The Sacramento Kings' offense died a horrible death Friday night. The Miami Heat waltzed into Sleep Train Arena and regulated the entire flow of the game with their defensive schemes, and the Kings could not adjust. The result was a contest that was basically over after the third quarter, with the formal final score of 95-83.
The Heat did several things to lull the Kings into a funk. They were first able to regulate the tempo by making it difficult for the Kings to inbound the ball, and constant pressure in the backcourt made it hard for the Kings to get into their offense quickly. Darren Collison had a very difficult night dealing with the Heat's aggressive ball pressure, with rookie Shabazz Napier in his grill all night. Collison ended the night with 13 points but only on 5/12 shooting, and 1/4 from three. The Heat also neutralized DeMarcus Cousins, who had 17 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists. Cousins had 8 turnovers on the night and shot 5/12 from the field, having trouble dealing with the Heat's double teams in the post and failing to finish many of his post moves. That being said, Boogie also forced the issue far too often, as we saw the bad version of Magic Cousins throwing the ball all over the court. The Kings as a team had 15 turnovers, not an atrocious number overall, but had way too many when the game was competitive. Ben McLemore struggled mightily in the first half, but finally chugged to life in the second, ending the game with 15 points including 3/7 from three point range.
Defensively, the Kings had no answer for Chris Bosh and Luol Deng. While Jason Thompson played with heart and challenged as best as he could, Bosh was hot for much of the night, scoring both in isolation situations and spotting up as the Heat executed their offense. Bosh scored 30 points on 20 shots. Deng also got loose for too many open looks with his off-ball movement. Neither Derrick Williams nor Omri Casspi were able to track him consistently for any stretch of time, and Deng lit them up for 25 points on 18 shots.
The Kings really missed Rudy Gay's playmaking ability tonight. True, the Heat were missing Dwyane Wade so its tough to play the injury card, but without Rudy the Kings have no creativity on the perimeter. Collison and McLemore aren't guards who are going to consistently create shots for themselves and others, and while Cousins is a magnificent talent, leaving him as the sole playmaker out there will rarely be effective. The absence of Carl Landry also robbed the bench of whatever little punch it had anyways, as Kings fans were treated to a healthy dose of Reggie Evans trying to operate in the post. Lets hope they get healthy soon because the schedule is going to start ramping up in difficulty very soon. The Kings next play tomorrow against the Clippers.
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