The Kings lost their second game in a row tonight to a very good Chicago Bulls team. Derrick Rose had 19 points and 8 assists and Carlos Boozer had 16 points and 15 rebounds. The Kings were led by Marcus Thornton (20 points) and Tyreke Evans (19 points) but couldn't pull out a win for several reasons.
Perhaps the most glaring weakness tonight was the lack of transition defense. The Bulls scored 33 points on the fast break, almost a third of their entire point total. A lot of this lay in the fact that we just didn't get back, or we gambled at inopportune times. Our halfcourt defense so far this year has actually been rather impressive, but the transition D has been putrid, and it really hurts our ability to get anything going on the other end as well, since easy buckets for the other team on one end early in the shot clock allows them to concentrate more on defense, which hurts our chances of scoring easily.
The other obvious weakness was our Free Throw shooting, a lowly 58.8% from the line despite getting 34 attempts. It's a bit odd as well since typically good Free Throw shooters are missing these shots. Tyreke Evans was the biggest culprit, hitting only 5-12. Marcus Thornton also missed both his attempts. Both those guys typically hit 75-80% of their shots. I don't foresee this being a long term problem, but it is frustrating.
The lack of cohesion and knowledge of each other's tendencies is also very evident in our offense. It seems clear that the team is trying to move the ball, but they often revert to old habits and dribble around too much searching for something to do. A lot of credit has to be given to the Bulls defense for their excellent rotations, but it's still frustrating to watch at times. For example, take Marcus Thornton. Marcus had a game high 17 shots tonight, which is fine out of context. The problem is that Marcus was having to create most of those shots himself, because he wasn't being found within the flow of the offense. This was particularly evident in the first half, when it seemed like we were getting flashbacks to the old John Salmons using up every possession while guys like Evans and Thornton weren't touching the ball. There also was a lot of standing around on offense. It got a little better in the second half, and I liked seeing Tyreke cut hard to the basket off-the-ball. He should be doing that often, it usually results in a bucket or a trip to the line.
Even with all that the Kings still had chances to win this game, but Chicago showed just why they are one of the best teams in the league, answering every Kings run with one of their own. The team got closest in the 3rd quarter when they cut the lead to only one point, but several bad decisions, both in shot selection and defensive lapses, and the Bulls were back up by 10 in a moments notice.
There were positives to take from this game though. DeMarcus Cousins had another double-double, and while his 4-16 from the floor doesn't look all that great, I still liked what I saw. He was taking it inside, and he just missed some easy shots. Jimmer Fredette had his best game so far (at least on the offensive end) and definitely looked more comfortable out there. The team also did great at drawing fouls and getting to the line, though not converting.
This is still a learning process, and I implore fans to be patient. This team is still trying to learn how to play together, and they're trying to do it all on the fly thanks to the lockout. Normally a team has a summer league for the young guys, a month of free agency, a few weeks of training camp, and a month or so of pre-season games. This year, that all takes place in just two weeks (and no summer league). It's kind of insane when you think about it, especially since the team is trying to play a new brand of basketball and is using so many new players in the rotation
New York comes in on Saturday. With a high octane offense that likes to get out and run, this will be a good test to see if the Kings have learned anything from their mistakes.