Posted by: Kingsguru21 | November 9, 2009

Kings easily glide past Warriors 120-107

Here is the Box Score. 4 Factors:

Pace Eff eFG FT/FG OREB% TOr
Golden State 100.0 107.0 54.2% 20.5 15.9 14.0
Sacramento 120.0 52.3% 33.3 35.7 14.0

Tonight, literally, the Kings kicked the crap outta the Warriors. It wasn’t much of a competitive game as the Kings generally led by double digits almost most of the game.

The Play of the game was clearly the Donte Greene lob to Jason Thompson at the end of the 3rd qtr with .4 seconds left.

So many good things to talk about tonight, and you can read the box score stuff on your own. I’m just going to bullet point this, and get the fuck outta dodge. (Or not.)

* Tyreke Evans is unstoppable. I knew this after the pre-season game with Golden State, but tonight Reke illuminated the worldwide stage with his gifts. 23 points, 8 boards and only 2 assists. (Not a true PG.) He also had no turnover’s (again). He did this all in 29 mins which meant that Paul Westphal could give him valuable rest. (He also had a chance to giggle and feel good about himself.) I really don’t know how to put this into words. I was so shell shocked by the over-whelming good play that it may be forgotten how brilliant Tyreke was in forcing such a large lead. Even though the argument will be that Tyreke is really a SG, the reality is that Kevin Martin and Tyreke Evans also were playing through a tough schedule in which Tyreke didn’t have the comfort of playing as the first option. He is only knows how to play as a first option as a scorer, and should be for this Kings team when Martin gets back. What Evans needed was to be aggressive, and Martin being out has clearly jump started Evans aggressiveness in attacking the basket.

Jerry Reynolds pointed out tonight that Tyreke Evans has no real mid range game yet. I know, that’s scary. He’s a plus defender, rebounder, passer (he does not play on a team with high end finishers, except for Martin, that is conducive to assists), and teammate. Yes, he’s a good teammate. He cares about his team as much as he cares about the game.

* Spencer Hawes is easily the most disappointing player on the night. He dropped several passes he should have caught, and missed a few shots inside he should have taken. On the upside he did get to the line 5 times and had 2 blocked shots. His final stats don’t show how little of an effect he had on the game if only because he increased some of these stats in the 4th qtr which was purely garbagetime.

* Whatever happened to Beno Udrih before the Memphis game, please keep it coming. Beno ran the offense flawlessly tonight. I know I said that this opportunity was a chance for fans to really appreciate Beno for what he can do, but this is well beyond any realistic expectation.

* Jason Thompson was terrific tonight, and with good reason. He matches up well with Golden State and has in the past. If you’re scoring at home, Anthony Randolph is coming off the bench, and Jason Thompson is leading the Kings in assists.

* Speaking of Randolph, why he is coming off the bench is beyond a mystery. The Warriors have talent, considerable talent really, but it’s poorly put together, they have no chemistry, the young talent that is worthwhile to a winning team (Stephen Curry, Anthony Randolph, Anthony Morrow, Kelenna Azubuike, Ronny Turiaf) don’t have any major stars. The best player on the Warriors is Stephen Jackson, and he is pouting. The front office stinks (Chris Cohan may be the worst owner in all of sports–and Robert Rowell might be the worst executive), and without Don Nelson pushing the pieces together it’s pretty bad.

Because the Warriors are so pathetic right now (they got blown out by the Clippers on Friday), it’s really difficult for me to be super giddy right now. It makes coaches, players, and what not look good. I feel we’ll see how much better the Kings are without Kevin Martin once the Thunder come into town on Tuesday. (I Know the Kings looked good vs the Jazz, but the Jazz were off for 2 1/2 qtr’s. The Thunder are playing well and have a lot of confidence after the thrashing the Magic tonight. I don’t think they’ll lack confidence after the ass-kicking the Kings suffered had at the beginning of the season to the Thunder either.)

* Omri Casspi is Jew-Baccah, the Bear Jew, Bom-Ri, and Bomri-Board-Ri all rolled up into one. 12 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals. In my humble view, after not playing last night due to Paul Westphal’s decision (a good one which I’ll elaborate on in where I talk about PW), Omri came in off the bench and greatly changed the tenor and flow of the game. When Omri plays like he did tonight, it’s impossible to criticize him.

This is Omri Casspi’s second great game in the NBA. Unfortunately he has not played as well as some fans would like to believe in the other 3 games he’s participated in. The next step for Omri is really becoming consistent. (Again, Patience is key here. Omri is only 21.) If you’re noting though, Omri Casspi had a career high in rebounds AND assists. Omri’s previous high in boards was 4, and assists was 1. 12, 10, 5 & 3. Paul Westphal will take that most nights for the rest of Omri’s career. (Or any coach for that matter.)

* Donte Greene had a great night for the second night in a row. I’m stating the obvious here. The lob pass to JT at the end of the 3rd qtr was brilliant, and the 2 plays where he used his athleticism to finish in the paint when the shots were contested was brilliant to see. It’s easy to make a flashy play on a lob (like the dunk Donte missed in garbage time 4th qtr), but it’s also easy to forget that Greene has not always finished well like he did in the 3rd qtr. He played a few mins in the 2nd qtr, and missed a few shots (besides putting down a lob from Beno in the 1st half).

What really struck me about the game was that Donte was active on the boards (symbolic of the whole team really), and had a blocked shot after being beat on the play initially. Again, when you play the Warriors, some of the scoring was inflated, but it was the activity and attention to detail that separated Donte tonight from previous performances. He didn’t shoot perfectly or have his outside shot going which was what constituted his high quality performances in the past. Tonight Donte put his immense athleticism, exuberance and energy on display. The Kings absolutely need more of that from him. Oh, and Donte managed a new career high tonight in points AND was 1 off his career high. (He got 6 boards in back to back games in bad blowout’s against Utah and Dallas last season.)

* I wonder if Sean May is out of the rotation for good.

* Whatever was missing with Desmond Mason is apparent with Ime Udoka. Hopefully that “thing” continues on for awhile. It’s nice to have a contributing veteran role player on the roster who doesn’t take minutes away from young players and allows the staff to remain confident that Udoka can contribute at the same time. It’s a difficult balancing act, and for Udoka’s sake it would be nice to see him have a great year for the Kings. It’s hard to not root for him. (I was rooting for Mason as well. He just didn’t work out.)

* Paul Westphal is so terrific as a coach right now I don’t even know where to begin.

It boggles my mind that the Kings have run so many good plays 2 games in a row after losing a guy who is 3rd in the NBA in scoring. Now, it’s easy to complain that Tyreke Evans and Kevin Martin have not worked well together, but it’s not for a lack of effort. Tyreke Evans has always been the best scorer on his team since he’s been 5 years old. Playing with a top 10 NBA scorer is a major adjustment for him. If you asked Paul Westphal if he would have rather had a blowout the way it happened tonight, or closer games with Kevin Martin and Tyreke Evans meshing, he’ll tell you the latter. You don’t win in this league without your best players putting it on the line every night. Tyreke and Kevin put it out there each night they were out there together. It just hadn’t quite clicked for both. When it does, people will shut up about that too. Hopefully re-inserting Kevin into the lineup will be as easy and seamless as the transition without Kevin has seemed.

The thing is, at the end of the day, is that Paul Westphal has found a way to run plays for a young 2nd year F getting few minutes, and found a way to see him make great use of major minutes. Donte will not get all those minutes every night, but PW enjoys the challenge of trying to find minutes for Donte now. That’s something that Donte and PW will have to continue to work together on. It’s not as simple as it has worked the last two nights. It’s really not. Finding minutes for a 9 man rotation (which is effectively what the Kings have without Garcia or Martin) is difficult for any head coach especially if he has 3 players getting 40 mins out of that pie. There are 240 mins in a regulation game, and if you’re playing 3 guys 40 mins a night, that’s half of the minutes right there leaving 120 mins for 6 remaining guys. Because the NBA is not as cut & dry as 40 mins for this guy that guy and that guy, it’s always a challenge to make it work with the daily reality and new challenge of each approaching game.

Yet, that’s exactly what Paul Westphal has done these last two nights. I don’t know if I would expect the Kings to win 35 games this season given that Kevin Martin and Francisco Garcia being out, but the learning curve of Tyreke Evans and Omri Casspi will certainly be helped by getting all these extra minutes that Garcia and Martin would have had instead. It doesn’t hurt that PW doesn’t mind putting his young players out there and see them make mistakes. He’s willing to allow a turnover, but not poor effort or energy on defense. He’s firm on what he expects from all his players.

What has impressed me more than anything, more than the little things of the way he’s handled Spencer Hawes or Donte Greene (no easy task for any head coach), or even Omri Casspi and Tyreke Evans to a lesser extent, is that this team looks to run the plays PW designs. They believe in him; he believes in them. All summer long PW mentioned how much talent he saw in the young players in this group, and he’s PROVING it. He’s not playing the young players to play them right now. He’s playing them because he believes these guys are the best chances to win the ballgame on any given night. He was given a youthful roster, a putrid schedule to break in a young team with, a team that has more issue’s with Arco itself than the roster right now, and a frustrated fanbase.

When players buy into what their coach is telling them at the NBA level good things happen. I’ve said many times that the players for last year’s team did not kill their coach and it contributed to some of the poor play and set designs the Kings continually ran. Even if the Kings are not running their set’s well at times, they are playing with every bit the intensity and effort that PW demands.

Man, as a fan I can’t ask for anything more.

The Kings came out hard, and they played that way for 48 mins. Nevermind that the Warriors had rest and were in Sacramento last night while the Kings were playing the Jazz. The Warriors looked lethargic and what not.

It’s a great statement on how much a back to back in the NBA is as much about mental fortitude as it is physical ability. It’s extremely difficult to perform well if you aren’t up to the task or attempting to play with the most amount of effort at all times.

With all the brilliance of the multiple positions that PW asks of his players, the players themselves deserve credit. I’m pretty sure Donte Greene was as jubilant after the perfect alley oop as he was when he put one down roughly 15 mins later himself. So jubilant that he ended up spinning back on the court. That jubilance, that youthful innocence makes this team a pleasure to watch and write about. It’s very difficult to write about a plodding veteran team that has been blow up 50 games into an awful putrid season. There’s only so many ways you can say that a team sucks donkey shit balls.

That’s what I appreciate about this team. They haven’t quit. Not against OKC (they just played like crap), nor Nawlinz, or San Antone. Against Atlanta they suffered execution, and took advantage of the Jazz’s off night (and a lack-luster crowd). Against Memphis, they purely rode the crowd to victory given Evans ankle sprain, and Beno Udrih was a major factor too.

The key component is that this team won’t quit. It was a bit surprising to see Arco so empty (probably because Warrior fans didn’t care to make the drive–don’t blame them), but that’s okay. Hopefully fans who were waiting for a reason to watch this team will come back out. If you won’t come out after games like tonight, you aren’t interested in the Kings or can’t afford to.

I’ll leave with this. Tonight you saw a young team knock around a fairly young team with some veteran malcontents. A young, inexperienced team that loves to play and likes each other. I don’t know if this will translate to anything beyond playoff berths at the very moment. But, winning a championship is tough in the NBA, much tougher than MLB or the NFL. (It’s not exactly easy in those league’s either.) Because it takes so many things to execute a ring in the NBA, it’s a bit difficult to predict that the Kings could win a title. It’s not as easy, or as smooth, as doing step A, step B or step C.

At the end of the day seeing PW demand what he does, seeing this young group buy in, and have some of their development happen while Kevin Martin and Francisco Garcia aren’t playing is truly satisfying. It transforms a potentially crippling development into positive traction.

I believed it was possible in a few weeks that this kinda game could happen. In my wildest dreams did I ever believe (even in the dilapidated state that the Warriors are in–I can’t say this enough–they are so pathetic I truly feel sorry for Bob Fitzgerald, Jim Barnett and Tim Roye–I have empathy for anyone who has to watch the Warriors transpire this season) that a win where the Kings would lead by 20 at Utah, and then a complete smackdown of the Warriors would occur on back to back nights. (When noting how little resistance the Warriors had doesn’t dampen my spirits. It merely makes me cautious on how to read the Kings moving forward.)

On the other hand after last season, I feel like the Kings are on the verge of making the playoff’s the way they played tonight. If I had to explain it one word it would be euphoric.

Euphoric Kings. (Is it too late to change the city’s name to Euphoric?) Or, the Sacramento Euphorics. Yeahhhhhhhhhhh. Sac Euphorics to take the NBA over!!!! Yeahhhhh……

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Responses

  1. Great stuff pook. Was a really fun night. Kings up to 6th in ORtg now. I really like this team. Have no problems with anyone on the roster and really really like all of our young players.

    I agree, PW has been excellent. I asked after one of the pre-season games if it was too early to say I loved him, and you said yes. Is it too early now?

    I’m so happy with how he lets his players know what he wants from them and holds them accountable and is always willing to teach. Very impressive.

    I’m really loving JT’s game right now too. He’s missing an ungodly number of bunny’s but those have to start falling. The rebounds, on both ends of the floor, and the assists are very nice. And I’m lovin’ me some JT left hand action. JT: 12.3 points, 9.4 boards and 3.4 assists. I’ll take that.

    It’s early but have you looked at the team’s PERs? JT – 19.9, Beno – 17.7, Tyreke – 15.9, Omri – 17.3. Last season, only Kevin was over the league average. Very nice. I hope it continues.

    Again, great recap.

    • Here’s a point that I think people are missing with JT: He’s missed a lot of shots early on, but that will improve I think.

      Clearly we are looking at a lot of internal improvement from the young talent on this team. It’s nice to see.

      Thanks Kfan.


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