That headline pretty much sums up how crappy this season to date has been. But this truly was the best I've seen the team play all year. For once, this team was actually fun to watch, and I think a big part of it was the lineup change to insert DeMarcus Cousins and Beno Udrih in the Starting Five, and I think this is the lineup we need to run with for the rest of the season. The problem with our last "defensive" lineup was that our defenders weren't good enough to justify having them in the game for so long, and their offense was so bad that it negated their defensive effort.
Back to the game though, the first half (especially the first quarter) was really fun to watch. The Kings were hitting their shots, moving the ball and not making mistakes. The defense wasn't particularly good, as Dallas was still able to put up almost the same amount of points as us, but considering how much better the Mavericks are than us, the fact that we were outscoring them was great in and of itself.
Where the game fell apart though was in the 4th quarter. We got off to a GREAT start, with an 8-0 run in just 1 and a half minutes early on, and we also got the Mavericks to 4 team fouls right around the 9:00 mark, while having none ourselves. At this point, I thought the game was ours as long as we attacked the paint and hit our free throws. Then the rest of the quarter happened. The Mavericks were able to get to the line and chip into the lead with the time stopped, and the Kings stopped getting any foul calls whatsoever, no matter how much contact. The Mavericks would go THE REST OF THE QUARTER without committing a single foul. The Kings would still get a chance to go to overtime or win the game though, as J.J. Barea missed two free throws with 11 seconds left, with the Mavericks up two. The final play went horribly wrong though. DeMarcus had the ball up high, couldn't get it to a cutting Reke, drove to the basket and kicked out to Carl, who couldn't decide what to do with the ball and turned it over, meaning the Kings didn't even get a shot up. I attribute this to inexperience for Cousins (he probably should have just shot the ball instead of kicking it out to Carl, he was so close to the basket), and just one more terrible decision by Carl (who had an awful night) not to either shoot it or just try to take Dirk to the basket.
Player Recaps and Kingsflix video after the jump
- Tyreke Evans was on fire early on in this game, hitting shots from absolutely everywhere. He wasn't just scoring either, as he was finding his teammates wherever they were open, from downtown to at the rim for alley-oops. He cooled off slightly in the 2nd half, and wasn't nearly as aggressive in looking for his own offense in the 4th as I thought he should be. He only took two shots in that critical period, and didn't get to the line once all game. I would've liked to see him attack the basket and try to get to the line late in the 4th with Dallas not wanting to get to the penalty, but alas he didn't. Overall though, it was still a great game from Reke, and his shot looked so much smoother than it has all year. Also, here is proof that Tyreke can in fact go left.
- Beno looked good out there running the offense and getting us some good shots when we needed it. His big problem is still defense though. He got caught a lot on switches, and we were lucky Jason Kidd was having such a terrible shooting night, because Beno left him wide open quite a bit. Beno also has a nasty habit of coming in for help defense and getting a touch foul on a player who proceeds to get an And-1 where he would've just gotten two, or two free throws where he would've missed a shot. I can't say for sure, but I'm pretty sure all 6 of Beno's fouls resulted in shooting fouls for Dallas.
- Jason Thompson should've played more tonight. I thought he was doing a great job on defense, and he forced Dirk to take some really tough shots (which he made, being Dirk of course). The best part about JT to me is that he's much more comfortable moving the ball than Carl is, and I think that helps our offense a lot.
- Like I said, Carl was awful tonight. He couldn't get anything going inside against Dallas's big men (he might've gotten jipped on a couple calls but whatever, he also traveled a couple times that the refs didn't call) and his jumper wasn't falling. He didn't grab a single rebound, and he turned the ball over three times, including that critical final possession. I don't know if Carl has much of a future on this team right now, and if I was a betting man, I don't think he'll be on this team after the trade deadline. Perhaps sooner.
- As the guys sitting next to me in the media section can attest to, I'm not a big fan of when Dalembert comes into the game. His defense is good, but his offense is just sooooo bad, especially when he tries to do something by himself. He scored twice tonight and both came off great Pick and Rolls, which is basically the only time he's effective. But any time he tries to do something in isolation, it doesn't result in anything good for the team. Sammy is another player I wouldn't be surprised to see us move by the deadline.
- DeMarcus looked great in the first half as well, doing what he wanted down low, and getting And-1's with ease. It was fun to watch. His rebounding and defense weren't that bad either, and his passing skills were in full force, as the offense ran a lot smoother with him in the game and moving the ball around. He also stayed out of foul trouble most of the game, although he picked up a couple cheap ones out of frustration near the end that cost the Kings some points. His role in the final play of the game showed how inexperienced he still is, as he probably should've just taken it straight to the basket, but this is how he'll learn.
- Donté has evolved into a much more complete player, showcasing a variety of moves throughout the game, both inside and outside. Hitting his threes was huge, and the Kings definitely needed that. He started to get a little overconfident near the end of the 2nd half, but I still liked the game he had. What I don't understand however is why he didn't see more court time, especially in the 4th quarter. Coach Westphal after the game mentioned that it was because Dallas was playing with that three guard lineup of Barea, Kidd and Terry and he thought Cisco would do a better job defensively. I have always had a problem with how often Westphal reacts to the other team instead of trying to create his own mismatches. I feel Donté could've made a difference in that 4th quarter, although Cisco did play great when he first came in, knocking down two huge threes. He still wasn't able to guard Terry however, which presumably was the whole reason he was in.
- Omri had a decent stint off the bench. He hit both of his shots, and had 5 boards. I think he could've and should've taken some of Carl's minutes tonight. He left the game when Marion left the game, but Marion didn't get anything going at all tonight. Again, I think the Kings could've punished the Mavericks with a size advantage instead of opting to play to their strength with that small lineup.
- Pooh was a breath of fresh air with how fast he got the Kings into their offense. He actually got the ball past halfcourt at the 22 second mark and that was on a regular inbound. I don't think that's happened with this team in the past two years. He does have a bit of tunnel vision at times, but he did a good job finding open teammates. Once his shot falls down with some consistency, Pooh could become a decent backup point in this league.
- Luther didn't play at all last night. Zach Harper (Cowbell Kingdom) said during the game that he doesn't understand how a player can go from Starter to 12th man in just one game (same thing happened with Donté if you remember). I have to agree with him for a little bit, because if he was good enough to start 8 games for you, he should be good enough to get some minutes. Otherwise it just looks like you're admitting you've made a big mistake having this guy start so much.