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Since I haven't been around to comment on any of the season's first three games, and since I'm still not quite fully back in the saddle, I will offer some assorted thoughts.
* You want to know why I'm digging Tyreke Evans? Well, sure, the first 42 minutes of Friday's game in New Orleans tops the list. But Sam Amick's quoted reaction from 'Reke after the Spurs nightmare is a pretty close second.
"We just go out there and try to play the game and not talk," Evans said afterward. "That's the most important thing. Offense will come for us, but if we don't talk on defense, (opponents) will get points on us any given night … It seemed like everybody was playing selfish."
Evans said he didn't feel as if he received enough defensive help.
"Once (Parker) gets out of that pick-and-roll, he starts to catch his speed and momentum, and it's tough to get back when Duncan is setting that screen," he said. "I just think if we would've talked … it would've been better."
Tyreke Evans, three games into his NBA career, is putting this team's long-held biggest defensive problem -- a lack of cohesion/communication -- on the table. He said the team was playing selfish ... on defense! Who's the last Kings guard to say something insightful about defense? Doug Christie? Oscar Robertson? Evans has identified a major, major problem that the last four coaches and two point guards have ignored. Let's hope Paul Westphal -- who in Amick's story is crediting the Spurs attack first and foremost instead of agreeing with 'Reke -- understands how hard it will be for anyone to stop anything without a better plan and better communication on defense.
* I'm not sure exactly why Jason Thompson went from 16 FGAs on Friday to six FGAs on Saturday -- maybe Tim Duncan and foul trouble have something to do with it -- but it has been really nice to see a Kings big contribute without scoring. As in 10 assists and zero turnovers over two games. As in 19 rebounds over two games.
* Meanwhile, I have no idea why Spencer Hawes is now effectively the third big man off the bench. Westphal went to Andres Nocioni in place of Desmond Mason, but then shuffled the backcourt to get Chapu at power forward. Then Jon Brockman was the next big in the game. Then Spencer Hawes got into the game. That pretty much blows the "foul trouble" excuse out of the water, and it makes me wish Westphal would be honest about why Hawes is coming off the bench. I do think it's an alright idea -- your best players don't need to start so long as they receive sufficient minutes and the players starting in place of them don't suck out loud. And the Kings starting five did just fine in N.O. and S.A. But again, either the reason behind Westphal's benching of Hawes is stupid or it's a cover for the real reason: to light a fire under Hawes. On both counts, it's been a bit of a failure, yes? Thompson has had foul trouble in two of three games, Hawes is only averaging 27 minutes a game and hasn't played particularly well. What does success even look like in this scenario?
* Omri Casspi, you're alright with me.
* Is this "go after the steal" a strategy? If so, someone ought to tell the broadcast crew. I'm with them -- it is leaving so many opportunities for the opponents to score easily. The Kings interior defense has little chance of recovering and making a play at the rim, and there are no wing defenders fast enough to fly around the court to prevent open threes after the breakdowns. It'd be one thing if the team -- and this has been almost entirely Evans and Kevin Martin -- had come up with a few. But every single one has seemingly turned into two the other way. If it is a strategy handed down from the staff, it needs to be reviewed. It's not working.
* We're better than the Clippers. Seriously.
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* A major thanks to both section214 and Exhibit G for filling in. I'm still not up to my usual workload, so expect this week to be fairly slow. You'll still get previews and game threads, of course.