Stop me if this sounds familiar; The Kings fell behind early in the game and a massive push by a combination of starting and bench players couldn’t quite overcome the gap.
After trailing by at least nine points during the first quarter in the past four games, the Kings actually started pretty well. Sacramento built a 15-10 lead behind DeMarcus Cousins’ packed stat line of 8 points (2/4 FG), 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal, and one block as well as Rudy Gay’s three steals in the first six minutes. Every player seemed to be laser-focused on defense and the results were impressive. Unfortunately, things fell apart after the strong start as the Knicks went on a 16-6 run to end the quarter. Derrick Rose led New York with 10 points on 5/6 shooting as well as 3 assists. Outside of Boogie’s 14 points (4/9 FG), the rest of the squad scored a pathetic 7 points while only making 2 of 12 attempts.
The second period was even more discouraging. The Knickerbockers (a ridiculous name by the way) outscored the Kings 19-6 to begin the 2nd quarter as Sacramento simply couldn’t hit a shot. After sinking only 6/21 attempts in the first quarter, the Kings only made 8/28 in the second. Kosta Koufos, DeMarcus Cousins, Darren Collison, Rudy Gay, Omri Casspi and Willie Cauley-Stein all missed point blank shots. The Kings lost the quarter 29-20 and walked into the halftime down 55-41 while only shooting 29% from the field.
The third quarter seemed to be headed the same way as New York jumped out to a 70-50 lead in just four minutes. Teams of years past probably would have laid down and taken the beating, but Sacramento began to fight back. Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins both scored 11 points in the third and behind that offensive production as well as a barrage of 3 pointers, the Kings went on a 21-2 run to cut the lead to one point with 1:52 remaining in the quarter. An interesting rotational move was made by Coach Joerger as Willie Cauley-Stein got the call over Matt Barnes for the majority of the second half.
Try as they might, Sacramento couldn’t quite seal the deal in the fourth quarter. The push to close the gap seemed to zap the players’ energy down the line as DeMarcus Cousins (43 minutes) and Darren Collison (39 minutes) both played the entire second half. While the Kings kept it close, they always seemed to be going for the big shot instead of the best shot Rudy Gay and Boogie were particularly guilty of this down the stretch. The Knicks pulled away in the last couple of minutes behind big shots from Carmelo Anthony and Brandon Jennings.
In the end, the Kings were unable to stop the point guard duo of Brandon Jennings (19 points, 5/7 FG) and Derrick Rose (20 points, 9/14 shooting) and they simply couldn’t hit the easy shots tonight. Dave Joerger is clearly trying to build something, and I think it’s starting to show, but it may not be enough to save this season.
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- Matt Barnes was the worst player on the floor tonight and it wasn’t close. Defensively, he was undisciplined, his passing was erratic, and he was an abysmal 1/11 from the field. Sacramento’s not-so-finest also foolishly took a key three pointer with 23 seconds remaining instead of passing the ball to a wide open DeMarcus Cousins.
- Boogie had an impressive-looking 36 points and 12 rebounds, but it took him 30 shots to get there. No other King could score effectively tonight, but DMC has to be more efficient from the field. He also picked up his seventh technical foul of the year and is on pace to receive his first suspension by late January.
- The Kings’ minute distribution was completely different tonight. It may have been out of pure desperation, but the five Kings with the most playing time were DeMarcus Cousins, Darren Collison, Rudy Gay, Willie Cauley-Stein, and Omri Casspi. Ty Lawson found himself in the doghouse as he only played 9 minutes and was benched for the entire second half. Garrett Temple was also in the game longer than Arron Afflalo and was in the closing lineup as usual.