I’m going to write some recaps periodically until I get a consistent stream going. Then, hopefully, recaps will be more consistent. This is going to be short nonetheless because most of what I’ve said is covered by either James Ham, Akis Yerocostas or Jason Jones. That being said, I still notice shit. So, yeah.
* Nice puff piece on Gary Gerould. As I was reading it, I was wondering what I would say to the G-Man. I don’t think anything of importance, but probably just a thank you would suffice. Something tells me Mr Gerould would understand that.
* All I could see was the TV feed, but it looked at least 85% full for the game. I find that impressive given the circumstances. As far as the Giants are concerned, they’ve been in San Francisco since 1958, and last won a World Series in 1954. (You’ve probably seen the Willie Mays clips where he catches a fly ball and then turns around and throws it back into the infield. That was in Game 1 of the ’54 series.) Either way, it’s a great day for Giants fans around the world. Congratulations to you all.
* Voisin has mentioned it, and everyone else too, but Tyreke Evans was treated like a superstar last night. This was for good reason. Evans controlled the offense, got his other guys shots (even though he recorded only 5 assists), and set the tone for the comeback. Voisin alluded to an All-Star berth, and the post locker room after the tummy disturbance is what will make Evans an All-Star this year or next. It’s all there for him when people stop spreading the “he doesn’t pass” bullshit occasionally passed through the media. Just remember that Kevin Durant went through this and now casual media who doesn’t know shit about the NBA see him as a viable MVP candidate when he wasn’t even an All-Star 2 years ago in their eyes.
The point? Ignore pundits. Or most of them anyway.
* I loved this quote by Paul Westphal on Tyreke Evans (via the Jones piece in the paper):
We had a talk before the game,” Westphal said. “I just said stop trying to get assists. Just play. I think if he prethinks a play sometimes he loses his aggressiveness.
Yeah. He’s so busy trying to keep his teammates involved that sometimes he forgets that he still has to score to ultimately make the most of his matchup nightmare for the other team. I’ve been saying it for a long time, but that balance has to be figured out by Tyreke Evans on the court. There are many worse coaches for Tyreke than Paul Westphal. It’s worth keeping in mind when you complain about how Westphal manages the other players minutes, or whether the team gets down in their stance appropriately in the 1st half. Some things are on players, but I think the management of a young superstar ranks as Westphal’s primary job right now. Everything else is secondary and can (and quite possibly will) be fixed with time. Patience. There is youth abound. Youth means mistakes. I repeat: Patience.
* DeMarcus Cousins was equally terrible in the 1st half as he was brilliant and effective down the stretch in the 4th quarter. One discerning thing about DMC’s performance though: Only 4 boards. And this against the Raptors who have one plus rebounder: Reggie Evans. Gotta get better young fella.
* Jones mentioned it, but DeMar DeRozan had an excellent game getting to the cup. He may end up being the steal of the 2009 draft.
* I don’t have the patience to DL the script to add the 4 factors into the boxscores of either ESPN or Yahoo!, but you can go to Hoopdata and see all of them for every game (as well as the season) in the interim. I just post it here for your convenience. If you don’t have Hoopdata bookmarked, you probably should. (You can also get there through the bookmark on the sidebar.)
* This was the first time I’ve seen Darnell Jackson really play this year, but I loved every minute of hustle and effort he gave the team in the 1st half. Even if it didn’t result in points for the Kings (and Jackson scored 8 which has to be seen as a complete bonus), Jackson’s play I think set the tone for the eventual comeback.
* Udrih had an exceptional game even if he doesn’t stick out. That’s why the Kings traded Kevin Martin in otherwords. (I know that’s taboo, but it’s true. It’s a bit more complicated than just Beno and Cisco, but that’s an important part of it.)
* I’m concerned that Dalembert and Cousins can’t play together on the front line, but until ample time passes I’m going to put that concern on the back burner. In the meantime, I’m going to echo the many voices who are loving an interior defensive player, rebounder and shot blocker. That play at the end of the game was one of many reasons fans already love Sammy D.
* I hope Omri Casspi learns how to channel his energy because he’s too all over the place right now. If he ever learns how to become steadier, this Kings team will improve by leaps and bounds. Scary isn’t it?
* The move Carl “Top Hat” Landry made in the 4th qtr going baseline (think it was Evans guarding him but I can’t remember) was the best move he’s ever made in a Kings uni. It was also nice to see the Top Hat return to his clutch self on the FT line. He’s an 80%+ FT shooter and there’s no reason he shouldn’t hit that on a game in game out basis.
* The Kings had 11 Turnovers against Toronto. This doesn’t mean anything much because TO doesn’t force many turnovers overall. However, it means the Kings didn’t beat themselves. Of the 11 TO’s, only Landry, Udrih and Evans had 2 TO’s. Everyone else had 1 or 0 TO’s for the game. That’s exceptional.
* I’ve always really wanted to love Andrea Bargnani because he can shoot and has a lot of skills. But he only grabbed 2 boards. I’m a firm believer that you’re only as good as your best player (like duh?), and your weaknesses as a team has a lot to do with said player. Bargnani only grabbed 2 boards, and he grabbed at least 6 Toronto would have won.
* Luther Head got 4 FT’s, Evans got to the line 7 times (making 5), and Landry got there 4 times too. Head was perfect from the line, and the Kings as a team were 22-27 from the line. (Head’s fake that got him 3 FT’s in the 1st half was a beauty right out of the Reggie Miller/Kevin Martin head fake school.) The player I want to note is DeMarcus Cousins who went 4-4 from the line hitting all of said FT’s down the stretch. Keep it up big man!
* Last night, I was wondering whether I should be concerned about the slow start and eventual comeback. In a way, it’s a problem because it suggests the Kings haven’t learned what a 48 minute effort really is. On one hand, that is, it is an issue. On the other hand, this is a young team that is 3-1 against opponents all of whom are very beatable whether it’s on the road or at home. This team, despite working Dalembert into the rotation, missing Evans in the opener against Minnesota, having an uneven pre-season in part because of the injuries, the defensive difficulties and everything else, is still 3-1. Yes, it won’t last and I know that. However, given the circumstances I’m not too concerned. I think eventually this group will figure out that a consistent 48 minute effort is necessary. There will be games where these guys don’t come out with the requisite energy and “turning it on” will happen. It happens to many teams in the NBA, and many players get through the grind by coasting. It happens to everyone else in a job atmosphere, but since we see these players and pay money to see them, we expect 110% effort. It’s unrealistic to expect, but it’s also not unrealistic to expect that this team play with more intensity on the defensive end. If they can do it in the 2nd half, why not in the 1st half?
One of the things I hope to see with this group is figuring out how to bring that intensity over a 48 minute span and do it consistently. Hopefully by March or April, this team will understand that. This is a young group at the beginning of a long journey to discover their identity. It’s not going to a smooth ride. Turbulence and uneven performances will happen. So, my feeling is that worrying about it (and it’s one thing to ignore it–which I’m not) is a bit of jumping the gun. If it continues to happen down the stretch and into next season (2011-12), then be concerned. Until then, sit back and enjoy the fact that this is one of the 5 youngest teams in the NBA that went 2-1 on the road to open the season, and won their home opener after the other team came out and punched them a little in the mouth.
Soothing it’s not, but this Kings team isn’t a championship team either. In truth, I’m enjoying the fact that we’re in for another fun ride with this team. That’s ultimately what counts as I see it.