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Sacramento Kings: That was fun

Joshua Biers
SENIOR ANALYST
1.48K   //    09 Jan 2014, 01:50 IST

Rudy Gay throws down a dunk against the Portland Trailblazers

Boy, was last night’s Kings game a fun win. They held off a late charge by Damian Illard (I think I’m going to drop the L from his name so it matches how filthy he can be sometimes) and the Portland Trail Blazers to win, 123-119. This game was  truly all over the place, starting with the Kings looking like they were going to get run off their home court in the first quarter when they were down by 11 by giving up 35 points. After that though, the Kings slowly closed the gap before taking firm control of the game early in the third quarter and watching their lead balloon to as much as 19 in the fourth before the Blazers found some hot shooting late to make it look closer than it actually was.

The Kings were able to take control of the game by playing some stellar defense during the middle two quarters, especially in the third when they held the Blazers to 13 points. I still can’t believe that this Kings team, with all the defensive problems they are having right now, were able to completely stifle the association’s highest scoring team to 13 points in 12 freaking minutes. It was as if some light switched on after the first quarter and the team would not accept being run into the ground on the defensive end no more for the night. The Kings played about as good of defense as you could expect to see from them for 2 and a half quarters (2nd-mid 4th), holding the Blazers to 56 points through team defense, solid work in scramble situations and a pretty good job limiting damage from inside the arc. One situation sticks out in my mind during the third quarter, as Mo Williams drove baseline, IT and DeMarcus collapsed, while Derrick Williams stayed close to his man on the strong side wing. Rudy then did a good job dropping into the weak block so a dump off couldn’t be made to  Robin Lopez, while simultaneously being in the passing lane to Mr. Illard on the wing. When Williams finally passes to the corner, Ben McLemore closed out hard, forcing a pass up to Lillard, while Rudy went in a full sprint to close out on Damian. The result was a missed three and a smile on my face for some great team defense.

This is still by no means to say that the problems are fixed, as the 63 points were scored in 18 minutes of game time over the first quarter and last half of the fourth quarter. There were still some pretty dumb, lazy fouls that were committed (Blazers shot 36 free throws), and the team still had their fair share of botched rotations where they gave up way to many layups, especially in the first. And sometimes it seemed like the team didn’t have a clue as to who they were playing, letting the Blazers, especially Lillard, shoot too many open threes when you know that’s exactly what they want to do and that’s rain jumpers. And I can’t let Rudy Gay slide for fouling out with 4 minutes left in the fourth, no matter how ticky-tacky the foul was. Are you still in elementary basketball where you don’t know how many fouls you have? I’m not really sure how you foul out that early unless you are a foul prone big man.

However, I won’t pick anymore because it was nice to get a win against one of the upper echelon teams in the association. Good job making Aldridge work for his 24 points (20 shots) and making everyone else around Lillard misfire from three.

Notes

  • Great game by Rudy Gay, besides the foul out, even I have to say. You can’t get much more efficient than 32 points on 10-16 shooting, and it looks like the offseason laser eye surgery is starting to pay off as he went 3-5 from long range…so I’m just kidding but still, it was nice to see. He chipped in with 4 assists as well, including a pretty high/low entry lob pass to DeMarcus that resulted in an and 1.
  • Boogie looks like a guard, or dare I say a super-sized LeBron, at least once a game. He has ridiculous body control and occasional handles that allow him to destroy opposing bigs on the drive and finish some sick layups. Yesterday, he faced up on Robin Lopez at the free throw line, drove hard from right to left, absorbed the contact, and made the layup while slightly falling away from the rim.
  • He also had a sick post up and spin for an over the head, back to the basket dunk, then followed this with a face up and jab into a dribble step back from 12 feet, both on Lopez. Too bad he let Lopez own him in the first quarter on the defensive end.
  • Final note on Boogie, he must have thought playing LaMarcus Aldridge gave him the right to jack up a bunch of mid range jumpers because he was hoisting them up like it was last year. Get back in the paint Boog, even if you were struggling finishing at the rim yesterday.
  • Marcus Thornton got the start over Ben yesterday but it didn’t help either. Four combined points in 40 minutes and most of the time I didn’t even notice them.
  • IT hit another pull up jumper in transition (PUJIT) from three and it was oh so nice. Helped spark the Kings takeover in the third.
  • IT battled Lillard all night and held his own. Kept him to a reasonable point total for most of the game (Lillard dropped 18 in the last half quarter in what seemed like glorified garbage time for most of it), and had an 8/0 assist to turnover ratio compared to Lillard’s 4/6.
  • Loved the energy from Derrick Williams, especially in the fourth, as he attacked the hoop and got to the rim repeatedly. 14 points and 5 boards is a nice day off the bench, now just make your free throws.
  • Jimmer is continuing to look aggressive and to be playing with more confidence. He came into the game in the second and provided a spark drilling a midrange, then a three, before setting up Quincy Acy for a sick dunk. When IT sits it is imperative that the Kings get some solid production from Jimmer.
  • As a fan of quirky lineups, it was interesting to watch the Kings close out the second quarter with a IT-Gay-Williams-JT-Boogie quintet. I fear for lack of shooting and spacing with this group, as well as defending the quickness of the Blazers, but they battled hard on defense and attacked the rim, resulting in a +6 to close the last 4 1/2 minutes of the quarter.

Next game is on Friday at home vs. the Orlando Magic.

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