J-Rich dunks. Photo by Max Simbron.
The Kings still have massive, often debilitating issues. The ball movement blows. The defensive rebounding is painfully weak. The post defense is disastrous. The three-point shooting is often terrible. The transition defense is generally slow and ineffective. The rotation is completely inconsistent. The pick-and-roll offense is frequently a wasted motion; the pick-and-roll defense is frequently nonexistant.
The good thing? It seems like the players all recognize the team sucks, and no one seems overly full of themselves right now. The vaunted chemistry looks softened by the ongoing slide, with Tyreke Evans facepalming on a couple of occasions Sunday night. But it's frustration, not "omigod do I really have to spend the next three years with these guys?!" Everyone is frustrated, and that's good, given the circumstances. If Evans were content with the losing, focused on the prize (RoY) and the blueprint (max contract in 2013), you'd be worried. But he hates losing. So does Omri Casspi. So do Jason Thompson, Spencer Hawes and Donte Greene. So does Carl Landry. This team is pissed off. And while many of the causes for their lack of success come from within -- Evans moving the ball poorly, the big men rebounding inconsistently -- I get the feeling it won't be like this for long. It will come together.
The Kings hung around, and really had a decent advantage in the game ... until the Suns trotted out a zone defense near the end of the second quarter. That sunk the team's offense. The Kings just had no clue how to penetrate the defense; if nothing else, the second half of the game was good practice in what not to do against a zone. The team settled too often for jumpers off the dribble, and when Evans, Beno Udrih or another guard attempted to pass the ball inside, a turnover was a typical result.
The defense was even more problematic. The big men couldn't keep Robin Lopez, Channing Frye or (of course) Amar'e Stoudemire off the offensive glass. Jason Richardson destroyed Casspi, Grant Hill deked Donte Greene all over the court. Steve Nash was just magical, as he often is. The Kings forced some tough shots in the paint -- some of those offensive rebounds were off Phoenix's bigs' own misses -- and Nash didn't get too many open looks. But those are footnotes from an overall poor defensive performance.
Dominic McGuire's defense was solid. But his jumper is as bad as advertised, so I think he'll end up getting only restricted minutes. Ime Udoka played good defense (as always) during his stint, but couldn't hit his open shots and got yanked quickly.
Landry scored well (a team-high 18 points), but shot inefficiently (6-15) and had just six defensive rebounds in 38 minutes. Thompson had seven in 30 minutes, and Hawes ... never mind.
No more games against the Suns this season! Hurrah!