Let's never do that again shall we? Earlier today I was extremely thankful to clicc916 for hooking me up with free tickets to the game, as I didn't put a request in for a media pass in time, but now I feel that he should have paid me to take those tickets off of him. This is one of those games where you should be happy it wasn't televised, or Sactown Royalty would turn into a blog version of Apocalypse Now. Just ... ugh.
Let's start off with some good news. Before the game I was watching Tyreke Evans shoot jumpers. At one point he hit six three-pointers in a row. He apparently hit eight in a row at practice earlier today. That shot looks real nice. Marcus Landry and Donté Greene also showed off their athleticism during the warmups. Now we're back to depression, because the game has started.
Right off the bat it's clear that the Clippers want this game more than us, a LOT more than us. Their defense is tough, and they're spreading the floor really well (we'll come back to this later). And then there was Blake Griffin. Holy Sh*t. This guy has not lost any of his explosiveness, and about half his shots were well-defended, but he was able to make it anyway because of his ridiculous hangtime and body control. He was also a ridiculously tenacious rebounder, on both ends of the court. It sort of reminded me of Brockman, except with a whole lot more explosiveness. He looked like a superstar out there, and he ended up getting treated by the refs like he was one too. At one point, he badly missed a fadeaway jumper, and the refs simply called a foul on Francisco Garcia who had contested the shot. Griffin went on to miss both free throws, rebound his own miss over both Cousins and JT, and proceed to try to dunk it home. DeMarcus Cousins got absolutely all ball, I swear, but Griffin got the foul call, and made both free throws. If he doesn't have any more knee issues, he's gonna be stellar.
Tyreke was about the only good thing at the beginning of the game, looking like the star he was, but everyone was else was just sloppy, and Tyreke only played 9 minutes. Without Tyreke (or Beno for that matter) in the game, our offense was incredibly sloppy. There were way too many shot clock violations. One or two a game is understandable, but there were at least six, and one more that was bailed out because Head drew a pump fake foul a la Kevin Martin. There was also way too much standing around waiting for the ball. I imagine this is a bit of Tyreke's fault, because when he's in the game, defenses are forced to double him or collapse on him, which causes openings, but Jeter and Head (both players that ran the point) don't demand that kind of attention, and more movement is needed on offense.
On defense the Kings were spread out way too easily. Players were often confused on who to switch onto, who to double, etc. and the Clippers were able to get loads of easy wide open shots on the perimeter and via cutters simply by moving the ball around and setting a couple good screens. It didn't help that our defense looked lackluster and unfocused. Again, just like the Suns, the Clippers were able to penetrate at will. Our perimeter defense needs to step up big time. Everyone was at fault.
There were sooo many fouls too, which made an already ugly game so much more depressing, as time just dragged on. It didn't help that the Kings COULD NOT MAKE A DAMN FREE THROW TO SAVE THEIR LIVES. When you shoot 43 free throws in a game, you should make more than 60.5% of them.
The offense and effort did get a little better as time went on but that's not saying much. The Clippers still managed to outscore the Kings in every single quarter, and the Kings could get absolutely nothing going from outside. They also managed to beat the Kings on the boards, mainly by staying with the ball and also because the Kings didn't box some people out, especially Griffin, who flies out of nowhere for offensive rebounds (he had a pretty sick offensive board putback jam. He's the only reason I didn't just go home and fall asleep instead of this recap).
Enough about the game though. Now for player evaluations as well as video from Kingsflix. Also, I'll be doing a Clipper-centric recap on my NBA blog for the Clipper fans who weren't able to see the game (almost all of them), so if you want to check that out for more thoughts on Griffin and the Clips, it's up here.
Tyreke Evans: This probably would have been a different game if Tyreke played, but I understand why he didn't play as much as he did against Phoenix. Still, that shot is looking really smooth, and that's a good sign. His vertical hangtime is pretty ridiculous as well, and some of his layups leave me breathless.
Pooh Jeter: Relatively unimpressive to me at running the floor today, but his jumper looked smooth. On defense, he really has trouble with taller players, because although he's quick enough to stay in front of them, he's too small to contest their shots, and not strong enough to keep them out of the lane. But he's got really quick hands, and if you have a loose dribble around him, its very likely he'll either poke it away or simply steal it. He's going to have a very nice steal rate in this league.
DeMarcus Cousins: DeMarcus looked like a rookie tonight. He scored 15 points in only 21 minutes, but it was on 14 shots, and he missed 4 of his 9 free throws as well. He did have at least two fouls called on him that shouldn't have been fouls (his block on Griffin was one, and the other was a nice pokeaway), but the other 4 were legit. It's clear that he tries on defense, but at the end of games he gets tired and tends to get lazy with what he does, leading to some cheap fouls. On offense, he got to the line a bit, and probably should have gone a couple more, but again, he was treated like a rookie, and at times he looked out of control going to the basket. He also turned the ball over twice because of traveling violations, due to a bad habit of his where he drags his foot when he pump fakes a jump shot. He had a few boards taken away from him by the tenacious Griffin, and that's a matter of Griffin simply wanting it more. Near the end of the game it became clear that DeMarcus was extremely frustrated with the officiating, but he didn't blow his temper, and in fact started the 4th quarter on a tear before getting called for his 6th. One last note on DeMarcus: When he shoots his free throws in a hurried manner, he tends to miss. When he takes his time, they almost always go in. I think he can get that percentage up to 70-75% eventually.
Jason Thompson: A bad night for JT, who had a lot of trouble with handling the combo of Griffin, Kaman and the referees early in the game. His shot wasn't falling at all either, inside or outside. He's getting better at contesting shots though, and he led the team in assists (sort of disappointing since the team only had 12 assists altogether).
Marcus Landry: He wasn't nearly as effective as last game. He got beat quite a bit on the perimeter, and this led to a few fouls that kept him from playing too much.
Carl Landry: I actually was semi-pleased with Carl's performance. He was much more assertive than last game, taking it to the rim, and hitting that mid-range jumper. I also found out that he (along with Cisco) are the official Captains of the team.
Francisco Garcia: Well his shot looked smooth, but his defense was iffy to me, as he let quite a few players just blow by him (this happened to pretty much every King that played). He had a nice defensive sequence that ended with a block, but the player (I forget who, I think it was Kaman because I thought it was weird Cisco was guarding him) simply got it back and shot over him. He also had a couple trademark bonehead Cisco plays, including dribbling the ball off his thigh, and tripping over Darnell Jackson and being forced to call a timeout.
Omri Casspi: Omri was a disappointment to me in this game. On almost every possession where he went to shoot the ball, he would pump fake the ball and try to drive it to the basket, but he looked out of control, and his runners while in the middle of crowds were way off mark.
Luther Head: Well Head's offense was better. I will say I was a bit worried when he missed his first three free throws, but he didn't miss a shot after. Still though, he was getting almost all of his points from driving to the basket, and I think the Kings were looking for him to showcase his shooting skills. I was also wholly unimpressed with how he ran the offense during the time he was at the point, as it grew very stagnant. He works much better when he's not the primary ball handler, as does the team.
Donté Greene: The clear winner of the Small Forward battle for tonight at least, Donté started off slow, with a couple turnovers based off miscommunications with his teammates, just like in the last game. It seems he wants to be more of a distributor, but his teammates simply aren't ready when he throws them the pass, and often he's in better position to just shoot it himself than to pass it off. His outside shot wasn't falling, but nobody's was. Still, he took it inside and was successful, smartly posting up Aminu when he had 4 fouls and scoring on him. He also had two nice blocks and played some alright defense (probably the best D of any King last night, which again, isn't saying much).
Darnell Jackson: Joey Dorsey + Sean May = Darnell Jackson. The guy is one tough hombre, and I wouldn't mind him making the final team. He is a little foul happy at times, but he's a good rebounder, and he plays some decent interior D . His mid-range jumper is also really smooth.
Connor Atchley: A for Effort. He tried setting a screen and it was about the most adorable thing I've ever seen. Still he's probably better than Jarron Collins, who has somehow made over $14 million in the NBA.
Joe Crawford: He likes to dribble too much for his own good. I prefer Bowler Hat by a longshot.