As far as losses go, the game against the Philadelphia 76ers a week ago was a bad one even worse than the loss to the Bulls. The 76ers who built a 26-point lead through three quarters rested their starters the entire 4th quarter and still beat the Kings, 102-80.
The Kings shot 32 percent and had 12 first-half turnovers that resulted in 15 points for the 76ers. For the game, Sacramento shot 34 percent, committed 22 turnovers that led to 27 Philly points, and were never in the game after the opening tip. Iguodala credited defense for the lopsided victory. The 76ers had a season-high 16 steals and blocked five shots in beating the Kings. "The Kings are a high-turnover team," said Iguodala, who had three steals, one less than Holiday. "You don't have to gamble or be aggressive and go for steals against them to get turnovers. We just let them make the mistakes." I’d call that bulletin board material.
The Sixers played good team defense, especially in transition where the Kings scored just eight points for the game. The Kings rarely pushed the ball to earn easy looks in transition, and in the half court, they made bad passes and forced bad shots.
Here are a couple of comments from my previous scouting report: “The two biggest factors in the team’s improvement are Defense and Health. Philadelphia is only average offensively but they have the 9th best Defensive Efficiency at 102.5. And, you can credit some of that to a healthy Elton Brand who has started 67 of Phillies 68 games, as has Hawes and Jrue Holiday has started all 68. Jodie Meeks has played in 60 games but has started the last 50, and Andre Iguodala has started all 56 games in which he’s played.” It takes consistent minutes playing together to be a good defensive team. I’d call having your starters playing 50 games together out of 68 games consistent minutes.
“The 76ers are only an average rebounding team. Early in the season after the Dalembert trade, Collins was asked how the team would manage with the loss of their leading rebounder. Collins replied that everyone was going to have to rebound.” And that’s what’s happened. Against the Kings, the Sixers won the battle of the boards 57 to 51 and 16 to 14 on the offensive glass. Every starter had between 6-9 rebounds, and the rebounding leader was Thaddeus Young with 10 off the bench.
I ended my report with this statement: “Until Tyreke returns, this team will continue to make mistakes and turnovers, and have difficulty running anything that looks remotely like a planned offensive set late in games especially against a sound defensive team like Philadelphia.” My feeling here is that with Tyreke unavailable the Kings have run the offense thru DeMarcus too much, especially in his rookie season. His Assist to Turnover Ratio is the 3rd worst on the Kings, and only slightly better than Jackson and Dalembert. Yet, he has the 17th highest USG in the entire league. The only other Forwards with a higher USG are Amare, Dirk, and Beasley, and the only centers in the top 25 are Brook Lopez at number 21 and Dwight Howard at 22. Beno who was our main PG in Tyreke’s absence was 305th in usage and 41st in assists. To say that we were asking too much and expecting too much out of DeMarcus would be an understatement.
Since our last game a week ago, the Sixers are 1-2, and have allowed 111 pts in their two losses and 100 pts in their lone win. In their loss to Portland, the Turnovers were close 10-11, the rebound by committee worked with Philly winning 37-36 and 10-8 on the offensive glass. But, the 76ers committed 22 fouls to Portland’s 11 and ended up being outscored from the FT Line by 25-13, and allowed Portland to shoot 51.4% from the field and 47.8% from three. In Phillies defense they were without Iggy, who was rested after experiencing foot pain prior to the Kings game.
In their only win, a 105-100 victory over the Hawks, both teams had single digit turnovers 6-9 advantage Philly, and again they won the rebound battle 40-39 and 10-8 on the offensive glass. Both teams shot 48% from the field and FT% and 3P% were about even. But, unlike the Portland game where the Trailblazers were held to single digit Fast Break Pts, the Hawks outscored the Sixers 19-11 in FB pts.
The final loss came in Miami 111-99. The Heat dominated the boards 49-31 and 15-7 on the offensive glass. Wade, Bosh and James all had 10-11 rebounds while Brand and Young led Philly with 8 and no one else had more than 3 except Hawes who pulled down 5. Miami had a 10pt advantage at the FT line, which helped them stay with Philadelphia for 3 and half quarters. But when Miami put on the pressure half way thru the 4th, the Sixers seemed to run out of gas.
Even with a 1-2 record the Sixers limited their turnovers to a single digit average and averaged 104 ppg in their last 3. Their rebound by committee worked for the first two games, but hit a wall against Miami’s big 3. And, they could have gone 2-1 if Iggy hadn’t sat out the Portland game.
I think caution is the word to use when talking about the Kings. Yes, the Kings are 3-1 on the road trip, but a win against a Love-less Minnesota and even a blow out against a Pacers team that shot 4-25 on mostly open 3pt shots shouldn’t be considered proof that the Kings have arrived. And, I don’t believe a 7pt victory over the Bucks when Salmons and Jennings shot 5-21 is proof that our exterior defense has finally started to come together.
Of course our loss to Philly shouldn’t be seen as the quality of play that the Kings are capable of either. The Kings should be out rebounding the Sixers and if they did then they could possibly survive 5 or 6 more turnovers than Philly. As long as most of them don’t turn into fast break points. Tyreke should see a few more minutes as he’s eased back into the rotation, and I hope he continues like he did in his first game by finding open shots for his teammates instead of creating shots for himself. But, mostly I’m glad to see him back because he’ll be able to reduce the pressure on Cousins to have to be the main guy.
I don’t think we’re going to see Thornton shoot 3-12 and 0-6 from three again. And, I expect the Kings to have more the 17 assists and shoot better than 34.5%. But, I also expect the 76ers to come out and use their defense to try and protect their 23-11 home court record. Let’s hope that they don’t get 16 steals this time around. I do think that both teams will come up with new game plans to start the game, but it could be the team with the better adjustments after half-time that wins what I expect to be a close game. How about a 4-1 road trip? Or, at least a better effort from the Kings. Go Sacramento