Posted by: Kingsguru21 | February 27, 2010

A small miracle happens and the Kings win; Down Jazz 103-99

There are so many things about this game that I had to re-watch it before writing about it. (Which is why the recap is so late.) I suggest reading TZ’s and ZHarper’s too. The Hoopdata BoxScore if you wish to look at that.

The worst part about the game was the beginning. There was no rhythm to the offense (Evans J’s, Omri’s bad pass to anyone) and slowly but surely different players got involved.

Carl Landry’s 4 boards were probably the other bad thing about this game. The Kings were out-rebounded by 11, and that was in no doubt partly due to Landry. But, the flip side to that is that the Kings simply didn’t have that many shots to get on the o-boards, and that was the real difference in the game. (Utah missed so many shots and had more turnovers.)

Having said that, the defensive rebounding was done well as an unit and I wonder if there was an emphasis on such. It certainly seemed that way watching it through the first time around.

The first bucket that Carl Landry scored on was exactly why the Kings wanted him: He scored on a contested bucket at the rim that I’m positive if it were Hawes or Thompson would have been blocked. I hope to see more of that. (The Jazz aren’t the best matchup for Landry. He struggled vs them playing with the Rockets too.)

I don’t even know where to begin with Tyreke Evans. However, only turning the ball over 7 times will help you win against any opponent. And given that Reke only had 2 TO’s (both in the 1st qtr) makes a tremendous deal of difference.

Having said what I’ve said, the Kings probably can’t play a whole lot better with this unit than they did last night. The Jazz can play a WHOLE lot better than they did last night. In fact, the Jazz may have shown why they’re in the mix for the Western Conference Finals. At times their offense didn’t work and wasn’t crisp. (It wasn’t awful either. 12 TO’s is hardly an awful amount.) Deron Williams shot poorly all game, and only Carlos Boozer getting hot late really kept the Jazz in the game. It was the perfect storm of things really: The Kings playing really well with their starters and the Jazz just shot poorly all game for the most part. On the other hand, the Kings missed a lot of FT’s and got out-boarded heavily on the offensive end. The Baby Royals did not play perfectly themselves.

Once the 1st qtr ended, I thought the Kings at times suffered due to Paul Westphal trying to get Nocioni, Garcia and Udoka minutes. (It was good to see Cisco do something in his 19 minutes. I’m sure GP & PW are equally thrilled.) That said, I also thought their calm professional demeanor helped keep the Kings even if they weren’t always hitting shots. All 3 played physical defense that helped keep the Kings from ever losing contact with the Jazz at any point. (At several points of the 3rd and early 4th that was possible.)

Onto the bullet points:

* Tzilly already nailed the WaBeno aspect of this. That was in essence the play of the game and I think it deflated the Jazz and encouraged the Kings a little (more inflating for the Kings than the Jazz deflating honestly). Udrih’s aggressive offense helped the team in the 1st qtr when they needed to get off the mat after a slow start. He also steadied the team in the 4th qtr (other than making Wes Matthews feeling like he got crunched) and the point that TZ was making (other than incredible comedy combining Wario and basketball) that Beno’s savvy on 2 ends combined with his size (it’s easy to forget that Beno is a solid 6’3 200 lbs) helps the Kings take advantage of teams like the Jazz. The production from the Jazz 2 spot was nothing compared to what the Kings got from their 2 guards (Beno/Cisco/Udoka).

* The play in the middle of the 2nd qtr (6:20 mark of the 2nd or so) where Evans stole the ball from Deron Williams and had the ball in the open court then passed to Cisco. That kind of aggressive perimeter defense was one reason the Kings felt they could absorb the loss of Kevin Martin. For whatever Kevin is and isn’t, he’s not an aggressive physical defender on the perimeter the way Evans and Cisco can be.

* The end to the 1st half was disappointing. But that’s one of those things young teams have to learn. Going through it and learning that every possession of every play of every game counts is easier said than done.

* Paul Westphal was a professional coach. He acted like it last night. It was disappointing to not see Donte Greene, but with the way he was towel waving I don’t think it’ll matter too much in the long run. I’m sure the Kings and PW are thinking of ways to get Greene on the court consistently. If they are having trouble, I don’t blame them. But for last night, the rotations seemed pretty set (with May/Dorsey getting some trial run) last night. I really don’t have a problem if the players at the bottom of the rotation get mix & matched because those players aren’t generally as good or useful to a NBA team. It’s the players at the top of the rotation I want to see get consistent burn. For one night, that happened.

* Spencer Hawes. I don’t even know where to begin with him. This was, in my opinion, his best game of the year. It wasn’t the points, or the rebounds, but the attitude. All the various things that he does well he did in spades tonight (hitting J’s, taking shots where he should take them, not forcing anything). Say whatever you want about Hawes, but he out played the starting C on the West’s 2nd/3rd best team last night. He played well at the rim (more on this in a minute) and scored well around the rim all night. This is the Hawes that needs of starting minutes. This is the Hawes that shows why he’s a better player than Thompson in terms of overall talent. (I like JT too. I just don’t think JT is the player everyone wants him to be.)

Having said that, it was nice to see Hawes, Landry, Evans and Udrih take control of the offense. All 4 of those guys are the best offensive players the Kings have, and last night they carried the offense. Hawes picked up 5 fouls and most of them defending the rim against easy layup’s. PW nailed it when he said this is the way we want our team to play. I don’t think that’s a shot against any one player, but a message that it’s time we always play together on both ends.

Hawes got the message, and did everything he could last night to help the Kings win. It wasn’t any one thing, but the overall attitude that he displayed. (I also think that hitting those shots early helped him a ton too. He plays really well when that happens. When he misses shots, he presses.) Again, and I’m repeating myself, this is the Hawes PW and Kings fans should want. On the other hand, a big point that Okur doesn’t beat you physically (it’s not what he does) is one area where I think Spence did okay. When he goes up against physical specimens is where he really struggles. If he can maintain this level of aggressiveness, though, who knows?

* I have no problem with the officiating. I also have no problem with Donte not playing. Having said what I did about Donte, I think the challenge for Donte and the coaching staff is to figure out how to integrate him in games such as this. He could have done something to help the team win. Given that the team played well, I’m not going to 2nd guess the move of not putting in Donte. (Now if it’s a consistent trend…..)

* Sean May’s contribution last night was important. Joey Dorsey didn’t really amaze me tonight, but he’s the best interior defender the Kings have. Which really says how bad the interior defense the Kings have.

* I’m still not sure what to write about Tyreke Evans right now. He forced Deron Williams, the 1st time All-Star (a travesty as I’ve said many times) into forcing him into a game Williams wasn’t really up to playing last night. Whatever wrong was with D-Will last night was definitely the Kings gain. Between that and Paul Millsap not having a quality offensive game, that did the Jazz in.

What can’t Tyreke do when he’s playing like last night? Really, the only thing I’ve seen is hitting mid range J’s and 3 balls. Other than that, everything is already there (with obvious improvement needed in a few area’s–he is a rookie right? he’s 20 right?).

*The Kings & Jazz were tied at 95 with about 3:30 to go in the 4th qtr. If you told me that the Kings would execute better than the Jazz down the stretch, especially with the Kings missing so many FT’s the way they did, I would have laughed at you beforehand. Btw the last 2 points came on a Boozer shot (that could have easily missed–it rattled around the rim some before dropping) with about 9 seconds remaining in the 4th qtr.

* The Kings were nearly 70% finishing at the rim. I would be happy if that was consistently around 60% on a game by game basis.

* This was a physical, well fought game that saw both sides scrap to get loose balls. I can’t remember a game where the better team respected the lesser team, but still lost anyway. (That’s the beauty of missing shots vs making them.) That’s probably what I will remember about this game moving forward.

* Carl Landry hitting 2 FT’s with 1:53 to go was a major key to the Kings winning the game down the stretch.

* The shot that Tyreke Evans beat the Jazz with 14.5 seconds to go was All-Star level stuff. And while I agree that Stephen Curry is a special player with a ton of potential (maybe an All-Star game or two), Reke will be there for many years to come. (Like 214, I don’t really buy that Curry has truly inflated stats. He’s good enough to get these stats. The difference is the resistance that the 2 players receive. Curry is single covered for the most part, and every team designs it’s defense to stop Reke. Opponents have been doing that from day 1.

* This is a building block game. Some stuff went wrong, and some stuff went right. Some stuff the Kings simply got lucky on. And, when you’re 4-22 since January 1st, you have little to complain when you win for the 5th time. Especially when it’s a team like the Jazz who played hard all game and didn’t quit at any point. That’s what impresses me the most. Beating a team like the Jazz when they’re off but still competing will always grab my interest. Well done Baby Royals. Onto tomorrow. You passed the test today.

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Responses

  1. Great post, pookey!I was very encouraged by this game…from the turnover-to-assist- ratio; by the offensive clicking of Hawes-Landry-Beno-‘Reke; the nice offensive spurt of May, the interior defense of Dorsey…this is(as you stated) a great starting point.I’m very encouraged…All I can add is:

    “Gotta Love Your Sacramento Kings!”

    (Not hard to do with consistent play like that!Now go out there boys, and do it again!)

    • Rhonddanunes:

      Thanks for brining up Sean May’s perfomrnace, his jump shot of late has been incredible. Hard to keep that guy on the bench when he is drilling 21 footers.

      • Well and the reason I brought it up was for this reason (even though I chose in the end to not state it directly): May’s offense helped the Kings avoid any of those droughts they had been having. Those 7 points don’t seem like much, but when you’re in a drought and you’re having a problem getting continuity from your starters to bench, then May’s 7 points matter a great deal.

        Everyone I know who cares about the Kings says the same things about the teams struggling: It’s that one bad qtr. Because of Dorsey and May, there wasn’t much of a gap gained as there had been over much of the previous 2 months.

        If that continues to happen, the Kings will win more games just because the talent and effort is there almost every night with this team.


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