Kings 99, Timberwolves 108 - We need a Defensive Big Man

(Ed. Note - Ziller accidentally listened to Sportsline1140 yesterday and is now in a coma, so you're all stuck with me for today.)

Another road game, another loss.  With last night's loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Kings have finished a disappointing 0-5 on this last road trip (with only 1 road game in Los Angeles remaining).  It's definitely not what we had expected from this team going in, especially when the team faced 2 teams with records worse than them (Minnesota and New Jersey) and one with a similar record (Indiana).

As for the game itself, the Kings played bad defense and offense, while the Minnesota Timberwolves shot the lights out.  56.1% from the floor (averaging 44.8% on the year, 24th in league), and 53.3% from 3 (averaging 34%, 23rd in league).

More after the jump.

  • The Kings beat the Wolves in a lot of statistical categories:  They had more FT's attempted, a lot less turnovers, more steals, more field goal attempts, and less fouls.  But when you let the Wolves (or any team for that matter) shoot like they did, and outrebound you, you aren't going to win many games.
  • The Kings made Al Jefferson and Darko Milicic look like monsters.  Between them, they had 10 blocks apiece (6 for Big Al, 4 for Darko), and they altered a few more shots.  It wasn't like they were playing great individual defense (JT shot 7-10 from the floor against Darko tonight), but Landry was pretty much dominated by Big Al, on both ends of the court.  Here's one sequence in the 4th quarter, that pretty much summed up Carl's night:
    9:33 Al Jefferson blocks Carl Landry's layup 72-91  
    9:32 Carl Landry offensive rebound 72-91  
    9:30 Al Jefferson blocks Carl Landry's layup 72-91  
    9:30 Carl Landry offensive rebound 72-91  
    9:29 Al Jefferson blocks Carl Landry's layup 72-91  
    9:27 Carl Landry offensive rebound 72-91  
    9:26 shot clock violation

  • JT and Carl's long 16-23 foot jumper wasn't the problem tonight as Carl shot 6-11 from that range last night and JT was 3-5.  Their defense and rebounding however, were.  Milicic shot 7-10 from the field, Jefferson was 9-15, and Love was 5-9.  All 3 Wolves Big Men had double-doubles, while none of our bigs had more than 7 rebounds.  The defense would probably have been improved had Spencer been available, but the rebounding likely would not have.  The Kings definitely have to address this issue during the offseason somehow.
  • Donté Greene and Noc were on fire from deep last night, going 8-10 from 3 combined.  Donté's 3P% is up from 26% last year to just over 38% this year.  That's a remarkable improvement, and its most likely because he's taking a lot better shots.  Tyreke has helped a lot with his drive and kicks as well.  I can see great things in Donté's future if he keeps working on his game.  If he improves as much next year as he did this year, look out league.
  • Speaking of Tyreke Evans, the kid has really started to figure out this point guard business big time.  Although he struggled with his shot again, he consistently found his teammates, and racked up 13 assists to only 1 turnover.  Over the last two months, he's been averaging 7.3 assists, and I'm willing to bet its even higher if you count it past the trade deadline.  Having Landry on the floor improves the spacing for the team, and Tyreke's able to take advantage of that.  But Tyreke still has plenty of work to do on his game, as his iffy shot selection and very poor defense on Corey Brewer last night show.
  • Free Throws, Free Throws, Free Throws.  Shooting 53.3% from the line is unacceptable. And as good as Donté has been at shooting from 3 this year, he's only been 64.4% from the line this year after being 85.3% last year. 

As for the remaining schedule, the Kings will definitely have to bring their A-game if they want to win a couple more before the season ends so as not to finish on a bad note. They are only playing 1 sub-.500 team (the Clippers), but luckily they're mostly at home. Speaking of the Clippers game (on April 8th), if you're planning on going to it, I have been re-scheduled to the XO Communications X-Over Pre-Game show for this game, and it will probably happen around 15 minutes to tip off.

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