The crowd was a little late arrriving probably due to the traffic gridlock on I5 near downtown. And for those that were late, you missed a real Kodak Moment with the presentation of Tyreke's ROY award. Contratulation young man, well deserved. The introductions was a nice bit of showmanship by the Maloofs. They had a hexagon screen at center court and showed pictures and action shots of each player as they were introduced. Even the Toronto players were up on the court to get a good look.
The game started poorly, as you probably already know. DeRosen and Reggie Evans seemed to dominate the game after DeMarcus got 2 quick fouls and was pulled for Dalembert who took about 2 minutes longer than Cousins to get his 1st two. By the end of the 1st Quarter, Reggie Evans (he who had 2pts in their first 2 games) had 6pts and 10 rebounds.
Tyreke turned it on in the 2nd quarter, and we ended up cutting the 1st quarter deficate from 17 down to 11. But overall, our defense looked too porious and allowed too many easy baskets in the paint, and we were cheating off the 3pt shooters to help and were lucky that Toronto missed some open shots. On offense we had 1 layup in the 1st quarter, and it wasn't until the 2nd that we started to score in close. But, it was more by the guards rather then the frontcourt players which is rather disappointing after all the preseason hype over our improved size down low.
The 3rd quarter started without Tyreke who wasn't feeling well, and by the time he reentered the game the 11pt deficate was back up to 14. Toronto did a great job keeping the ball out of Landry's hands the entire game and by the end of the 3rd he only had 6 pts. But, that didn't stop the Kings from trying to feed him the ball even when he was doubled. But, by the end of the 3rd the Kings had cut another 3pts off of Toronto's lead and were only down by 8.
Personal note: I have been to a Bulls Championship game, a Chicago Bears Finals Game, and a Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup game, but I have never experienced the excitement and noise level of the 4th quarter of the Kings Home Opener. If you haven't been to one, you need to go.
I don't know if it was because of the fact that we had come from behind in the 3 prior games, but there was a positive vibe from the very start of the 4th. On every defensive possession, the crowd was roaring DEFENSE for the entire quarter and the noise was unbelievable. And, everytime we scored the noise got even louder. I'm sure that there are people this morning who are still experiencing hearing loss. And, you could tell by the enthusiasm of the Kings players and the body language of the Toronto player that the crowd was definitely having an impact on the game.
From a purely basketball perspective, the biggest difference between the first three quarters and the final one, is that the Kings played some of the best pick & roll defense that I've seen from them in 2 years. The bigs were showing and switching, and that stopped the guard penetration. And, Toronto started missing the jumpers that they had been making. All that lead to the Kings holding Toronto to only 22 pts for the quarter, and a 11pt advantage for the Kings.
While I admire PW's offense / defensive substitutions in the final minutes, one thing still perplexes me. PW pulled Casspi 9 minutes into the 1st quarter, and Omri didn't have a foul yet. I can't imagine Omri was winded, although defending Kleiza may have been taxing due to Kleiza' size advantage. But, Wright was no match for him either and only played a little under 3 minutes for the game. Later in the 2nd half, PW brought in JT to cover Kleiza giving us a frontcourt of Dalembert, Landry and JT. But, although JT might be able to guard Kleiza, he really doesn't have the 3pt shot that is an important part of the 3 position in the Kings offense.
It should be clear to everyone by now that PW is punishing Donte for some indiscretion. But, with the L*kers up next and with Artest & Odom playing the 3, PW needs to do what's best for the team, and for me that's work Donte back into the rotation. I truly hope Westphal doesn't end up cutting off his nose to spite his face.