Bulls 96, Kings 85: Kings were so good until they weren’t anymore
How We Feeling?
Totally awesome and then SOOOO the total opposite of awesome.
The Kings came out with energy. Evans came out destroying the Bulls and their staunch defensive efforts after he frustratingly missed his first two layups of the game. Samuel Dalembert and Jason Thompson controlled the paint. Donté Greene was the right kind of aggressive on offense. Omri Casspi was the right kind of shooter to swing the ball to. The Kings were taking care of the ball with their only two first half turnovers coming on offensive fouls.
Then the second half happened.
While the third quarter wasn’t killer for the Kings, it showed an outline of how the rest of the game was going to go for the Kings. While the Kings still shot the ball and scored relatively efficiently in the third quarter, they had turnover issues and it all started with the Bulls defense. It would be nice to say the Kings just got sloppy with the ball but the Bulls defense crippled everything the Kings wanted to do. They started by swarming Tyreke with double teams and traps whenever he got the ball in the half court. They pushed him away from the basket, forced him to give up the ball and then retreated defensively to get back to taking away passing and driving lanes.
Watching the Bulls work on defense was pretty special. With the Kings, it’s not hard to get them out of their offensive flow – usually because they don’t often have an offensive flow. Get Tyreke to have to go left and you’ve already stalled the offense. His passes over the top are slow and looping; they give the defense time to recover. But overall, the Bulls match up well with teams like the Kings. Rose is good enough athletically to stay with guys like Beno and Head defensively. Deng can stay with slow small forwards that aren’t strong at dribbling. Taj Gibson is just a damn good defender that can guard quicker 4s or be big enough to handle more massive power forwards inside. And Noah is just all over the place in a good way. He can guard just about anybody while still helping everywhere on the floor.
The Kings just don’t have anything to battle a defensive team like that with the current lineups they’re running. Cousins played way too much in this game, considering how ineffective he is on his right now and how ineffectively they’re using him (elbow jumpers instead of planting him on the block). I understand that Luther Head gives them so much defensively right now but they’re basically playing 4-on-5 out there on offense, and Dalembert isn’t always a viable offensive option either.
The Kings really gave this game away with their atrocious fourth quarter. Great starts by Tyreke Evans and Omri Casspi, and a great overall performance by the combo of Jason Thompson and Samuel Dalembert just couldn’t correct all the wrong that happened in the final 12 minutes of the game. The Kings broke down offensively and allowed themselves to be taken out of this game.
Key Sequence in the Game
Can the entire fourth quarter be considered a sequence of the game? It can? Awesome. Let’s go with that then.
Kings made three shots in the entire fourth quarter and turned the ball over seven times. I’m not basketball expert but I do know that you put your team at an extreme disadvantage when you have more turnovers than field goals made. If the Kings looked stagnant, it would have been a big upgrade from how they played offense in the fourth quarter.
Donté Greene made two of the Kings three baskets and Cousins made the other one. Outside of that, not a single player made a bucket. Evans got to the free throw line for two attempts, but those were the only attempts of the quarter. It was a lot of one shot and done. Kings scored just nine points in the quarter. NINE!!
The Kings had no space to operate on the floor. After the Bulls tied it up in the fourth at 76-76, Tyreke finally found some room to operate. The Bulls stopped trying to force the ball out of his hands and Evans had spacing on the floor. He ended up getting to the free throw line and then on the next time down the floor, he found Donté for a wide-open 3-pointer that he knocked down. Those were five of the Kings’ nine points in the quarter in a span of about 39 seconds. They’d only score four points in the remaining 7:39 of the game.
A Big Concern
The comments coming out of the Kings locker room after the game are actually a big concern to me. This isn’t just a team that is trying to figure out how to get over the hump. This is a team that is embarrassing themselves and having a hard time getting their collective games together to be a team right now.
Here are some of the quotes (via Jimmy Spencer of NBA.com):
– Westphal on team’s inability to stay focused: “… it could be selfishness … it could be not trusting your teammates”
– “We’re going to have to watch the tape. Coaches are going to have to watch the tape and figure out things.” – Omri Casspi on 1st vs 2nd half
– “We were down and it looked like I was supposed to make a play every time.” – Tyreke Evans after home loss to Chicago
The coach is saying trust and selfishness could be issues. Omri is saying the players and the coaches have to watch tape and the coaches need to figure it out. Tyreke sounds frustrated that he’s the only creator. These are not good things to hear 15 games into the season.
The weird thing about this game is Tyreke was pretty neutralized in the second half (after a great first half of 13 points and six assists) and yet still ended up with the only positive plus/minus for the Kings in this game. He was +2 for the game and everybody else not named Pooh Jeter (who was an even 0) had a negative plus/minus.
A lot of people like to discount the idea of plus/minus but I’d like to offer up that it means just as much as how many points a player scored in this game. You can’t take everything from this statistics but you also can’t take everything from just how many points were scored in a game (just look at how Monta Ellis racked up points while poisoning his team last year).
Tyreke was so bad in the second half and yet still remained a positive overall. And keep in mind that Tyreke was on the court when the Bulls pulled away during this game with a 16-2 run.
Player of the Game
Jason Thompson is easily the player of the game for the Kings.
Carl Landry overslept and it opened the door for Jason Thompson who should be in the starting lineup anyway. JT isn’t the consistent scoring option that Landry is advertised to be, but he’s also not the ball-stopping force that Landry has shown to be this season. JT moves the ball really well and did a nice job of flashing to the middle of the floor to get open shots against the Bulls.
On the boards, he was active in tipping the ball away from guys like Noah and Gibson, while managing to grab some for himself. He was also a pretty good defender in this game. He and Sammy did a great job of challenging shots and making things difficult for the Bulls inside.
Thompson ended up with 18 points on 6/12 shooting, 6/7 from the free throw line, nine rebounds, four assists, one block, three turnovers and three fouls.
On to the Next One
Kings play the Indiana Pacers at Arco Arena on Tuesday, the 30th. Tip-off is at 7pm PST. The Pacers are currently 7-8 after dropping two straight to the Thunder and Lakers.
Key Matchup – Samuel Dalembert vs. Roy Hibbert
Roy Hibbert is becoming a formidable force inside for the Pacers and it will be up to Sammy to shut him down. Keeping him off the boards could be the biggest thing because Hibbert’s 3.4 offensive rebounds per game could be big in keeping Indy’s offensive game flowing.