Everybody should remember this from before. This is how it was before the draft and before the regular season was over last year. The Kings sucked. I mean they were really terrible. They would lose games like this quite often it seemed.
This was a glimpse back into life without Tyreke. Just exchange efficiently scoring Kevin Martin with efficiently scoring Carl Landry (well, outside of this game of course) and you’ve got pretty much the exact same scenario. The Kings over the last six quarters of basketball have looked completely lost out there. Beno Udrih has tried to carry the load and get everything going. Spencer Hawes and Jason Thompson are trying to bring the energy. Carl Landry is attempting to score and role players like Donté Greene and Omri Casspi are trying to provide intangibles.
But none of it is working. The Kings have needed someone to force the issue, ram the ball down the throats of the defense and get the Kings out of their jump-shooting funk. The Kings are just settling for jumpers as of late. If those shots are falling then it’s no big deal. But against the Grizzlies in the second half of Monday’s game and against the Nets, the Kings just decided jump shots were an okay compromise as opposed to trying to continually get the ball into the paint.
The problem with this is the Kings didn’t make the shots. When you miss long jumpers, you’re going to get long rebounds. If you create long rebounds that the other team secures then your team is going give up transition baskets. The Nets only scored 93 points in this game but 21 of them came in transition. The Nets seemed to secure every long rebound and as soon as they did, Devin Harris or Chris Douglas-Roberts or Courtney Lee were pushing the ball up the court and getting the Kings defense out of position.
In this game, the other big issue was the bench production. Aside from Jason Thompson who had a nice game (8 points, 11 rebounds, 3 steals in 24 minutes), the rest of the bench was a complete letdown against a team you should try to crush from the beginning. There’s no need to be cute with the Nets. They’re chasing history and not in the noble way Tyreke Evans is chasing history. They’re trying to not tie or set the all-time low for wins in a season. That means they lose a lot and lose easily. All the Kings had to do was get decent production from their starters, get back on defense and hope the bench could be a spark early on in the game in order to get the Nets down on themselves for the 64th time in 71 games.
Instead, the Kings came out flat. The starters were decent. I loved the fight Donté Greene had and Beno showed he can carry a team for solid stretches in any given game. But the bench shot 4/22 from the field, scored just 13 points total (remember that JT had eight of those points!), and completely handed the momentum to the Nets throughout this contest. It’s not like the Nets bench set the game ablaze either. They combined for 21 points on 5/22 shooting and 8/10 from the free throw line. But they made a couple threes and played a little defense.
There’s really not much more to get out of this game. The Kings should be embarrassed. They’re the eighth win of the year for the Nets in a game the Nets had circled on their calendar as a possible victory to avoid history. The Kings knew the Nets would be coming after them as they get desperate late in the season. Sacramento responded by playing flat, disinterested basketball. They allowed Brook Lopez to dominate the paint and run the floor. They allowed Devin Harris to do whatever the hell he wanted. Now they’re on a very short list of Nets’ victims this season.
If there’s one saving grace from this game, it helps solidify the Rookie of the Year campaign of Tyreke Evans. If he plays in this game, it’s probably over sometime in the third quarter. He would have destroyed Devin Harris or Courtney Lee and freed up some scoring opportunities for the Kings all over the floor. The Nets’ often-questionable defense would have been on their heels instead of grabbing rebounds and turning the tables on the Kings.
The Kings without Tyreke Evans are still the 17-win silhouette from last season. Luckily, he should be ready to go on Friday when the Kings face the Celtics.