How We Feeling?
There’s no way you can feel good about what you saw from the Kings against the Wolves.
The Wolves are probably the worst team in the NBA. Maybe Detroit or Toronto are worse but a team like the Kings needs to take advantage of facing one of the easier opponents, especially when they get to stay home to play them. Instead, the Kings came into this game with some defensive issues and lack of energy to start the game. They ran into a buzzsaw game by Michael Beasley and never had anybody step up and take over with smart, intelligent basketball to counter the offensive barrage Beas was throwing at them.
The Kings just didn’t make smart decisions for the most part. And it looks like they’re going to struggle to guard athletic wing players this season. They were torched by Rudy Gay, Kobe Bryant (understandable) and now Michael Beasley over the last three games. In this game, the Kings threw whatever they could at Beasley defensively and just couldn’t keep the ball out of his hands and out of the basket. The Kings tried five different guys (Omri, Donté, Cisco, JT and Antoine Wright) on Beasley and nothing worked. They tried a zone and he still destroyed them. The Kings never had that one guy who could just buckle down and keep him from being in comfortable positions to score.
The Kings shared the ball extremely well in this game. They just couldn’t capitalize from 3-point range or the free throw line and they couldn’t take care of the ball. They missed 15 of their 20 3-point attempts. They missed 12 of their 32 freebies. The starting backcourt of Tyreke and Beno turned the ball over nine of the 19 times the Kings turned the ball over in this game. There was just a lack of execution on a night in which they needed a defensive adjustment to stop Michael Beasley and a couple of momentum swings on offense to get the game in their control.
Again, you can’t take much good from this game because these are the few gimme type of games the Kings have to take advantage of throughout this season. Now they have lost three straight games at home and fallen below .500.
Key Sequence in the Game
After cutting the deficit down to a very manageable and winnable three points with 5:11 left in the game, the Wolves went on a 6-0 Kevin Love run to push the score to 91-82. Kings had hung around enough to have one more push in them if they could play a little defense. But Kevin Love ended up coming out of nowhere (seriously, he was nonexistent almost the entire game) to give the Wolves the final push to get a little distance.
Even though this 6-0 run only spanned about a minute and a half, it was at just the right time for the Wolves to get a little comfortable before the final stretch of the game. Kings couldn’t get stops when they needed to in order to take this game back over.
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention Tyreke’s foul situation. With 10:34 left in the fourth quarter, Reke picked up his fifth foul. Westphal left him in because he felt like he had just subbed back into the game and wanted to avoid losing a chance at winning this game by having Evans sit for a key stretch in the fourth quarter when the game could have easily been won with a strong showing.
One minute and 32 seconds later, Tyreke picked up his final foul on a fastbreak in which he ran over Sebastian Telfair and the Kings young star was done for the rest of the game. I understand the motive behind Westphal sticking with Tyreke but at the same time, you have to give yourself a chance to win at the end of games with your best guy.
A Big Concern
Where in the hell is Carl Landry? What happened to him? Why is he so nonexistent? Is he still on the team? Did the Kings keep the wrong Landry brother? Is it possible he’s in hiding? Did the Monstars steal his powers? These are all questions I’ll be tackling in an upcoming post.
This isn’t an advanced stat but I was impressed with the Kings not giving up a single fastbreak point to the Wolves in this game. In the first game these two faced each other, the Kings gave up 35 fastbreak points to the Wolves and narrowly escaped with a road victory. In this contest, their turnovers were possession killers but not huge point swings. They got back on defense and avoided letting the Wolves get out and run, which is something they love to do considering they have the top pace in the NBA.
Here is where the Kings stand in the Four Factors after Game 7 of the season:
Player of the Game
Samuel Dalembert was probably the best King in this game with 14 points, nine rebounds, two assists and two blocked shots. The Kings involved him a lot more in the offense and did it in an intelligent way. They didn’t just post him up and hope he could figure out a good way of scoring in the post. They got him rolling to the basket and getting dunks and layups at the rim. This is the smart way to use him I chronicled in the off-season.
On to the Next One
Friday at Phoenix to face the Suns at 6pm PT. The Suns are currently tied with the Kings in the Pacific Division standings with a 3-4 record. They’re coming off of a loss against the Grizzlies in Memphis and haven’t played since Monday night. They’ll have fresh legs too.
Key Matchup – Tyreke Evans vs. Jason Richardson.
Reke has to be able to match Richardson’s scoring (21.7 ppg, 48% FG, 47.9% 3-pt) in an efficient manner and not let J-Rich get into any kind of rhythm early.