After Wednesday's game in Denver, Nuggets coach George Karl said. "Their defense wore out a bit and we got to the rim." The Kings were on the second game of a back-to-back, but held the lead for most of the game on the strength of Marcus Thornton’s 27 points and Tyreke Evans’ 22. Marcus Thornton had this to say after the game, "They started making plays and we kind of ran out of gas."
The turning point in Wednesday’s game against the Nuggets came midway thru the 4th. Denver was leading 80-79, when they went on a 14-4 run ending with a Gallinari's dunk, a Lawson jumper, and consecutive 3-pointers from Gallinari and Felton to give Denver a 94-83 lead with 3:09 left.
Here are a couple of highlights from the Wednesdays Scouting Report on the Nuggets.
"Denver has two things that really put the hurt on the Kings; 2 very quick PGs who create a lot of assists, and an offense that is proficient at scoring in the paint. Denver is #1 in attempts and made basket at the rim while the Kings allow the highest FG% at the rim (70.9%) on the 7th highest number of made baskets in the league (16.6)."
As it turned out Denver shot 23-38 for 60.6% at the rim on 12 assisted baskets while the Kings were 17-25. Felton and Lawson contributed 6 of Denver’s 12 assists at the rim and were 5-7 at the rim themselves accounting for 11 of Denver’s 23 baskets at the rim. Away from the rim, the Kings ended up with a +4 in made baskets.
"The Nuggets still get to the FT line more often than any team in the league, while the Kings are still learning how to play defense without fouling."
And, that were the Kings truly lost the game, at the FT Line. The Kings got to the Line 16 times and made 12 for 75%. Denver got there twice as much, 32 times and made 22 or 68.8%. So, yes the Nuggets did outscore the Kings from the field by 4 pts, but it was at the FT Line where they outscored us by 10 pts that really put the game out of reach.
In my conclusion I said,
"The Kings will need to step up every part of their game, but I think that turnovers are going to drag them down. "
And drag them down it did. For the season the Kings have the 2nd highest number of turnovers per game (16.2), behind only Minnesota. In our 16 games since the beginning of March only 3 teams have had a higher Turnover Rate then the Kings; Cleveland, Minnesota, and Indiana. In those 16 games the Kings have averaged 17.1 turnovers per game which is 1 more than their seasonal average, which helped the Nuggets outscore the Kings in fast break points by 12; 24 to 12.
What I didn’t expect was that Dalembert would play 13 minutes, which I assume was due to his rib injury in the Suns game. Even so, he still was tied for the team lead in rebounds at 6 with JT who played 36 minutes. And, that’s why the Kings got out rebounded by a total of 8 and by 4 on the offensive glass. Let’s hope another days rest will allow him to get his usual 24 minutes.
I think we’re back to where we were early in the season, when PW couldn’t settle on an offense or defensive lineup or refuses to stick with his starter but rather continues to go to the bench. Donte, Cisco, and Omri played 9, 14, and 12 minutes, and the remaining 13 minutes went to the 3 guard rotation. And in the end our 3 SF’s combined for 4 pts on 2 of 15 shooting, 5 rebs and 2 steals.
Donte got 9 minute and ended up 0-4 field and 0-2 from three. After shooting 50% from three in the last 5 games, and 46% over the last 10 games, he gets 9 minutes and then gets the rug pulled out from under him. (Warning: Don’t fall in the Chasm) Of course it could be that Donte wasn’t a good match for 6ft-10 Gallinari, who likes to take the outside shot. And, Heck, it’s not like Gallinari did that much damage with 17pts, 9 rebs and 3 steals.
Omri is benched for 3 games then comes back and is a key figure in the Kings comeback in the 4th quarter against the Suns. And, he ends up getting 12 minutes. Now Cisco has started the last 15 of 16 games gets 14 minutes. In the last 10 games he’s shooting 38.7% from the field and 26.3% from three point range. So, I guess Garcia is still starting because PW likes him for his defense. But Gallinari only scored 4 pts in the first half, all against Garcia and none against Donte and Omri. Gallinari didn’t score again until the 8:30 mark of the 3rd against Garcia again. Casspi gave up 2 more and the three guard rotation game up a total of 8 pts, meaning Donte gave up zero points to Gallinari.
So, the guy who starts for his defense give up 7 pts in 14 minutes, the 3 guard rotation that’s in for their offense gives up 8 pts in 13 minutes, and Omri and Donte who aren’t good enough to start or be guaranteed even consistent backup minutes give up 2 pts in 21 minutes. It’s no wonder that they are consistently inconsistent playing for a coach whose offense is not running fixed plays but relies heavily on players consistently making good decisions on their own. I guess the only thing that is consistent around here is my constant criticism of PW for not being more consistent with his rotations.
DeMarcus, JT, and Sam combined for 4 assists and 11 turnovers. With Sam out and DeMarcus turning over the ball on ill-conceived passes from the high post, it’s no wonder Nene missed out rebounding our 3-man big rotation by 1. Tyreke is back healthy, and Beno and Marcus are playing well, so I don’t understand the need to continue to run the offense thru the bigs in the high post. Yes, I think its fine to feed the ball into DeMarcus in the low blocks and let him feed the cutters when the double team comes. Because Denver sent the double as soon as Cousins got the ball, and they did it to Thornton and Evans also. But, as Jerry is so often fond of saying, "two passes out of the double team, leads to an open shot", and that’s what the Kings need to due. The secret to winning this game will be punishing Denver when they double, control the boards, and reduce the turnovers by running the offense thru the guards.