The Milwaukee Bucks and Sacramento Kings are inverse representations of NBA teams. The Bucks are a team without a true star. Giannis Antetokounmpo is on his way, but is still early in his path to true stardom. Brandon Knight was worthy of an All-Star selection this season, but isn't necessarily a star you build around. And yet the Bucks are a well-coached team, and they demonstrate what's possible when a team buys in and plays together. The Bucks achieve a level of success that is greater than the sum of their parts. It's a stark contrast to the Kings, who have a legitimate star in DeMarcus Cousins, and an excellent supporting star in Rudy Gay. And yet the Kings underwhelm and fail to execute. They achieve less than the sum of their parts.
The Kings lost to the Bucks 111 to 103 in the presumed final game of the Tyrone Corbin era. The game was a microcosm of his tenure as coach. The Kings started the game with a confusing lineup change, with Omri Casspi starting instead of Jason Thompson. They scrapped along despite not playing particularly well, and then fell apart in the third quarter. And the Kings racked up 18 turnovers while shooting 42.9% from the field. It was everything we've come to expect over the last few months, and all the things we hope will soon be fixed.
But while Kings fans will surely celebrate the arrival of George Karl and the dismissal of Tyrone Corbin, it seems necessary to appreciate Corbin for what he's done here. Corbin was unexpectedly thrust into an impossible situation. His team was checked out on him almost immediately. None of the players blamed Corbin, but his voice was lost on the Kings roster in the wake of Michael Malone's firing. Even as a shadow loomed over Corbin, and as the shadow grew larger over the last week, Corbin remained the epitome of class of and professionalism. He would have been within his rights to be upset at the insane manner in which the Kings have held public and messy negotiations with Karl, and yet Corbin remained a pro. He's not a great head coach, that seems clear. But damn if I don't respect the hell out Corbin, and wish him the best on the rest of his NBA coaching career.
As for the game itself, Cousins led the Kings with yet another double-double, putting up 28 points and 19 rebounds. Despite those gaudy totals, Cousins was frustrated throughout the game. Zaza Pachulia, who always seems to get under Cousins' skin, gave Boogie fits, and Cousins struggled against the length of John Henson. Rudy Gay finished with 18 points, and birthday boy Ben McLemore added 16.
Ray McCallum had a surprisingly nice game, fueling a Kings run in the first half. He finished with just 10 points, but had a definite impact on the game beyond what the box score shows.
For Milwaukee, Brandon Knight started slow and was held to just three points in the first half. But he exploded in the second half, leading the Bucks run in the third, and finished the game with 20. OJ Mayo led the Bucks in scoring, with 21 points off the bench.
The Kings now enter the All Star break with a record of 18-34. DeMarcus Cousins will appear in the All Star Game on Saturday. Sometime this weekend the Kings are expected to make the George Karl hire official. The Kings resume their season on Friday, February 20th when they'll host the Boston Celtics.
For the opponent's perspective, visit our friends at BrewHoop.
I leave you now with the highlight of the game.
Reggie Evans: "How old are you?"
Reggie: "20? ...Damn."