The Kings started off this one relatively hot considering how uninspiring the current Rudy Gay-less starting lineup is. Darren Collison shouldered much of the early scoring load, and boy oh boy has his offensive punch been sorely missed this season. I don’t think Collison has been bad this year, but something has felt a bit off. He used to play with a little bit of a chip on his shoulder. There used to be a little bit more fire and toughness in his game. He used to play with an edge. We haven’t seen that Darren Collison this season, but we did in the first quarter.
Matt Barnes found his three-point stroke, draining 3-3 from beyond the arc in the first half. That didn’t hurt, either.
The game changed once Zach Randolph came in off the bench. He destroyed the Kings’ second unit inside, and the Grizzlies built up what was starting to feel like an insurmountable double digit lead. Memphis is a bad team to surrender a big lead to early.
To the Kings’ credit, once DeMarcus Cousins re-entered the game, Dave Joerger found a unit that really started to click on both ends of the court. I feel compelled to shout out Anthony Tolliver here. I really thought he was the catalyst to the Kings’ first half comeback. More specifically, there was one particular play where he upfaked from beyond the arc, got his defender to bite on the fake, made one quick dribble move towards the paint, the defense collapsed, and then Tolliver threw a perfect pass to a wide-open Matt Barnes for the corner three. It’s a simple play, of course, but one that both Willie Cauley-Stein and Kosta Koufos can’t make.
Tolliver and Cousins looked good out there together. I made a mental note to check the numbers and see how much they’ve played together this season, and how those lineups have performed. I haven’t done that number-crunching yet, but the Cousins - Tolliver front court could fix a lot of the Kings’ current offensive problems. Or they were just good in the first half of a random home gave vs. the Grizzlies. Who can say?
The only thing I have in my notes for the entire second half is ‘Kings nonsense.’ You’ve seen this play before, I assure you. DeMarcus Cousins picked up an early 4th foul, Joerger gambled and kept him in there, which worked to a certain degree if your only definition of worked is that Cousins didn’t immediately pick up his 5th foul. It did not work in the sense that the Kings continued to play poorly despite Cousins’ ability to play through the foul trouble.
Other Kings nonsense included another DeMarcus Cousins technical foul that will probably be rescinded, frustrating lineups, poor defense, nonexistent offense, and a Memphis Grizzlies team that was shooting a ridiculously high percentage from three. I think all of that fits perfectly below the Kings nonsense umbrella. The Kings got demolished in the second half. It wasn’t even close.
Kings lose. 112-98. It was every bit as bad as the scoreboard suggests.
Here’s to a better 2017?
A few quick notes:
- Malachi Richardson played a few third quarter minutes before this game turned into complete garbage time. It probably doesn’t mean anything for the rotation moving forward, but it was nice to see Malachi play in his first real NBA game. I thought he showed some nice energy defensively, but not much else in that first run. He would later return for some true garbage time burn and looked like the gunner he was billed as coming out of Syracuse. I mean that as a compliment. The Kings need players, guards, specifically, that aren’t afraid to shoot. Malachi is not afraid to shoot.
- Ty Lawson got hit in the head in the second quarter. He was down for a bit but would eventually make it to the bench under his own power. The first round of testing he received in the locker room was inconclusive, but it sounded like they were looking for a potential orbital bone fracture. Stay tuned.