Apple! Blueberry! Peach! Cherry! Chicken! Beef! Lamb! Sweet Potato! Cheese! Chocolate! Spinach! Mushroom! Use your imagination and come up with whatever your wildest dream could ever create! Tonight, the Kings donned their tall white hat, and playing the part of a dysfunctional pastry chef, were able to produce every kind of possible turnover. Sacramento coughed the ball up 22 times and frustratingly gave up 36 points off of those giveaways.
While Anthony Tolliver, Kosta Koufos, Ty Lawson, and Arron Afflalo rested, DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, and the New Orleans Pelicans dominated the inexperienced Kings squad from the very start of the game. The Kings former star filled up the stat sheet with 37 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks while the Unibrow patrolled the paint, putting up 19 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and 5 blocks. Unsurprisingly, Boogie was able to bully the young combination of Cauley-Stein and Papagiannis while A.D. showed Skal Labissiere exactly what his ceiling could be.
Even though the contest was never really close, there were several small, but encouraging bright spots throughout the night. Most members of the Kings raw core had at least one positive takeaway.
Despite a rough shooting night, Skal Labissiere showed no tendency to back badown from older, more skilled players. It took him 14 shots to score 11 points, but he also snagged 7 rebounds, 5 of which were offensive. He continuously fights for positioning on both ends of the court and is frequently rewarded with an extra possession. Unlike DeMarcus Cousins, the vast majority of his O-boards come from teammates’ misses, not his own. His starting partner, Willie Cauley-Stein, must have replaced his Gatorade with Windex as his glass cleaning skills have been off the charts recently. Tonight, he grabbed 14 rebounds to go along with his 11 points. Buddy Hield had a strong first half, scoring 9 points, snaring 6 boards, and dishing out 2 assists and ended the game with 13 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steal, and 1 block, but did have a disappointing 4 turnovers.
The Pelicans have two top-15 players on their team and a top-15 starting point guard in Jrue Holiday. On the Kings’ side of things, their highest rated player is probably Garrett Temple, a career role player. There was no unexpected result tonight, but there were clear signs of a bright future.
- Georgios Papagiannis was understandably exposed tonight. The 19 year old could do nothing to stop the offensive game of DeMarcus Cousins and also struggled to make an impact on the other end of the floor. Papa G has a bad habit of not moving to the ball when he’s trying to seal his man on the block and also brings the rock to his waist much too often. He’s young and he’s giant, so expect these things to come with time.
- Not only was the King’s interior defense eviscerated, but the exterior defense was porous as well. The Pelicans guards were able to constantly penetrate the lane and that created perfect opportunities for their wings and for their bigs. Buddy Hield, Darren Collison, and Tyreke Evans have to be more committed on that end of the floor.
- Speaking of Tyreke, I wouldn’t want him anywhere near a rebuilding team next season. He rarely looks to make the young guys better and has taken a combined 21 field goal attempts in the past two games. I wish him all the best on another team.
- Kayte Christensen reported throughout the night that Garrett Temple and Anthony Tolliver were coaching the young guys in the huddle and on the court. It’ll be great to have those veterans on the bench again next season.