On the heels of Thursday nights disastrous 114-97 loss to the Boston Celtics in Mexico City, you'd like to think the Kings would show up for tonights game in Houston with a little more energy, and a lot more fight. They did that, fortunately, but effort alone wasn't enough to take down the Rockets at home, and the Kings suffered another tough loss, 120-113, falling to 7-14 on the season.
This was the first game post Willie Cauley-Stein finger dislocation, which meant another starting lineup change. George Karl plugged Omri Casspi into the starting lineup, and I don't think that particular change had any baring on tonights loss. Casspi wasn't as efficient as you'd like, but he played hard, as usual, and I think this is the right starting lineup moving forward until Cauley-Stein returns.
Ben McLemore was really good for most of this game, and his effort and determination really carried the Kings through the first half while the rest of the offense wasn't working. It was probably McLemore's most important performance of the season, if not his best. After the half, in the third quarter, particularly, the offense started cooking. Rajon Rondo was assisting on all sorts of baskets. He was doing his part scoring at the rim, too. Darren Collison provided some excellent deep shooting. DeMarcus Cousins started to wake up after a quiet first half, etc. Unfortunately the Kings' defense never figured out how to stop Houston. In Sacramento's best offensive quarter they put up 35 points, but gave up 32 to the Rockets. You just can't win like that on the road.
I know I sound like a broken record, but it's the same story every single night. I don't know how many different ways to say it, the defensive scheme is either completely broken, or the players are revolting and refuse to play it effectively. My money is on the former.
They fought reasonably hard throughout the second half, but foul trouble and prolonged defensive breakdowns stood in their way of a win. On to the notes.
- By my unofficial count, DeMarcus Cousins had exactly zero traditional post touches in this game. I thought Aaron Bruski nailed it when he referred to Boogie as "shooting guard DeMarcus Cousins" on twitter tonight. The Kings' defense is horrendous, and their offense is peculiar.
- No Seth Curry tonight. I don't know what that says about anything, but he didn't play. McLemore and Collison were really good, so no open minutes there. Marco Belinelli wasn't good in the first half, but picked it up in the second half.
- Rockets shot 43 free throws tonight, Kings only shot 16. If this team had been playing better, the homer in me might do some official bashing, but I don't have that in me. This team is bad right now, and I don't want to take anything away from that.
- I'll keep saying this until he does something to prove otherwise, but Cousins just isn't moving well right now. He's never been a great transition defender, but it looks like he's wearing ankle weights every time he goes up and down the court. He got blocked or stopped on a number of his drives because the quickness he used to have for a player his size just hasn't been there. I don't know if it's the achilles, back, or a conditioning issue due to all the time he's missed, but he's not right.