The Kings have several problems leading to these three straight losses and an awful 1-3 home record. In today's column, The Bee's Ailene Voisin blames a lethargic, confused and ineffective offense. The offense certainly hasn't been creative during the homestand. But to me, the glaring problem is still defense. Specifically, it's perimeter defense. And it's hard to ignore what opposing starting small forwards have done to the Kings.
Here's a game-by-game look at what opposing small forwards have done to the Kings, what they've done on the season, and which Kings were responsible.
* Game 1: Kings at Timberwolves -- Michael Beasley scores 17 points on 6-of-16 shooting. Donte Greene started and guarded Beasley much of the night. Omri Casspi spent about 12 minutes on Beasley, as well. The Kings did a fairly good job on Beasley, though he came alive in the fourth with Greene on him.
* Game 2: Kings at Nets -- Travis Outlaw scores 18 points on 5-of--9 shooting on the Kings. He is currently averaging 10 points a game on the season. Casspi started and played 20 minutes; Francisco Garcia took the small forward spot for much of the rest of the game, with Greene seeing just 3-1/2 minutes. The GameFlow shows that Outlaw dropped 13 of his 18 on Casspi in the first half in about 15 minutes of action. Outlaw scored a three on Garcia in nine minutes in the fourth, and hit some endgame free throws.
* Game 3: Kings at Cavaliers -- Small forward was not the problem, as Jamario Moon scored just seven points in 31 minutes on 3-7 shooting while Casspi went nuts for 20. Moon is averaging 6 points a game on the season. Casspi played 41 minutes, Greene just two seconds.
* Game 4: Raptors at Kings -- Linas Kleiza scored 18 points on 6-16 shooting in 34 minutes. Eleven of those points came in the third quarter. Casspi was yanked less than four minutes into the third after Kleiza had scored nine of those points on two three-pointers and three free throws earned when Casspi fouled Kleiza behind the arc. Jason Thompson replaced Casspi; Kleiza went 1-3 until Casspi re-entered with 2:35 left in the quarter. Casspi played solid defense on Kleiza from there. Kleiza is averaging 11.5 points a game this season.
* Game 5: Lakers at Kings -- Ron Artest scored 17 points on 7-11 shooting. Fifteen of those points were scored in the first and third quarters with Casspi guarding him. Artest is averaging 11 points on 41% shooting this season.
* Game 6: Grizzlies at Kings -- Rudy Gay scored 32 points on 11-19 shooting. Both Gay and Casspi played the entire first and third quarters. In those quarters, Gay scored 15 on 6-11 shooting and Casspi scored 10 on 4-9 shooting. Thompson defended Gay in the second quarter, and Gay scored eight points on 3-5 shooting. Thompson and Garcia defended Gay in the fourth, where the forward scored nine points on 3-5 shooting. Greene didn't play at all. Gay is averaging 25 points per game.
* Game 7: Wolves at Kings -- Michael Beasley scored a career-high 42. Greene finally got a shot -- he marked Beasley for four minutes in the first quarter. But let's back up: Casspi started the game on Beasley. The Wolf scored nine points on six shots in the opening 6-1/2 minutes of the game. Enter Greene. Beasley scores nine points in four minutes, using just four shots. Beasley lit up Greene, who exited and didn't see the court again. Beasley proceeded to score 24 more points in 31 more minutes, with Beasley's best remaining stretch coming in the second quarter with Thompson guarding him. Beasley scored well in the second half, but Casspi nearly matched him point-for-point. By the way, Beasley is averaging 18 points a game.
In seven games, the opposing starting small forward has scored below his season average once: the opener against Minnesota.
In seven games, Donte Greene has started or played rotation minutes once: the opener against Minnesota.
Einstein, or Twain:
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
Greene will not solve all the team's problems, and he might not even be a good perimeter defender. But given the simply awful results the status quo has given us in defending small forwards, perhaps it's worth a shot.