Posted by: Kingsguru21 | December 22, 2009

Kings complete Miracle Comeback, 102-98

Here is the Box Score. 4 Factors:

Pace Eff eFG FT/FG OREB% TOr
Sacramento 94.0 108.5 50.6% 23.2 27.3 16.0
Chicago 104.3 50.0% 22.5 29.3 19.1

So, where to begin. We know what didn’t work. Spencer Hawes, Andres Nocioni and Omri Casspi did not work. The first 2 1/2 qtrs for every player minus Beno Udrih (who scored 14 of his 17 in the 1st half) was not working well. The Kings were down 35 points.

Then came the onslaught. The Kings were down 79-44, at the 8:50 mark of the 3rd qtr, and from that point the Bulls scored 19 points. With 20 mins remaining in the game, the Bulls scored 19 points the rest of the way. I’m not really sure up to that point whether the Kings defense, or the Bulls offense, was what the problem was. Clearly, for the last 20 minutes of the game, that wasn’t the case.

Conversely, the Kings ended up with 58 points scored from that mark. 58-19 is what allows you to make up 35 pt deficits.

If you told me that, sitting at that sports football bar I was at, at about 6:45 PM tonight, I would have called you a fat stupid bitch. I may or may not have offered to remove some of your teeth at no extra charge. Watching a basketball team (in the team’s hometown no less) on a night where the entire bar is entirely geared for a pointless Monday night game (that was a blowout) generally irks me.

As I described Saturday, the noise was all about Football. Tonight, because more of the observers were casual (it seemed to me), the most noise was because of the Kings comeback. In one of the few sports bars in Downtown Sacramento, Monday Night Football was more important. If that doesn’t describe how far the Kings have sunk, I don’t know what will.

Now, against the Cavs and Lakers that will draw more attention around here for obvious reasons. Plus, with the Kings beating the Bulls (and the Bucks for that matter) on the road, there is a reason to be reasonably optimistic around the EC again.

Obviously, there are many heroes for this one. Let’s go about this step by step. Onto the Bullets points madam(!!!!):

* I feel sorry for Bulls fans. If that’s stupid, poserish, or just simply bullshit, I understand. But I do feel sorry for them. No fan deserves to watch a team with Vinny Del Negro as head coach. And, I say this having watched a team with Kenny Natt as head coach.

* Whatever Derrick Rose and Luol Deng were doing in the 1st half, after about the 1st half of the 3rd qtr, they simply did not accomplish for the last 18 min’s of the contest.

* At one point during the 1st half, the Bulls ORB% (in the 4 Factors) was nearly double of the Kings. By the end of the game, it was nearly even. Joakim Noah, who was a major factor in determining the game in Sacramento, was not the same player in this contest despite getting 10 points (5-9 shooting) and 10 boards (2 offensive).

* The Kings had so many TO’s in the 1st half it almost seemed impossible to track, but in fact they had 11 Turnovers in the 1st half. The Kings ended up with 4 TO’s in the 2nd half, and the Bulls ended up with 18 TO’s for the game.

* I never believed the Kings would win this game. They had to prove to me that they could win the game with how poorly they played (and they did play that poorly), and they did. Good.

* I won’t dump on anybody who played poorly. We know who they are.

* First Hero is Beno Udrih. He hit 2 big FT’s (plus a technical in the 2nd half) with the game on the line that provided the final margin, and as noted his 14 points kept the Kings from, I don’t know, something (imploding, exploding, internally combusting; insert adjective here). Still, Beno’s threat on the floor was important given that the Kings were not generating offense. Just having Beno running around dragging Hinrich or Rose was a big help as Sergio was running & gunning the Bulls to death in the late 3rd/4th qtr. Beno was also the player who made the pass to Ime Udoka for his 2nd corner 3 that brought the Kings within 4.

* Sergio Rodriguez played tremendous in many ways, but simply providing that quick change of pace that he gives helped the Kings speed up the game where Tyreke Evans generally does not. Just having Rodriguez speed the team up tends to remind Tyreke that he needs to, too, speed the game up as well. Friendly, gentle reminders (as Evans noted in his post-game–which I’ll get to) work well with such a young, eager-beaver type of group this Kings team has. As fans we’re all aware the Kings won 17 games last season, but so are these players. It shows because they know they need to give effort every night out. (Even if they don’t always do it. Exhibit A: Minnesota.)

* Jon Brockman was, well, Doc Brocktimus Prime Mancakes Monster at his best. He was physical (which threw Noah off his game some), got some boards the Kings wouldn’t have gotten otherwise, and showed what he did was be Jon Brockman every minute of the nearly 17 min’s he spent on the court. I don’t think Jon Brockman was the player of the game, but he is a player who changed the tempo of the game for the better once he came in.

* Jason Thompson had some good moments, but mostly it was nice he didn’t foul himself out of the game or look as bad against Noah in the EC in November. JT didn’t put up All-Star numbers tonight against Noah or Gibson, but he did do some good things over the course of the game that helped the Kings win. Mostly, it was being able to stay on the court.

* I have a great deal of respect for Ime Udoka. 17 points in less than 24 mins is already an incredible bonus. (Udoka had 21 points in the 2006-07 season when playing for the Blazers.) On a night where Donte Greene, Omri Casspi and Andres Nocioni didn’t have much going offensively, Udoka provided that gap filler tonight. The 2 3’s he hit back to back late in the 4th that cut the Kings deficit to 4 let me know this team was right there. Those are the kind of shots that Udoka hasn’t really hit with consistency, and I don’t care if he doesn’t hit them again. Udoka’s offensive performance was one of a kind, and if you need that performance from him consistently you are not going to win many games. Thankfully, I don’t think there will be many games where the Kings get almost nothing from Omri Casspi, Andres Nocioni, Spencer Hawes among others.

I-M-E U-D-O-K-A!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Note: I like Udoka. I’ve always appreciated his class & professionalism. What makes me so elated for a guy like Udoka, who is not known as an offensive player, to have such a major role in the fueling of the comeback by hitting the shots he did hit. For a guy like Udoka, who has literally played professionally all over the world, it’s a real memory that will go around with him forever. Over the course of time, as sands continue to drop in the bottom side of the time-glass, almost everyone will forget that Udoka was on the court. I suggest you don’t.)

That having been said, one of the funniest moments of the game for me came when I was noting who grabbed the offensive rebound with about 18 seconds left. If you asked me originally, I said Spencer. (In fact there were 2 black guys sitting at the table next to me who were far more interested in the Kings than MNF. I wonder what’s wrong with them. Must be communist’s like Paul Robeson or something.) Anyway, one of them asked who grabbed that board, and I originally said Spencer. Then, I said it was Jon Brockman when I realized Spencer hadn’t grabbed the board because he hadn’t been on the court for well over a quarter at that point. Then, I said it’s hard for me to tell the difference between a light skinned black guy and Jon Brockman. In actuality, the CSN angle saw a white guy go up for the ball, and Udoka actually, when you saw the reverse angle, snuck in and grabbed it. It’s the perfect way, I think, to describe the brilliance of Ime Udoka and Jon Brockman as physical, intense basketball players who are at their best when a street brawl is in play. In fact I am convinced that Ime Udoka would be David Blaine if Blaine wasn’t a complete sack of shit.

* Tyreke Evans is God, Jesus, Allah, Mohammed, Luther, and Yoda rolled up into one. What struck me as odd about this game was we saw all 6 sides of Easy Reke tonight.

24 points on 8-19 shooting (only 1 3 taken/made plus 6-9 FT’s) and 8 boards (1 o board). Only 3 Assists, but that’s really not a great surprise since most of the other players that Tyreke usually racks up assists with (Casspi, Nocioni, Hawes, Greene, Thompson) were not great at finishing tonight. Plus, that facilitating aspect of his game was not in full force. It’s okay, he’s all of 20 years old.

That 22 footer he took where he was slightly off balance with 50 secs left shocked me. I was like holy fuck this is really the Kings game to win! As I said, I’m shocked the Kings won, and always will be. Really, I’m really amazed the Kings outright won it more than anything. The Bulls, I could very easily argue this, could have lost this game too.

Tyreke Evans is 20 years old. He’s playing like Dwyane Wade Jr, and I’m supposed to be bothered by the little things that players learn as they gain experience and savvy by playing in the NBA against the best players the world has to offer? You obviously don’t live in the same universe as me, myself & I.

* Big up’s to the coaching staff. Not sure else what to say on that one. But rather than me saying anything, why not Tyreke Evans? Evans on the coaching staff:

When did you think you had a chance to win this game?

When we got up. It was amazing, we never stopped fighting. One thing I like about Coach Westphal, he’s a great coach. At halftime he didn’t come in and curse us out like we were little kids. He talked to us, we weren’t playing our best basketball, keep fighting. We went out and did that. I think that kept our confidence up instead of just coming in and yelling at everybody.

* I thought the 3 momentum changing plays were this:

* Udoka’s back to back 3’s that pulled the Kings within 4. They were stuck at a hump, and Udoka made the open shots that the Bulls couldn’t make in the 2nd half.

*The Jump Ball wth 1:30 left where Brockman out-jumped Kirk Hinrich and tapped the ball to Beno Udrih. It led to Evans FT’s (1 of which was missed–grr) and that led to the o-board and that led to the Evans jump shot with 50 seconds left (on the game clock) at the absolute end of a horrid possession.
This probably was what gave the Kings the win.

I think my favorite part of all this is how much talking Tyreke Evans now does. He’s starting to figure out that you can, in fact, talk on the court and be a complete asshole to fans as long as you can back it up.

* The scramble for the loose ball where Beno ended up on the FT line to close out the game.

In closing, you’ll probably see 1 or 2 of these games throughout the NBA season. As Kings fans, we were lucky enough to be on the winning end (this time) of a pretty historic comeback. (It was the largest comeback on the road in the history of the NBA.) I enjoyed it, if for nothing else, because I saw a young team pull out a win in a pretty unreasonable circumstance. But, there are other things to remember too.

The Kings are a young team that went on the road and allowed the Bulls to score 88 points in 3 qtr’s. The Bulls are one of the worst offensive teams in the NBA, and allowing them to score 98 points over the game doesn’t mean it says much about the Kings. It probably says that the Bulls were equally as bad as the Kings were good over the last 18-20 minutes of the game. That isn’t soothing or comforting for future Kings victories. Beating teams in the NBA includes consistent ball movement, effort on defense, rebounding, and hitting of shots. The Kings do not do all these things yet. While this team is young, and will certainly grow on that front, there is still a major need to find front court depth (especially a player who is athletic and can do those type’s of things), and nothing about tonight changes that. If you want to be euphoric, ecstatic, or something in between, by all means do so. But NBA teams take notice and this means that the Kings will not likely sneak up on many teams from now on. That’s not a bad thing as this group of fearsome, young Baby Royals have been showing signs that they are ready to take that next step anyway. The issue here is that this level of growth usually means another learning curve that results in losses.

This coaching staff, this group of (predominantly) young players has given the EC and Kings fans world-wide to cheer again. Yes, I’m thankful for that. I’m not stupid, though, and I’m not terribly arrogant about holding the “biggest comeback” ever. In fact, I’m irritated that the Kings couldn’t do what most teams do on the road: Play well for 48 mins in a win. The Kings have yet to do that on the road (they came pretty close in Utah I’ll admit), which could mean good things, but inconsistency is the flip side of youthful energy sometimes. So while the record is nice, and something to remember I suppose (especially if you were one of the lucky Kings fans who happened to be in the United Center tonight), it’s not something to be tremendously excited about when your team was the group that got down by 35 points to the same team that eventually coughed all 35 of those points up.

That, ladies and gentleman, is the step that teams have to learn as they mature and get better as they figure things out over a course of the season. I’m excited about this team’s future (and potential), but really it’s still only a potential future at this point.

Don’t think of me as Debbie Downer. Think of me as Debbie Realist who lives in the real world and remembers that this is 1 game of 82, that the average age of the roster (including Kenny Thomas and Ime Udoka) is a bit over 25 years old, and that this is the first year for Paul Westphal and his coaching staff handling all of the Kings players. While last night could be categorized as amazing, I prefer to look at this game as lucky.

Make no mistake, though, I do love this win. I love any win you can get when you’re down big (and 35 is big right?) and then pull off a come back and emerge victorious. I don’t care if Chicago has problems. (I kinda knew what they were and why they were. This Bulls team has a bad body of work streaming behind it, and tonight was just another example.) I know the Kings have multiple problems themselves. I’m okay with that too. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will the Kings (although two might be close enough). In fact, I’m glad the Kings got this type of win before having to face Cleveland, LA (Lakers) and Denver. Anything that gets those teams attention, and having them play well in Arco is good for our Baby Royals. First, you learn how to compete. Then you learn how to win. The Kings have learned how to compete with the lower end of the league, and win. But, the Cavaliers, the Lakers and the Nuggets are a different breed of team. The Kings are about to find this out. After a win where the Baby Royals did something no team in the history in the NBA has ever done, I’m eager to discover what’s behind door number 3.


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