"And they chanted 'TY-REKE! TY-REKE!,' and it was good."
When playing the Jazz, the Kings rarely fail to give an entertaining show, and as fans of a bad team, we cannot ask for more. A veritable spaniel race!, from tip to tail. Never did either team have a comfortable lead, 'til Beno Udrih -- ahem, Wabeno Udrih -- hit a free throw with six seconds left to leave our protagonists with a four-point lead. Said free throw came after a stunning finish by Tyreke Evans with 14 seconds left, a brilliant slashing move punctuated with a short leaning jumper. That play was set up, in a way, by a lovely putback by Spencer Hawes, who collected his own miss for one of Sacramento's few offensive rebounds before tossing it in, unadorned and unchallenged.
Forty-seven minutes and forty-five seconds of a fight with cudgels, 15 ticks of sincere if knowing jubilation, a weekend of brighter time. Cheers!
The ball movement had been better in the first quarter than the fourth, but was well above the norm across the board. Hawes facilitated much of the offense early, and when this happens the other Kings are forced to move about the floor. When Tyreke handles the ball on the perimeter, chances are he'll eventually drive (for the shot, kick-out or drop-off) or pull-up for a jumper. Even if the other four move like the Bolshoi Ballet, Evans is likely to commence the possession with a move, not a pass.
Not the case when Hawes has the ball. In fact, he's really unlikely to take it off the bounce. He will basically either pass or shoot, and he'll only shoot if the defender slacks way off, which surprisingly never happens. It forces the others into action. This is not new news, of course; Mike Bibby was never known as the hardest working player on the court (no offense to my friends in Team Dime) but when Brad Miller or Chris Webber held the ball up high, Bibby moved his ass to open space. So it was when Hawes ran the offense -- Evans moved, Udrih moved, Omri Casspi and even Carl Landry moved. (There's an added bonus here: Evans barely needs a centimeter of space to have a massive advantage against even the best defenders. Moving without the ball opens up that space. I'm reminded of an early backdoor play in which Evans locked Deron Williams -- a smart player and solid defender -- in no man's land and beat him to the rim, where he received the ball and scored two.)
Hawes finished with five assists and one turnover, which is pretty perfect. The 15 points and 12 rebounds -- despite a teamwide deficiency on the boards -- don't hurt.
There are two ways to look at Andres Nocioni. He is completely selfish as a player, just utterly single-minded: shoot the ball. In one play in the second quarter, Chapu received a cross-court pass beyond the three-point line. Landry was completely uncovered under the rim, and Nocioni had a hand in his face. I dare say that 90 percent of the league would have passed the ball to Landry -- either by upfaking the defender and passing around, by bounce-passing it by the defender, or by taking a dribble and firing the ball inside. Landry was more open than my fly, that one time in high school, that time I was really embarrassed in Algebra II, up in front of the class with my fly down like that. Chapu, though? Lovely Chapu ... took the contested three. And he hit it, of course, justifying the next 1,000 contested threes (a goal to be completed within the week, I'm assured).
But, and I say this as a fierce opponent of contested threes, ... ... .. . this is Chapu. He is not fake, not in the least. He is, perhaps, the most naked player in the league. If Paul Westphal asked him to pass more, I honestly believe Nocioni would laugh, try to pass more for like three possessions, and start shooting again. Proverbially, he is what he is. There's no gilding, no disguise, no airs of pretention. Maybe to be a modern man is to be permeable. But ufck all that, for Chapu. Nocioni will not change.
And I -- thoroughly modern in attitude I believe -- I can't quarrel with that. Some strive for enlightenment, some relish all they have. Nocioni is the latter, and given how much he has, I can respect his worldview. Cheers, Chapu. Take that contested three.
The gesture between Westphal and Hawes was charming. The repeated "mountain-out-of-a-molehill" nonsense from Grant Napear was condescending, which is nothing new. Would you prefer we didn't care about the team so deeply, Mr. Napear?
Sometimes I mute the T.V. and imagine Lester Holt is calling the game.