Posted by: Kingsguru21 | March 25, 2011

Kings bully Pacers inside; Win 110-93 for first winning road trip since the fall of Caesar

For some reason, and I’m not really sure why, I had a feeling that a 3-2 trip was possible. I would have been giddy if a 4-1 trip occurred too. I didn’t expect a win in Chicago without Tyreke Evans and, well, that didn’t happen.

What I didn’t expect was for the Kings to be a part of 3 blowout’s on the road, and win 2 of those. What’s funny when you look at the points allowed and scored portion of this trip, the points will look closer after the 40 point blowout in Chicago. The reality is that the Kings beat 3 beatable opponents on the road sandwiched with a loss in Chicago that they almost had no shot at ever winning. Between the Pacers, Bucks and Wolves victories, The Kings have won by a combined 56 points in their 3 victories and that’s a +16 when you net the Bulls loss (that should have been 25-30 points or so) at face value.

For a young team that had 16 victories coming into the road trip it certainly seems phenomenal. Consider, the Kings are 10-25 on the road and 9-27 at home. The Kings are currently 19-52 and one game behind the Raptors for the 5th worst record in the NBA. I would bet money there is nothing the team would like more than to win some games and grab that 5th worst record. Given that the team has hovered around the 2nd worst record for much of the season, and at one point was perilously close to Cleveland, this is a damn good development.

Don’t tell me ping pong balls matter. I don’t care. They don’t. How much better did the Kings get with having more ping pong balls the last 2 years? Did it ultimately matter then? Most teams don’t get a foundation of players the caliber of Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins in back to back seasons let alone dropping 3 & 2 spots respectively from where their ping pong balls had slotted them.

Again, winning at this stage of the game will provide better results for the team than anything else moving forward. (Although, I know I’m in the heavy minority of believing that Perry Jones is the player the Kings should take.) After all the rough issue’s of the season that have come to a head with the Maloof’s discussing a possible move to Anaheim, as a Kings fan? I would love to have a winning stretch of the season and have some good feelings to end the season. It’s about goddamn time.

That said, I would really love to talk about this game. Gotta be bullet style as I have no way of organizing my thoughts with so many in my head at the moment.

******

* Player of the Game: Take your pick between Tyreke Evans for keeping the Pacers at bay with his stellar ball movement in the 1st half and stemming the tide when the Pacers cut the lead to 9 in the 3rd Quarter. Evans ended up with 6 points on 2-7 shooting (2-2 line), 8 assists, 2 turnover’s

Or, DeMarcus Cousins dominating 2 ends of the court for much of the night with his rebounding, passing, interior scoring, intensity and defense. Cousins finished with 18 points, 14 boards (5 offensive), 5 assists, 3 Turnover’s (of which were not the debilitating variety), 3 blocks, no FT attempts, and 9 of 17 shooting (with some tough luck rolls mixed in at the end) that ended up looking less stellar than it really should have been.

Or, Sammy Dalembert for providing both Cousins and Evans a great sidekick to bother the Pacers on both ends. His defense and rebounding counted a lot. Sammy had 16 points, 10 boards (4 offensive), 3 steals, 2 blocks, and only 1 turnover(!) on 6-13 shooting (4-6 line) as well.

Or, Francisco Garcia for providing excellent defense on Danny Granger in the 1st half especially, hitting timely shots at various points in the game, his general activity level, and having 16 points (7-11 shooting 1-3 from 3 and 1-1 line), 4 steals, 3 blocks, and only 1 Turnover.

A team effort tonight was displayed and it was as evident as Lady GaGa is disturbing or disgusting (I can’t decide which). Between Marcus Thornton’s overall play (but not his shooting), Beno Udrih’s steadiness, Darnell Jackson’s quality stint in the 1st half, Pooh Jeter’s nice contribution at the end when the Kings needed ball handling and the aforementioned players mentioned, that really just leaves Donte Greene.

* Donte Donte Donte. This is you buddy. This is your game. You were 6-9 from the floor. Hit 3-5 from 3. You did a tremendous job of disrupting Granger in the 1st half. You were an open target. You made passes to the open man and played unselfishly. That’s you man. Keep doing it and you’ll have a spot in the rotation if you keep at it. Role players in the NBA are extremely valuable, and you’re a role player. It’s better than being unemployed or doing a 9-5 isn’t it?

* I’m quick to usually mention the referee’s when they do a good job so I feel it’s really fair to mention them when they were poor. Tonight they were awful. I thought a lot of it was trying to help the Pacers get in the game because they were getting their butts kicked and helping the home crowd feel like they weren’t cheated. (The Pacers faithful were cheated.) Really though, some of the missed calls were just inexcusable. The two that stick out was the Thornton technical (which sort of got him going strangely enough) and the Granger stepping out of bounds. (There were plenty of non-calls inside against the Kings that could have easily slowed the game down.) You guys didn’t have your best effort, and for your sake (and mine), I’m glad it didn’t matter.

There is no way in hell you can tell me the Kings fouled 6 more times than the Pacers in the game. You can’t tell me that the Pacers earned 30 trips to the line with the Kings only getting 10. That’s just…..ridiculous. And it’s not like the Kings weren’t driving inside or drawing contact either.

What’s worse that when the game was competitive, you called the game right. That’s what makes me really mad. But that’s okay. It didn’t cost the Kings the game.

* What cost the Pacers the game was their god-awful 3 point shooting. They were 4-25 from 3 and couldn’t make many really wide open 3’s tonight. Then again, that was in the 3rd quarter. In the 1st half, many of those attempts were contested too.

The Pacers offensive struggles were a combination of the Kings very good defense (at times) and just porous shooting (at times). To which percentage? I don’t know. I don’t care either.

* Recovering from when refs don’t call things your way is a great way to show composure. If there was anything that the Kings did incredibly well (and there are a lot of things to choose from), it was that every time the Pacers had a run the Kings simply had a response to it. The biggest play of the game was the Tyreke Evans drive to answer the lead being cut to 9 with a “stop n pop” plus one in the late 3rd quarter. It completely changed the tenor of the game, and, with the exception of the sloppy play that gave the Pacers too much hope in the 4th quarter, it was pretty much in the Kings hands from the late 3rd on.

* I really liked Paul Westphal’s timeout calling tonight. He got on the team to tighten up things when some stuff did not go their way. And while the yelling at Cisco to not leave his man may be what’s remembered, it should also be noted that the Evans Drive + 1 happened after several ragged possessions and a Westphal timeout. Westphal out-coached Frank Vogel tonight. When you factor in all the advantages the Kings had, that’s really saying something in a players league. And, like Westphal at many times this season, Vogel’s players did him no favors with the play they exhibited.

* DeMarcus Cousins has started to rush less. He’s figured out some how to use his strength and ridiculously long arms to his advantage somewhat. He’s still having finishing issue’s around the basket, but that can be changed with time. He is only 20 after all.

* I don’t even know what to say about Beno. 12 points, 6 assists, 4 boards, shot 5-9 from the floor (2-2 line) and didn’t turn the ball over once. His veteran leadership came in force tonight.

* Jason Thompson had 8 points and 9 boards tonight. The fact that he’s very much an afterthought in this recap says a lot about a guy who played about as well as you could off the bench given the circumstances.

* I was impressed with Marcus Thornton tonight. Not because he shot 7-22 (and many of them very close to going in) but mostly because he kept being active at both ends. It certainly helped that he was going against former teammate Darren Collison in that he knew he had to keep playing hard to stay on the floor.

* I’m wondering if I should feel embarrassed at thinking that Jermaine Taylor was roughly equal in talent to Marcus Thornton or that I should be mad at JT2 for not earning more minutes in a rotation begging for steady contributors. He has all the tools too.

* Pooh Jeter and Darnell Jackson are perfect 11-12th men in a rotation. They play hard, do what a coach asks, provide something to the team (Pooh runs offense well and gets guys involved; D-Block plays hard and provides quality low post defense), and are going to be cheap. I wish the team (again, you know the caveat) would re-sign them both for a couple season and maybe a million dollars a piece. Guys like that do not just grow on tree’s, and finding guys who can live with being on the end of the bench while making a living are not easy to find. Guys with good attitudes and bring positive attributes on a young team struggling to find some of those are not easy to find. Especially when you considered this is Jeter’s first NBA season (at the age of 27) and Jackson is only 24 years old himself. Even Marcus Thornton seems considerably more mature and he’s only 23 himself.

That speaks volumes about Omri Casspi, Donte Greene, DeMarcus Cousins, Jason Thompson and Tyreke Evans load of struggles from where I stand.

* Tyreke Evans is 3rd on total points on the team (with 849 after tonight’s victory) and has played more than 20 less games than either DeMarcus Cousins or Beno Udrih. You can call it a hunch that I think the team sorely needed him in his absence.

* Whatever Sam Dalembert and DeMarcus Cousins have figured out lately, it would be rather amazing to see it transpire in the City that boo’d Santa Clause and Michael Irvin’s knee injury. Especially given that Cousins was passed up by the Sixers in the 2010 draft in favor of Evan Turner (I suspect that will not look good in a couple years–and it would not surprise me if Derrick Favors and Wesley Johnson end up passing him by a country mile too) and could play rather, umm, inspired there on Sunday afternoon. (Philly time. The game starts at 9am West Coast time.) I look forward to the game to say the least.

* I’m interested to see if the Kings can carry a 3 game winning streak into the Tuesday game at Phoenix. (Wouldn’t it be nice to see a sellout?) Wouldn’t it be cool to see the Kings put a few winning streaks to end the season? With 11 games left, and 9 games behind the Clippers, it would be rather shocking to see the Clippers fall into the 5th spot ahead of the Kings. (However, remember, that is an unprotected pick going to the Cavs in the Baron Davis deal.) For whatever this may be worth, the Kings, as bad as they’ve been, are ahead of 8 teams in road record, and a 1/2 game behind Milwaukee for the 9th worst road record, 2 1/2 games behind Charlotte for the 10th worst. That boggles my mind to no end when you remember the Kings are 9-27 at Arco.

* The Kings out-rebounded the Pacers 55-50 (and it was not that close until the late 3rd quarter came around), had 27 assists to 12 Turnovers (yes you read that right), 10 steals, 9 blocks, 7-16 from 3 including all of Thornton’s missed shots, held the Pacers to 35% shooting from the field, only committed 22 fouls (which for this team is rather exceptional), and something that may be a bit overrated (which I’ll happily share) in that the Kings had every player in a positive +/- number for the game. The Pacers had 2, and both of them were at +2. Nobody on the Kings had less than +2 (Donte Greene).

* Danny Granger got a lot of bail out foul calls tonight. He showed his strengths and flaws between the December game in Arco and tonight.

* A very thorough feel good win with positive contributions from everyone who played. The only negative is that the starters played too many minutes and couldn’t quite close the game against the Pacers in the middle of the 4th quarter when they should have. Given that the team was 18-52 coming into the game, this was a stellar record.

Enjoy these. And not because the team may be leaving for Anaheim. Enjoy them because the team, the team that many thought could roll out of bed and become, finally seems to be here. It seems a shame to waste a touch of good news with light at the end of the tunnel for some devastating news that will eventually show up around April 18th. Watching the team play the Pacers tonight was as much fun as it was watching the Vlade Divac-Chris Webber teams blow out teams with fans hollering for Gerald Wallace to come off the bench. (It had that strange bit of nostalgia for me.) It was fun and I wish it had happened more than it has this season. That’s life, and you gotta roll with the one’s who brung ya as they say.

If you wanted this team, this is that team. Don’t spend time wondering what if and spend time enjoying the last several weeks of the season while you still can. That’s my advice. You’ll probably regret ignoring the team in this juncture because of the record, the recent news of a potential move, or whatever else you can muster up as the reason to not watch this team recently. Tonight was one of the payoff’s of the frustrating to no end this team has had.

Enjoy it. (For God’s Sake. And by God’s Sake, I do mean Eric Maynor.)

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