Losers in five of their last six games, the Kings come into Friday’s game against the Pacers bruised, but not yet broken. Having already lost Omri Casspi for a few weeks with a calf strain, and with upstart point guard Ty Lawson a game time decision with an ankle injury, the Kings will have to pull together, and find a way win against a Pacer’s team looking to reestablish themselves as one of the Eastern Conference’s elite teams. Led by former All-Star Paul George, and anchor in the middle by second year big Myles Turner, the Pacer’s currently find themselves in the a tight race for a playoff spot, currently tied with the Wizards for the 5 seed, but only a game and a half from being out of the playoffs altogether. This should be a good barometer for where the Kings are before they head out on a big road trip to close out the rest of January.
Let’s talk Kings basketball.
When: Wednesday, January 18th; 7:30pm PST
Where: Golden 1 Center, CSN-CA, KHTK Sports 1140 AM
For Your Consideration
Do It All DeMarcus: This probably should be its own post in Tony’s new morning discussions but if you haven’t noticed, DeMarcus Cousins has been an assist machine of late. Now up to 4.2 assists a game on the season, Sacramento’s center is now their leader in scoring, rebounding and tied for assists with Ty Lawson. Since New Year’s Eve, DeMarcus has had over five assists in seven games. The Kings have only played eight. Pushing this back a bit further, since December 1st, DeMarcus has 13 such games and during this streak of his has been averaging 6.6 assists. So what gives? Is this a matter of finally getting comfortable within the confines of what Dave Joerger’s offense could do for him? Is it player’s finally knocking down shots around him? As I said before, this really should be it’s own post from someone who’s math skills go beyond counting the donuts I have in the box, and trying to figure out if I have enough to pay for them, but I will say this. DeMarcus is now averaging more assists this season than all but two of Brad Miller’s seasons. If DeMarcus just stayed right at 4.2 assists he would have more assists this season than all but two of Vlade’s as well.
Now before you string me up and yell “But the turnovers!” yeah, I know. I saw them and want to give the next guy something to discuss. Take a look at DeMarcus’ turnovers during this same stretch. They have been... not great. The fact that the current Kings GM had 301 games in his career over five assists but only 104 games over 5 turnovers seems to dwarf DeMarcus’ 96 games of over 5 assists and 120 games of 5+ turnovers should be relevant too in relation to historical context and why you have feelies about one of these players and grumpies about the other. DeMarcus Cousins isn’t Vlade Divac, and isn’t Brad Miller. But to have the onus of being the team’s leading scorer, rebounder and now leading assist man should be admirable in it’s own right. He’s still got lots of room to grow in this offense and an extension this summer would mean more time in it. Familiarity with the scheme and players around him will drop those turnover numbers. In the meantime, just sit back and watch. This might just be the beginnings of something really special.
Pacer Problems: Let’s get this out of the way first so it doesn’t distract me the rest of the preview. The Pacer’s take the second least amount of three pointers in the NBA, and are currently 11th in the league in percentage at 36.6% a game. The Kings are the fourth worst team in terms of opponent three point percentage, where they allow teams to shoot 37.8% from behind the arc a game, while also allowing teams to take the 10th most three pointers against them. The fact that there are nine other franchises with nine sets of fanbases that have to see more three’s attempted against them makes my head spin a bit. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone of those fans not living in Houston. So yeah, the Kings can’t let the Pacers do what all teams do against the Kings. Check. The Pacers are a pretty middle of the road team when it comes to their general stats; 17th in two point field goal percentage at 49.5%, 22nd in free throw attempts (though they are #1 in free throw percentage). They’re almost as bad a rebounding team as the Kings too. They’re 18th in assists, 13th in turnovers, but on the defensive end, they begin to polish up, as they’re 9th in steals, 8th in blocks and 7th in player fouls. So they keep from fouling, while also being a good defensive team in terms of statistical categories. They also give up the 8th most points per game in the NBA at an average of 106.6 a contest. So tonight, the Kings focus should be on just out executing the average NBA team. They match-up pretty evenly, no one star outshines any other, so the Kings needs to just limit Paul George, limit the three point attempts and out work the other team on the boards. It’s boring, but it’s also 16-24 basketball trying to become 17-24 basketball. Gotta start somewhere.
Prediction: Roy Hibbert isn’t on this team anymore, so all my hate for Roy and his employers has to go away, I guess. Wait, is Roy Hibbert even playing in the NBA anymore? Is my annual mocking of the Slowest Man on Earth finally over???
No, wait he’s on the Hornets. Boooo.
Kings: 109, Pacers: 102