I am a native Sacramentan in school in New York, and was lucky enough to go to the game tonight. I was so pumped by tonight's win that I decided to enter the foray of FanPosts here on STR. While I am an avid reader, and have been a member for quite a while, I rarely post. One of the things I really enjoy is reading these recaps from people who were actually at the game, and considering I saw a total of about 7 Kings jerseys the whole game, I figured it was on me to give everyone a few thoughts from watching live.
To set the scene:
The story of this game was Omri Casspi. The Knicks capitalized on Omri's popularity to make this game Jewish heritage night, and the New York Jewish community, which is very substantial, was out in full force. The game began with singing HaTikvah, the Israeli national anthem. I had my Israeli flag with me, but I was far from the only one as there seemed to be dozens throughout the arena. In fact, there seemed to be more Omri fans there than Knicks fans, and at many times throughout the game the chants for "Let's Go Omri!" drowned out the "Let's Go Knicks!" chants. It was an incredible thing to see... and after the game he was mobbed at the tunnel by a sea of Israelis. He had a great game, so congratulations to him.
I'm not sure how much of this drowning out was due to the lack of energy of the Knicks fans (I was the only one who cheered at all in my section for most of the game); in fact, at the end of the game, I was approached by tourists from Australia who said that they came to watch American sports and planned on rooting for the Knicks, but were shocked by the fans' lack of enthusiasm and ended up rooting for the Kings instead. Glad to recruit some fans from down under!
Now, a few thoughts on the game itself:
I felt that this was a game that was much closer than it should have been, and I felt that the fact that the Kings were down 15 and that the game went into ovetime at all was much more due to the Kings' sloppy play than to the Knicks playing well. The turnovers were god-awful at times; the turnover where Tyreke threw to nobody and the ball skidded to the backcourt probably should have cost us the game; the Kings dodged a bullet there. There was also an idiotic turnover on an inbounds pass with 3 seconds left in the first quarter that missed everyone. Overall, there were countless unforced turnovers, and the Kings got burned on them for much of the game, and were probably lucky that they didn't end up costing them the game.
Interesting call on the starting lineup- no Kevin and no JT. Interestingly enough, even though Hawes started, he only played 6 minutes. He's been playing much better these days, so this seemed a bit strange to me. In addition, I felt that Kevin did not get enough touches until overtime. More on this later. Beno was laregly ineffective, although Donte played well. I think this experimental lineup will likely not return.
The interior defense- I was embarassed to watch the play inside at times. Wilson Chandler dominated (and I mean career-high-dominated) the inside in the first quarter. This caused the Kings to collapse more when the ball got into the paint- which left shooters wide open. David Lee also got to the basket at will... he missed some easy inside shots, or this could have been a lot uglier. I felt that this area actually improved as the game went on, and we locked down over the last few minutes of the fourth, although we were definitely aided by the Knicks missing some very makeable shots down the stretch. Which leads me to my next point, which is...
Rebounding. Clutch rebounds won us this game. Donte and Tyreke came through with some huge defensive rebounds over a few Knicks in the closing minutes of regulation and overtime. The offensive rebounds at the end also proved decisive.
Free throws almost killed the Kings in this game. They missed their first four freebies, and kept missing throughout. Thank God for Tyreke's clutch free-throw shooting, and in general, Tyreke's clutch play. There was a late stretch of the fourth quarter where Tyreke put the team on his shoulders and singlehandedly took over the game. People will probably forget that tomorrow because in overtime, it was Kevin Martin that took over. I'm sure nobody in the world was happier than he was when he nailed that three from the corner: naysayers be damned. For the record, through the end of regulation I was certain I was going to be writing tonight about how Westphal should have gotten Martin more touches... clearly, he got my memo, and it paid off. It's nice to know that we have not one, but two backcourt players who can carry the team for a stretch; I can't wait until that combo starts jelling.
Omri- awesome first quarter. I think that the rush of having so many people chanting his name got to him, as his hot shooting was all that kept the Kings in the game in the first quarter. He got cocky with his shot after hitting early open shots, and began to force his shot and it didn't work. I think Omri is very skilled, but he needs to continue to work on his decision making. He played a very good all-around game though.
Jason Thompson. An enigma. Early in the third quarter, he was hitting jumper after jumper. There were even a few with a hand in his face that were of the no no no... yes! variety. Then, he got cocky, and started forcing jumpers, which led to a big Knicks run which extended the Knicks lead. When JT is playing well, it's beautiful to see; when he's not, he makes you want to pull your hair out with frustration, which seemed like exactly what he was doing after some of those fouls.
Donte- the clutch boards were great to see, and he seemed very comfortable in the offense, hitting open threes and posting up with equal ease. I feel like if he ever gets consistent, he can be very, very good: the skills are there.
In the end though, a win is a win, no matter how ugly it was. I was very excited to see a Kings comeback (and the first overtime game I've ever seen!). I hope all of you at home enjoyed it as much as I did.