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Kings 111, Bucks 104: Kings win second game without Boogie

The Kings snapped their four game losing streak without the All-Star big man

Photo by Kimani Okearah
Photo by Kimani Okearah

Its hardly a secret that the Sacramento Kings struggle when DeMarcus Cousins sits. Coming into tonight, the Kings' record without Boogie is a sad 1-7. This is a trend that has persisted for several years now under several head coaches, whether it be George Karl, Michael Malone, or Keith Smart.

Fortunately, the opponent tonight was the Milwaukee Bucks, the only opponent the Kings have beaten this year sans Cousins. The Bucks have some promising talent, but haven't quite been able to put it together this year, currently sporting the third worst record in the Eastern Conference with their playoff hopes growing more distant by the day. Beating the Bucks isn't an earth-shattering accomplishment, but when it comes to a Boogie-less Kings squad, any kind of baby steps are encouraging.

The Kings were able to take advantage of the Bucks' porous defense (29th in the NBA in defensive rating) in several different ways. One was the individual brilliance of Rudy Gay. Gay went off for 36 against the Bucks in Milwaukee last time, and picked up right where he left off by dropping 32 from all over the court. Rudy did a great job exploiting the mismatches that were presented to him, going into the post and getting into the lane to unleash his patented smooth midrange game. Rajon Rondo had his best shooting game of the season, going 4/4 from three on his way to 19 points. The Bucks repeatedly dared him to shoot and did a terrific job cutting off his passing lanes, but Rondo took the shots he needed to torch that strategy.

The rest of the Kings roleplayers did just enough to churn out the necessary points. Marco Belinelli took a ton of shots to get his 18 points, but came up with some timely hoops after shooting blanks the entire night. Omri Casspi didn't shoot well from three, but aggressively attacked the rim and drew several fouls. His entire game has rounded out beautifully; he's able to attack closeouts off the dribble because his catch-and-shoot game is so good, he can laser passes into the center of the defense to a rolling big man when he's the third man in a pick-and-roll, and he even buried a three pointer coming off a curl as opposed to his customary set shot.

Overall, its just a relief to finally get a win after such a long slide.  The Kings have fallen out of eight place in the West, but are still well within striking distance of a playoff slot. The same problems with the defensive scheme continue to persist, but there's nothing new there.  On offense its a relief to see them actually running sets and calling plays again, something that they didn't bother to do against New Orleans. Onto the observations:

  • Darren Collison had an ok game overall, but I think its time to unveil the Collison Brainfart Tracker™. Everybody has bad plays, some of them can be unbelievably stupid, but with Collison its different. Ever since he signed with the Kings last year, every game he's had at least one moment where it feels like the Monstars temporarily pay him a visit. Its so jarring because Collison is usually so steady and reliable, and then boom! He inexplicably chucks a pass into the fourth row, or dives for a steal he has zero chance of getting, or forgets how to dribble a basketball. Today, that moment came when Collison was backing off a fast break when the Bucks got back in transition and randomly dribbled it off his foot without any defensive pressure. Just inexplicable.
  • It was a really rough night for Kosta Koufos. For some reason all of his touch around the rim has disappeared; after being so reliable with his half hook and flips in the paint, it seems like there's a lid on the rim for the big guy. On the other end of the court, he got completely worked over by Greg Monroe in the post. I can't remember the last time that Koufos' post defense got shredded so badly.
  • Jerry Reynolds paraphrased this Aaron Levenstein quote on air tonight. I missed about half a quarter of the game trying to recover. JERRY FOR PRESIDENT.
  • Ben McLemore missed the first game of his career tonight. That's some impressive longetivity from a guard.
  • I've been impressed with Willie Cauley-Stein's rebounding efforts. He was criticized coming out of college for his rebounding prowess, but he hit double digit rebounds again tonight, which makes half of the games he's started in this month he's accomplished that. Keep it up Willie!
For the opponent's perspective, visit Brew Hoop.