So a couple of days ago, I had no idea that I would be going to this game. In a surprising turn of events, a friend offered me this absolutely amazing ticket for free because the former owner bailed at the last minute and he didn't want to waste it. Having never even been seated on the lower level before, this was an opportunity I could not pass up, and boy was it worth it.
Before I get into a detailed recap though, here are a few fun tidbits from the Game.
- Me and my friends were seated nearby several Stephen Jackson hecklers. At one point one of them yelled "Hey Stephen, we'll trade our waterboy for you!". I yelled back at them "Nah, I'd rather have the waterboy." They heartily agreed.
- Andris Biedrins has one of the worst free throw shooting forms I've ever seen. It's ugly.
- Kayte Christensen should seriously consider modeling. She's absolutely stunning.
- Peaches had the Yankees game on a second television by him. Figures.
- The Slam-Wow commercials the Kings filmed in the Summer were played after the 1st quarter and the crowd absolutely loved it.
- Desmond Mason has serious hops. I think his feet almost cleared the rim going for a rebound once. Obviously an exaggeration, but you get my point.
- If I didn't know who he was, I would not question Stephen Curry's presence on a middle school campus.
- Andrew Nicholson got a haircut. Finally.
- Sign Lady was there with a "Young and Fun" Kings sign.
- Anthony Morrow will win a 3-point contest sometime in his career. During warm-ups he looked like he was shooting layups from long distance.
- For a preseason game, there wasn't a bad crowd. There were actually more Kings fans than Warriors fans too, although the Dubs did have a sizable contingent.
- The replacement refs for this game looked like they were bouncers or MMA fighters, not refs. They were in incredible shape. I wouldn't argue with them. Didn't stop Spencer though. They did seem to have more missed calls than regular, but it really wasn't out of hand.
Alright onto the real analysis.
This was a Kings team unlike any I had seen before. Grit. Hustle. DEFENSE. I can tell you this, we won't just give up and let teams run roughshod over us this year. Teams will still beat us on a regular basis, but they'll definitely have to earn it. Westphal really seems to be having an influence on this team as a whole. Throughout the game, Westphal was extremely active in calling his players out on defense, particularly Donte and Omri. On a couple of sequences in the second half, Omri blew his defensive assigment and Westphal called a timeout and went off on him. Omri came back and played some pretty damn good defense. Westphal also seemed to outcoach Nelson in taking advantages of the mismatch opportunities that presented themselves when Nellie went with his Small Ball lineups, using timely substitutions and timeouts. I really like Westphal.
The first quarter, the Kings were playing some of the best defense I had seen them play since the Artest days. One qualm I had though was that it didn't seem as if anyone was talking, but they were getting the job done. We were also destroying them on the boards. Our starters clearly outplayed them.
The second quarter, the Kings bench came in and the defense that had been so good vanished. Same with the rebounding. The Warriors began to catch up in both boards and points, forcing Westphal to reinsert the starting lineup, which brought some semblance of peace to the chaos, although the Warriors still played relatively well.
The second half was an absolute disaster in terms of the offense. At my count, the Kings had NO assists at all in the 3rd quarter, and the turnovers continued to pile up. But the defense and rebounding kept the Kings in the game. The Kings then had 5 assists in the 4th, which helped cushion the lead enough for us to win. The Kings were playing so horribly on offense during the 2nd half, it seemed remarkable at times that we were still winning. And yet our defense and hustle came through in the end and we won. It was sort of refreshing to think about what might be when both the defense and offense are consistent.
On to individual player recaps:
Kevin Martin: He looked like a complete basketball player. He was looking to get teammates involved, staying in front of his man, and getting his hands into the passing lanes. He only ended up with 2 steals, but he deflected quite a few more passes away from their intended recipient. He even did a pretty great job guarding Anthony Morrow, who never really had too many open looks. On offense he just looked unstoppable, and the Kings showed just how amazing the Martin-Evans backcourt pairing can be. Because Evans was doing whatever he wanted, the Warriors switched Jackson on him, which while it slowed 'Reke down a bit, forced Curry to handle Martin for a while. When this happened, the Kings fed the ball to Kevin in several post up situations, most of which either resulted in a basket, a foul, or both (of Curry's 5 fouls, 4 were on Kevin for sure). The Dubs didn't really have an answer for K-Mart, putting Ellis, Curry, Watson and Maggette on him at times. None of those 4 really gave him any problems at all. Martin looked like he was leading by example out there. And his 32 points were some of the quietest 32 points I've ever seen.
Tyreke Evans: Wow. Just wow. Tyreke Evans stopped Monta Ellis. Absolutely shut him down. Every single time Ellis took it to the hoop, he did it with Tyreke's hand right above the ball. And when Ellis went to shoot jumpers, Tyreke's hand was there. In fact 3 of Ellis's FGs came against Beno Udrih in a span of about 5 minutes in the second half. Tyreke was only credited with one block, but he honestly had at least 3, all on Ellis drives (but I guess Spencer and Jason got credit). Evans was the anchor of the defense. On offense, he did whatever he wanted early. The Warriors started out by putting Ellis on him, but that didn't work. Then Morrow tried. Then Watson. No luck there. Finally Nelson went with Jackson on Evans for the rest of the game, and Jackson did a decent job of limiting 'Reke's penetration (which is absolutely insane). Surprisingly, Reke made the majority of his jumpers (which were only about 4 or 5, I think he made 3) and his stroke actually looked damn good. Westphal looked extremely pleased after another swish. His playmaking was sort of lousy today though. 2 of his 6 turnovers came because he wasn't fully in control of the ball and made a silly mistake after running into a crowd. Another 2 were fantastic strips by the Warriors. And the other 2 were the result of dribbling the ball of his foot. But he did have several passes that ended up becoming free throws. I was very pleased by Evans, even with the turnovers.
Jason Thompson: Domination. This is what Jason Thompson did to the Warriors. He ate them alive. The Warriors had nobody to compete with him, not Randolph, Maggete, Jackson or Biedrins. This guy named Shaun Pruitt actually did a decent job of staying in front of him, but he barely got any playing time. JT just out-worked everyone else for those boards. He also did an excellent job on defense, getting a couple of really nice blocks, and only got two fouls as well. His jumper looked smooth when he shot it, but he only shot maybe one or two. Most of his points came on the inside. He had an absolutely monstrous dunk in the 4th quarter. Randolph played ok against him, but you got the feeling that JT was almost too much for him to handle, at least at this point in his career. It reminded me of the Oden/Bynum v. Hawes situations. Again, nobody on the Warriors was strong enough to guard JT. Looking at the boxscore after the game I was really surprised by the 5 assists, because I hadn't noticed them (there weren't many to notice unfortunately), but he led the team in assists too which is great.
Spencer Hawes: Spencer was better than Andris Biedrins tonight. He had some really slick post moves to get away from Biedrins and Randolph, but he did get frustrated with the referees. He played solid defense against a small Warriors squad, and one of his fouls was a come from behind block on Randolph that pinned the ball between the rim and the backboard. It looked to be all-ball, as did another block Spencer had that he was whistled for, but I will take the effort. Spencer was clearly frustrated though. Westphal didn't seem to want to risk his ankle any further and so sat him for most of the second half. As for his threes, they were both good shots, wide open. I didn't mind him taking them. One time though, he did pump fake a three and then attempt to drive on Randolph. He promptly got stripped by Randolph. I don't think I want Spencer trying to drive the ball in from the 3 point line. Either shoot or pass.
Desmond Mason: I wasn't wowed by Mason (except for on one rebound, which eventually was called a loose ball foul), but he played solid defense, especially on Maggete near the end of the game. Maggete made some absolutely ridiculous shots though, but you can be sure it wasn't because Mason wasn't trying. He did seem to be a little out of rhythm though, getting called for a few fouls when his defender blew by him and he chose to send them to the line instead. Mason's offense is basically nonexistant other than for putbacks.
Omri Casspi: The Zohan is not ready to start. But he is ready to be part of the main rotation. In the game he started out playing too haphazardly, losing his defensive assignment or being too out of control on offense. Westphal seemed to ride Casspi particularly hard during this stretch, and Casspi ended up turning in a very nice game, especially defensively. Stephen Jackson had been the only Warrior really doing damage to us throughout the game, but Casspi really bothered him, and he only ended up with 6 points with Casspi on him, and Casspi also did a nice job with his help defense, getting a block on Ellis as he drove to the basket. Casspi had a tough time fighting through screens, but he set some pretty good ones himself. His shot also looks so much better than I had expected to see from him. Even when they don't go in, his shot looks good. Around the basket though, Casspi tends to throw up his shot too softly, which ended up resulting in a big block by Randolph. But he was persistent with some of his shots, and I think he's going to be a very good rebounder for his position. He never gives up on a play.
Beno Udrih: This was a game of two Benos. 2nd quarter Beno was absolutely horrendous. He kept driving into lanes that weren't open and just making ill-advised decisions all around. He ended up being benched for it along with the rest of the 2nd quarter unit after the Warriors came back to take the lead. But in the 4th quarter, when the offense had become stagnant, Beno was a new player. He had a couple drives to the basket that were reminiscent of Tyreke Evans. He kept the ball moving, and stayed in front of his man on defense. He blew by Ellis a couple more times for open free throw jumpers that barely missed, but I give Udrih a lot of credit for the improved offense and ball movement of the 4th quarter. We just need that Beno to show up instead of the other one.
Sean May: May only played a little bit, but he was pretty effective while he was in there. He had an absolutely spectacular block, and showed some nice range on his shot. He was left wide open in the corner for a three, and I was surprised when he shot it. He missed, but it was a very near miss. May was just all around effective.
Andres Nocioni: For only three minutes, Noc had a rough game. He actually seemed worse on defense than much of the team, and couldn't stop several Warriors. He was a key reason why the Warriors were able to battle back in the 2nd quarter.
Jon Brockman: Boxscore has to be wrong on his minutes played (4 rebounds in 16 seconds? He was in for a good 5-6 minutes). But Brock Ness was everywhere. Even when he didn't get the board, he was in the vicinity of the ball. He also set an absolutely vicious pick on CJ Watson that he ended up being whistled for, but it was still a thing of beauty. On defense, he pestered whoever he was on (which was mostly Biedrins). Brock played well for his limited time.
Donte Greene: Ah Donte. He looked pretty lost at times, and like Omri, blew a few defensive assignments early, leading Westphal to continually call him over and berate him for it. Donte had an ok game, but I would hesitate to call it a success. He really needs to go to the D-League for a while and get a lot of game time. I'm starting to lose faith in his potential a little bit.
And there you have it folks, my recap. If you have any questions let me know, I'll try to answer as best I can. I hope you enjoyed it, and I know you guys will enjoy the Kings this year. Even with the inevitable losses, this is going to be a very fun team to watch.
I always am dissappointed when I read opposing teams blog recaps and I don't ever hear any mention of our players, so here you are random Dubs fans, my impressions, good and bad of your team.
- Stephen Curry is way quicker than I ever thought. He's also got great court vision and a great handle. When his shots finally start to fall down like they did at Davidson, you guys will be happy campers. He has no real defensive skills to speak of though, but you guys already knew that. And he also had some really beautiful drives and finishes.
- Anthony Randolph needs to bulk up. He also didn't really seem like he was trying too hard to get boards. JT really out hustled him. He's going to be a block machine in a few years though.
- Maggs had a really, really quiet 28 points. He made some absolutely ridiculous fadeaway jumpers.
- Stephen Jackson is your guys best defender. He was the only one who could stop Evans penetration at all. But I still wouldn't want him on my team.
- Monta Ellis was pretty much schooled this game, most of the time by Evans and Martin, but even Beno broke his ankles with a crossover at one point. And Ellis's drives to the basket were repeatedly denied.
- Shaun Pruitt is a biiiig guy.
- Anthony Morrow has a sweet looking shot. He needs to learn to create for himself though.