Kings lose to Pelicans 113-100; Pelicans win behind 21-8 run to close game

The headline says it all. I happened to be at this game, and while it was happening in real time, I wasn't able to keep track of the game. But there is one sequence that I saw in real time happen, and the person to blame is ultimately DeMarcus Cousins. Now, he's not the only problem with this team, but he's one of the many reasons this team is not very successful right now. And, given his post game comments, I think perhaps Cousins should look at himself first before start talking about others performances.

With 3:30 to go, Cousins has 2 FT's. He makes the 1st and misses the 2nd. This is what happens as it happens.

Forgive me for the amateur video, but I'm doing this off my iPod. I'm not a professional. I'm doing this to make a point about why Cousins comments were not only unprofessional, it makes you wonder how there is anything worth gleaming from such a classless and disingenuous statement. You can't claim you want to win games and then pull this shit with 3:30 remaining left in a game down 7 points that you still had a reasonable shot at winning at that point.

Yet, right afterwards, you see Cousins screwing around hanging on the rim without a care in the world. I don't really care that Cousins is doing this, but, again, when you call your own teammates out for their lack of performance, exactly how do you become immune? It's not that swinging on the rim means anything, it's that I don't see anything how Cousins did helped the Kings be in a position to win. 

I'm not trying to make this a bigger deal than this needs to be. But after hearing what Cousins had to say post game, I just feel that perhaps for someone who wants to be a leader and be seen as the best player on the team, perhaps he shouldn't be sitting on his duff while the opponent is getting their struggling wide open 3 point "shootist" a wide open easy look as he will see all season.

That's the kind of crap that Cousins was talking about, but, oh, call it a hunch, that nothing he said applied to him. While this team is pretty badly flawed (very little perimeter defense is just one aspect), it's hard for me to respect someone who was mouthing off about others actions while seemingly having no repercusions for his own behavior.

If you want my definition of terrible chemistry and leadership, start with that. Nothing I'm saying here is new news, but if you want to start identifying the problems, start with DeMarcus Cousins. Because that's where the ultimately the problems start with this team, not the terrible defensive rotations, the almost non production from the SG spot (unless Marcus Thornton gets hot), the inability to offset poor offensive nights from multiple starters and the inability of both perimeter and post players in stopping easy baskets.

There are lots of problems with this team. And right at the top of the list, the best player is a number getter and a finger pointer. It's hard to see the future being bright if DeMarcus Cousins is the one leading you to the promised land, that's for sure.

Yes, there are many reasons why the Pelicans won last night, and starting with they really had the 4 best players on the court last night if you get right down to it (Davis, Holiday, Evans and Gordon). While the Pel's have a long way to go as a basketball team themselves, it's clear that the difference between the two teams starts at the top with the best talent. If you don't think that makes a difference, well, our perspectives are going to look really different is all I'm gonna say.

Just look at the boxscore and tell me there were real positives for the Kings. There aren't many as far as I can see. Some bullet points:

* As much as Ben McLemore looks overmatched right now, I'm not so sure it remains that way. As long as the kid continues to work hard and maintain a positive attitude (which he seems to be doing so far), he should be okay. McLemore can shoot, finish at the rim and play off the ball which are not things that young players do well in spades. There is value in players like McLemore long term, and even though I doubt McLemore could be a star player at any point, a solid long term starter is certainly well within reach for Benny Mac.

* Rudy Gay stunk up the joint last night offensively. And onto Friday is about all I got. Because the reality is, this won't be the last time Rudy Gay has a clunker.

* Hello Derrick Williams, it's nice to see you bud! This D-Will since coming off the bench is the D-Will Minnesota traded. In case you were wondering.

* Isaiah Thomas is not the biggest problem or the biggest solution available to this team. It's just that with all the other issue's this team has elsewhere, Isaiah has to play at a very high level of producitivity if the Kings want to win. I'm not sure that's truly a load Isaiah can carry effectively long term, but we shall see. There were some good moments tonight for Isaiah, but overall it was a pretty poor game. Or maybe Jrue Holiday is just that good. And, for whatever it's worth, I think its' quite a bit more of the latter than the former.

* Jimmer looked pretty good off the bench, Quincy Acy is showing promise as a hustling combo F and Marcus Thornton shot well during the 1st half at least. That's something resembling a bench even if it's not ideal. I'm beginning to lean towards, at this point, bringing Jason Thompson off the bench and starting Derrick Williams since it's more likely that Williams will be here longer term than Thompson. Maybe, though, the front office is looking to deal Thompson before moving Williams back into the starting lineup. And if that's the case, I have no issue with that.

* I can't blame Michael Malone for being upset nightly with this defense. I'm just wondering why at this point he continues to expect different results with the same personnel and kid gloves approach towards Cousins. Because it was clear that was never going to work. The question, is there a chance anything can change moving forward? 

* Last but not least, tonight is not necessarily a referendum on my opinion that letting Tyreke Evans walk could easily backfire on this franchise. On the other hand, the next month very well could be, and games like in LA and last night for Evans could be the launching pad for Evans to making his value worth it every night for the Pelicans. The greater question is: On a team that struggles to get easy baskets and play any sort of effective perimeter defense consistently (area's that Evans has not always excelled in at this point in his career to be sure), how did letting Evans leave improve you in those area's? More importantly, since you already know this, how do you plan to not only make up for it but impove ultimately? While I'm going to stick to the 2 years before judging this management/coaching/ownership group, this first decision could prove costly down the line. In some ways, it already seems incredibly costly.

*****

The bottom line as always kiddies: Bad teams are bad because they don't have the talent at the top, and almost all of them don't have the leadership. The Pelicans won an ugly disjointed game on the road simply because the Kings weren't game to play for 48 minutes. Mix in somed dynamic performances from Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans throughout much of the game, and wah-lah, the Pel's get another road win for them. 

For a team hoping to sniff the playoffs, games like last night are a great launching pad for them. For teams like the Kings with a clear dearth of elite talent, the lack of talent and holes in the defense will continue to cost this team games. And while all the talk about tanking seems if nothing else but good intentioned, if anyone shows me how this team isn't trying to win games every night, I'd be interested to see it. While one could argue that appointing Cousins to be the leader of the team and give him the most shots every night, that seems too cynical, even for me, to be considered. At best, I think the current approach with Cousins by the current regime probably amounts to something in the naive category. 

Bad teams play as bad teams do. Decent teams do more things more consistently. The Pelicans, even if their record doesn't quite show it right now, are a pretty decent teams if for no other reason than Anthony Davis and to a lesser extent Jrue Holiday and Ryan Anderson. Bad teams find ways to point fingers and make excuses when things don't go their way. Decent and even good teams find ways to make something work for them. 

Let's hope the Kings getting decent happens sooner than later because right now I'm beginning to wonder how much actual patience the native Kings faithful in the EC have with bad basketball.