Kings starters supremely sloppy in loss to Hawks; Atlanta beats Sacramento 106-99

Like most things, the title says it all really. Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins and Isaiah Thomas were so sloppy that between those 3 they must have cost the Kings at least 20 points minimum.Tyreke missed one of the easiest layups in the most inexplicable of ways, Cousins couldn’t really continue his success after the 3rd qtr, and Thomas hit 2 3’s and proceeded to miss everything else (passes, shots or otherwise). That was ballgame right there.

So, that’s the game. There were other things. Here is the box score, and the jump….

* Tyreke Evans was ridiculously terrible in his shot selection. Some were just missed shots, but like I said up top the layup where all Tyreke literally had to do was go up and score was ridiculous. What did Tyreke do? He tried to go up and under the basket rather than put up the shot from where Reke caught the ball.

At times Tyreke was effective, but for the most part Tyreke was terrible in many ways tonight. Bad bad game for him. (Yes I know Reke had 7 assists and 5 boards. I do not care. That’s what Tyreke needs to do every night.)

* DeMarcus Cousins was tremendous on the offensive end for 3 qtrs. Then inexplicably, like the rest of the Kings, somehow internally imploded and couldn’t hang with the Hawks. I’ll say this about Cousins: He did end up playing 36 minutes which is nice to see.

Cousins went 10-17 from the floor, and if not for his ridiculously bad 4th qtr that would have been a better percentage. Cuz ended up with 28 points, 12 boards (a somewhat inflated total given how the game transpired–but that’s not all Cuz’s fault and the inflation was not a result of Cuz’s Moses Malone impression), 2 exceptional assists (one of which was a pretty pick and roll with Tyreke Evans in the 1st qtr), and 3 steals. Cuz also fouled out after another bad pass that resulted in fouling Marvin Williams as Williams leaked out for an easy basket. We will remember this play at the end of the season though:

* Marcus Thornton did not have a good game. 3 TO’s says a lot, but there were some bad shots and some shots missed too. It happens so I’m not too concerned about MT23 at this point.

* Isaiah struggled tonight with the exception of the 2 made 3’s in the early 3rd. Hey he’s a rookie. That happens too. Isaiah didn’t drop all the way to the 60th pick for no reason.

* John Salmons had a really good offensive game, and with the exception of a soft pass in the late 4th, really brought his A offensive game. Salmons was pretty good defensively too. John’s season 3pt% is now at 31.6%, his season FG% is now at 40.5%, and the season TS% is now at 46.8%. Check out Beno Udrih’s stats by comparison. (Spoiler alert: Beno has not played well at all this year.) I also suspect that John Salmons ORtg and DRtg will move in the right direction after tonight. Coming into the game Salmons ORtg was 97 and his DRtg was 111. I’d be shocked if it didn’t become 99 for the ORtg and 110 for the DRtg. Baby steps.

* Jimmer Fredette had a quality game again tonight. I was impressed with the play in the 2nd quarter that Jimmer made by keeping his dribble alive and then passing the ball in a tight spot to Chuck Hayes for a layup. That was the greatest of the 4 assists Jimmer had in the game. Jimmer was 5-9 (including 2-5 from 3) and a steal as well. Jimmer’s season TS% (who would have been my pick to lead the Kings in TS% at the start of the season) is now at 51.9% and climbing. This Jimmer Fredette earned his 24 minutes tonight. Jimmer has responded to Keith Smart, and that’s the best thing. When Jimmer plays like this he earns his minutes, and that’s all any coach, including Smart, can ask for. Jimmer gave Smart reasons to keep Jimmer on the floor, and that will only help Jimmer moving ahead in his career. As fabulous as Isaiah Thomas mania is, what makes Thomas so valuable is his fit. Jimmer on the other hand requires attention and can still hit plenty of shots anyway. That’s what make Jimmer so interesting moving forward.

* Chuck Hayes went 2-3 from the floor again tonight, and his season TS% is now 43.9% (up from 49.5%). Good times.

* In general, the Kings bench had 39 of the Kings 99 points, and when you include Cuz that figure rises to 57 points. If the Kings only get 42 points from Thornton, Evans, Thompson and Thomas the Kings will continue to lose the way they did tonight.

* I’m not a big fan of Josh Smith but tonight he had it really going. (13-23 from the floor but 1-6 from the line.) Would I trade Tyreke Evans for Smith as Akis Yerocostas suggested last night? I wouldn’t if only because Tyreke can create mis-matches in a way Josh Smith cannot. While Tyreke is not creating those mis-matches consistently these days in part due to playing the 3 spot, the issue with Tyreke is can he create enough of a diverse game. At 22 years old that is still a possibility. Josh Smith is a guy with a career TS% similar to Tyreke’s (despite Smith being 26). Smith is not a great 3 pt shooter, and I’m not sure his personality is the kind the Kings need to add in their locker room right now. There are plenty of issue’s with Josh Smith, not all bad, and there are plenty of reasons why some fans would want him. I’m just not one of those. My biggest reason is that Smith is not a guy who embraces his greatest asset (low post play), and is not always a guy who plays at his best.

I would be willing to trade Tyreke Evans for a big upgrade, but given some of his response to Keith Smart I think the Kings will likely hold onto Evans for the next couple of years until it’s clear Tyreke cannot change. The potential upside and ability of Tyreke is likely better than anything you will get in the best trade scenariors (Josh Smith included) no matter what.

Again, that’s the conundrum of making trades in the NBA. Not every trade will work, nor can every trade end up working. Often, it’s about your stars being great talents, and finding the right supporting pieces to those stars. That’s all much easier said than done obviously.

* The Kings committed 16 TO’s that Atlanta converted into 21 points, and the Hawks committed 17 TO’s that the Kings converted into 15 points. Atlanta had 2 more points on the FT line (23 attempts to the Kings 17), and the Hawks outscored the Kings in the paint 46-40.

* The rebounding just absolutely killed the Kings tonight, and much of that is on Hayes, Thompson, Cousins and Greene. You can’t be on the court for as long as all were and come away with 18 total boards (Cuz had 12). There were many balls the Kings were being beaten on all night, and the hustle ended up translating to the Hawks run. My favorite moment on the boards where Isaiah Thomas was sandwiched between 2 Hawks and the ball went off Atlanta. That was only the great moment on the boards where I thought the Kings were exceptional all night. When Josh Smith got hot in the 3rd qtr, the Kings hung around but could never quite make that real run to get back in the game. Again, ballgame.

My last thought(s) is that the Hawks came into the game 23-17, had the veteran team, and the Kings came into the game 14-26 and are a young team. The Hawks knew they were in a fight, and came prepared. They ran their sets, ran the plays they wanted, and ultimately rode a Josh Smith great performance into a win. That’s what good quality teams do, and hopefully the Kings learn that you can’t play halfass clownball and expect to win at the NBA level. That shit does not work.The Kings clearly showed they are not ready for success yet, and I suppose that was understandable. I personally was screaming at the computer at different points tonight because of all the soft passes and ridiculous plays being made. Tonight was not a great game for this young Kings team, and  the Kings were not at their best. Some of that was the Hawks, but some of that is the Kings real lingering immaturity issue’s that have not been quite put away just yet. It’s not like we should expect the mid 80s Showtime Lakers to show up tomorrow.

This Kings team is not a finished product, but day in day out some real encouraging signs emerge from these games. That is the good news, and this team is not nearly as awful as the Charlotte Bobcats are for example. Cousins was dominate for 3 qtrs, picked up 4 fouls in the process, and didn’t duplicate the success in the 4th qtr. Thomas got too excited and made some terrible shot selections in the 3rd qtr. Thornton didn’t play incredibly well. On the other end the bench has become a very reliable unit with 3 veterans (Hayes, Salmons and Garcia) along with a talented rookie who has not surprisingly played significantly better. (I think when Jimmer plays with guys who know how to make plays the way the Kings older guys know how to make Jimmer feels a lot less pressure.)

What cost the Kings game was the sloppy play, and the lack of ball movement on offense in the 2nd half (it was not very good in the 1st qtr either). Simple as that. Once this Kings team learns it’s not nearly enough to just play hard, you have to execute and make shots to win games in the NBA. The NBA is far too good with way too much talent to ever think otherwise. And I don’t mean to become a championship team either. I mean to become an average 500 level team. To be a championship team you have to be much much much much better far more consistently than this Kings team is capable of these days. Flashes emerge here and there and once in awhile, but for the most part none of it is consistent.

Until the flip side appears with a pretty rainbow and a bow on top. Debbie Downer out.