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Evans, Casspi Get Little Help; Kings Fall 99-89 to Clippers

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Bugger, that. Tyreke Evans started a bit slow -- nary a shot (from the floor or line) in the first quarter -- but really had a predictable game, with 21 points on 9-14/1-3/2-7 shooting, four assists and three rebounds. (The foul shots were a problem, and not just for young Reke.) Omri Casspi was consistently good, with six points in the opening frame, nothing in just three minutes of second quarter play, and nine points in the third. He didn't attempt a single shot in nearly seven minutes of fourth quarter action -- Evans took three, Andres Nocioni took four, Carl Landry took five, Francisco Garcia took two, Beno Udrih, Spencer Hawes and Sean May each took one. Casspi ought to deserve some of those attempts.

But the fourth quarter offense wasn't the biggest problem for the Kings, as the offense stalled in every single quarter equally. Perhaps the third quarter was the worst, though the Kings still outscored the Clippers 23-17 in the period. It should have been something closer to what the Clips did to the Kings in the second (39-23 L.A.), because the Clips were way off and the Kings had great opportunities to make it a one- or two-possession game. Instead, the Kings went into the fourth down 11, and had just one run left in them, an aborted drive spurred by Chapu and killed by terrible defensive rotations.

In his notes column, Sam Amick quotes Paul Westphal as saying the team spent Saturday morning's shootaround working on teaching the defense to the new Kings. Sure enough, Landry (the only newcomer to play significant minutes -- Joey Dorsey played about 90 seconds, and Dominic McGuire was in a suit) played the entire second quarter, that in which the Kings defense was at its worst. And sure enough, Chris Kaman and Craig Smith each went off in that period, Kaman with 11 points on 5-7 shooting in seven minutes and Smith with seven points in less than eight minutes. Was that a problem with Landry not knowing the defense? If so, how did both big men go off considering Spencer Hawes and Jason Thompson were on the floor with Landry?

This team is just not good on defense, period, and while the offense also sucked Saturday the offense will improve with time and rest while the defense is not even close to being anything but bad.

Landry looked fine on offense, save the three turnovers, each a travel, each frantic. (Evans' four turnovers -- travels, a carry, a double dribble -- were mostly just off-balance. I thought the Clippers did solid work bottling up Evans. He still made it to the rim fairly frequently, but that's Tyreke Evans for you.) I'm not sure anything can be blamed on discomfort, but in his post-game quotes Landry did mention nerves, so that's actually reassuring, both in that he got nerves making his debut for an admittedly bad team, and in that nerves will subside quickly. Defensively, there were only two plays in which I gasped in horror (well, "consternation") at what a Clipper did to Landry, and his rebounding worked for me (a team-high seven defensive boards; the Clips did, however, get too many second chances).

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I won't bludgeon you with sentimentalism except to say it was really, really weird to watch a Kings game knowing Kevin Martin wouldn't be back. We've watched plenty of games without Martin due to injury, but knowing he's not rehabbing for us ... weird. (The only other player that really shocked me about what Chris Webber.)

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I won't bludgeon you with sarcasm expect to say that Kevin Martin was just completely invisible out there.

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Spencer Hawes had a great box score (eight points on 3-4 shooting, three assists, three blocks in 22 minutes) ... except when you take a look at his rebounding (one, total). In the second quarter, during Hawes's six minutes, the Kings had four defensive rebound opportunities. They collected ... one. (Evans got a rebound off Hawes's block on Smith.) Now the Kings did go 4/4 on defensive rebound opportunities during Hawes's 4-1/2 minute first quarter stint (with Thompson next door, as opposed to Landry in the second), and in that bad second quarter stretch the Clippers lead only grew by two points. But the Sacramento offense was doing alright (16 points, 16 possessions) and the Clips were turning the ball over a ton. The Kings should have cut into the lead, and would have, had Kaman been kept off the offensive glass. Hawes and Landry both deserve blame there, and heck, same to you Ime Udoka.

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Joey Dorsey wore a hilarious sweater to the arena. I feel bad commenting on it. If you have the game recorded, take a look at the Jack Daniels Images of the Game in the late fourth quarter. You can't miss it. Heck, the only person who misses it is the Hamburglar, who is from whom Dorsey stole the sweater.