Truly a tale of two halves. In one of the more bizarre games I can remember from the last few years, the Sacramento Kings dropped a game at home to the Los Angeles Clippers to fall to 4-9 on the season. The result on its own isn’t anything unexpected, but the game itself might as well have been two separate games. In the first half, the Clippers professionally eviscerated the Kings with pin-point shooting and pushing the ball down the court. The second half featured some adjustments from Dave Joerger, and the Kings playing like a completely different team.
The Kings were led by DeMarcus Cousins’ 38 points (12-29 FG, 2-7 3P, 12-14 FT) 13 rebounds and 7 assists. The Kings offense died at times at the hands of the Clippers’ switching on defense, leading to a lot of hail-mary Boogie chucks, but at times the Kings ran their offense well and got Cousins the ball in great positions to score. Ty Lawson also woke up for the first time this season with 18 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds (7-11 FG, 2-3 3P). Lets hope now he finally finds a groove shooting the ball because the Kings really need his scoring. Darren Collison came off the bench to score 16 points, and Matt Barnes chipped in 14 points of his own on the back of 4/6 from three.
The Kings started the same lineup they have all season, and once again got disastrous results. The Clippers jumped out to a 40 point first quarter on the back of J.J. Redick’s scorching hot shooting. Redick scored 14 of his 26 points in the first quarter, including 6/6 from three in the first half. The Kings were having the same issues starting Cousins and Kosta Koufos together that they suffered in the preseason against the Clippers; just too slow to guard the plethora of ways the Clippers can attack you on offense. Redick got loose for mostly two reasons: 1) Arron Afflalo fell asleep over and over again, and 2) the Kings’ bigs lacked the speed necessary to both stunt Redick off of screens and rotate back to the Clippers’ athletic bigs before they could cram a lob on their heads. The Kings trailed the Clippers 73-54 at the half.
Thankfully, Joerger made major adjustments to the lineup at halftime. Instead of a double-center look, the Kings swapped Koufos out for Collison and went with a double-PG outfit. The Kings made their first major run at the Clippers in the first half of the third quarter, cutting the lead to 10 midway through the quarter. The Clippers responded with a run of their own to push it back to 20 to start the fourth quarter.
The last frame was dominated by the Kings. The 20 point deficit was whittled down to 2 with two minutes to go. Barnes scored 10 of his points in this quarter, hitting three enormous threes to power the Kings. Unfortunately, they could not get over the hump. They failed to execute in the last few possessions of the game, as Chris Paul made some big defensive plays to close the game out.
Like I said before, bizarre. The Kings now have the Raptors coming into town on Sunday as this brutal homestand continues. Onto the observations
- Joerger mentioned after tonight that he’s seen enough of the big Koufos/Cousins frontcourt, and I for one will not miss it one iota. The Kings complete about-faced in the second half and benched both Koufos and Willie Cauley-Stein completely, going with Rudy Gay of all players as the backup center.
- Speaking of Gay, he had one of the worst nights on both sides of the ball that I could remember. The Kings’ lack of spacing kept forcing Rudy out far onto the perimeter, which basically is a return to what Rudy tried to do in George Karl’s offense. On defense, Rudy fell asleep off the ball way too often, letting both Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Blake Griffin beat him on backdoor cuts and on the fast break.
- Chris Paul dished one of the most unbelievable dimes I’ve ever seen. He split FOUR Kings defenders to find Griffin for that layup. That’s just a special pass by one of the best point guards ever to lace ‘em up.
- Have to give a shout out to Garrett Temple for consistently doing the little things that don’t show up on the stat sheet to help the team. Things like ghosting through screens to challenge Redick so he doesn’t get a shot off, a key box-out so a teammate can get a rebound (a must in small lineups), and staying vocal on defense to communicate the right coverages to his teammates. I, personally, would love to see him start next to Collison. His defense has been great and he’s been hitting his threes. He’s like a smaller Andre Iguodala.
- Also, Barnes is a timeless wonder. I have no idea how he’s playing at this level so late in his career. He’s 36!
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