Sunday’s game against the Pelicans will be the final game in the Kings home stand and what a roller coast of emotions it has been. Beaten by the worst in the West at the buzzer, then beating the Warriors in OT, the coming back from 27 down against the Bulls and pooping it away in the final moments, then blowing out the Celtics sans DeMarcus Cousins, and finally coming back from 22 down to win in possibly the ugliest basketball ever played; has there ever been a series of games that the Kings have played at home that so thoroughly confused about the nature of the team? Tonight,this topsy-turvy, visually abusive Kings squad plays their last game in the Golden 1 Center till after the All-Star Break and will be against a team that seems to have the same problems as the Kings have; an injury-laden team anchored by an All-Star center who management just can’t find the right pieces for to get a deep playoff run, year after year. I could feel half of you reading this whoosh past the rest of this preview to argue with that statement, so let me finish my thought. If both are healthy enough to play in this game, DeMarcus vs. Davis will be a treat; an offensive juggernaut against an all around, both sides of the court, basketball maestro.
The Furrowed Brow vs The Uni Brow!
Your Center vs The Center Your Girl Told You Not to Worry About!
Let’s talk Kings basketball!
When: Sunday, February 12th; 6:00 pm PST
Where: Golden 1 Center, CSN-CA KTHK Sports 1140 AM
For Your Consideration
On paper, tonight’s game against the Pelicans should be the second easiest match-up of their six games at home this month. On a good day, the Pelicans sport two players that are unarguably above average; power forward/center Anthony Davis and former All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday. To make matters worse tonight (well for them anyway), they’re hobbled by injuries; Alexis Anjica, Tyreke Evans, Terrence Jones and Quincy Pondexter all questionable or out with a variety of maladies, and on top of that, starting shooting guard E’Twaun Moore is out with an undisclosed personal matter. The Kings are looking at a bizzaro version of themselves, and the game will ultimately will be decided in which team executes better under their less than optimal circumstances.
The first things the Kings will have to do is get the Pelicans moving on the defensive end. Second in the entire league in blocks, the Pels have a surprisingly low standing in team fouls, 7th in the league in fouls, meaning that they aren’t jumping at every pump fake or layup that comes flying their directions. They’re also only 18th in the league in steals; if the Kings can move the ball quick and get the Pelicans defenders to scatter around off balance, there’s a chance they can get ball movement to the rim and either get a basket or get the Pelican’s in some early foul trouble.
The Kings are probably looking at a front court tonight of Anthony Davis, Donatas Motiejunas, Omer Asik and Cheick Diallo; three quality big guys and a youngin’ with some upside. DeMarcus may struggle being efficient inside and so tonight working from outside in might be the best strategy to get Boogie going. If the DeMarcus, and the rest of the Kings, can continue their hot second half shooting from Friday night’s game against the Hawks, they can stretch the defense and if DeMarcus starts off hot from any sort of distance, it’ll put any Pelicans big with two eyebrows on their heels.
On the defensive end, the Kings are facing a team that is 19th in the league in terms of three point percentage (35.5%) and is the seventh worst team from inside the arc at 48.5%. They’re the fifth worst free throw shooting team in the league and shoot less than all but six other teams. The Kings can allow this game to be physical, as long as it isn’t a repeat of the Hawks game, where chippiness and general assholery took the place of well timed and executed fouling.
Stretching the defense, playing tough physical defense and continuing to shoot well from deep will put the Kings in a position to end their six game home stand with a winning record and head into a game against the Lakers on Tuesday with a three game win streak.
Ben McLemore will continue his hot shooting but going 9-12 from three point range in the first half, and will be the first player in NBA history to demand a trade at half time and be granted one in the middle of the third quarter when the Minnesota Timberwolves offer a first round pick for his services. DeMarcus will continue to figure out what its like to live in a post-technical suspension world, and will begin to write his book about this period in his life: “Dunk, Pray, Love”.
Kings: 108, Pelicans: 104