Magic > Kings, A Play in One Act

I don't even know what to say about that bludgeoning.

Paul Westphal's comments were to the effect that even great teams have a couple of those games a season -- games where nothing good happens ever. But I'm not sure I buy this performance as a random hiccup. You've got to take it in context -- two wins in 13 games, a sixth straight loss, an offense that can't keep its marble collected. The Kings did miss plenty of shots, sure. But there were also too many baaaaad turnovers, too many slow rotations, too many blown defensive rebounds. It wasn't as if the Kings played a perfect game but watched their open shots clank off the rim. The Kings played a pretty bad game, and didn't get bailed out by making shots. You ought to be able to do something good every time out. Just one thing.

The confidence of this team is clearly shot; it's not like you need some schlub like me to point that out. Anyone who's watched the team recently knows that. I'll tell you this: two players look like they have great confidence right now, Tyreke Evans and ... Andres Nocioni. Nocioni looks like he's hating life every time he takes a seat on the bench, sure, but he has shown zero fear on the court, missing shots from every angle and every chance. Kevin Martin -- I never thought I'd see him take only seven shots in a 40-minute night. But it seems to me he doesn't have faith in his jumper right now. He began the game -- the Kings' best stretch pre-garbage time, mind you -- with four assists before he even scored a point. He looked to pass constantly.

You know I believe in the Evans-Martin backcourt. I think something's wrong with the pace of the team. Transition has become the exception rather than the norm -- and we were lobbied that Paul Westphal would bring an up-tempo attack to Sacramento. This team (Evans and Martin are both culpable) constantly walks the ball up. That, plus the (lack of) speed with which the offensive set usually develops, leaves the team with a fair amount of 24-second violations due to blocked or badly missed shots. Using up so much clock might be a good strategy in the macro view -- you limit possessions, making it more easy to edge a better team -- but on the possession-by-possession basis, you screw yourself out of a few offensive rebound opportunities, and typically the team gets a less than ideal shot out of the bargain. If it meant kicking the pace of the team upward, I'd be pleased to see more Sergio-Evans-Martin or Sergio-Udrih-Evans or Sergio-Udrih-Martin minutes in coming games.

There's some evidence the Kings play better at higher tempos, too: 82games.com, which is only current through 35 games, so it's missing this road trip and the preceding get-away game against Orlando, shows that the Kings are 8-6 against teams in the top 10 in pace, 7-8 against the No. 11-20 teams in pace, and ... 0-7 against the slowest teams in the league. After the last six losses, you can update those records to ...

Fast Average Slow
8-6 7-11 0-10

 

(And it should be noted two of those "fast" losses came in those heartbreakers against the [REDACTED].)

Maybe speeding the offense up -- by strategy or by substitution -- won't snap the team out of its putrid funk. But it's worth a shot. As soon as the confidence starts to come back across the roster, the winning ways can return. I really do believe that.

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