Couldn’t we just find a way to play the Pistons every game for the rest of this season? It’d be nice considering that the Kings are on an eight game losing skid against teams not from Detroit, but alas, Wednesday night’s game is in Cleveland against the defending World Champions. The Cavs have lost three of four games, and will be eyeing this game as the perfect opportunity to right the ship. For the Kings to have a chance, they’ll need to borrow from the Cav’s team motto and play “All for One”, with big games from unexpected places. Rudy Gay ain’t walking through that door (but I guess he could hop through if he felt the need). Here’s to more Malachi and Cauley-Stein minutes, am I right? Let’s talk Kings basketball.
When: Wednesday, January 25th; 4:00pm PST
Where: Quicken Loans Arena, CSN-CA, KHTK Sports 1140 AM
For Your Consideration
Kevin Love’s In a Helpless Place: The first thing the Kings will have to do if they want to win this game is stick to Kevin Love. Don’t leave him. Don’t do it. If Kosta can’t keep track of Kevin at the start of this game, then toss that assignment to Anthony Tolliver. Tolliver ain’t cutting it, then walk over to Willie Cauley-Stein on the bench and wave a juicy Kevin Love shaped snack for him; “Less Kevin, More Minutes”. While Kevin’s stats from the previous game against the Kings look pretty abysmal in the final box score, it was his impact in the first quarter of the game that really put the Kings in a bad position early; January 13th’s game in Sacramento had him go for 11 points and 8 rebounds in the first twelve minutes, allowing Cleveland to outscore the Kings 32-15. Now the Kings have struggled with three point shooters since Borat was in theaters, but when this Cleveland team is turning on all cylinders it’s a pretty good reminder for why the Kings last championship appearance was 51 years ago, and how far out their next one might be. Stretch four who can hit 10 threes in a game as easily as grab twenty rebounds? Check. Point guard with court vision, some of the best ball handling in the league, and a great three point shooter to boot? Check. THE MOST DYNAMIC PLAYER IN NBA HISTORY? Well, they don’t employ John Salmons so, I’ll leave that box blank. It really is amazing to see the pressure Kevin Love once had to perform in Cleveland, and how it has melted away into just playing basketball with players like Kyrie Irving and LeBron James. Love’s first quarter against the Kings earlier this season shows just how good they can all be, and his second half is a glimmer of hope: Love made one shot in the second half. A two point shot from six feet out with a minute thirty-two left in the third quarter was all he got. The same Kevin Love who scored 34 in the first quarter against the Blazers and he dropped two on the Kings in the second half. If the Kings can pressure him like they did in the second half of the 13th’s game, in the first half of Wednesday’s game, the Kings would have a puncher’s chance of sneaking out of Cleveland with a win. If they allow him to get warm early, this could be done at half time.
Kings Focus: This is a game where the Kings will miss Rudy Gay quite a bit. A physical specimen who might not be able to stop Lebron James but at least keep up with him. In his last game against the Cavs, Rudy Gay had 22 points, 10 rebounds, 4 blocks and went 3-3 from long distance. He played one of those one-every-seven-games that made you wonder what it would be like if the Kings had NBA level talent around him and Boogie, but alas, what is done is done and as punishment for our imaginations we now have Matt Barnes or Arron Afflalo in his place trying to stop a LeBron James who put 15 assists on the board last game. The Kings will continue to have to find scoring from every nook and cranny that they can find. In their win over Detroit, every player that got run scored over five points; Ty Lawson had 19, Willie Cauley-Stein had 12, Matt Barnes had 10, even Malachi Richardson tossed in 5. This will be the way to wins from now on, and against the champs, they’ll probably need everyone to step up even a bit further. Cleveland is the second worst team in the league when it comes to blocks, so the Kings need to be taking things to rim as often as they can. DeMarcus will be able to get his, given he doesn’t get into foul trouble, but others will need to take it to the rack and challenge Tristan Thompson, Kevin Love and Channing Frye to block a shot, or give them free throws. All in all, tonight’s game might be a bit of a long shot; too many shooters and too many stars, right? But if the Kings can contain Kevin Love early, get contributions from top to bottom, and have a little luck go their way with the refs, they’ll have a chance at it. They’ll have to play a damn near perfect game, but I’m saying there’s a chance.
Prediction: DeMarcus has been itching for a triple-double for awhile and tonight he gets it. Malachi Richardson and Willie will continue to earn their minutes and Kyle Korver decides that he should shoot with his off hand; still hits 4 threes, but on inefficient shooting.
Kings: 113, Cavs: 109