Well…..so much good to say tonight.
I’ve often killed Tyreke Evans (and had I actually not deleted my pre-game write up would have again) as anyone who has read this site (or witnessed my Twitter account during games) can tell you. The decision making by Tyreke looked like a kid who saw the game a little bit differently than he had in the past. 2 things really stuck out about Tyreke tonight that I hope he understands are what great players do every game: With 28 seconds to go Tyreke turned the burners on and beat 4 Mavs down the court to get 2 FT attempts. 20 seconds later after a bad call gave Dallas the ball, Tyreke forced Lamar Odom into a difficult shot that cinched the 3rd quarter.
Even though this wasn’t the play I described, it was another instance where Tyreke took advantage of the lethargic Dallas team.
Why is this important? 2 reasons. One, Tyreke actually used his incredible talents to create a situation where it forced Dallas to react. Far too often this season, and last season also, Tyreke would react to what’s going on instead of forcing the action in the right way. Tonight, even with 9 missed shots, Tyreke’s decision making looked like a guy who is attempting to make an adjustment. If this Tyreke Evans shows up every night, and if this Tyreke Evans gets a mid range game or learns how to post SG’s up at any point in the next couple years, look out. It’s not like Tyreke is actual crap; he just simply was playing like that far too often far too consistently. It should also be noted that Tyreke led the Kings in rebounding with 9.
DeMarcus Cousins looked like a guy who was recovering from food poisoning. I loved this spin dunk:
Otherwise, hopefully Cuz is on the way back and fully healthy by Sunday against Atlanta. (Atlanta lost in Detroit tonight. Who incidentally is coming in Wednesday after the Kings play the Warriors Tuesday night.) DeMarcus’ real negative tonight was the 5 TO’s even if most of them came late in the game. Which is when most of the Kings team TO’s actually came. Also, Cousins had 5 assists (mainly to Thornton) and that matters. I believe that’s a season high but I might be wrong. (I’m not looking it up.)
Donte Greene started and rewarded Keith Smart’s faith. Not only did Donte go 4-6 from the field, he actually moved the ball well around tonight as far as the ball movement goes. His defense was what it was on Dirk Nowitzki (decent not great and a few mistakes on a night where Dirk was Dirk but not Dirk) and I’ll take it. I’m still of the belief Jason Thompson should be the starter. On the other hand, if Donte plays like this 3 or 4 more times in a row, no more Donte bashing. This was easily the most effective offensively I can ever remember Donte being in a real offensive context. (You know, when the shots aren’t falling or the other team isn’t god-awful defensively.)
Isaiah Thomas was Isaiah Thomas. He picked up the pace, hit some timely 3’s in the 3rd quarter, and convinced Bill Walton to slobber over him like he was the Chicago bred version. Or something like that. The interesting thing was that Walton compared Thomas multiple times to Kevin Johnson throughout the telecast. Honestly, there are shades there of KJ. Isaiah incindentally raised his season TS% to 55.1% which of course leads the Kings.
What makes me so happy with LSG is that he just has that tenacity and willlingness to always push the pace.
John Salmons had another effective offensive game going 5-8 from the floor (missed both 3’s) that has now raised his season TS% to 46.1%. That’s about 5 % points over where it was a month ago. I think JS being allowed to run the point for the bench has helped him figure out a flow much easier than spotting up and waiting for Tyreke Evans or Marcus Thornton to make plays for him. (Never a good idea in theory unless it was Tyreke.)
I loved Francisco Garcia’s effort tonight. His energy on the defensive end and few timely shots really kept the Kings from ever allowing the Mavs to make the game a tight contest.
Marcus Thornton was incredible tonight. Had he been needed more I honestly think he could have gone for 40 tonight with the way he had it going at times. For some reason, the Kings never maximized him when he was on the court but this was one night where it didn’t quite matter. Thornton was 6-9 from the floor including 1-3 from 3 and 4-4 line. Arguably his most effective performance in a Kings uniform from an offensive standpoint. Thornton was brilliant. Thornton’s season TS% is now at 54.3%.
Tonight, the Kings were 13-13 from the FT line with Evans, Cousins, Thornton and Greene getting all the FT attempts. The Kings shot 40% from 3, and scored 28 points off 17 Dallas Turnovers. The final score will have Dallas scoring 54 points in the paint and the Kings 48 points in the paint, but that’s very misleading for a number of reasons. The Kings virtually didn’t score in the paint much (outside of a few Cousins buckets inside) and Dallas got a lot of easy hoops late.
The one area of concern is that the Kings were outrebounded (although there were some strange caroms that seemed to find their way to Dallas for whatever reason) 44-34 and a number of those were on the offensive end by Dallas (17 o boards specifically). Something that needs to change against Atlanta, Golden State and Detroit is the shoddy rebounding. The Kings had problems against New Orleans getting the ball, and it’s not just caroms.
Overall, this is a quality win and I would say given the stakes of what was there for the Kings it was the best game of the season all considering. You had fine performances from pretty much the entire time, and that was without DeMarcus Cousins at his best. Tyreke Evans turned in one of his best performances all season from an all-around standpoint. Marcus Thornton was uber efficient. Isaiah Thomas brought his greatest skills to the table. Donte Greene looked like a role player who understood his role. Chuck Hayes hit a turnaround like he was Charles Barkley. Jimmer banked a 30 foot 3 pt attempt in the 4th quarter.
A quality win, and a quality win for lots of reasons. The Kings beat the Mavs up from the opening tip, and used the age slash playing a tough loss down to the wire in Phoenix last night to their advantage. There were times where Dallas looked like they might get back into it, and the Kings responded most often with brilliant play. These are wins and a formula (minus the rebounding) that works for this team if they can figure out how to duplicate it every night. This is a game that this team can hang their hat on and say “We won this game.” It’s true Dallas looked old and was in the middle game of a back to back to back. But guess what? It’s up to the Kings to take advantage, the Kings did, and that’s that.
Onto Sunday against Atlanta which would be another step towards having an uber successful homestand. I think 7-2 is very possible, but I would hedge my bets and say 6-3 is the most likely. This team hasn’t gained enough trust with me just yet.
Onto the flip side on which we get to smile for a change.