Kings steadiness outlasts Wizards down the stretch; Kings beat Wizards for the 1st time in 7 years in DC 115-107

This is going to be a bit disorganized so I’ll just say these are the notes as I was watching the game after it was over. (Yes I knew the Kings won.)

Some notes about the 4th quarter (fairly scattered as these are rough notes):

Isaiah handoff to Chuck Hayes with 6:33 remaining in the 4th for a layup; this puts Kings up 5.

After 2 Wiz 3′s (one by Roger Mason & Jordan Crawford), Francisco Garcia misses a jumper. Then, on the other hand, the Kings force a miss, come out of the crowd with the ball, and Isaiah Thomas scores the bucket that keeps the Kings up for the rest of the game with 4:02 remaining. The score is now 102-101 Kings.

With 4:28 remaining Chuck Hayes gets his 2nd of 2 baskets (the only 2 he attempts) off a Jason Thompson missed basket. The Kings are now up 104-101, and the Wizards turn it over on the ensuing possession.

After Jordan Crawford scores his last bucket, Isaiah Thomas answers with another driving layup at the 3:33 mark.

With 2:36 remaining, Isaiah Thomas hits a layup after Chuck Hayes and Marcus Thornton trap Jordan Crawford to get a steal. Thomas leaks out and gets an easy basket off this steal. This puts the Kings up 110-103. (DeMarcus Cousins was also set to come into the game, but after the timeout apparently Keith Smart changed his mind.)

With 2 minutes remaining, Thornton does his typical “standing there with the ball and jab stepping”. He then splits the defenders, loses the ball, Chuck Hayes picks it up and gets fouled. Hayes hits both FT’s. The Kings are now up 112-103 with 1:49 remaining.

With 1:15 remaining, Francisco Garcia hits the 3 that seals the deal. The Kings are now up 115-105. (The previous Wizards possession Kevin Seraphin has a dunk.)

With 29 seconds Jason Thompson gets an offensive rebound that allows the Kings to essentially run out the clock. Kings win 115-107.

Now, more thoughts on the game. First, the boxscore.

Tyreke Evans had a good statistical game going 8-10 from the field and 6-7 line. Tyreke’s TS% on the season is now 49.8% after this performance.

Cousins took some wild shots, and I was glad Keith Smart went with the group he had down the stretch in part because of that.

Jason Thompson missed a lot of shots, but on the upside raised his season FT% (remember when he was at 37%?) from 52.6% to 55.4%. Jason Thompson went 2-8 from the floor, and had he made a single more basket would have recorded another double double. As it was, JT’s 8 defensive rebounds (11 boards total) and 9 points were very much needed along with the team high 41 minutes played tonight.

I have no words about Isaiah Thomas other than to say I love watching the kid play. He plays with passion, heart and intensity this Kings team desperately needs a lot more often. Now that Thomas has clearly found a role and a place in the Kings rotation, this could end up being what helps the Kings turn the season around.

In the preview, I said this game was the type of thing that could make or break the Kings going into the 2nd half of the season. I think a win like this may help Keith Smart get his points across about ball movement, intensity, and intelligent play. Or, more accurately, reinforce this to Evans and Cousins about what works in the NBA. One thing that struck me about the way the Kings played was that there seemed to be little panic. Which, by the way, the Wizards displayed plenty of. Had Smart gone back with Tyreke Evans/DeMarcus Cousins, I think the panic that Evans/Cousins often have displayed in these situations would have ensued had either reentered the game. Even though the Wizards were getting easy jump shots they were sticking, I’m not sure the Kings could have overcome it without the steadiness that was displayed by the Thompson-Hayes-Garcia-Thornton-Thomas lineup. Kudos to Keith Smart for sticking to his guns. Some of it was pure luck, but some of it was simply finding something that worked and stuck with it to until the Wizards could prove they could come up with an effective counter. The Wizards couldn’t come up with that counter, and that’s the game.

The Kings finally are starting to understand that running plays really matters when it comes down to winning NBA games. The Kings shot 44.8% on Field Goals, but did shoot 25-27 from the FT line for 92.6%. Additionally, the Kings only turned the ball over 10 times that the Wizards converted into 14 points. Conversely, the Wizards shot 48.8% from the field, went 16-27 from the FT line for 59.3%, and turned the ball over 20 times that the Kings converted into 29 points.The Kings scored 64 points in the paint and the Wizards scored 38 points in the paint. It doesn’t take e=mc squared to figure out how the Kings beat the Wizards tonight.

While beating the Wizards isn’t going to make anybody’s highlight of the year, winning this game after struggling to close out games is a reasonable and good first step to improve and ultimately become a 500 team down the line. You can’t take a step until you take a step. Tonight, perhaps the Kings started with a baby step towards solid, professional, and consistent NBA basketball play. With that, comes a steadiness that will give you a chance to win games whether you are at home or on the road.

That’s something. Until the flip side appears on the flip side distorted with a twist but not with cinnamon.