That's the high note. The Kings decided to check it out.
The last 4-5 minutes were discouraging, but not enough to damper the enthusiasm built in the second and third quarters tonight. Spencer Hawes took out his frustrations (caused by Greg Oden), exploding for 25 points and (ahem) 16 rebounds. !!! Hawes was a beast, and he played a good chunk of his minutes opposite all-decade pivot Yao Ming. No fluke numbers here -- every flip, dunk, jumper, rebound and pass was real and repeatable and extremely encouraging.
Jason Thompson had a fine night, too, leading a defensive surge to close the first half from the small forward position. While Shock* had troubles repelling the Houston attack in the fourth quarter, he did strong work to hold his own and box out Rockets. His offense, while still inefficient at 40% shooting, looked better than it has since July with a few made jumpers and at least one flawless post move on Luis Scola.
If Bobby Brown shot ever starts to fall, he's going to cause some brush fires. He can launch confidently from anywhere on the floor -- he has absolutely no problem getting an open shot off. He just needs a few to go in. Based on his college numbers (a ridiculous .567 eFG, including 38.8% from three) he can hit open shots. It's going to take more than eight games though, apparently.
I'm not sure we can expect this sort of gaudy offensive rebounding output (34% of opportunities) from Shock & Hawes** regularly. Hawes wasn't a terribly good offensive rebounder last season, and to be honest Houston wasn't desperately lurching for boards like they will in November. Thompson and Hawes had great energy, and that gave them a huge advantage. But it's a boost over the incumbent expectations of Miller and Moore. And that's exciting.