Posted by: Kingsguru21 | January 13, 2010

Kings offense fades in the 4th qtr against the Magic

I think TZ already said it best in his recap: When you have one guy dropping 20, Reke, but having a rotating cast of heroes was something that was bound to end. Here is the Box Score. 4 Factors:

Pace Eff eFG FT/FG OREB% TOr
Orlando 92.0 118.5 55.8% 29.9 23.7 13.0
Sacramento 95.7 39.5% 23.3 22.6 13.0

If i have to tell you that Orlando is a championship caliber team, you obviously don’t know them very well. Despite all their struggles this season (Rashard Lewis’ suspension, Vince Carter and Jameer Nelson’s injuries), they’re still a top 5 NBA team currently sporting the 4th overall record (now) at 26-12. Sacramento, despite all the happiness of recent play for this team, is now sporting the 8th worst record in the NBA. It sounds about right given the struggles the Kings have had this month, and the injuries the team has sustained over the course of the season. Really, it’s amazing the team isn’t worse.

But, none of that explains why the Kings fell off in the 4th qtr. Or, only partially. Orlando didn’t play incredibly well last night, with the exception of Dwight Howard, but that’s just it. When Dwight Howard plays that well offensively (as good as Dwight is offensively, his incredible worth stems from the defensive end), you’re talking about Sacramento’s greatest weakness which is defensive interior play. Dwight Howard, because he was excellent, from a Magic perspective, from the FT line at 11-15 last night creates problems for the Kings. Because, they actually played reasonable defense against Dwight. Also, noone was in real foul trouble given that Dwight Howard went to the line 15 times.

But, TZ’s point only hit part of an important point that I thought was crucial to how good Dwight Howard is: He alters shots at the rim all game when he isn’t snatching them from the air. We saw how good Tyreke Evans was, sure, but we really saw the brilliance of Dwight Howard and what a real franchise superstar is. Dwight Howard is very nearly his prime, and his prime is beyond brilliant. He’s a first ballot Hall of Famer unless he retires sometime soon.

That is, essentially, the crux of the NBA at it’s finest. It comes down to your best players versus another team’s best player. In this case, it was Tyreke Evans against Dwight Howard. And, Dwight Howard ruled the day. However, that wasn’t the only point that matters here.

Because the Kings have a lot of depth at the 2,3 & 4 positions, they’ve been able to weather their injuries. But this is only a piece of the puzzle. For a team like Orlando that has players who are designed to stretch, collapse, and change a defense because of the way the Magic plays their other 4 players around Howard offensively, it gives them a distinct advantage against most teams. The Kings are not one of these teams because of the long, tall, and active athletes found on the roster. I thought Paul Westphal coached a brilliant game in terms of the way approached Dwight Howard. There was a graphic shown at one point on the broadcast that showed in recent games Howard had shot 80% on FGA against the Kings. I can’t remember a single dunk by Dwight Howard last night, and that’s a testament to how good Howard has become as a basketball player. He showed the diversity of his game (he dished 5 assists) and how Dwight is attempting to improve (D12 shot a couple of 10 foot jumpers; hit a fairly unusual hook with his left hand).

It’s just that, at the end of the day, you have to score more than 10 points in a quarter and shoot better than 35% against one of the top defensive teams in the NBA. It’s just that simple.

At the end of the day, last night’s contest only solidified my love of Kevin Martin’s TS%, his incredible ability to get to the FT line, and the fact that he can hit 3’s at a high clip. Despite the hot shooting of Beno Udrih early, the Magic didn’t respect Beno to keep it up all game.

So, the Kings are still a reasonably young team with a ton of potential in the future. The team is moving forward, made a trade for a still (reasonably) young big man, and has flexibility to sign other players (my hope is that if the Kings can’t draft Derrick Favors then to go after Tyrus Thomas in the Free Agent market–Thomas is all of 23 years old).

Either way, this Kings team is incomplete, and the luster of the early success is starting to fade. Because no matter what anyone says about the early run, it was still a bi-product of a relatively soft schedule playing teams who are not among the cream of the crop in the NBA.

None of that means that Paul Westphal, Tyreke Evans, and Omri Casspi hasn’t opened up eyes. It just means that teams have started to pay attention to the Kings, and take them seriously. If this isn’t good news for the future, I don’t know what is. Viva Baby Royals!

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Responses

  1. Yes, yes, a thousand times:yes.All good points.Howard is not only a monstrous talent, but a smart basketball mind. & he’s getting smarter every time I see him.

    But I have a thought when the offense(of the Kings) stagnates when the opposing teams ‘D’ tightens up(usually late in the game):

    Maybe putting in Sergio to speed up the tempo of the offense might make a difference. I’ve noticed that when Sergio comes in for Beno, if the offense has become all standing around & there’s little ball movement that Sergio helps to get things circulating again with his quickness.

    of course, sometimes he dribbles around in circles & tries to do to much offensively by himself at times which works against him perhaps getting more minutes…

    Less is more, Sergio!Less is more!

    • Gotta admit Rhonda, I’m not that keen on giving Sergio more minutes. He is pretty much what he is. While he has had some quality games, they haven’t come consistently. Sergio is very up & down as a player. To me he is the perfect 3rd PG. Usually, those guys are meant to be just that.

      Beno is a perfect 3rd G or 4th G in a rotation. It’s one reason why I think he’s played so well with Tyreke Evans around this season. With Kevin Martin around, Beno can be more effective than now if only because defenses don’t have to account for Beno as much with Kevin hanging around.

      As far as Sergio helping the ball movement, I think that’s because Sergio pushes the ball and guys are already moving. It’s one weakness of Tyreke that I think lends itself to standing around. He knows that he has to up the tempo, but sometimes if the play is being run for himself he forgets that part of the key of the play will be the increase in tempo. I think that’s why we notice Sergio’s insertion into the game.

      Great points Rhondda!

  2. & you make a good point about Kevin martin coming back; that will ease pressure on Beno and with kevin’s speediness; hopefully the offense can spread more and the ball movement will speed up a bit in these situations where it now seems stagnate sometimes.

    it’ll be fun to see how it evolves, for sure!


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