The Sacramento Kings are now ten games into the George Karl era, but the Atlanta Hawks tonight flat out showed them how its done. Behind a flurry of three pointers and crisp passes, the Hawks dissected an already wobbly Sacramento defense and utterly crushed the Kings 130-105.
The Kings' offense wasn't actually that bad. Rudy Gay continued his recent stretch of strong play with 23 points on only 15 shots. Ray McCallum chipped in 15 points on 10 shots and dished 5 assists. DeMarcus Cousins and Ben McLemore both struggled on the night. Cousins was harassed by multiple Hawks in the paint, and the Kings could not find him in scoring position. Boogie only had 12 points, but he had 14 rebounds and 6 assists. McLemore really struggled with his jumper all night, scoring 12 points on 16 shots. The Kings overall shot 48% from the field and 40% from three point range. They had 21 assists and 16 turnovers, which is not ideal but hardly a major factor in the game.
What tonight was really about is what the Hawks did on the offensive end that really matters here. The Kings still haven't quite figured out how Karl wants them to play defense, and when you have a team like the Hawks who can pinpoint a defensive mistake with laser-like precision, be prepared for pain. And pain is exactly what the Hawks delivered tonight. Atlanta shredded the nets for 20 three pointers, the highest total for an NBA team this season. The Hawks dished a ridiculous 42 assists, also an NBA season high. The Hawks dropped 76 points on the Kings in the first half, which was the second highest total this season. Kyle Korver and DeMarre Caroll paced the Hawks with 20 points apiece, combining for 10 three pointers just between the two of them.
The Kings now fall to 1-4 on this hellish road trip. At this point, the team just has to keep its morale in tact before they can get some more practice time in with George Karl's offensive and defensive system. This is like an extended training camp for the team and it would be unfair to judge them against championship contenders like the Hawks who are quite literally in midseason form. But it does highlight just how far the Kings have to climb before they can call themselves a respectable opponent.
- Nik Stauskas is alive! The rook is really taking well to George Karl's offensive system, scoring 10 points tonight on only 5 shots. Karl is giving him more ballhandling responsibility and its helping his feel for the leather when he shoots the ball.
- Kyle Korver is the most frightening shooter I've ever seen. It doesn't help that the crowd starts buzzing before his shot even reaches the rim, its like charging an attack. Korver hit six three pointers tonight.
- Carl Landry just looks slower and slower every game. Being undersized and slow is an awful combination. He got the start tonight, but there just wasn't anything there. Seems like a bad fit for Karl's system. The Kings absolutely need to upgrade the PF spot this offseason
- One interesting thing to note was that the Hawks a bunch of long offensive rebounds off of missed threes because the Kings' perimeter players were leaking out on the fast break. The Kings need to be smarter about that as opposed to just running out on the first opportunity.