Posted by: Kingsguru21 | March 28, 2010

Cavaliers outlast Kings en route to 97-90 victory

There are games where you can literally say that the lesser team, in this case our beloved dipshits (aka the Kings), has games where being a lesser team is literally an advantage. Today was one of those days.

Every team has it’s strengths and weaknesses. The Kings are a very good offensive rebounding team (now 8th on the season). The Cavs are a very good defensive rebounding team on the season as well (2nd in DRB% on the season).

Without Sideshow Bob, I mean Anderson Varejao, the Cavs simply didn’t have all their horses on the D-boards they normally have. Without Spencer Hawes, and an active Jason Thompson, that sort of mitigated things for the Cavs. This was a definite trap game for the Cavs.

But here’s the difference when you’re the Cavs and you have LeBron James. LBJ can play at 50% of his potential (as he did today–and maybe it wasn’t even 50%) and you can still absorb a game where the other team plays probably as well as it can given the circumstances.

That’s exactly what happened. I don’t mind that the Kings caught a break, or that they lost. I really haven’t had high expectations for this road trip without Tyreke Evans playing. (I got a post upcoming about him. As soon as I finished my overdue Chapu post.) It’s just that Reke is the Kings best player, and it’s more than just physical ability or basketball skills. It’s attitude and force that Reke exudes. You can’t teach that and you certainly can’t underestimate how important that is for the Kings in order to win in the future. That will, that necessary attitude, is important for any winning team. Reke has that. And, obviously, the Kings need Reke’s will to help them win games. When you see games where players like Beno and JT had the will, but not the horses, it just seems a waste. On the other hand, it makes me appreciate when they do play well in a winning effort.

Having said that, I’ll applaud Beno and JT for playing 48 mins tonight in a yeoman effort for both. Obviously Beno’s Trip-Dub will get attention, but it was really the fact that Beno was looking to move the ball today despite the fact that he typically looks to score. I just wish Beno’s Trip-Dub, as the case with any player, didn’t come with a loss. I especially feel that way about the 48 mins played for JT & Beno.

Sometimes the difference between games is simply hitting your shots, and tonight was no exception.

Pace Eff eFG FT/FG OREB% TOr
Sacramento 91.0 98.9 46.8% 20.3 25.6 16.5
Cleveland 106.6 54.7% 20.0 16.2 18.7

Onto the bullet points:

* There are times and places where you just wonder how a team manages to do it. How they “know” in otherwords. And then, when you hear luck defined, you often wonder why people just don’t recognize luck for what it is. If for nothing else, having 3 highly paid G’s on the roster with Tyreke Evans made one of them expendable. If you had told me that player was not Beno Udrih, in November, I would have laughed at you. For a VERY long time.

As lucky as the Kings are to have Tyreke, it’s almost easily as much luck that WaBeno Udrih has shown more of his true colors this season than he ever has. Tyreke Evans and Beno Udrih play well together, and finding the perfect match with Tyreke as he gets older is something I’m not sure the Kings need to strive for. I fail to see another G out there that fits better with Tyreke than Beno does.

At this point, what can I say about Beno? Nothing. I’m thrilled with his season as it’s gone on. Having said that, let’s see how the future holds before I proclaim Beno to be the complete answer.

Beno Udrih? A triple-double? You gotta be shitting me.

* Earlier in the season, Paul Westphal made a comment that Jason Thompson almost never gets tired. That he gets better the more minutes he played. I think that’s very true. JT looked great knowing he was getting the minutes, and it took the pressure off. My question is now: Can JT play well with Spence in the game, and vice versa?

That’s the only real question I’ve ever had about both, and that answer has never been consistently given. If the answer is yes, it certainly changes the need to move JT or Spence in the off-season. That’s an important answer that both players need to answer moving forward. Whether that’s this season or not, or whether either guy is capable of it or not, I don’t know.

Still, big ups on the 14 boards and the terrific d-rebounding. That Jason Thompson is the JT we need to see every night defensive rebounding. (I’m hoping today also teaches him the importance of not reaching.)

* Omri’s first missed dunk (he missed another dunk and layup too) was a big reason why he was struggling. He simply thinks too much. When he went out & played, he was very effective today. When Omri doesn’t think, he’s very effective. Whatever the reason was, and I don’t care if it was just simple luck, Omri played loose and free as he had during the earlier part of the season. The weight of the expectations that Omri (rightfully) heaped upon himself as a basketball player (ignoring the Israeli part of it) I think fed into this perception he had to play perfectly. When Omri convinces himself of that, and JT is very similar in this regard, he’s not the player that makes a difference. “Cocky don’t giving a fuck Omri” is the Omri the Kings need. That Omri showed up today, sick or not.

* The one negative of the game was that the Kings turned the ball over a lot given the slow pace and the fact that the Cavs really didn’t force a lot of TO’s. That and the better shooting for the Cavs made the difference. I say this even though Cle turned the ball over 17 times.

* Apparently Dominic McGuire hurt his foot and that’s why he didn’t return.

* Andres Nocioni showed why he’s valuable up to a point. He can help you keep in the game, but you can never win it based off his contributions. If there is a team needing toughness, a banger, a gamer of a veteran, and a guy who can shoot 40% from 3, Nocioni will be available for nothing. The question is will any team want that? If the Hornets are game, i would not be surprised (especially if the Kings decide to keep JT & Spence rather than trade either to get a big like Troy Murphy or in a S&T with the Knicks for David Lee) if the Kings try to move Noc for Peja Stojakovic next year. It would save the Hornets luxury tax money (and get them closer to being under the tax line) and it would move Noc’s money off the Kings cap a year early.

*

If your argument that PW has not succeeded as a head coach because the team hasn’t improved as the season has gone on, I beg to differ. This team has very much succeeded on the necessary terms it needed to coming into the season. Better effort. Improvement from players (although not always the younger ones) was necessary, but I think the whole roster has responded to what Paul Westphal has asked of them. Even if it doesn’t always work, it won’t always. There was a great passage Mike Prada, of Bullets Forever, put into a Gilbert Arenas piece surrounding Michael Jordan and the Bulls in their first championship season from Sam Smith’s seminal work Jordan Rules:

It’s easy to come away from this season wondering how such a disparate bunch could win a title.

The Bulls won for reasons discussed throughout the book. But I would take exception with the notion that their behavior–often angry with one another and management–suggests that they were an unusual team. I suspect many teams in pro sports exhibit the jalousies, anger and resentments that often occur in this story. And why shouldn’t they? Frankly, it’s unnatural to take twelve young men united only by their athletic ability, put them together for about eight months, pay them varying fortunes of money, give them one ball to play with and then expect them to maintain some sort of storybook, harmonious relationship.

Athletes too often are depicted as something less than complete human characters. They’re supposed to be heroes and role models; they’re not supposed to have to stay up all night with sick children, face cranky mothers-in-law in for long visits or have angry or ailing wives. But they do. And they have the same problems everyone else has. It’s just that no one pays to see such problems or hear about them. Athletes are paid to perform. The Bulls did that as well in 1990/91 as perhaps any team in NBA history. But they also fought and feuded and were angry some days, giddy others. They ran the range of human emotions, although when the interviewers were around they mostly gave them what they expected to hear.

A big point here, though, is that emotions of players, and fans, tend to run high when things don’t go their way. Few people walk away emotionally unscathed, and those who do are probably emotionally detached to begin with. (This is where I raise my hand.)

For crying out loud, some Kings fans still get pissy about Gerald Wallace being traded despite the fact he’s never played 75 games in a season, had one All-Star year (this season), never led a team to a 500 record (other than this season), never displayed a perimeter game needed to get on the floor more, never developed a great handle, and never played the level of defense that Rick Adelman expected. (Yes, I know. Rick Adelman didn’t expect his players to play defense. Which explains why I’m so miffed about why the Kings would have soured on Wallace. / sarcasm ) In otherwords, G-Dub never made himself more valuable in the Kings rotation than the players ahead of him. And that matters more than anything else.

People loved Gerald Wallace because he was an athletic high flier and the Kings needed that. The simple assumption was that inserting him would give the Kings more athleticism, defense and rebounding.

It didn’t matter that Gerald Wallace didn’t want to be in Sacramento and said as much behind the scenes. It didn’t matter that the Kings were competing for a championship with the players they had on the court. It didn’t matter that Wallace at times didn’t exhibit the necessary will to stay on the court and fight.

All that mattered was the opinion of him. He would have made this team better. His athleticism, his high flying act would make the Kings better because all that matters in the NBA are dunks, jumping high, and getting concussions. (A collapsed lung never hurts matters either.)

If building a team was ever that lucid, that simple, anybody could run a team, which, I suppose, includes some of the dopes who currently own NBA teams.

My point here? Critique Paul Westphal by the end of NEXT season. Not this season. Critique his strengths/weaknesses all you want as a head man. Go for it. But you’re essentially talking about the weaknesses of this roster which means you should point the finger at Geoff Petrie more. How many people really wish to do that? Paul Westphal inherited much of this roster. I’m aware he wanted to coach this roster, and all that, but at some point doesn’t it matter that this roster is not a coaches dream? You’re only as good as the team you coach and the players you put on the court.

* And last but not least, Donte Greene. I was happy to see him hit 3 of 4 FT’s. The problem was everything else. The Kings desperately need Donte Greene to play at his best for them to win consistently, and Donte has not found that consistency. Whether he’s lacking the offensive skills, or he’s simply lacking the know how to implement his vast physical skillset, I don’t know.

I do know that Donte’s up & down roller-coaster act is an improvement over not being able to give a NBA quality effort on defense or even convince a coaching staff to play you because you lack maturity. Having said that, next year is Donte’s make or break year. (I give players 3 years always.) If he doesn’t show consistency on 2 ends, and doesn’t show it in the appropriate ways, then his value will always be something of “what if”. And at that point I’m not sure that Donte is much different than Gerald Wallace in that respect.

Having said that, I’m willing to be patient with Donte through next season until I fully decide whether to jump off his boat or not.

* I enjoyed watching the game where I knew the Kings wouldn’t win. Rarely can I say that’s the case, but just the competing part of today’s game was worth paying attention to.

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