted the Rebounding.

None of this is to say that the Kings are the best team in the world, that beating the Grizzlies is a major accomplishment (it’s really not), or that we should write home about this team so early on.

No. No. No. There were was a lot that went wrong (JT’s poor night, Evans ankle, Mason & May having little impact), and there was a lot went right (Hawes, Beno, Martin, Bomb-ri, Thomas’ post D) . Tonight was the perfect example of what happens when you play hard with a purpose. Sometimes what you do well is equally important as what you aren’t doing well. We know the Kings have plenty of weaknesses. Worrying about how to fix all of them after one reasonable win against a team that won 23 games a year ago is probably not the team to have your masochist streak. If tonight’s game doesn’t epitomize the value of simply winning, I’m not sure what does. Long live BombriBenoNocSpeedyRekeSpenceJT.

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