Game 1 Recap: Kings lose 102-89 to Thunder

Well, that didn’t go as planned.

The score of this 102-89 loss to the Thunder in OKC is certainly deceiving for those who watched this game Wednesday night. The Thunder dominated the Kings in pretty much every aspect of the game, gave far more effort from start to finish and coasted through their first game of the season. Other than a few bright spots here and there, you can’t look back at this game as a Kings fan and be proud of what you saw out there.

Here are a few observations of the game and stats with more analysis to follow tomorrow:

The Bright Spots
Let’s start here because this will be the shortest thing I have to type tonight:

– Kevin Martin’s effort in the first half seemed to be the only fight the Kings had in them. His nine points in the first quarter (6/6 FT) seemed to be the only thing that went right in the first 12 minutes.  And then he scored 15 more in the second quarter with eight more free throws (all made) to give him 24 points for the game. Unfortunately, he seemed to have expended the majority of his energy because between his seemingly tired legs and some concentrated effort to deny him scoring opportunities, Martin only scored three points in the second half of this ball game. He did finish as the game’s leading scorer.

– Omri Casspi, welcome to the NBA. For me, Omri Casspi was the best thing for the Kings in this game. He came in ready to play, didn’t lay down when the Kings were getting slaughtered, and helped them cut into the big lead with efficient scoring and solid defense. Omri finished with 15 points on 7/9 shooting in just 19 minutes. He was +10 on the court. In fact, I’m going to give him the game ball for tonight’s game. He made history for his country and produced in a game when the score would intimidate most players.

Headline reads: “Casspi Scores 15 in his NBA Premiere, the Cavs Are 0:2 Already”

– The fourth quarter scrappy defense by the Kings was definitely welcomed after their previous display over the first three quarters. They held the Thunder to 5/19 shooting in the quarter, which helped drop their overall shooting performance from 59.6% from the field to 51.3%.

Everything Else
I didn’t know what scathing adjectives to call this section because I felt nothing could do it justice. So here goes:

– The defensive effort and execution by the Kings was flat out embarrassing. For most of the first half, the Thunder were flirting with a True Shooting Percentage of 70. Sometimes, the opposing team just knocks down shots and there’s not much you can do about it. Unfortunately, the Kings don’t have the luxury of using that excuse. The defensive rotations were slow when they happened. Players were left open near the basket for easy buckets and/or easy offensive rebounds.

– For a team that wants to get out and run, they really didn’t do a good job of accomplishing it. A big reason for that is definitely the fact that OKC didn’t miss many shots. But to finish with just two fast break points on the entire night in a game with a fair amount of possessions (90) is kind of sad.  A big part of it was the fact that Evans wasn’t able to get the ball and go. The Thunder did a good job of keeping pressure on him for the full 94 feet. And when Kevin Martin gets the ball out in the open floor, he’s such a bad, ineffective ball-handler that he can’t really push the tempo in a play-making way.

– The rebounding numbers don’t look bad (-6 with +1 offensive) but it sure felt like the Kings were being manhandled on the boards. In the 53 minutes between Spencer Hawes and Sean May, they combined to grab six rebounds with all of those coming from Hawes.

– The Kings shot 3/16 (18%) from three with all three of them coming from Kevin Martin. The rest of the team was 0/8. That wouldn’t normally be so bad but they allowed the Thunder to shoot 8/14 (57.1%) from long distance. That 15-point defense proved to be the difference.

– The Thunder frontcourt abused the Kings frontcourt. Kevin Durant, Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic combined to score 69 points on 25/47 shooting with 26 rebounds. Green hit four threes and had three blocks and Krstic easily scored inside to help build the lead in the first quarter.

– Once again, ball movement was a problem. Kings managed just 13 assists in the entire game with just two of them coming from Tyreke Evans. Speaking of Evans, it took him 16 shots to score 10 points, he turned the ball over three times and he was in foul trouble, finishing with five. But to be fair, he missed a lot of lay-ups and got to the basket whenever he wanted.

That’s all for now. More analysis to come tomorrow with extended statistics.


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