Posted by: Kingsguru21 | November 30, 2009

Kings beat Hornets 112-96

I know I didn’t recap the Knicks or Nets game, and since so much time has elapsed I’m not going to bother to. So, sorry about that. Everything should be normal (or as normal as it can be with me around) for the most part now.

So, the Kings beat the Hornets in a game that was closer towards the end than the final score indicates.

Here is the Box Score. The 4 Factors:

Pace Eff eFG FT/FG OREB% TOr
New Orleans 90.0 106.7 50.0% 21.5 26.3 15.6
Sacramento 124.4 59.1% 18.3 32.3 13.3

******

My friend the communist
Holds meetings in his RV
I can’t afford his gas
So I’m stuck here watching TV
I don’t have digital
I don’t have diddly squat
It’s not having what you want
It’s wanting what you’ve got

There are nights where recaps are very easy to write because there is hardly a real criticism to make. Thankfully, for me, this is one of those nights.

The things I don’t like are obvious (letting the Hornets back into the game, Spencer not playing, Reke driving into the teeth of the defense with Okafor just sitting there–as Jerry Reynolds mentioned all night it seemed), but the things I do like are so much more than that.

As I just wrote, this game was hardly perfect. Beating the Knicks, the Knicks of all teams at that, is not that impressive. It doesn’t open my eye’s. It doesn’t make me go other than, ” Yeah, and?” Really, when the team sucks you should beat them. And, to the Kings credit, they’ve done that with both the Knicks and Nets coming in.

Tonight was not the case. The Hornets, despite not having Chris Paul, had a reasonably good team come in tonight. This was the same team that had beat Phoenix several weeks ago (right after Paul was shelved), and with the loss drops to 7-10.

It’s not like the Hornets have no talent without Paul. As it was, the oft discussed Emeka Okafor had 20 & 9 (and was 9-10 from the field–Yikes!), and David West had 24 points (but only 2 rebounds–thankfully). The Kings won the rebound battle if only because Okafor was not the same factor on the boards (in part because he didn’t play as much) as he had been during the first 3 qtr’s. Both Marcus Thornton and Darren Collison had played well as rookie’s taking up some of Paul’s minutes. James Posey and Devin Brown had found ways to contribute.

Tonight, only West and Okafor did much of anything, and it wasn’t nearly enough. And, if nothing else, that is my point. Tonight the Kings overwhelmed the Hornets by being consistent, tough, and ever present about taking the issue to the other side. There is a consistent competitive toughness with this team (even in the crappilicious Memphis game) that hangs around when they’re playing well. When the Kings make shots (and lately they have), they tend to blow teams out.

So, here’s what I liked about the game in no particular order:

* Sergio Rodriguez just really filled in the gap for what Tyreke Evans didn’t do tonight. His 24 points, and 5 assists, and 0 turnover’s (yes you read that right), were all major factors in the Kings not suffering despite a real off-night for Tyreke. Rodriguez was clearly the player of the game.

* Jason Thompson had 22 points, 14 boards (10 defensive boards!!!), 2 fouls (yes I know), and was 8-13 from the floor (6-7 line–love that part as much as the 10 D boards). What I love about JT is that while he wasn’t a spectacular defensive talent in that he couldn’t stop David West, or even necessarily be a low post dominant scorer (although he had a pretty turnaround on the left block), he does so many things really well that it’s a bit difficult to quantify what would the Kings do without him in the game. Because JT was playing with a sore lower back (and a very sore lower back at that), this is still a guy who logged 45 mins tonight. While I may not see JT as a sure-fire All-Star (and I don’t), I love his mental (and physical) toughness that he brings when he plays well. The non-frustrated JT is a fun player to watch. Tonight we got that player.

* Speaking of Tyreke Evans, and Spencer Hawes, you saw where not having as many perimeter threats really hurt the Kings when it came to Evans penetration. Consistently, the Hornets had Okafor parked in the lane and dared Reke to beat them from the perimeter. Early on, he didn’t adjust and simply had his shot blocked or made a poor shot. As the game wore on, though, Reke adjusted and tried to focus more of his scoring from the perimeter. Besides, offensively he was not at his best tonight. And, that’s okay. He’s only 16 games into his pro career! The fact, as Paul Westphal pointed out in the post game presser, that New Orleans adjusted so much of their defense to Reke this early in his career says a lot about how he plays. It’s really the greatest respect you can bestow on a player in this league.

* The Kings missed Spencer Hawes and his interior defense/perimeter scoring. I’m glad that Spence sat out because his knee’s are so important. This is doubly so when you factor in Spencer’s past knee troubles and thus you always want to make sure the young Republican knee’s are 100% as much as possible. I doubt it was really Spence’s decision that much; I think the franchise knows that Spencer healthy for 75-80 games is probably a great scenario all told. Hopefully the next 2 days off before Indiana comes into town will see Spencer return to the starting lineup and play well.

* I don’t even know what to say about Kenny Thomas. He missed 1 layup I wish he had made (for his sake; not mine), and only grabbed 3 rebounds in 19 minutes. Call that statement shock as it is definitely not anger induced. (This is a guy who has managed to get 5 or more boards 6 times already this season! And, all of those efforts came in a similar amount of minutes Kenny got tonight. As I said I’m shocked Kenny only got 3 boards.) The Kings out-boarded the Hornets tonight 38-31 (even on the o-boards at 10 apiece), it definitely helped that Kenny Thomas did not kill the Kings offensively. He had 4 fouls, but he’s a big man that needed him to play post defense and not be a detriment to the team. Kenny Thomas did not play as well as he did vs New Jersey, but he did his job. I will be happy with that every night.

* Omri Casspi & Donte Greene are so linked in my mind (I have a piece that I haven’t finished I’ll put out tomorrow–or Monday I guess since it is already tomorrow–Ack!) that it seems worth noting that both of them played so well in a variety of ways.

First Donte: His assists to JT were so integral to the ball movement that kept the Kings hanging around as New Orleans got off to a quick offensive start. When the shots were falling (especially for West) early on, Donte’s defense and offense I think helped keep the Kings within range to make the move that eventually happened in the 2nd qtr. While Donte did not have a flashy game, he did have the Kings only block (that’s 10 in 13 overall games–I’ll be shocked if Donte doesn’t end up with 100 blocks this season if he plays out the rest of the schedule) all game, and the 2 assists he registered to JT were brilliant halfcourt plays that resulted in dunks. That “extra”, as PW noted, is gone out of Donte’s game for now. What’s amazing is that so much mustard is left over. Some more Grey Poupon sir?

Omri is so smooth that sometimes he has such a tremendous effect on the game and it’s easy to miss exactly how he does it. Tonight is that night. Omri did have 12 points, (5-10 floor, 1-2 from 3 and 1-2 line) and 5 boards (1 offensive) so I suppose there is that. But it seemed liked Omri’s timely plays mattered so much more. Even though he played 29 mins (and I think there was times where it was too much and Donte should have got more minutes), and the Kings managed to make runs with Omri in the game, it felt right that Omri played as much as he did. While Omri isn’t as versatile as Donte, Donte doesn’t have the sense of timing that Omri has in making shots. That 3 Omri hit in the 3rd qtr took a 4 point lead to 7. From there it didn’t lead to any great surge, but it stopped the Hornets from gaining anymore confidence. While Omri is not as gifted as some players on this roster, he has a sense of timing and explosion that just simply can’t be taught.

I’ve said it before, but if Omri can become the Israeli Shane Battier I’m pretty sure I’ll need Depends by the time I’m 35.

* Beno Udrih may be the guy who gets lost in the shuffled, but a healthy confident Beno went for 13 points (5-5 floor and 2-2 from 3, but he only made 1 FT out of 2 Attempts the damn Tazmanian bastard) along with 3 big steals. 2 of those steals came in the later stages of the 3rd qtr as the Hornets were creeping back into the game. It wasn’t Beno’s sexiest, greatest, or most wonderful game. But at times he was what the doctor ordered off the bench.

* The coaching staff deserves a lot of credit, but I’m really not sure what to say about them. What can I possibly say at this point? But I’ll say this instead: It’s nice to have a professional, competent, committed and caring coaching staff. I’ll also point out that in PW’s presser after the game, he mentioned that the defense and rebounding was key to the win. It’s funny that an offensive coach has harped so much about defense, effort and rebounding. I thought offensive coaches weren’t supposed to do that. It’s safe to say I have my thoughts about why this coaching staff is in the right time at the right place in the next few days. This is something I think that’s important to get down before Indiana, but this recap is not the time. As I said, before I wasted an extra 200 words writing a point I probably didn’t need to, this coaching staff knows what’s up. As I’m sure most will understand, it is so refreshing to be able to write that for the billionth time and not feel corny at the same time.

* Despite the recent high kick of high turnover’s, the Kings only turned it over 12 times tonight. I’m not convinced this will continue so I plan to enjoy it while I can. Still, this is what championship teams do most of the time. You can’t complain about 12 turnover’s for a full NBA game. You just can’t.

* H/T to 214 for pointing this out in LTTG’s game recap, but the bench had 54 points (24 by Sergio), 5 steals (yes!), 15 boards (5 offensive–4 by Mancakes Monster) and 7 assists (5 by Sergio). Wow. A bench without Francisco Garcia or Kevin Martin (or maybe in spite of it–more on that later too) has really stepped up for this team. Depth is grand especially in trying times, and no times are more trying than now. Amen brotha!

* If you aren’t much of a fan of basketball because you think it’s a bunch of immature brats who don’t care about the game and basically stand around and watch a few guys shoot shots all game, it’s pretty obvious you’ve spent too much time in Philly when Allen Iverson was around. This Kings team plays hard, moves the ball, dives after loose balls, rebounds well (my favorite play of the game was Donte Greene boxing out Emeka Okafor–yes I remembered that just now), plays aggressive defense, executes as much as you can with so many different player combination’s and new players in the mix, and players root for each other. There is nothing more enjoyable than a young fresh group attempting to sell a city that once couldn’t figure out the difference between it’s soul and a basketball team, that said basketball team is worth it. If you really have been saying to yourself that you shouldn’t bother going to a game because it’s a waste of money, well, you’re probably talking about the Warriors. Because it’s clear you aren’t watching the Kings right now.

Did I mention I really love wins where I don’t have to poke & prod about minor issue’s? I LOVE THIS GAME!!!!!!

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