Thank you David Kahn, you wonderful, wonderful man, for passing on DeMarcus Cousins and letting him fall to us. I don't even care if he wins Rookie of the Year, I'm just glad that he's on this team, MY team. Before I continue with my DeMarcus man-crush, let's discuss this game a bit.
The Kings started off on a 8-2 run, with Tyreke swishing his first couple jumpers (more on that later). The offense looked a LOT better than it did in either the Phoenix or Los Angeles games, with the team spacing the floor and moving the ball well. It was a night and day difference in terms of quality. The defense was the same problem though, with Monta Ellis (who was an absolute stud out there) carving the Kings up whenever he wanted, and the Kings again having big problems denying penetration. As the first quarter wore on, the team became increasingly more sloppy on offense, and to give the Warriors credit, they were extremely active on defense, especially around lazy dribbles and passes. The passing lanes are not safe against the Warriors. I have a feeling they'll lead the league in steals this year. As such, the Warriors caught up to the Kings and took the lead going into the 2nd.
The 2nd quarter was a back and forth affair. It was obvious fairly quickly that DeMarcus was too much for Dan Gadzuric, and the Warriors had to resort to double teaming him. Both teams had a bit of a cold streak in this quarter compared to the first, but while the Kings offense struggled a bit, the defense was much improved. Turnovers were a big problem on offense.
The 2nd half was where the Kings finally pulled away (mainly the 4th quarter), and it saw our first "complaining to the refs" technical of the preseason, given to Jason Thompson. There were again too many turnovers for the Kings, but they did a decent job on defense themselves, and for the first time this preseason, the Kings weren't fouling as much unnecessarily, and they got to the line more. Everyone was hustling towards loose balls, and the turnovers cut down as the night wore on. All in all, the Kings played a decent game, and it likely would have been a lot closer if the Warriors had played Ellis and Curry more, but I think the Kings would have still won, given that Golden State gave most of its minutes to main rotation guys. The team also did a great job outrebounding the Warriors, and protecting the basket.
After the jump, my player evaluations and video from Kingsflix. If you're interested, I'll have a Warriors-centric recap up on Pick and Scroll later today.
Tyreke Evans: This is a classic case where numbers don't tell the whole story. Looking at the box score, Reke put up some impressive numbers (other than the 5 turnovers) in only 24 minutes of play, and it didn't even look like he was trying that hard. Unfortunately, this was especially true on the defensive end, where he was by FAR the laziest Kings defender out there, at least to my eyes. Monta Ellis consistently beat him off the dribble, and often he was late to switch, leading to an easy Golden State basket. On offense, it seemed like he had a bit of tunnel vision once he decided to take it to the basket. The Warriors did an excellent job defending him (big credit to Monta Ellis here) and he often got trapped or put in a bad situation, leading to a turnover. Also at one point he was on a fast break with both Luther Head and Donté on the wings available to him, but he chose to try to beat the defender instead and blew the layup. So as for defense and decision making, I'd say Tyreke had a bad game. His offense was quite good however, and that shot looks silky smooth. Both of his made threes were nothing but net, and the one he missed was in and out. James and I were talking during the game, and we both agree that he is still lacking a mid-range and pull-up game, and won't be an absolutely elite scorer until he gets one. But his set jumpers look great right now.
Carl Landry: He looked like the Top Hat we know and love tonight. He ripped David Lee to shreds on offense with his mid-range jumper. His go-to move was to jab step towards the basket and pull-up for the mid-range jumper, which he converted regularly. He was 7-10 from the field, and one of those misses was just a three he had to heave up to try to beat the shot clock. He was also active on defense, poking the ball away and coming up with a great weakside block early in the game. His rebounding was still pretty bad however, and it's why I think he's better suited as being a super 6th man.
Luther Head: Lex (or Third Base if you prefer, although I doubt the Kings center a marketing campaign around that nickname) had a great game, and definitely converted this skeptic. He was one of the few mistake-free Kings tonight, and he was active in the passing lanes and finding the open man, as well as shooting extremely well. He's really quick too, and more than once beat his man off the dribble and got to the basket for either a layup attempt or to draw a foul. I believe there is still a big chance Luther makes this team, especially after how he's performed in the last couple games.
Jason Thompson: A bad start for Jason, committing a few stupid fouls and looking lost on offense, but he came back strong in the 4th quarter, where he scored all his points, and mopping up on the glass. This guy never gives up, and whatever role he's given on this team, he's going to try his hardest out there.
DeMarcus Cousins: The man of the night. In only 22 and a half minutes, DeMarcus had a statline of 20 points (on 6-12 from the field, 1-1 from 3, 6-7 from the line), 8 boards (3 offensive), and a steal, block and assist. He got off to somewhat of a slow start, especially defensively where he lost his man a couple times. On one such occasion, Coach Westphal subbed him out and then went on to show him what he had done wrong by diagramming it. He was better when he came back in. While his offense was superb (he should have had 24 points, but got two really unfriendly rolls of the basketball), his defense was alright (for a rookie center) as well. He really has a knack for drawing charges, and was just a little bit late in drawing a 2nd one that he got called for a foul on. Still, I like the effort, as charges are one of the best things a defender can accrue. He also went after the boards actively, on a couple occasions grabbing a rebound he had absolutely no business getting. His offense was the most impressive though, as he was just too big and strong for anybody the Warriors put on him, and his jumper was consistently going in as well. I had to laugh a bit when he spotted up for a three and he nailed it. It had gotten to the ridiculous point at that stage. He only had one assist (a beautiful behind the back bounce pass out of a double team to Jeter), but he had several other passes that were incredible, and he really knows how to hit cutters. I would go so far as to say that he probably has better court vision than Tyreke Evans. Big game from the Big Man.
Omri Casspi: An extremely poor shooting night from the field for Omri (he missed all three of this 3PA badly, including one airball), but he managed to make up for it in other ways. He was tenacious on defense, coming up with three blocks and a steal, and he played the role of point forward well, setting up a few teammates. He did have a few lazy dribbles and poor decisions however. Because his shot wasn't falling, he ended up taking it to the basket often, and drawing fouls as a result. His Free Throw shot looks a lot smoother than last year too, and he nailed all 7 of them. He was a beast on the boards too, leading the team with 9. He really goes after them. Right now Omri would have my vote for starting small forward, simply because of all the other things he can do even when he's struggling shooting wise. Coach Westphal might have a different opinion though, if only because he believes that Omri provides a much needed spark off the bench (he says as much in his post-game press conference, which you can view below). I also think this role might suit Omri better than a starting position.
Donté Greene: Donté was a little more successful from the field than Omri tonight, and he definitely hustled his ass off. He was everywhere, and diving for loose balls left and right. He also managed to play some sound defense, and led the team in steals with three. One thing I have noticed with Donté in each of the preseason games however is that he tries to be a playmaker at times and his teammates haven't been ready for him, or weren't even looking as was the case tonight. It has cost him a few turnovers over these three games. He was also actively going for rebounds, which was nice to see. For all the talk about someone other than Omri or Donté getting the starting SF spot, I think its just between these two, and once the season starts, they'll see most if not all of those minutes between them.
Pooh Jeter: Jeter was unimpressive to me on offense, but it's interesting how he can make an impact without you noticing. He had 7 assists, and while he didn't shoot the ball well, he also made relatively few mistakes. On defense was where he impressed me though. He's just a pest over there. I feel opposing players often underestimate him because of his height, but his low gravity and quick hands can disrupt opponents. Jeter will fill the role of 3rd guard nicely.
Darnell Jackson: Jackson didn't get any blocks, but he disrupted quite a few Warriors shots and layup attempts, and he was able to provide some hard fouls when he couldn't. He wasn't a zero on offense either, hitting his shots and nailing his FTs. He's a solid player, not the elite rebounder that Brockman was, but much less one-dimensional. And with Dalembert now out for 4-6 weeks, I think he has an even bigger chance to make the team, at least for the time that Dalembert is out (the Kings could keep Head, Landry and Jackson to bring the roster to 15, and then still cut Jackson if they want when Dalembert comes back).
Francisco Garcia: Garcia looked like he tweaked his ankle at one point, and hopefully it's not serious, with all the injuries the Kings have already had during preseason. His shot wasn't really going last night, but his defense was good, and he was one of the few players that bothered Monta Ellis.
Joe Crawford: Missed a three, then nailed one. That was about it.
Miscellaneous Notes: Too many Warrior fans in ARCO, even for a preseason game. We're going to have to take back ARCO for StR Night. Also there was a random guy walking around wearing a Kobe jersey. What the hell? Coming in a close second for weirdest jersey worn by a fan at the game was a Golden State Joe Smith jersey. You don't see many of those around.