It felt good to finally play someone from the Leastern Conference. The Sacramento Kings beat the Brooklyn Nets 107-86 Wednesday night after starting their season playing only Western Conference teams, including two playoff bound teams in the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors. I didn’t think I’d be writing a recap on the Kings beating the Nets, but with the Nets in early season disarray, the Kings were able to halt the tanking express and put a second win on the ledger. I can only imagine Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, and Aaron Gordon watching the game with great interest to see what their future teammates might look like and the Kings did not disappoint. Now on to the game.
When your team actually plays defense, you can make up for some poor early shooting through effort, rebounding, and transition; and thats what happened with the Kings last night. It was apparent that Coach Mike Malone gave the team a good talking to over the four-day break they had since they lost to the Blazers on Saturday, November 9th. The Kings came out with a different intensity to start the game, hustling after loose balls and playing unselfish basketball. With Ben McLemore (first start) and Jason Thompson inserted into the starting lineup, a spark was lit that prevailed the entire game. Sadly, that spark only came from Thompson, who was moving around the floor with great purpose, playing great defense on Brook Lopez and crashing the boards hard. With Malone constantly barking out instructions, the Kings allowed 19 points in the opening period that more than made up for their disjointed half court offense that saw way too many forced jumpers and drives (yeah Boogie, I’m talking to you).
As the game transitioned into the second quarter, it was time for benchmates Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Thornton to make their marks and swing the game firmly in favor of the Kings. Hustle plays abounded in this quarter, led by none other than Thomas, who brings a completely different dynamic to this team with his speed and ability to create offense. But more about Thornton. He was el fuego for the Kings, hitting 3s, running in transition and taking good shots, scoring 13 points in just 11 minutes before the half. Thornton has had a rough start to the season starting for the Kings; a bench role gives him the opportunity to run the offense and create a shot for himself, something he can’t do when Cousins is gobbling up all the possessions. When Thornton gets hot, it fuels the Kings on the defensive end and that’s what happened against the Nets as the King’s swarming defense led to a rash of turnovers and poor shots by Brooklyn. To top off a strong second quarter, just when the Nets thought they would close the half strong with an 11-0 run, in came the notorious washout, John Salmons, who surprised us all by knocking down two jumpers and playing impeccable defense, ensuring the Kings maintained a 12 point lead at the break.
At the beginning of the second half, coach Malone inserted Marcus into the lineup early and the good times continued, as he stayed hot by constantly being aggressive without forcing anything. This quarter also saw the first rise of Mr. Greivis “Passquez” Vasquez, as he expertly controlled the tempo on offense, taking exactly what the defense gave him and setting up teammate after teammate for buckets. The third quarter was exactly what a young team like the Kings needed, a large chunk of time that saw the offense and defense click as they continually pounded an opponent that wanted no part of their young legs. Late in the quarter, coach Malone used a quirky small lineup that consisted of Greivis, Marcus, Outlaw (ugh), Luc Ric Richard Mbah a Moute, and Patrick Patterson with the goal to run and run, defense be damned. It resulted in quite a few easy buckets off Passquez assists as the Nets scrambled to cover all of these fast moving parts. Even if defense gets sacrificed, lineups such as this for small increments can be very useful for the Kings this year.
With a 21 point lead to start the fourth, 80-59, the Kings were thinking they could cruise to victory, but forgot one key thing: they are the Kings and nothing is easy for a bad team. The Nets came out hot, scoring a quick 7 points thanks to the Kings forgetting about the defense that earned them the lead and looking rather horrible on offense. However, a timeout by coach Malone and a super small lineup (yeah I love these) of Isaiah, Greivis, Marcus, Salmons, and Boogie gave the Kings a much needed energy boost. The group put in some great scramble defense, fabulous ball movement, and hustle to rebuild the lead back to 18 and effectively end the game. This lineup success, in my eyes, is totally attributed to coach Malone’s work, since, you know, all those guys basically suck on defense. If the Kings just get effort and cohesion on the defensive end, they won’t be such a horror to watch and will actually begin to build a foundation for a winning basketball team. The rest of the game was marked by ball movement and hustle on the boards, with Marcus leading the way on offense by splashing 3s and quick step back jumpers. When it was all said and done, the Nets oldies were contemplating retirement as the Kings ran away with this one by 21.
Player Notes (was going to talk about Ben in this part, but he sucked and barely played so I’m not wasting my time)
- Dude. Attack the rim on offense. He looked like old Boogie on offense tonight, settling for jumper after jumper in the first and the results were as expected, 45% shooting. On top of that, his screens seem to have been set by a ghost, as in, they don’t impede the defender in anyway.
- His defense, however, was great, for him. He picked up the effort midway through the first quarter and it carried over through the rest of the game. He deflected passes, drew a charge, battled against Brook Lopez, and provided good help defense. He even managed an impressive 3 blocks.
- Fouls, oh the fouls. They were still there whether it was of the personal or technical variety. He sat for 12 minutes in the second half because he picked up his fourth foul with 10:30 left in the third before eventually fouling out in the fourth. The tech I’m blaming on Joey Crawford’s Elmer Fudd looking ass. Maybe Boogie shouldn’t be so demonstrative when he thinks he’s fouled, but Crawford wants to call techs so he was doomed when the ref assignments were given. He did play peacemaker later in the game between
- Greivis and Jason Terry, offering some ironic comedic fodder in the blowout.
- A dejected DeMarcus Cousins looks at the scoreboard after being called for his sixth foul in the fourth quarter of the King’s victory over the Brooklyn Nets.
- Came out aggressive early, looking for his shot to a fault and played rather sloppy in the first half.
- That was, until the third, where he was awesome posting a line of 7 points and 6 assists, including a pretty behind the back pass to Thornton, causing announcer Jerry Reynolds to call him, “Magic Vazques.” And if you were wondering, I don’t see that as a hyperbole.
- Overall, it was nice to see him look like the Greivis I imagined him to be, the true table setter who can feed the hot guys through his control of the tempo and understanding of how people want the ball to score.
- Just like I thought, he was kept out of the starting lineup and it was a smart choice because he was right there to provide the spark for the second unit.
- Thomas and Thornton worked great together in the second, especially when Isaiah saw how Marcus was putting the ball in the tin. The buff midget sought to set the table for his fellow guard, while focusing his other energy on showing the team hustle knows no size. Just seeing him dart all over the floor is a joy to watch every night. Oh, and he finished with 19 points (7 free throws), 6 boards, 6 assists and 1 turnover, just to keep the stats looking nice.
- On a lighter side, watching Shaun Livingston guard him in the second quarter was pretty hilarious. 6’7? guarding 5’9? is always a good refresher in reminding us that what Isaiah does in the land of trees is pretty damn amazing.
With that, we are off to the next game against another Leastern foe, the 2-5 Detroit Pistons on Friday.Published 15 Nov 2013, 02:09 IST