How We Feeling?
Not and good.
Six straight losses is not a way to convince your fan base that you’re on the way up, especially this early into the season when the majority of your losses have been at home. In fact, the Kings are currently 1-5 at home this year and look incapable of closing games out at Arco right now.
In this game, it was a great start as the Kings came out firing with their unconventional starting lineup (Luther Head, Tyreke Evans, Jason Thompson at the 3, Carl Landry and Samuel Dalembert) and held the Knicks to just 14 points on 21.7% shooting from the field. The Knicks missed all six of their 3-point attempts and only had one assist in the first quarter. The Kings led by as many as 15 and looked like they might be ready to play some good basketball at home.
Then the second quarter happened and the Knicks shot the lights out. They missed just four of their 17 shot attempts and poured in 40 points, fueled by 15 second quarter points by Danilo Gallinari. They scored just as efficiently in the third quarter with 12/17 shooting and then closed out the Kings with a 9-2 run late in the game to push the Kings’ deficit to nine points.
The frustrating thing about this game wasn’t that the Kings lost. The Knicks are a better team and certainly capable of taking down lesser opponents, even on the road. The reason you hate this game as a Kings fan is because the overall effort and sense of urgency seemed to be lacking. It’s not like the Kings came out and got destroyed on their home floor. It wasn’t a complete and utter lack of competitive nature. They just didn’t seem to care enough to make the final push when the Knicks were teetering on the border of being competent and attempting to give this game away.
The Kings made so many dumb mistakes on defense (like jumping into Gallinari on jumpers late in the game… twice!) and had horrible possessions on offense. They wasted key moments of the game throughout the entire contest. And it sort of started and ended with the way Tyreke Evans was playing.
Tyreke was terrible in this game. Yes, the stat line looks not too shabby, but the performance I saw on the court lacked the kind of fire you would like to see in a young star that the franchise is building around. Sure, he got a couple of meaningless layups to go in at the end when the game was pretty much in hand for the Knicks, but you never saw a sense of urgency or got the impression that he actually gave a damn.
It’s fine if the excuse of his bum ankle is going to be thrown around. But you can look like you care even if your ankle is bothering you. You can make better decisions with the ball, even if it means you have more of a limp at the end of games. The fire you expect from a young team to have just isn’t there right now and it showed in this game. Donté Greene cared at times. DeMarcus Cousins seemed to genuinely give a damn. Beno Udrih fought to keep the Kings alive at the end. But the collective team spirit was not there tonight.
Key Sequence in the Game
Key part of this game had to be near the end of the game when the Kings were desperate to fight back (or should have been). With the Kings down six and just over a minute and a half remaining, Tyreke Evans had the ball in his hands. Normally, that’s exactly what you want because Reke can generally do whatever he wants in clutch situations.
He ran a pretty soft pick-and-roll with DeMarcus Cousins on the left side and instead of attacking the paint or pulling up for a jumper, he threw up this weird push shot runner from about 10 feet. It was probably the worst shot I’ve ever seen Tyreke take. It was such a bad shot that when it caromed off the rim and DeMarcus saw the result of his screen, he looked completely defeated and disappointed that this was the shot they settled for.
Reke had Turiaf awkwardly standing between him and the basket when he came off the screen. If he attacks the basket, he’s definitely getting a good layup attempt off and maybe even a foul to stop the clock. Instead, he settled for a horrific shot that was so bad, his teammates looked completely disappointed in the effort. That pretty much sealed the game right there.
A Big Concern
Defense. Defense. Defense.
The Kings just didn’t really play any defense after the first quarter and it makes me wonder if the Knicks slow start was a result of the Kings coming out with much energy or the Knicks just having an off night in the first 12 minutes of the game.
After the first quarter, the Knicks made two-thirds of their shots for the rest of the game. Two-thirds!!!! How does that happen? You shouldn’t even care about the Kings giving up 40% on 3s to the Knicks or letting them get to the line 39 times. They made 32 of their 48 shots after the first quarter. Some of that is hot shooting and you just can’t account for it. But way too much of that is because of poor defensive effort. Plenty of teams get hot from the field, but not two-thirds hot.
I don’t know how advanced the stat is here but Danilo Gallinari had a perfectly Kevin Martin type of second quarter. He didn’t have a single rebound, steal, assist, block, turnover or foul. He DID score 15 points in his 12 second quarter minutes on 3/3 shooting from the field, 2/2 shooting from 3-point range and 7/7 shooting from the free throw line.
Overall, Gallo got to the free throw line 17 times. 17! How does this happen? He had a fantastic game but I feel like the Kings were just careless in the way they defended him. Granted, he got four free throws by jumping sideways into a defender while trying to do his best Paul Pierce/Dwyane Wade impersonation but the Kings still did him way too many favors in this game.
Here is where the Kings stand in the Four Factors after Game 10 of the regular season:
Player of the Game
Carl Landry probably had the best game of any Kings player. I wanted to go with DeMarcus Cousins here because I thought he played excellent. He was very good in how he decided to attack the Knicks, and even though he didn’t finish well inside 10 feet, he still attempted 12 of his 15 shots inside of 10 feet. But the five turnovers were just too costly.
Landry on the other hand was very succinct and systematic in the way he dismantled the Knicks weak frontcourt defensively. 21 points on 13 shots and he also grabbed nine rebounds. He didn’t turn the ball over once and seemed very comfortable in the way he was used offensively. When the Kings can get this kind of production out of him, he’s almost a perfect complementary weapon to anything they do on the floor.
On to the Next One
Kings stay home to face the New Jersey Nets (4-7) on Friday at 7pm. The Nets are 4-7 coming off a loss to the Utah Jazz in SLC last night. The Kings lost to them earlier in the season in New Jersey when they couldn’t guard Devin Harris down the stretch.
Key Matchup – Tyreke Evans vs. Devin Harris
Harris killed the Kings last time and almost single-handedly won the game for New Jersey. Evans has to bring it this time and really put the pressure on the Nets.