Once again, the Kings couldn't put a complete basketball game together, and it once again cost them the game. For three quarters the Kings played as well as the Pacers, and perhaps even slightly better, but in the third quarter everything fell apart. The team stopped moving the ball, the offense became stagnant, and the Pacers were able to get out into transition. The Kings also consistently fouled shooters, especially around the basket, which led to the most "And Ones" I think I've ever seen in a NBA game. The Pacers shot 34 FTs, 11 more than we took, and also managed to make 14 more than we did, as everyone who shot FTs for us missed at least one.
The biggest problem during that Second Half and especially during that disastrous Third Quarter (which saw the Pacers go on a 17-2 run in the first 4:36 seconds!) was the lack of ball movement. In the first half, the Kings had 13 assists to only 4 turnovers, and Tyreke himself had 8 assists by the half. Things were looking a lot smoother on offense. But for some reason it all just stopped after halftime, with a lot more isolation and dribbling happening, as well as clearly not running the called plays (a player would have the ball, obviously waiting for others to perform their part of the play, which they didn't, and then be forced to either shoot or force a pass before time ran out). The Kings only had 1 assist to 6 turnovers in the Third, and only 3 assists to 4 turnovers in the final period.
Defensively, the Kings had some problems defending without fouling, and preventing penetration. Collison and Granger were able to get to the basket constantly, and we got lucky that quite a few of their kick out passes to wide open three point shooters like Dunleavy, Rush and Posey resulted in misses. Nobody on the team was able to guard Granger, and I think the guy that actually did the best job on him was Tyreke, but he didn't see minutes on him until all other options had been exhausted and the game was already out of reach. The Kings just weren't able to come back from that huge collapse and the Pacers won by 9.
Player Recaps and Kingsflix Video after the Jump.
- Tyreke Evans looked like two different players tonight. During the first half, he looked like everything I ever wanted him to be, getting to the basket, making smart decisions, and finding his open teammates wherever they were (at the rim, midrange, at the three point line). His defense was also pretty good, as he kept Brandon Rush from doing anything. But the second half was completely different. He didn't react well to extra pressure from Indiana, and he seemed to stop looking for his teammates and started forcing a lot. He was a complete non-factor during Indiana's big run, and he didn't really help at all during the fourth when we were trying to make our comeback, other than for some alright defense on Granger. We can't win many games with our star himself not playing games consistently.
- Beno Udrih was huge off the bench. I directly attribute this to me yelling "Don't Suck" from the stands when he entered the game for the first time. Also the fact that he was acting more like the Beno we like, getting free for jumpers off the ball and not forcing things by driving into crowds. He did fail a tad as a facilitator, but he was playing so much off the ball that he can hardly be blamed for it. He hit 2-3 from downtown tonight, which is a good sign. Ziller has already documented that Beno is much better when he's hitting his threes with consistency, something he hasn't been doing so far this season. Hopefully it continues for him.
- Luther Head probably had his worst game as a Starter. He didn't really do much to stop Darren Collison, who at times simply looked to quick for Luther, and on offense, Luther repeatedly missed wide open threes, which is kind of a big deal when thats what you're supposed to do. He also hurt the team with his overdribbling, especially in that 3rd quarter, where he at times just killed all ball movement, until it was too late in the shot clock to do anything.
- Any play that ends with a Samuel Dalembert isolation is a terrible play, yet for some reason the Kings continuously go to this. Dalembert is most effective on offense as a roll man, or popping out for that 10-15 footer. But apparently we weren't kidding when he mentioned this offseason that the Kings wanted him to have a bigger role in the offense. Unfortunately, this kills our offense when he's used like this. Love his defense and rebounding though, although sometimes he gives up too much position to post players, and he had trouble with Hibbert when he got too close to the basket.
- Donté was playing with great energy and hustle tonight, but unfortunately he just could not guard Danny Granger at all. Granger was able to get whatever he wanted against Greene, and it was clearly frustrating Donté. My advice for Donté is to continue to get leaner, and work on that three point shot. He'd be a 30-40 minute guy for this team if he could hit a three with consistency (as would Omri if he could defend).
- Speaking of Omri, he was a disappointment tonight. He couldn't get anything going offensively, and his defense on Granger was worse than bad. There was one point where he positioned himself to force Granger to go left, but he wasn't aware of his surroundings (there were no Kings players in the lane) and Granger just took it straight to the basket (for an And One, of course). Defense is definitely Omri's Achilles Heel right now.
- JT played alright in his second straight night as a starter. He wasn't good, but he wasn't bad either. It was a typical Jason game: good effort, good hustle, couple of silly fouls, a whiny face or two. In the end he just wasn't effective enough on either end of the court to demand more playing time, and the Kings had to bring Carl in to try to get some points.
- As for Carl, the Kings clearly were not used to him coming off the bench and for most of the time that he was in the game, they were severely under-utilizing him. With Carl coming off the bench, the whole point should be to get him the ball in a position to succeed, so he can put some points on the board. But the team was treating him just like any other player, giving it to him way too far away for him to be useful, and definitely not as a go-to option. He scored two of his four shots off offensive rebounds. Get him the ball when he comes in, the whole point is to have him be a scoring punch, and I think this is something the coaching staff will work on, and if he keeps coming off the bench (you never know with a Westphal team) I think the team itself will eventually figure it out.
- Francisco was decent in limited minutes, hitting a couple of crucial threes. He did have one absolute bonehead play late in the fourth where he threw the ball inside like he was trying to throw an alley-oop to DeMarcus or something, who was on the opposite side of the basket, with three Pacers and Tyreke with his back turned in the way. It was a turnover when the Kings needed it least, and its plays like that where you realize that you can't rely on Cisco being the leader of this young team.
- Now to the big fella. DeMarcus had by far the best game of his NBA career tonight. He was playing with poise and confidence, and most importantly not trying to do too much. In other games you would see him try to get super fancy, or perform 4-5 post moves when only 1-2 are needed. Not this game though, as he stuck with what was effective. Defensively, he got called for several ticky tack fouls, with his fifth being controversial to me from where I was seated. I didn't get to see the replay, so I'll accept that it was a foul if you all say different. After the game, I listened in on the radio to hear the post-game comments (I went as a fan to this game so I didn't go to the locker room in person) and DeMarcus made some very mature comments about the practice situation. He clearly stated that it was his fault, and that he "was being selfish". I think that this could end up being a good experience for him, and as many, if not all of you, know, half of growing up is making mistakes and learning from them.