Benn Hodapp from PlayerPress.com did a little moon-lighting for Cowbell Kingdom tonight. Here is his recap and notes from the Kings four-point victory over the Utah Jazz. I’ll have my usual game recap later but here is a good summary of what went down.
Kings 103, Jazz 99
You won’t often hear me (or anyone else) say this, but here’s to Spencer Hawes! Along with many other people who follow the Kings, I find myself in awe of his stunning lack of consistency. But after chest-bumping and making up with coach Westphal during player introductions Friday, it appeared that maybe Hawes had figured something out.
It’s not that his numbers (15 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists) were so outlandish, he puts up decent numbers at times. It was in the way he played and got the tough rebound or made the easy pass or hit the moving jumper. The beef with Westphal appears to be in the past and it was surely a positive sign that coach’s words were taken not as an insult, but rather as a challenge.
Beno Udrih (11-for-16) shot the ball out of his mind, bringing back memories of all those close games the Kings played early in the season. And it wasn’t just his patented 10-foot leaner that he was hitting. He drove aggressively to the rim and hit outside shots as well. Tyreke Evans (24 points, eight rebounds, seven assists) showed that he intends to keep the the Rookie of the Year trophy away from hard-charging Stephen Curry.
The Jazz owned the boards in the game, out-rebounding the Kings 48-37, but 13 of those 48 were offensive because the Jazz couldn’t find the ocean from the pier. The Kings were able to stay in the game and ultimately win because they shot a scalding-hot 55 percent from the field (42-77). Utah barely stayed over 40 percent for the game and went just 5-for-26 from three.
A challenge for the Kings that once again showed up and nearly cost them the game, however, was the Shaq syndrome that has engulfed them many times this year. The fourth quarter free throw shooting as of late is the stuff nightmares are made out of. They shot 16-for-28 for the game and even normally stone cold Udrih (84% ft shooter) made fans sweat in the final seconds. I’d like to make a soundboard of all the different groans that have escaped after Kings free throws this season.
Evans, whose free throw percentage was at one point flirting with 80 on the season a couple weeks ago has now dropped precipitously. He seems to be getting stronger in every other area of his game, but at the line he looks lost. He went 6-for-11 in the game and many of his misses were not close.
The Jazz were pretty much all Carlos Boozer all the time down the stretch. He ended up with 26 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. And it’s a good thing for the Kings that he wasn’t given free throws each time he complained or else he would have put up 50. Andrei Kirilenko and his shockingly mundane hairdo put up 16 points, good for second-most for the Jazz.
One recent trend that the Kings broke was the habit of having one ghastly quarter. There was no 29-12 run by the opposition in the second or third or fourth quarter this time around. The Kings outscored the Jazz in three of the four quarters, with the other being an acceptable 30-24 tally.
Injuries keep piling up in hilarious and thrilling fashion. To go along with apparent Bill Engvall-fan Jon Brockman and his knee, Jason Thompson is now out reportedly up to two weeks with a fractured back suffered Tuesday night against the Pistons. That fall was hideous. The slow motion replay was the visual manifestation of hearing nails on a chalkboard. It’s not that Thompson has been setting the world on fire this year, but he had been playing much better ball after a stint as a reserve.
Donte Greene dressed but didn’t play. I didn’t hear anything about an injury, but with how he has been shooting lately it may as well be a ‘DNP – Horrible, Horrible Shooting’.
The Kings took the season series 2-1 over the Jazz with the win. Utah had come into the game on a seven-game road winning streak. Jazz forward Paul Millsap, who had 32 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists in a 101-94 win over the Kings on Jan. 29, was held to just three points on 1-for-9 shooting Friday. He was able to grab 10 rebounds in the losing effort. The Kings will look to avenge a Feb. 20 loss to the Clippers when the teams face off Sunday at 6 p.m. at Arco.