This is The Show, and we're not going to change it . ... Right?
-- George Constanza, Seinfield, "The Pitch"
The work Donte Greene did on NBA leading scorer Carmelo Anthony some two nights after defending Kobe Bryant with everything he's got was nothing short of awe-striking. Greene has a unique body for a prospective stopper -- most keen perimeter defenders have some length (Tayshaun Prince) or strength (Ron Artest), and to most it's a craft, not a manifestation of supreme athletic ability. Greene is playing defense like Dwight Howard dunks, with explosiveness and elasticity. And it's a bit marvelous, if I may say so without being marked a purple-tinted groundhog.
Greene took the challenge of defending LeBron, Kobe and 'Melo in successive games with glee. That's brilliant, and kudos to Paul Westphal and his staff for getting Greene to buy in to this persona. It fits him well, especially as it enhances -- not deflates, but enhances -- Greene's versatile offensive game.
When you glance at the Kings' rebound totals, you'd figure the team did stellar work on the defensive glass. Jason Thompson (solid all-around) had eight defensive boards. Jon Brockman, Omri Casspi and Andres Nocioni each had six. But Denver had a whopping 20 offensive rebounds in 57 opportunities (!), which ends up as another bad effort for the Kings in that department, which is obscured by the rebound margin, which Sacramento actually won 48-46 because of three factors: the Nuggets shot terribly, leaving lots of defensive rebound opportunities (defenses typically rebound three of four opportunities) and the Kings had a massive number of turnovers (17) which decreased Sacramento's FGAs relative to Denver (80 versus 94), which deflates Denver's raw defensive rebound totals, and Denver missed a ton of free throws (15, compared to eight for Sacramento), further boosting the Kings' still pathetic defensive rebound rate, as missed free throws eligible for rebounding are typically won by the defense 90 percent of the time.
That's a continuous issue, and perhaps I should stop harping on it. It glares, yes, and this team would be in far better shape in closing minutes if it rebounded better on the defensive end, but it's hard to quibble on the 14th win in 30 tries in December. Had certain overtime games broken different ways, the Kings would be in position to claim its 17th win before the New Year, which would be all flavors of amazing. As it is, that 17th win should come no later than Martin Luther King Jr. Day, something incredible when you consider the team had only 10 wins at that point last year.
I'm not sure Nocioni has ever played better than he did Monday. He had a 108 percent True Shooting clip (!!), which means he scored more than two points for every shot attempt. That should be illegal. His rebounding was beaten per-minute only by Brockman and Thompson, he was a game-high +13, and he played solid defense against Anthony and Kenyon Martin. He seemed to play with more energy than we've seen in weeks, and I almost wonder if being bumped to power forward had something to do with it. It's almost as if the challenge of matching up with taller opponents gets his jingles at full alert. Something to watch going forward.
Brockman is a monogamous Justin Williams with a free throw stroke, three fewer inches and a love for pancakes.