Posted by: Kingsguru21 | December 28, 2010

Clippers outlast Kings in another victory for Lawler’s Law; Clippers win 100-99

The title kinda says it all. Lawler’s Law was definitely in effect. And, the 5-7% margin of error didn’t fall the Kings way. Such is life I suppose. But it hurts nonetheless.

First things first. I hate Donald Sterling. Because he could ruin a potential dynasty with how little he cares about winning. He cares about 2 things with regards to the Clippers: A) Short term profit (which he makes) and B) his cachet as an owner. Everything else is secondary. I feel bad for Clipper fans if Sterling derails this team’s progress at some point. Which, you have to point out, he has a penchant for doing.

What’s there to say about Blake Griffin that SportsCenter hasn’t slobbered said about him already?

Eric Gordon? Don’t think he’s an All-Star? I beg to differ. Dude is a flat out stud. I don’t think he’s as good as Tyreke Evans, but that ain’t a knock. He’s athletic, tough, can shoot, and perhaps is a grade below Tyreke Evans as a defender. Neither guy actually stopped each other tonight, but the real difference is Gordon’s pure killer instinct offensively shooting the ball. He’s just unreal. That up & under layup with about a 3 mins left? I still can’t believe Gordon made that shot. Here is a nice excerpt from Sebastian Pruiti about that play, and Vinny Del Negro’s chops as a head coach.

And it’s not just Griffin or Gordon. Even though they are finding their way and will be very up &d own all season, Al-Farouq Aminu and Eric Bledsoe could be terrific additions that could make the Clippers a terrifying team the Kings have to contend with for the next decade. Quite simply, yowzah. These kids are a handful. They may be 10-22, but their loss of margin is less than 4 points per game. That suggests they’ve lost some tough luck games that their youth has given them. They will get another lottery pick and may be able to take a shooter to space the floor even more (as if Gordon isn’t enough) in certain scenarios.

Be scared of these Clippers. They are far more talented, have more upside, and more gravitas than the Elton Brand/Lamar Odom/Darius Miles Clippers ever did.

That said, this is about the Kings. I just wanted to say some nice things because, Donald Sterling excluded, and quite possibly Vinny Del Negro, there is a lot to love about this Clippers team.

******

The Kings lost because of DeMarcus Cousins. I’m not going to put this loss entirely on him, but he’s the main reason. And, shockingly, it’s his sour puss dour attitude when dealing with Paul Westphal that is doing it. He’s trying a power play with PW, and it won’t work. Quite honestly, Cousins doesn’t seem to get that PW has committed to playing him minutes.

Had Cousins been able to stay on the floor down the stretch with Dalembert on the court (what do you know? it works….), I believe in everything that the Kings would have won. Records be damned, I honestly believed the Kings did everything they could to win. It wasn’t perfect, they certainly made mistakes on both ends and at critical times, but the recipe to formulate a victory was all there.

But DeMarcus Cousins can’t seem to get that he needs to do his job, and at all times. He can’t slack off for a moment. He pushes the limits, and has continued to push them. I’m glad Paul Westphal sat him down, and hopefully he gets that he needs to play well, intelligently and with purpose and passion for the Kings to win. Has he figured that out yet? No, but he’s 20.

Man is this kid trying on my nerves though. And, as regular readers of this site know, I was not a fan of him last Spring.

I don’t know what’s wrong with Carl Landry. Whatever it is, and with the exception of the 2 clutch FT’s he hit with 51 seconds to go, I’m convinced Carl Landry needs to be traded. I just hope Geoff Petrie can swing the right trade for the Kings and bring back a veteran guy. (I’m holding out hope it could be Tayshaun Prince or Andre Iguodala coming back.)

Samuel Dalembert showed his value and why the Kings wanted him. Against actual players with size, and when he’s emotionally involved with trying to win, Sammy shows his defensive worth. Quite simply without the caliber of defenders that Dalembert, and Tyreke Evans are, the Kings would have lost by at least 20 with the way Griffin and Gordon were going off. As it is, Gordon had 31 on 11-19 shooting, and Griffin had 24 on 9-14 shooting (and 5-7 line).

Ridiculous. And I repeat: Had Dalembert and Evans not played as well on the defensive end as they did, it would have been worse.

Now, let me point out some things.

Tyreke Evans had by far & away the best game of this season (and maybe his career when held in context) with his offensive performance. Just getting to the line 10 times suggested that he felt as good as he has at any point this season.

He made outside shots, but is still fading away. Again, he’s a work in progress. I think the fact that he’s going to take 3’s at some point is something fans have to accept. Unless he hits those shots, teams are simply going to pack the lane at all times and expect him to do anything other than drive. The simple truth is that because Tyreke can beat anybody 1 on 1 for the most part (there might be an exception or two out there like a LeBron James at times or someone like that), teams have to keep him out of the lane because anyone who can get layup’s any time they like should be doing so. Just the fact that Tyreke tried to take the game on his shoulders, nearly succeeded, and had 2 shots to tie and/or win the game is a hell of a progression for him given how he’s played this season.

It won’t mean anything if he doesn’t build on this success though.

I loved Garcia’s play for the most part tonight. He hit his 3’s, including some crucial and timely daggers in the 3rd qtr when the Kings were getting back into the game as the 3rd was winding down, and moved the ball and did his job. It was the effect Paul Westphal was hoping for. Hopefully some of the younger guys can figure it out as well.

I don’t think it’s an accident that guys like Jeter and Jackson played, but Greene didn’t. When Greene is hitting his outside shots, he’s effective. Outside of then, however, he’s really not been that effective for the most part. That’s been a problem.

I love Pooh Jeter’s game. He just understands how to run the offense and try to get guys shots in their comfort zones. It makes me appreciate how difficult it is to run a NBA team. Jeter is proof positive that a player can grow even if they aren’t in the NBA. I hope he has a long career with the Kings and elsewhere. The cat is just fun to root for.

Double Ditto for Darnell Jackson. Every time I see Jackson in I see the ball move for extra shots. I see him hustle and go after rebounds. He’s not perfect and his limitations, but he plays to his strengths and then goes out and does them.

Dalembert finally looked like the good Slammin Sammy Dalembert that woudl show up 40-50 times a year in Philly. We got one of those nights. It’s a shame we wasted it, but, again, it’s clear that DMC & Sammy can work together as a tandem and effectively. Positions matter alot less when matchup’s are the only real important ingredient when deciding who you write in in the lineup. Magic Johnson once got written into the Lakers lineup as a C in 1980, but was he really a C? Probably not. Hopefully my point is made.

I agree with PW’s comment that the best thing that will come out of tonight’s contest is that Tyreke Evans gets back on track will change this season’s trajectory. It is without a doubt the single most important factor in helping the Kings somewhat survive the early season stinkbomb.

If he does have surgery, I think it will be a copout on both Tyreke and his inner circle’s part. I don’t think he’s as hurt physically as he is struggling with outside issue’s and the mental aspect’s of the game right now.

That said, I’m not a doctor and I don’t think any amount of medical reporting will make me change my mind. Although, that can change I suppose.

Here are the players talking. Take it from what you will. (No, Tyreke Evans talking about his procedure isn’t on this.)

Here is James Ham’s synopsis of the whole thing. Personally, as I said, this is an issue that is mental and less physical. But since I’m not Tyreke and am not in his body, I don’t know how much he is hurting.

I’m happy that the Kings were competitive and had a chance to win. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but it’s clear that this team is still playing hard. Not always well or consistently, but hard.

That should tell you that perhaps Paul Westphal isn’t all at fault with this team. He has his faults most certainly, but do you handle Cousins appropriately? How do you handle Evans’ injuries and outside influences?

There are no simple answers but to simply say time and patience is needed for this team to do the things that is needed for this team to be successful. At some point, I believe the ingredients are there. It’s just a matter of learning how and where they can be effective and then going out and doing so consistently.

As much as the loss hurt tonight, hopefully it’s a glimpse of things to come for the rest of this season and seasons beyond. If it’s not, well, I don’t even want to think about that right now.

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Responses

  1. Excellent piece Pook, really well written. Just as an aside, the difference in maturity levels between Carl Landry and Cuz and Reke is remarkable.

    The only possible thing I could call you on would be that Avery Johnson is currently as frustrated with Derrick Favors as you (and just about everybody else) is with Cousins.

    One of the aspects I really liked about Reke when he was first drafted by the Kings was his strong family support system. I agree with you that it would be a huge mistake for Reke and his advisers to decide to shut it down now.

    He either has or will learn every skill necessary to play basketball at the highest level. What he needs to learn is the mental toughness, the grit necessary to slog through this ugly season. If his big brother enables him to avoid having to experience every tough loss this season, he will be allowing Reke to avoid learning the very painful lessons that he will allow him to take his game to the highest level he is capable of.

    One of the hardest lessons I had to learn as a father when my son went to high school a few years ago was to let him learn from his own mistakes and to start letting learn to be accountable for his actions. As badly as I wanted to protect him from making every stupid mistake I had made in my youth, I finally had to realize that it just wasn’t possible.

    I hope that the circle of family and advisers guiding Reke as he attempts to maximize his basketball skills and career let him realize that if he is truly driven to be great that he is going to have to learn to pay the price himself because no one else can do it for him. Giving him the easy out of a season ending surgery during what has to be the toughest time of his basketball career would be a tragic abdication of the duty they owe him.

    Hey – hope that 2011 is a good year for you Nate and that you can find some more time to keep posting.

    • Thanks BJ. Hope 2011 is an excellent year for you too.


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