Preview: Kings at Clippers

THE SCOUTING REPORT

Sen. HighTops, the floor is yours:

The downside of the Martin/Landry trade is about to hit like a Mack truck into a brick wall. After trading away 40% of our guards to beef up the PF position, the one thing we couldn’t afford to have happen, happened.  So, we have to play the Clippers without our best player and with one combo guard playing point and one SF/SG at the other guard position. And, the Clips have been idle since Wednesdays victory over the Bucks, so the Kings will be facing a full roster of rested players. But then, when have things gone well or as planned for the Kings?

Back on Feb. 28 when the Kings beat the Clips 97-92, Tyreke didn’t have one of his best games. He was our leading scorer with 22, but he took 21 shots and was only 4 of 8 from the FT line, and had 5 rebs and 3 assists. As meager as that performance was by Evans standards, there doesn’t look to be any one person on the bench that can come close to filling those stats.

The Clippers are 2-8 since the loss to the Kings, losing all 5 road games, but were able to eke out home wins against Utah and Milwaukee. The Clips have averaged between 95-96 ppg the entire year, and March isn’t any different. They’re at 95.2 PPG on 45% shooting, while hitting 75.4% of their FTs and 37.6% of threes which is up from their seasonal average of 33.4%.  And, though most of their stat line is very similar to the Kings, the Clippers are 2nd in the NBA in blocks. Although one might think the loss of Camby would hurt that stat, the Clips have still maintained their seasonal average of 5.7 blks without him.

Looking for a sliver of hope, little was found.  Kaman has only had one bad game in the last 5 contests at home. In the 4 good games he’s averaging 20pts/11rebs. Drew Gooden has been a consistent 14pts/9rebs on 52% shooting since joining the team. Rasual Butler is playing his best basketball of the season, averaging 14.7pts/3rebs on 44% from the field, 36% from three and 82% from the FT line. Next we come to Eric Gordon and things start to look up, somewhat. Gordon had his worst game since January on March 5th against OKC. He only scored 7 points on 3-11 shooting mostly due to a sore leg which eventually caused him to miss the entire 5-game road trip. In the 2 games since his return he’s only averaging 12 pts on 6-21 field and 2-11 from three but appears to be on the mend. Baron Davis has been right on average with 15pts/8.7rebs on 45% shooting, and actually had a 18pts/17assts game against NOH last Monday.

Blake and Outlaw are still getting the majority of the bench minutes since coming over in the Camby trade. And Craig Smith and DeAndre Jordan, who combine for 13pts/10rebs in 36mpg, still provide the relief for Gooden and Kaman.

With the talent on this team it’s hard to understand how they can be 26-43. While they are 16 games in back of 8th seed Portland, they are only 3.5 games back when you compare their home records. If the Clippers could find a way to steal a few road games they could easily be in the playoff race. And with the return of Griffin, another lottery pick and cap space, they won’t make it easy for the Kings to get out of the cellar again next season.

From the Kings standpoint, Spencer’s numbers are down; only 8.7pts/6.5rebs on 41% shooting and 23% from three, and he’s only had 4 double doubles since New Years day. Along with his minutes, JT’s scoring is down 11pts/5.4rebs in 24mpg for March. Carl has been Mr. Consistency with 17pts/7rebs on 54% shooting, but his assists, steals and blocks are really subpar for a starting PF.  And he’s not drawing the double teams that Westphal had hoped he would. Here comes the good part. Beno has really stepped up his game in March. He’s averaging 13.8ppg on 48% field, 46% from three and 85.7% from the FT line. His assists are up to 5.3apg, with 1.2 steals and 2.7 rebounds.

What’s really been wrong with the Kings is that they haven’t been able to punish teams for using their best player to defend Tyreke. Early on PW played Donte at the 2 in hopes of forcing teams to defend Evans with their PG.  But by using Beno in the starting line up that ploy doesn’t work any longer. Now teams are able to defend Tyreke with anyone they want and rotate their PG to defend Beno. We needed more production from the SF and SG position to make them rethink how they should defend us and that production never came.

Now with Evans out (at least for this game), our advantage is gone, and we are at the disavantage because we really have no one to defend the SG position.  Our main core of Cisco, Ime and Donte are more SFs playing SG and none of them are capable of staying in front of Gordon nor can they keep pace with Gordon’s offensive production.    We can probably expect Beno to step up in Tyreke’s absence, but how many others follow his example will probably say more about the future of the Kings than anything else that happens for the remainder of the season.

If you ask me "Will the Kings win?", I won’t answer because you already know the answer.   And, I don’t like to give bad news to good people.   But, do watch the game to see who reveals themselves to be the important pieces for next season.

KEY BATTLE

Beno Udrih vs. Baron Davis. Either can go for 30/10, either can be completely invisible.

BOLD PROCLAMATION

Jon Brockman will get a triple-double in street clothes at the hotel breakfast diner: 10 egg sandwiches, 10 pancakes, 10 uncomfortbale minutes in the men's room.

DETAILS

Early early 12:30 PM PT start. Two Game Threads (12:30, 1:45) and a post-gamer (3:15). A recap this evening.

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