Posted by: Kingsguru21 | December 6, 2009

Kings Fall to Suns 115-107

Tonight, the Kings lost by 8 to a team that had, by any real account, a pretty good game on the face of things. Amare Stoudemire had 18 points and 21 rebounds. Yes, you read that right. Steve Nash had 32 points (another ho-hum game for him–you can always tell a ho-hum game for a Hall of Famer when he drops 30) and 6 assists (I know–only 6). Channing Frye hit 4 3’s, and that was pretty much the difference.

The Suns better players were better than the Kings best players tonight. And, sometimes that’s the way teams win in this NBA we have.

Here is the Box Score. Here are the 4 Factors:

Pace Eff eFG FT/FG OREB% TOr
Sacramento 93.0 115.1 48.3% 22.2 40.9 10.8
Phoenix 123.7 49.4% 31.8 36.2 9.7

So, where to begin. Obviously there was issue’s with foul trouble in the 1st half. Tyreke Evans, Jason Thompson and Donte Greene all picked up 3 fouls. For the most part though, that’s the breaks of the game sometimes. You have to learn how to play defense and not foul players. JT, in particular, fouled Amare Stoudemire on a rebound, and simply this is not something a player of JT’s caliber should do. The Suns rarely made those type of stupid plays, and that was the difference in the game really. A young, still finding it’s way team, couldn’t really get out of it’s way long enough to force the Suns to really have to match up with them. That was a shame, too. Tyreke Evans had 12 points before leaving with his 3rd foul. For the game he had 9 points, but there were times where Phoenix had no answer. If Reke stays on the floor for 5 more minutes, maybe the Kings win. The Suns, as good as they were, had very few defensive answers for Reke had he been able to be on the court more.

So, onto the bullet points:

* Sergio Rodriguez had another quality outing after he realized he couldn’t play at breakneck speed. It’s an advantage against most teams, sure, but not against the Suns. Once Sergio realized that, he used his speed far more effectively in the half-court. That was good to see. Hitting half your shots isn’t a bad thing from Sergio either. As far as Sergio not playing down the stretch in the 4th qtr, I thought it was reasonable given that Tyreke Evans is more important than Sergio on the court. As good as Sergio is, I think he did the best he could for the Kings all told under any circumstances. 22 minutes for Sergio is a lot, and I’m not sure I would want him under ideal circumstances getting more than that. I don’t think Paul Westphal has anything against Sergio, but it’s also something I will take Paul Westphal’s side until I see something that says “no way Jose!” Just that simple sometimes.

* Spencer Hawes had a tough night from the field. At least 4 of his shots popped in & out, and instead of being 4-14, he’s now 8-14 and has another 18 point outing. Sometimes it’s just not your night. Plus you factor in Spence’s tech, only 5 boards, and some general frustration (that the tech doesn’t really illustrate) with all the chirping, and the Kings really didn’t get as much out of Spence as they needed to pull out a victory in Phoenix. When Channing Frye scores more points than you (and it’s not because Frye sucks), you’re not doing as much offensively as you need to. Defensively Spence did some nice things (I love how improved Spence is defensively this season) tonight, and they needed that. Still, for Spence to make that leap he needs to be able to punish Channing Frye inside tonight and convert. Tonight this just didn’t happen.

* Donte was terrible tonight by even modest standards. He had a lot of 1’s in his box score tonight. 1 FT (out of 4 attempts), 1 3 made (out of 3 attempts), and 1 FG (out of 5 attempts). Donte didn’t kill the team tonight, but you need him playing at his best to beat a team like Phoenix on the road. My hope is that he continues to get time and that he finds a way to regain that touch. I think he can, and I’m not totally dissuaded by missed shots. I just wish he wasn’t 1-4 from the line. He’s way too good a shooter to be under 80% from the stripe. (As is Omri. Speaking of…..)

* Omri is a player I love watching play as he develops. But, in the meantime, at times his growing pains will not help you win games against the better teams. Chock this up in that column. We know what Omri is by now. As he gets experience and goes through these battles a few times against every team, he will get better. But until those battles are had we have to experience these growing pains before we actually witness growth. Donte is having similar problems as teams have figured out what his go-to moves are and what not. Both Omri & Donte are going to have to adjust now that teams have figured out what their weaknesses are. The question is can they? (Based on a smallish sample size for both, I’m excited that we have them on our team.)

* Kenny Thomas had an amazing 18 rebounds (8 offensive) in 24 minutes tonight. Amazing. That’s both perturbing and ridiculous simultaneously. And, good for Kenny Thomas. He’s deserved it as he’s been part of the franchise power struggle internally to see who controls minutes. Now that issue is settled, I’m glad Thomas is getting minutes in doses he can handle and proving that he has something left to help a team. The best way for a team to want Kenny Thomas with his contract being what it is is if Kenny is playing well. Right now, as far as post defense and rebounding, Kenny is playing bonkers basketball. Without Kenny’s great rebounding tonight, the Kings lose by 25 with all their foul trouble. The Suns are just that potent offensively. Thomas provided great post defense on Stoudemire and limiting the quality of his looks he got close in the basket. Normally Amare gets a lot of dunks against the Kings, and I can’t remember a single dunk Amare had at any point. A lot of that credit goes to Kenny (obviously). More important, Stoudemire’s dunks tends to get the Phoenix crowd into the game and that’s been impossible for the Kings to overcome in the past. Tonight, no such problems.

* I heart Tyreke Evans. I love this kid, and I’m so glad I did a mea-culpa on June 26th. Because good lord, I’m glad I was wrong on June 25th. And tonight is a glaring example of why. 21 points (8-16 shooting 1-2 line, 1-3 from 3), but also 7 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 steals and Zero Turnovers. Now, the Suns are not a high TO forcing team, but, still, rookie’s tend to turn the ball over against anybody. Tonight Tyreke took great care of the rock (TWSS) and didn’t take his patented bunny crab dribble he has developed a tendency to in previous outings. I heart Easy Reke.

* I respect Paul Westphal greatly. That is pretty much it. What can I say that I haven’t said ad nauseam already? I thought this quote was telling by PW: “On one hand I’m real happy our young team played them so tough. On the other hand I’m anxious for the day we can learned the lessons we learned tonight and get a game like this.” Yes, I agree. But, as PW knows, this is a process. And, the beginning of this process is just, literally, beginning. As the young talent matures, this team will get better. Savvy players tend to be savvy regardless of their youth. This team has promise if it continues to develop and improve as they have. Make no mistake, this team has gotten better since the beginning of the season, and the major reason for that is Tyreke Evans making those adjustments along with the steady hand of Paul Westphal and his coaching staff. That simple.

At the end of the day, I chock this up to a moral victory. Yeah moral victories suck and are about as useful as George W Bush making foreign policy (or any policy). Still, given that the Kings haven’t played well in Phoenix at all recently (like the last 3 years for starters), I’ll take this every time. Every single friggin time. Shit’s relative yanno? (Even Texas shit like GWB.)

And, sadly, our Baby Royals are back square at 500 again. 500 never felt so good I tell ya…..

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Responses

  1. and since this is probably one of the last times we see .500 for a while I’m going to enjoy it.

    I think it’s pretty amazing that this game was close, closer than the final score indicates and the Kings were playing far from their best ball that we weren’t blown out. The credit has to go to Kenny Thomas who kept us in it.

    I want to see JT and SHawes step up and have good games against winning teams. Tonight, not so much.

    Could have been much worse.

    • Yeah BJ it could have been much worse. The Suns weren’t that great tonight, and were very beatable. The first step to realizing that is probably losing a few games along the way. (Easy for me to say.)

      On the other hand, I think it’s pretty realistic to expect this team to compete hard every night. I’m really hoping to see a breakout game for Donte alongside Tyreke though. And, in the same game for Omri to obliterate the other side as well.

      Maybe I’m just being hopeful. Sigh.


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