This was not a game I was expecting the Kings to win. On the contrary, I thought they were going to lose by quite a bit. So my expectations were low already.
Yet the Kings found a way to somehow not even meet those expectations. From the get-go, this game was all Clippers. The only lead the Kings had was 4-3 at the 9:10 mark of the 1st quarter. It was all downhill from there, and unfortunately the hill ended up being very large.
With no Tyreke Evans for the second straight game, Sacramento needed someone to step up in his absence. Nobody really did, on either end of the floor. For most of the game, the Clippers were treating Sacramento's defense like so many orange cones on their way to the basket. Chris Paul even dunked on us in a halfcourt set. Matt Barnes was getting to the rim like he was Tyreke Evans. It was an embarrassment.
The only player that I can truly say played well for the Kings tonight was Jason Thompson. Thompson saw 30 minutes of action and finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds and 4 assists. He made good decisions with the basketball, and he never gave up. But he didn't have help.
DeMarcus Cousins, one of our franchise building blocks, played just 18 minutes, and scored just 8 points on 9 shots in those 18 minutes. Defensively, he was slow, lumbering and just looked like he didn't care. Offensively, he was sloppy with the ball (getting it stolen on the dribble a couple times) and settled for outside jumpers. We need more, a LOT more, from him if we are going to become even an average team.
Marcus Thornton did score 20 points, but most of those came off of a sequence in the second half when he hit 5 three pointers in a row. Sacramento gave up about as many points during that span as they got, so it didn't really matter in the end.
Isaiah Thomas was the only other starter in double digits with 14 points, but most of that also came in garbage time with the game's outcome far out of reach. Thomas was the first point guard off the bench tonight, and played with a very weird lineup that included Francisco Garcia, James Johnson, Chuck Hayes and Thomas Robinson. That lineup really struggled and allowed Los Angeles to really break the game open.
Nobody else on the Kings had a performance to speak of. John Salmons scored 9 points and had 4 rebounds and 4 assists, but also shot just 4-12. Aaron Brooks was 1-6 in 22 minutes. James Johnson's sole contribution in 4 minutes was two turnovers. Chuck Hayes played through a sore ankle to finish with 2 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks in 23 but his overall impact on the game wasn't as clear as it had been in other games this year. Travis Outlaw played for the first time in a while and continued to show why that should still have been the case, going 1-5. Jimmer Fredette didn't play at all in the first half, and probably wished he hadn't in the second, as he went 0-6 in 16 minutes, although he did have 4 assists. Cisco played 10 minutes as well and hit his only shot, a 3, but was responsible for some terrible defensive possessions, particularly on Matt Barnes.
Even with the talent and experience and skill disparity that the Clippers hold over the Kings, I would have liked to see more consistent effort out there. The team seemed to have given up midway through the second quarter. Los Angeles turned the ball over just 5 times, and once in the second half. Those are numbers you only see when the other team is barely trying to play defense. Meanwhile the Kings gave up 17 turnovers, with most players on the team having multiple.
This is deeply frustrating. On paper at least, the Kings look like they should be better than they were last year. But they're not showing it. The team has three days before they play again, so I hope each and every one of them, from the 12th man to the coaching staff, takes a good, long look at themselves to try to figure out what they can do better. These struggles aren't on any one person. It's a group effort, and the group will have to figure it out.
- Blake Griffin's jumper looks much improved. Perhaps it was a fluke since everything was dropping for the Clips tonight.
- DeAndre Jordan is ridiculously explosive. He reminds me of Javale McGee, but with his head on straight.
- What a luxury it must be to have Chris Paul as your starting PG with Eric Bledsoe as the backup. Bledsoe could probably start for a lot of teams in the league, including the Kings.
- I had almost forgotten Lamar Odom was on the Clippers again.
- Nostradumbass of the Night was a 9-way tie between Aykis16, adamsite, FutureGM, Nickcarmondog, rKINGm, rubenho, SayWhat?, section214, and the WWB