Phoenix game 3
I had the pleasure of watching the OK City game with BTE and Section along with their better halves. As the Kings returned to the floor for the final 5 seconds, I insisted that the Kings needed to feed the ball into DeMarcus and let him go to the basket for the tie breaker and possible ‘and1’. The others insisted that the Kings would go for the 3pter to win. After the 3pt attempt failed, words were exchanged, shoving escalated, and I was eventually suspended for comments unbecoming of a blogger. But, I refuse to accept the decision of my coach or BlogMates, and therefore here is my Scouting Report.
In our first meeting with the Suns this season, on Nov 12 at US Airways Center, the Kings lost 103-89. Almost 5 weeks later, the Suns had a record of 12-13 and were tied for eighth in the Western Conference. So on December 18th the Suns front office decided the team needed a change, and worked out a six-player trade with the Orlando Magic. Phoenix acquired Vince Carter, center Marcin Gortat, swingman Mickael Pietrus, in exchange for Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu and Earl Clark.
Our 2nd meeting was approximately 2 weeks after that trade at Arco against their new lineup, and the King won 94-89. The Kings trailed by as many 14 points in the fourth quarter but finished the game on a 19-2 run. The Kings out rebounded the Suns by a margin of 60-32 on the night. DeMarcus Cousins scored a career-high 28 points, and tied the game at 89-89 with 1:48 remaining. Casspi's 3-pointer with 25.6 seconds left ended up being the game winner.
Currently, the Suns are in 2nd place in the Pacific Division with a record of 26-25 which is only good enough for 10th place in the Western Conference. They are 15-11 at home and 11-14 on the road. They’ve won their last 3 games but have a record of 6-4 over their last 10 games. They’re only playing slightly better since the trade at 14-12.
With their new found size in the post (Gortat), the Suns aren’t the same running team we’ve seen in the past. In fact they play at a pace which is slower than the Kings. They’re still a high scoring team (ranked 7th highest) and even more importantly, they’re still one of the worst defensive teams in the league (ranked 5th worst). Their FG% has dropped about 1% to 46%, and their 3P% has risen 1% to 38%. Their ppg has dropped from a season high in November of 111 ppg, to around 102 ppg in January and so far in February. Assists are about the same, but rebounding, steals and especially blocks are up. As they say, size does make a difference.
Robin Lopez is still the starting center but his minutes have dropped to about 15 per game. Gortat is averging 12.8 pts / 9.8 rebs / 1 blk in 27 mpg off the bench. Vince Carter is starting at SG and is averaging 12 pts / 3.7 rebs in 27 mpg while shooting 37% from three, but is still capable of putting up 33 as he did against OK City last week. Nash the other half of the backcourt, has been averaging 15 pts / 11 assists in 34 minutes per game over the last 10 games. He’s shooting 54% from the field and 46% from three during that period. Channing Frye is back at PF and Grant Hill is starting a SF. Dudley, Pietrus, and Warrick are the main contributors off the bench.
In January of this year, the Suns added Zabian Dowdell a 6-3 guard out of Virginia Tech who went undrafted in 2007. Dowdell played 3 years in Europe and was with the Suns during training camp. He didn’t make the final cut with the Suns and went on to play in the D-league. He was eventually brought back on a 10-day contract but ended up signing on for the full season. The signing turned out to be a blessing after Goran Dragic stepped on a glass in his bathroom and cut his foot requiring stitches. Dragic was expected to miss a few games but he hasn’t played since January 28th.
The Kings haven’t won in Phoenix for so long, it’s hard to believe that they ever have. And, now without knowing what the situation with DeMarcus ( do they have a stern talking with him and send him down to Phoenix on the next commercial flight, or do they suspend him) will be, it doesn’t look like that streak will change. Tyreke has had 17 assists and 15 turnovers in the last 3 games. And, the majority of his 6 turnovers in the OK City game where from trying to dribble thru a double team. Four of them lead to steals and fast break baskets the other way. Of course he wasn’t the only player trying to do more than they are capable off the dribble; include DeMarcus, Dalembert, JT and Beno to that list.
I hope GP sets the kid straight and sends him on his way to Phoenix so he can mend some fences and break some hearts in Phoenix. If not, this could be more of what we’ve seen since the New Orleans game. Good but very frustrating basketball. Go Kings.