Kings 104, Thunder 89 - Preseason win total doubled!

 

The Kings win a road game, and I put on "Pandora" to keep me company while I write the recap. The first song to pop up is "Longview" by Green Day. Life is good.

The starters scored 50 points tonight in 105 minutes, and the bench chipped in 54 in 135. This matters and this matters not. As many pieces on this Kings squad are interchangeable, you would expect some of the bench players from this game (guys like Nocioni, Hawes, Udrih) to be as effective as some of the starters (guys like Mason, May, Casspi). Two things usually are lacking on league doormats: talent and depth. The Kings may have shown that they have at least some of the former as well as the latter this evening.

On a night where Kevin Martin sat out due to a sore ankle, Jon Brockman due to a sore body, and Kenny Thomas due to being Kenny Thomas, nine of the ten Kings that played were effective in at least some aspect of the game.

Let’s start with the guy that played the best ball when it mattered the most. Andres Nocioni came off the bench in the first half and helped stake the Kings to a 14 point halftime lead. Noc made shots from everywhere, grabbed rebounds, dished out assists, and generally pissed off the Thunder the way that only Noc (or Reggie Evans or Eduardo Najera or…well, you get the idea) can. Andres Nocioni is both the paper cut and the lemon juice to opposing teams. And while I still support the moving of his contract, his presence has got to be good for this young team. After taking in Noc’s performance in the first half, it’s easy to understand why Paul Westphal wants this guy coming off the bench.

Jason Thompson had 15 and 6 in only 22 minutes. His true shooting percentage was 75%, and he doled out 3 assists with no turnovers. Summer league seems like it happened soooooo long ago.

Speaking of true shooting percentage, how about 65% for Omri Casspi. 17 points, 3 boards, 4 assists, 3 steals, a block. Son, we’ll let you have 3 turnovers with that kind of productivity. Is anybody exceeding preseason expectations more than Casspi?

Donté Greene took five shots this evening, and only one was from three-point range (he drained it). 11 points on those five shots, 3 assists and 2 steals. I’m not sure how a guy that is 6’10’ grabs only one board in 22 minutes, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. This was Greene’s best performance under this coaching staff.

Tyreke Evans played only 13 minutes, but he scored 9 points, had 2 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocked shots in his short stint. Once the season starts and the games are televised, Evans and Casspi are going to sell some tickets.

Spencer Hawes had a decent shooting night, with 10 points on 5 of 8 shooting. 5 boards in 25 minutes is a little light. The 2 blocks were nice, the 2 turnovers not so much. I have yet to see Hawes really play well in the summer league or preseason. It will be interesting to see what happens once the regular season begins. It will also be interesting to see if he plays his way out of the starting lineup before the regular season arrives.

Fortunately for Spencer, Sean May is his chief rival for the starting center job. And while May did pull down 8 boards, he did not have the best of shooting nights (2 of 7 for 5 points, and no field goals made in the first half).

Desmond Mason is a decent defender, and he does a lot of those "little things," but his shooting range seems to be somewhere between the ally and the oop. Mason on the floor with Sergio Rodriguez = fun, entertaining, and buckets. But without a setup man, he is a guy that is on the floor solely for his defense. That’s not a bad thing, I guess, unless you’re pining for Casspi and/or Greene.

"Easier to Run" by Linkin Park is now playing, which makes it an appropriate time to bring up Sergio Rodriguez. Sergio Rodriguez had 11 assists! Sergio Rodriguez had 5 of the Kings 15 turnovers. And this is why Sergio Rodriguez is no longer playing for Nate MacMillan. And that jump shot – aye carumba! Shareef Abdur-Rahim’s free throws had more arc. But I like him. He certainly brings flair and excitement.

That leaves Beno Udrih. Beno had been playing reasonably well in the preseason, but no assists in 28 minutes? Maybe it was an off night. Maybe he was pouty following Rodriguez off the bench.

Trends – The Kings are sending their opponents to the free throw line…a lot! Tonight was 41 free throws for the Thunder, 14 for the Kings. Granted, Martin didn’t play, which impacted the number of times that the Kings got to the line. But the numbers have been alarmingly disproportionate this preseason. Also, the turnovers, the turnovers, the turnovers. The Kings were better tonight, but after starting the game with no turnovers in the first 16 minutes, they turned it over 15 times in the next 32 minutes. This is most likely the byproduct of a young team working under a new coaching staff, but everyone better get ready for a season of Jerry Reynolds pleading with everyone that we need to value the ball!

"Change the World" by Eric Clapton. This seems like an appropriate time to go ask my daughter about school and her day. I wanted to attach a poll, but the system is not cooperating. So instead, we'll do it this as a thread starter. Who has exceeded expectations the most so far this preseason - Tyreke Evans, Omri Casspi, Jason Thompson, Paul Westphal, or Tom Ziller?

 

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