You know, the Sacramento Kings had a few nice things going for them tonight despite the fact that the Cleveland Cavaliers will fly out of Sacramento with a 120-111 win. Had this loss occurred a few months ago, I would have filed it under ‘a good sign’ or ‘moral victory’ or ‘good loss’ but with the season essentially over, and without anything to build towards, it’s all about lottery balls and explosion prevention at this point – More on that second thing later.
The Kings started Darren Collison at shooting guard tonight due to the fact that all of the Kings’ below league-average level shooting guards (Ben McLemore, Marco Belinelli, and Seth Curry) were out with various injuries. As a tandem, Rajon Rondo and Darren Collison played well together, and while I wouldn’t necessarily call Collison the ‘best’ shooter out of that previously reference ‘below league-average’ shooting guard list, he’s the most ‘NBA ready’ shooter, if that makes sense – and having that solid, trustworthy, shooting, scoring, and ball-handling option on the court with Rondo for 39 minutes was good. I understand how starting Collison with Rondo hurts your bench rotation, but I think this is a move the Kings should have made months ago. It’s painfully obvious that the Kings have two NBA level guards on this roster that George Karl is willing to play, and those guys need to be on the court as much as possible.
I should probably exclude Seth Curry from these discussions, but it’s hard to take what he does seriously when Karl just doesn’t want to play him. He’s barely been part of the team this season, but, of course, his multiple minor injuries have forced him to sort of start from scratch every time he returns. Anyway –
The point is, the Kings had two good guards play heavy, consistent minutes tonight. Yay! Neither of them played to their potential, and yet, I still thought the offense looked better than it does when Rajon Rondo is the only guy on the court who can dribble the ball.
Defensively, neither one of them could stop Kyrie Irving. Kyrie was probably the best Cavalier tonight, and he’s one of those players that is so, so gifted offensively that it’s kind of hard to blame his defender even when he’s getting beat. I'm not absolving Rondo or Collison of blame, but Irving was on tonight, and it’s not a surprise that the Kings couldn’t stop him. Even when they did play good defense, Kyrie was finishing with amazing touch at the rim. What can you do?
I didn’t like a lot of the defensive switching and scrambling we saw tonight, and that really didn’t manifest itself as an issue until the fourth quarter when the Kings’ defense completely fell apart. Both Collison and Rondo got switched on to LeBron James on multiple occasions, Rudy Gay on Irving, etc. You’ve heard this story before.
I have little notes of things I liked, most of which I’m hesitant to share because I don’t even know if people care about those sorts of things, particularly when that black cloud of ‘WE’RE BUILDING TOWARDS NOTHING’ is hanging over this team until the season ends.
Do you want to know that the Kings had a really nice stretch in the second quarter where the offense ran through Rudy Gay, with DeMarcus Cousins on the bench, and it actually worked? The Kings went on a 7-0 run and outplayed the Cavaliers for a long stretch without Cousins! If this season were going anywhere, that would be very noteworthy. Now? I don’t even know.
How about this? Caron Butler played! For the first time since December 21st! He looked better in his 10 minutes than James Anderson had looked the entire season. 40 games ago, this is an interesting development! Now? It probably doesn’t matter.
The Kings played the Cavaliers tough. They hung in there despite a lot of their top players having sub par games. DeMarcus Cousins put up 29 points and 11 rebounds, and I didn’t think he was particularly good. I already mentioned that Rondo and Collison could have played better. The Kings fell apart in crunch time, as they do, with unfortunate turnovers, poor offensive possessions, and more importantly, terrible defensive possessions. And rebounding. They got destroyed on the glass all night. Willie Cauley-Stein only played 11 minutes. Ugh.
Willie Cauley-Stein needs more minutes. Even if he weren’t playing well, I’d say that Willie Cauley-Stein needed more minutes. I’d rhetorically ask why he isn’t playing 30 minutes a night, but that is also a waste of time. There is no acceptable response.
Because I want to give you guys something to chew on, here is a video of DeMarcus Cousins fighting (yelling) with or at George Karl in the huddle. Everything is just great. Enjoy!