In a very different type of game at Sleep Train Arena, the Sacramento Kings hosted Maccabi Haifa, a ball club straight out of Israel. The game opened with a very nice rendition of the Israeli National Anthem, and an exchanging of gifts between the two teams. I really like the NBA not only embracing the international community by traveling abroad, but welcoming some of these clubs here. The game had many positives, and many negatives, but it was one of the more unique experiences I have had at a Kings game.
The start of the game looked like an NBA team phoning it in versus a non-NBA team. Lackadaisical offense, silly turnovers, and some questionable defense. While I will not say that the Kings brought their A game after that, they did seem to take the team a little bit more seriously by the end of the quarter, when the bench provided a nice little spark. From there, the game kept a pretty consistent pace. The Kings were looking to move the ball, which, while I did love seeing, also resulted in many of the 25 turnovers, as these guys have a combination of travel fatigue, and lack of chemistry. In the end though, despite the rocky start on offense, and defense, the Kings managed to get a 32-point victory, while only allowing 59 points. (Hey, I know it's not an NBA team, but the San Antonio Spurs lost to Berlin earlier this off-season while playing their alleged championship team. Basically, I am saying that we are a better team than the Spurs.)
DeMarcus Cousins appeared to skate through this game. He was, however, one turnover away from a triple double to go along with his 15 points and 12 rebounds. Reggie Evans, who has proven time and again that he will give the same effort in a preseason game vs. Maccabi Haifa as he would in game 7 of the NBA Finals, had a game high 13 boards.
There were really three players who stood out to me more than anyone else did, though. Omri Casspi's stat line (seven points, seven boards, one assist, and one block) may not stick out when you look at it, but after watching him all game, I was very excited with what I saw. His handles are fun to watch right now. This showed in the fact that he was one of the few Kings to have no turnovers. His point total really should have been higher, too, as I counted three or four times when he scored a basket that was wiped off due to an away from the ball offensive foul. The other two guys that stood out did so for very similar reasons. Darren Collison and Ramon Sessions both showed how good of a 1-2 punch they can be at the point guard spot. Both have exceptional handles, and great ability to get to the basket. While he didn't stun me by any means, I also was impressed with some of the plays Derrick Williams showed, including a great crossover that led to him getting to the line. Our shooting guards, Ben McLemore and Nik Stauskas both struggled to find their shots, combining for 3-14 shooting, though both found some great looks that just did not fall. When I see McLemore in person it shocks me how much he struggles to find his shot, because his mechanics are great. Ryan Hollins also looked good out there in limited minutes, catching a great lob from Trey Johnson, who also impressed me about as much as someone can in three minutes.
Maccabi started out looking good, but in the end, looked just about how you would expect a team in their situation to look. There was a group of probably 8-10 fans of theirs sitting in the section next to me, which I found to be pretty cool, myself. There were a couple of good highlight plays up their sleeves, and you could tell the guys genuinely loved getting the opportunity to play against an NBA team. All in all, I would say the game was neither enough for me to call for a ring ceremony (despite my claims that we are better than the Spurs), but not bad enough for me to call for any firings or trades.
- Sim Bhullar, or the Bhullarina, as I like to call him (due to his gazelle like grace), came in to some very loud cheers and managed to get a couple of rebounds, as well as a basket with just about 20 seconds left. The place erupted, and the team stormed him like he just hit the game winner. It was really a fun sight. While reports are indicating he has been waived, I am guessing he will be in Reno, and could possibly even get a couple stints on the Kings this year.
- Rudy Gay did not play tonight. His absence was definitely felt. Casspi did a good job filling in as a starter, but Rudy's skills are vital for this team. That said, I see him sitting out at least one more game. I also will be shocked if Cuz doesn't sit another game. Those guys have had a crazy couple of months.
- Echoing statements from Akis and Kevin, that floor looks great when you see it in person. I don't think that it looked bad on TV, but TV definitely does not do it justice.
- Slamson hit a behind the back half court shot, which is pretty cool. I am 25-years-old, and Slamson still amuses me every time I am at the game.
The Kings next game is in San Antonio on Monday at 5:30