This post is late because of some server and scheduling issues.
To quote Lou Brown, the Indians’ manager in Major League II, “You guys won today. You guys won yesterday, so that’s two in a row. If you win again tomorrow, that’s called a winning streak. It’s happened before.”
The Kings haven’t won back-to-back games since their late heroics in Milwaukee and in Chicago back in December. In fact, since that set of wins before Christmas the Kings were 4-20 going into Wednesday night’s game against the Pistons.
There are two other things about this game in Detroit. The Kings have held their opponents to under 100 points 14 times this season and to a fourth quarter of under 20 points just eight times. In those games in which they hold their opponents to under 100 points, the Kings were 8-6. In the games in which they held their opponents to under 20 fourth quarter points, the Kings were 1-7 with four of those losses coming in games that were blowout losses and two of those losses coming in the heartbreakers to Cleveland and the Lakers back in December.
But in this win over the Pistons IN Detroit, the Kings were able to accomplish both rare feats. And the main reason for accomplish the sub-100 points in the game was the fourth quarter defense the Kings showed. It started with the Kings protecting the paint and that was due to the active and aggressive play of Jason Thompson and Spencer Hawes.
JT and Hawes were flat out challenging nearly every shot that came into the paint and surrounding areas. They combined for three blocks in the fourth quarter alone, which is impressive because they don’t even average two per game between them (.98 each). And this kind of action can be infectious with their teammates and it was when you look at the way a guy like Andres Nocioni picks it up with three fourth quarter blocks of his own. Everybody was active, forcing bad shots, and knocking away passes.
This defensive effort helped set up Tyreke Evans and Kevin Martin who combined to score 14 of the final 19 points. And they were helped by Spencer Hawes and Jason Thompson cleaning up their own misses with offensive put backs in key situations (up four and up three, respectively). Different players stepped up and made plays at different times and we were served with an old-fashioned Kevin Martin type of scoring performance. This was a total team effort for the second straight game.
And let’s not forget the offensive contributions of Andres Nocioni and Beno Udrih in the first half. They combined to score 29 first half points and helped carry the Kings and cut a deficit when Detroit tried to clear some space between the two in the second quarter.
Even though this Pistons team isn’t nearly as good or important as they once were, this was a quality win the Kings can build on for so many reasons. They didn’t just rely on Tyreke Evans or Kevin Martin to pull them through the game from start to finish. Much like the game in New York, guys took turns with the offensive burden.
Now, they’ve surpassed their win total from the previous year before the All-Star break. In the grand scheme of things, it should probably tell you more about how terrible the team was last year rather than how much better they are this year. But that’s not how I view this accomplishment. There is real growth with this team and you can see it all throughout.
Clearly, they’ve found a direction to go with Westphal as the coach (feels a little like the early Adelman days, in my opinion) and a franchise player in Tyreke Evans. If the combo works out, they have the perfect complementary backcourt mate with Kevin Martin. They have good young role players in Donté Greene, Omri Casspi, Jon Brockman and Beno/Sergio. They have two big men who have shown promise when things are going well.
Those 18 wins mean something this year. They mean more than the 17 did last year for the organization.