(I lied. There are no more alliterations in this post – at least not intentional ones.)
Some might view this as an unfair criticism, but in a game rot with mistakes by the Kings Tyreke Evans really blew this one.
A line of 19 points on 18 shots with eight rebounds, fives assists, and only one turnover is not a terrible game by any means. In fact, Reke probably kept them in this game throughout with his ability to get into the lane. In the third quarter, the Kings really seemed to push the tempo against Charlotte and seem to get some much-needed momentum back on their side.
However, Evans had a deceptively disappointing fourth quarter and pretty much cost them any real chance at winning this game.
Maybe my biggest gripe with Reke in this game was the way he defended Stephen Jackson on the perimeter. It’s not like Stack Jack went off either. But Evans consistently went under the screen and allowed Jackson a very good look at an outside shot. This has been a consistent problem for Tyreke since he came into the league last season.
He’s actually a pretty capable defender for the most part. His isolation defense was really good last year and this season it has taken a bit of a dip in the Synergy numbers. But that could easily be chocked up to the fact that he was playing with a plantar fasciitis stone in his shoe. This season he’s been much better with defending pick-and-rolls too.
Trying to get Tyreke to fight through or over a screen seems to be impossible. Maybe it’s the defensive strategy of the team to do this, but I find it unlikely considering the Kings are 9th in the NBA in defending spot-up shooters, which is seemingly the majority of the times in which Tyreke is giving up these open looks. Against Jackson though, he gave up two key baskets when the Kings were trying to make their final push to get over the hump in this game.
The first jumper was off a curl screen around the elbow. Tyreke didn’t seem like he knew how to get around the screen. He started to go over the screen and then just gave up and tried to fight under Kwame Brown. It resulted in a wide-open 16-footer for Jackson and it pushed the lead back to seven.
The second jumper happened on another Kwame Brown screen. Jackson dribbled toward the top of the key and Tyreke started to fight through the screen. This time he sort of went over the screen but stopped when he could have been free of Kwame massiveness. Then he followed the roll man instead staying with the shooter. Jackson got another open look and knocked down the pull-up jumper.
Maybe these two examples are a bit extreme with Tyreke because there has to be team defense throughout. But it’s a problem that is just getting worse with his inability or unawareness to go over screens to contest shots.
Offensively, he made similar mistakes of indecision that cost them a chance at this game. Aside from his flurry at the end that makes the final result look much closer than it actually was, he got into a couple of bouts on being unsure of what to do.
A couple times in the fourth quarter, he seemed to be out of ideas. He’d dribble the ball, try to put a move on Stephen Jackson or Gerald Wallace and if it didn’t work, he just gave up and shot a bad jumper off the dribble. This is something that just can’t happen. Yes, his jumper is improved this season when he’s not in the middle of the floor but it’s still not good enough to be his safety valve.
That would be my biggest criticism of him this year. He’s looked for the easy way out with his jumper far too often. Last year, he almost didn’t know any better and would just overwhelm the defender with his physical prowess. This year, he seemed to be limited (understandably so) by the foot issues and had to rely on his jumper to get him through (which it didn’t). Now that he seems to be healthier and moving better, he’s still stuck in that mindset of relying on a jumper that isn’t a weapon yet.
These mental errors weren’t THE reason the Kings lost this game. They couldn’t hit shots from anywhere on the floor. But when they had a chance to make the Bobcats feel significant pressure in closing out this game, Reke’s decisions definitely didn’t help them capitalize on any of the chances in front of the Kings.
In the third quarter, we saw a Tyreke Evans who was a freight train. He pushed the tempo, got into the lane and disrupted a lot of what Charlotte seemed comfortable in trying to do. I would have liked to have seen more of this in the final quarter, rather than just a small flurry to make the score look better.