Numbers are deceptive. Sometimes numbers are not deceptive. Tonight, there are some really big deal type numbers, and well there are also some numbers that are probably not as big of a deal as they look like.
First, look at minutes. 83: The combined amount of minutes DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans were on the floor tonight (Cousins had 43 of those).
62: Points in the paint the Kings scored. 46: Points in the paint the Wizards scored.
68%: The Kings DRB% tonight, and on the season it's at 68.6% (which is dead last). The Kings are also dead last at DRtg at 111.4 points per 100 possessions (which is what O and D Rtg's are).
15: The amount of shot attempts John Salmons took. Another number: 9. The amount of shots John Salmons hit tonight. 2: The amount of 3's Salmons hit.
21: The minutes Jimmer Fredette played in the 2nd half.
22: The amount of wins the Kings could have at home on the season. 7: The wins on the road the Kings could have based on current win rates.
Okay, after the jump my expanded thoughts on the game..
Tyreke Evans was vintage Tyreke Evans tonight. 21 points (and one badly clanged FT after a badly run possessions where Tyreke just stood around waiting to drain the clock….), 8 assists, 8 rebounds, 3 steals on 8-15 shooting and 4-7 from the line. On that last FT Tyreke clanged, he said it slipped out of his hand. You could see in the postgame interview he was very glad it didn't cost the Kings the game. On the other hand, the biggest negative was the open court play where Tyreke should have passed to Jimmer Fredette. Many other positives tonight starting with the defense, the efficient scoring and 40 minutes played too. The most important thing: Tyreke looks healthy and ready to pick up where he left off in late November.
DeMarcus Cousins had a pretty good game by his standards, and that's saying something for a guy who had 21 points, 16 boards (4 offensive), 5 assists and 3 steals. There were also 6 turnovers and 5 personal fouls several of which were dumb offensive fouls that a 3rd year player should know better. But, in these moments, you can live with a guy who plays 43 minutes and gives you most of the production DeMarcus Cousins gave tonight. That 50% FG shooting Keith Smart talked about before the season started? Cousins, despite jacking up some really ill-advised shots throughout the game, still ended up 9-19. Shot selection is your friend young man. Use it on occasion (or all the time) and it will serve you will Trust me: I'm not a developer. Oh and 3 for 3 from the FT line? Yessah.
However, the most important part for me with Cousins was that with 5 fouls, and with Nene finding his groove since Cousins had gone out, entered the game with 4:05 remaining. The Kings were down 91-86, and after a minute of missed baskets by both sides, Cousins would score 5 straight points, the last of which a FT after a timeout, to tie the game. The fact that Nene didn't get a quality look again was also a highlight of that point. Perhaps our Boogie is starting to figure a few things out after all. (I'm shocked as hell as to be writing that quite honestly.)
John Salmons. The man was……excellent. Just stop complaining about him is all I ask. 43 minutes, 2-3 from 3 point land, excellent defense. What more do you want? Fun fact: Salmons has now attempted 108 3's on the season making 41 for a tidy 37.9%.
Jimmer Fredette's 2nd half with Tyreke Evans was exactly why Jimmer was drafted in the first place. That's what the hope was. Now I'm hoping the Kings can do that to better teams than the Wizards. (Call me cynical, or whatever, but large sample sizes matter. This is not anywhere near enough of a large sample size.)
I don't know what was wrong with Jason Thompson tonight. But there was something wrong with his mojo tonight. With a 3 game road trip going to Mempnis, Charlotte and New Orleans coming up starting Friday, it's pretty important JT get back on track as soon as possible.
Outside of DeMarcus Cousins (43 minutes), John Salmons (43 minutes), Tyreke Evans (43 minutes), the only players who got more than 20 minutes were Jason Thompson (22), Jimmer Fredette (21), Chuck Hayes (21) and Isaiah Thomas (20). Keith Smart is definitely tightening his rotation right now, and that's a very good thing.
Earn your minutes. Nice to see the Kings did that. Keith Smart pushed a lot of right buttons tonight even if it didn't seem evident at the time. He gets a lot of crap (sometimes understandably so), but tonight he should be congratulated for getting his guys up to play a Washington team playing well (3 wins in a row coming in out of a 6 win season to date; that's going up you can bank on it)
Last thought, all it really takes to be a 500 team, especially with as long a losing streaks as the Kings have had, is to get 3 or 4 games in a row at the right time. Sneak a few out on the road, maybe a few surprise wins at home, and there you go. The Kings are 15-24. Their next 5 games are all winnable (hell this team can beat and lose to anyone after all), but 3 of them are on the road. 2 of them are against top tier competition (@Memphis & home against OKC), and the other 3 are against bottom feeder teams that are rebuilding (@Charlotte, @New Orleans on MLK day) and home against Phoenix a week from now.
If the Kings go back on a season high 6 game road trip that starts in Denver at 18-26, sneak a 3-3 trip out on the road (@Denver on a back to back, @Washington, @Boston, @Philadelphia, @NewYork and @Utah) and suddenly a 500 season, or just a 35 win season is still very possible. When this team starts to put things together, and starts putting things together against the right opponents consistently, this team will take off. The ingredients are almost already there as it is. Once Cousins and Evans (and make no mistake they are the two best players on this team) really take the reigns of this team and start doing what makes them special players, this team has a great deal of potential that often gets overlooked nationally and even by the very knowledgable NBA junkie crowd. While this roster has tight fits, especially on paper, it also has a group of players that once you start stripping at the veneer some you find there are some strengths/weaknesses that do a quality job complementating each other.
As amazing as it is, this roster could actually find a way to work some of the time if Cousins and Evans can perform at the same level they did tonight for the rest of the season. This team isn't that far from ascending up the standings as it is (they currently own the 9th worst record), and that's with all the dysfunction and nonsense that has been going on. Just imagine if they settle down and get themselves on the right path?
I know I'm being a stupid ass sucker, but what else do I have to do but dream a hopeless dream? I'm a Kings fan baby!