I managed to catch the game last night and I had some observations; I thought it was a bit too long to simply make it a comment on Aykis' excellent recap, so I decided to make a Fanpost of it.
The form on his shot is definitely improving. He looks more comfortable taking jumpers, but I would still prefer he limit them to inside the arc unless it's a spot-up, feet-set 3.
He only had one shot that I felt was truly inadvisable, driving into two defenders and getting stuffed before losing the ball. For the most part he played in the flow of the offense, played pretty good defense, and posted a decent statline - for his minutes.
Tyreke looked engaged on the defensive side of the ball, too. One particular sequence involved him getting hit in the face by Pavlovic, after which he stared down Referee David Jones (more on this guy later) for refusing to call a foul. Pavlovic then swung the ball down to drive by Reke, who casually plucked the ball out of Pav's hand without looking and took off down the court like a bat out of Hell.
Brooks is a surprisingly pesky defender – he picks up his man at half court and pesters him all the way to the 3 point line. On a couple occasions he was able to hold Lillard beyond the three point line for 5 seconds, giving the Blazers only 13 seconds to get into their half-court set (24 second shot clock, 6 to cross half court, pestered for 5 more). He stayed in front of his man well and generally looked composed and assured on the court.
He's also at least as fast as Isaiah Thomas, and everything he does - from the release on his jumper and layups to his handles - is quicker than Isaiah. That being said, I think Isaiah is a smarter player and has more control on his passing and handles.
Cousins does NOT like JJ Hickson. He seemed to re-double his efforts whenever defending him – resulting in three blocked shots on JJ alone – and shouldered past him on multiple occasions. Bad blood?
Cousins is a SHOOTER. I think some would disagree with me, but I think DMC has the stroke to be able to hit that shot consistently with a little work. I wouldn’t want it to be his go-to move a la Channing Frye, but having him draw opposing Centers all the way out there will surely open up driving lanes for our slashers.
I also noticed that when Cousins went for his go-to move in the post – baseline spin for a slam or layup – it looked like he made a conscious effort not to hook his off arm around the defender (Meyers Leonard, in this case) in order to avoid an offensive foul.
DMC is showing a lot stronger on screens than in previous years – on one play in particular late in the game, he forced Lillard wayyy outside the 3 point arc simply by making him go around Cuz’s wide frame. Very cool to see. The Kings defended (and executed!) the pick and roll well all game.
The third quarter was rife with BS ticky-tack fouls against the Kings – and Demarcus Cousins in particular – that really shouldn’t have happened. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think Cousins picked up 3 fouls and a technical in that period alone, and all of them were called by a single ref – David Jones. One foul was a Double-Foul when Cousins and Leonard got “tangled up” in the post (Leonard hooked Cuz’s arm and Cuz raised his arms to show it). Another came when Cousins denied Aldridge an entry pass by going up over his left shoulder, and the technical came when Cousins tried to approach Jones – Gary Gerould described it as amiably – and Jones hit him with a T before a word left his mouth. Silliness. There were a few other miscalls – a charge and a travel on Jimmer that shouldn’t have been (or isn’t typically) called.
Speaking of Thornton, I saw that every time he led a fast break (he does it surprisingly often – three times last night alone), you could see him actively scanning the court to see if there was someone with a better shot than he had before taking it to the rim. He tried to dump it off twice – both times failed, because the recipient was under the backboard – but he didn’t get tunnel vision on the way to the basket.
Hayes proved tonight that, in my eyes, he’s healthy and in-shape. Chasing Lemarcus Aldridge all over the court and still showing strong on screens is impressive. He was very, very active.
I want this guy taking transition 3’s all day long. He looks more comfortable with that shot than any other time he’s on the court. He still sucks on defense – however, his effort level is up. Last year, when he was beaten by his man he let the guy go by and watched helplessly. Last night, he followed his man to the rim and at least got a hand up to contest a bit. Baby steps!
James (FREAKING) Johnson
Love this guy. Through two games he is a combined (and ridiculous) +37 points while on the court.
I saw exactly one lineup last night that I thought looked a little shakey (IT, Thornton, Garcia, TRob, Hayes), but I’ve yet to see a lineup that looked helpless. Our Kings looked at least dangerous with every look. This has not be the case in the last few seasons.
I thought the Kings as a whole showed fantastic composure throughout the game. Every so often the Blazers would make a run, and get the lead down into single digits, but the Kings had the answer every time. Really proud of our guys out there for showing coolness under pressure – especially Demarcus, playing with 5 fouls and coming through with multiple timely plays to push the lead back to 17 after the Blazers cut it to 7, and Thornton, who nailed back to back 3’s in his typical icy-veined fashion. I'm really excited for this year's Kings. So. Many. Weapons.
Thanks for reading!