First off, I blame Otis for predicting us winning by 15. Kings actually got out to a 15 point lead in the first quarter and things were looking good. Paul Westphal's new starting lineup actually played better than I thought it would, with a lot of credit going to Luther Head especially. The Knicks also didn't have an answer for Carl Landry, and none of their threes were going down. The first quarter gave me hope.
The second quarter took what hope I had, kicked it in the groin, and then hit it a few hundred times with a baseball bat for good measure. The Kings started the 2nd quarter with the exact opposite kind of great energy they were playing with in the first. They were lazy on defense, but the offense was especially bad. All ball movement ceased, and it was a lot of isolation and dribbling. The biggest surprise to me was how poorly Beno was running the offense during this time. The Kings took a drubbing during this quarter, especially from Danilo Gallinari. The Kings also came out pretty slow in the 3rd, allowing New York to build up that lead some more, before the Kings started to chip away a little bit as the quarter dragged on. A big problem for the Kings tonight was foul trouble, especially fouling players in shooting motion. The two fouls on Gallinari pump fakes were terrible. Gallinari got to the line 17 times, and made 16. Amar'e got there 8 times, while the entire Kings team only got 26 FTA.
The Kings came back a bit in the fourth, with big help from Donté Greene (more on him later). But despite cutting the lead down to four, the Kings once again could not keep the momentum going. It would either be a turnover, reversion to poor ball movement (a theme for the night), or something else. There were several times when the Kings would miss a shot they normally make, and then New York would end up getting a shot, essentially being a 4 or 5 point swing on either end. It's frustrating as a fan, and its been happening so much lately that I barely allowed myself to hope that we would win this when we started to make that final run. I'm tired of the losing, and though we're playing better at times, we need to be playing better ALL the time, or we simply aren't going to be winning many games.
On to the player recaps.
- Tyreke Evans put up a good line. He had some good defensive moments as well. But I couldn't help but think that he actually looked kind of bad out there, especially on the offensive end. He had a couple ridiculous "How the hell is that humanly possible" layups as he usually does, but his jumper was way off tonight, and so was his decision making down the stretch, leaving his feet for passes and getting caught with nowhere to go. There was also that one key position near the end where he just threw up a really bad shot from about 10 feet, and was slow getting back.
- Luther Head probably should've played more in hindsight. Beno put up some better numbers, but to me wasn't nearly as effective when he was in the game. Luther does a great job of attacking the basket, and although his first three was horrible (they seem to either be perfect or horrible), he still hit another crucial one later. His defense also saved a couple baskets.
- Beno Udrih was a player I was disappointed in, especially during that crucial 2nd quarter. He just did not look good running the offense at any point in the game. There were a couple times he drove to the basket and kicked it out for turnovers, and both times he probably had an easy layup if he had just shot the ball instead. His defense also hurt us big time late in the game, and Felton and Douglas both took advantage of him down the stretch.
- Darnell Jackson looked like the kind of player I expected him to be when we traded for him: someone who should only be playing in garbage time situations. He was one of the players we had in when the Knicks were torching us in the 2nd quarter, and when his jumper is off like it has been lately, he doesn't really do much for us on offense.
- Samuel Dalembert could not guard Amar'e Stoudemire. STAT was just too quick for him, and Sammy couldn't do anything but foul him. Not a good game for Sam.
- Carl Landry had another great game, and for the third straight game feasted around the basket. I know it hasn't translated to wins in any of those three games, but it sure as hell hasn't been Landry's fault. Carl right now is doing everything we want him to do, and hopefully eventually things will click with the rest of the team as well so his effort doesn't get wasted.
- DeMarcus Cousins had the best game of his rookie season, I think. He was able to get what he wanted inside, and flashed a lot of his potential. The thing I really liked about him this time is that he finally seemed to play within himself for the most part, and wasn't forcing as much. There was a time he got a big steal early on, and instead of trying to run the fastbreak as he has tried before this season, he immediately got it to his guard. He played some really good defense at times as well, and was actually probably our best man defender for Stoudemire. We need to see more plays run for DeMarcus like the one he had with Omri early in the game where he gets the ball and waits for Omri to cut and passes for an easy bucket (that he ended up getting to the line on). A lot more good than bad from Cousins this game.
- Francisco Garcia was another normally reliable player that just didn't look good tonight. He was missing his threes, his defense wasn't good, just nothing was really clicking for Cisco. Big reason our team fell apart in the 2nd.
- I hope this game ends once and for all the Jason Thompson at the three position. He's not quick enough, and its not his fault either, and on offense, he's not skilled enough to be a big enough threat for a mismatch. So give him Darnell's minutes and play him as the backup four, please.
- Omri, another player who didn't look good off the bench (Aside from Cousins and Greene, our bench was pretty much terrible). His defense was a big factor in why he didn't play all that much. It just wasn't any good. It's something he needs to learn if he plans on playing big minutes for us all the time, because when you're not having a good offensive night, at least bring it defensively.
- Now for Donté. The first couple minutes he was in the game, Westphal looked vindicated. Donté first left Gallinari wide open on a three (when he was basically specifically sent in there to stop him), and on another play got beat off the dribble and was forced to foul. He picked up his game significantly after that, playing solid defense and also providing a much needed spark on offense. One thing I noticed is that he seemed a tad tentative, especially when it came to shooting. There were several times he got the ball wide open at the three point line and instead opted to pass it. I feel that he didn't want to chance missing and getting 4 more DNPs. But he did hit one three (the one he missed was a 30 foot desperation three so I'm not worried about that), got to the basket, and shared the ball. I'm hoping that with this performance, he's won a spot in the rotation again, because we need him.