I don't really know what to say about this game.
On the one hand, HOLY CRAP! THEY WON! For the third time since the New Year. That should be warm fuzzies, right? But that's the last thing this game felt like, even as it became clear in the late fourth that the Knicks were fully prepared to walk the plank, and in the overtime period that the Kings were collectively rising to the occasion. The first three quarters felt like alternate madness (the bad kind) and craze (the good kind). The final seven minutes -- in which the Kings came back from a 15-point deficit on the back of Tyreke Evans's tractor -- felt like deja vu. Overtime felt like 2007. So weird! (That Ailene Voisin ran the point for The Bee back East adds further discombobulation. Not used to such purple gamers, though I will say I enjoyed it.
As fans of a bad team, we sometimes -- I am more guilty than most -- overrate the wins. A Donte Greene explosion becomes The Awakening, or some such. But I'm not sure you can overrate this win, given what it offered. I mean, Evans transforming into farm equipment in the fourth quarter? We've seen that -- this week! -- and we know it's repeatable. Kevin Martin exploding in the fourth quarter (for nine straight points)? That's an albatross in the Hudson, y'all. Greene going bonkers? We know it happens now and then. Omri Casspi is a star, yes yes, we know. (Man, is he a star!.) Andres Nocioni is a walking disaster half the time, far from a "solid veteran" he's made out to be. (Quick aside: I'd like to introduce a new smell test for advanced statistics. Plug Nocioni's performance Tuesday night into your formula. If Nocioni looks bad in your metric, your metric passes the smell test. I would immediately toss out any metric which indicated a good Nocioni performance last night. I'm not normally this certain, but I am certain that was terrible. Luckily, +/- and PER and everything else says Nocioni was a catastrophe. Good to know.) Jason Thompson, when he finishes in the paint and crashes the offensive boards, is awesome. (He was 3-5 from inside 10 feet and had five offensive rebounds. Just beautiful.) Spencer Hawes ... well, never mind that.
The question many viewers will have: why don't the Kings always play like that? Well, most teams aren't as stupid and/or untalented on defense as the Knicks. Most teams after, say, three brutal Reke drives to the rim would pack the lane. The Knicks didn't, and Evans kept on going. The success of a slash-heavy offense depends first on the opposing defense's complicity in the matter; if the defense is not complicit, then the attacking team needs to make appropriate passes and hit their outside shots (or do good things on a second slash). To date, the Kings have failed here: Evans is still working out how and when to pass, the Kings are only average from long distance, and the secondary slash has been nonexistant. But it's coming together, and I think even if teams defend the rim better than New York, the Kings can find some late-season success. Fingers crossed.
I was perhaps most encouraged by Paul Westphal's coaching. His lack of a set rotation -- hell, a set starting lineup -- has drawn ire. But it worked to perfection late. That particular closing lineup -- Evans-Martin-Casspi-Greene-Thompson -- was just brilliant. And it had played exactly zero possessions as a unit before Tuesday's game. That's why you keep experimenting, keep trying to find success. Cheers to Westphal for that.