Kings grind out victory 103-100 in Keith Smart’s Kings coaching debut

Sometimes when you win, you really lose, and sometimes when you lose, you really win, and sometimes when you win or lose, you actually tie, and sometimes when you tie, you actually win or lose. Winning or losing is all one organic mechanism, from which one extracts what one needs.

Rosie Perez’s character, Gloria, from White Men Can’t Jump. I realize it seems vague, but what I wrote earlier today about a dilapidated franchise in tatters still stands. A win tonight where Tyreke Evans plays hard for a game means nothing. Where Cousins plays hard for a game means nothing. Both had tremendous games tonight in many ways, but, at some point, these guys have to do it more than just an occasional moment. That’s not how the NBA works. Am I impressed with what Tyreke did tonight? Nope. Seen it before. Gotta do it game in game out for the remaining 58 games to impress me. I’m not easily impressed. DeMarcus Cousins did some good things as well, but the Moses Malone act has gotten old. Make your layups the first time kid. As far as the game goes, there is plenty to note that was good. Here is the boxscore.

  • Tyreke Evans played a game that saw him get to the basket plenty in a game where there were many missed shots. But, as many will say, Tyreke got to the FT line 9 times, 4 times in the last 20 seconds to clinch the game, and looked like a player who got to the basket in his better times during his rookie season. Evans grabbed 10 rebounds, 3 offensive, and had 5 assists (with some real good opportunities for more if not for John Salmons missing a lot of open shots) along with 5 Turnover’s. That was the real negative of the game for Tyreke and hopefully moving forward these turnover’s are cut down. Well, not sure about that one. It’s a hell of a goal though nonetheless. Evans defense throughout the game was effective, particularly on Brandon Jennings late, and that was nice to see. But one game doesn’t really mean much to me these days. Consistency, consistency, consistency.
  • DeMarcus Cousins still dribble drives way too much for my liking, and made some decent layup’s throughout the game. The offensive rebounds are inflated in part due to Cousins’ incredible offensive rebounding and penchant for missing layup’s. But there were also about 8 or 9 real quality boards made by Cousins that had a lot to due with his incredible talent in that part of the game. Cousins’ 6th foul was definitely a phantom foul call but a few foul calls, as always, are probably going to go against you at any given point. I think the real progress Cousins made was that he was able to play some with foul trouble throughout the 2nd half when the Kings were cutting a lot of the Bucks lead down. During that stretch Cousins was effective and reliable which is important. * John Salmons played really effective defense down the stretch of the game on Stephen Jackson. If for no other reason, along with the steal that got Salmons 2 FT’s, and the Kings within 1 at 100-99, it was nice to see Salmons making a real tangible contribution. Salmons had been struggling for far too long.
  •  Marcus Thornton had a tough shooting night for the 1st half. Then, he started to hit some shots, and then started to hit some more shots. Thornton ended up with 27 points on 10-23 shooting, 5-5 line and 2-6 3′s. Some of the shots that Thornton missed were as wide open as it will get. Thornton’s main bugaboo was the 4 Turnover’s he committed. At times, Thornton played effective defense against Brandon Jennings (who went off for 31 points on 12-23 shooting, 6-10 from 3, and 1-4 line), and showed that he is willing to take big shots when they really count.
  • Chuck Hayes went out with a dislocated shoulder, and here’s to hoping the Chuckwagon returns sooner than later. Speaking though of a big man, Hassan Whiteside has had some quality outings in Reno for his 2 games there. Don’t be surprised to see Whiteside back in a Kings uniform for Sunday due to Dwight Howard and Hayes potential long term unavailability for the next however long.
  • The Kings had 55 rebounds (to the Bucks 31) and 23 offensive rebounds to the Bucks 7. The Kings outshot the Bucks at the FT line 83% to 61% while the Kings were getting 30 attempts (making 25) and the Bucks getting 21 attempts (making 13). The Bucks made 9 out of 19 3 pt attempts, and the Kings made 4 out of 21 3 pt attempts. The Bucks shot 51.3% from the floor (39-76 from the field) and the Kings shot 40.7% (37-91 floor).
  •  JJ Hickson got 11 rebounds and 5 offensive tonight. There were a few other issue’s, but one real nice play was the Evans-Thornton fast break that culminated with a bigtime JJ Hickson throwdown.
  • Jimmer Fredette hit a few shots, and played some decent defense especially on Beno Udrih down the stretch. The most interesting revelation about Jimmer for me was that Smart was willing to leave Jimmer on the court during the game during defensive sequences.
  •  As far as Keith Smart goes, what’s there to know? He’s a black dude with a shaved head. He’s happy they won the game. As Grant Napear and Jerry Reynolds mentioned all night, it was 5 games in 6 nights. Smart played Thornton and Evans (not surprisingly) the most minutes at 42 & 41 minutes respectively. (Tyreke Evans played 49 minutes combined the previous 2 games of the back to back to back.) Only John Salmons played 35 minutes of anyone else on the Kings. If there was anything that I felt revealing about Keith Smart, it was that Francisco Garcia got more minutes than Travis Outlaw. The bottom line is that after a tough stretch of teams (or you would think) coming in, I felt 4-4 would be reasonable as a record. I would have accepted 3-5 as a record given all the difficulties. 

The Kings are now 3-5 and after the repeated blowouts have a -8.8 pts differential (average loss is by 8.8 points in otherwords). The Kings play Orlando at Power Balance Pavilion on Sunday. Then, the Kings head out on the road to Philadelphia on Tuesday, Toronto on Wednesday (definitely a winnable game), then Houston on Friday, Dallas on Saturday, and Minnesota the following Monday. After that? A single home game vs Indiana (not going to be easy), and back on the road to San Antonio, Memphis and then Portland. Then back home for a single game against Denver, back on the road to play the Utah Jazz and then the Golden State Warriors on Jan 31st. There are 12 road games this month vs 5 home games. The truth is, there was always going to be a rough spot until the All-Star break for this team. Tonight is a start, but the roughest most painful stretch comes ahead. If for nothing else, it will be interesting to see how this team shakes out.