Game 17 Recap: Kings 110, Pacers 105

Programming Note: Because the NBA season is a long and arduous thing to cover, Jared Wade of EightPointsNineSeconds and I decided to switch recaps for this game. I wrote the recap for his site and he wrote the recap for this site. It’s like an NBA blogger swinger type of thing. Instead of a key party, it was a keyboard party of sorts. Here is his recounting of the way the Kings played in the win:

The best compliment I can give the Sacramento Kings right now is that they are a once again a team worth watching — a statement that has been patently false for the past four years.

See, there are so many good NBA games on most nights that the teams throughout our beloved association are essentially campaigning for my League Pass minutes. Teams like Denver, Orlando, Los Angeles, Boston and Cleveland essentially get an automatic bid into my lineup. Gotta watch ’em. Wanna watch ’em. Then you have squads like New Orleans and Chicago that I’ll watch play even though they are bad just to see guys like Chris Paul and Derrick Rose do things that only they can do. Throw in the surprisingly good teams and the teams with compelling story lines like the Hawks, Suns, Mavs, Thunder, Rockets and Bucks, and I don’t have a ton of time left in my day to devote to the boring, poorly-run, non-factor franchises of the world like Detroit, LAC and Minnesota.

The kid has to sleep at least a few hours a night, nahmean?

Well, the Kings are officially back in the rotation and, even last night, as I watched Sacto play for like the fifth time this year and witnessed them smack my beleaguered Pacers squarely in the jaw, I still enjoyed watching them play. It’s just a fun, young roster with players I enjoy.

As we saw last night, Tyreke is a blessing. He put up what looked like an effortless 26 points on 14 shots, while getting to the line a Flash-like 14 times and dropping 6 dimes. Sure, there was some foul trouble and the turnovers — which are something he really needs to curtail if he wants to allay the concerns about him just merely masquerading as a point guard — but throw in an overpowering physique that allowed him to get 5 boards essentially by accident, and Indy just simply had no answer. TJ Ford certainly couldn’t do anything to stop the havoc being Reked, and even the more physical Earl Watson couldn’t do much but make Evans have to actually think twice as he was deciding which way to score.

This kid is for real and has already supplanted Kevin Martin as the Kings best player. And just think; once Kevin returns, that perimeter combo is going to do a ton of nice things. Good things on the horizon for Cali’s  capital city.

Getting back to last night, it was definitely Tyreke who set the tone. He kept Sacremento close while the Pacers were rolling in the first half. As Clyde Frazier would say, he supplied the inspiration. But Jason Thompson supplied the devastation and was perhaps the Kings MVP of the game for the way he knocked down jumper after jumper after jumper during the late-second quarter/early-third quarter stretch during which Sacramento outscored Indiana 44-23 and took over the game.

Troy Murphy drives to the hoop to score and give the Pacers a two-point lead? Jason Thompson hits back-to-back jumpers to take the lead back. Danny Granger hits a trey to put Indy up one? Jason Thompson sticks a J — then, just for good measure gets an assist the next trip down the court.

Each time Pacers started to get their offense back on track and were looked to capitalize on some much-needed momentum that a defense stop would create, Thompson was right there with a bucket. On at least two occasions, the Pacers even maintained good coverage for the first 18 seconds of the shot clock, forcing ball rotation and some scrambling from King penetrators. But, inevitably, the ball would find Thompson 18 feet from the hoop and he would stick a back-breaking mid-range shot.

Those are the types of mid-game daggers that often get overlooked. But they are what prevent a team from making runs and, for a Pacer fan, it was both frustrating and impressive to watch. Especially from a 24-year-old.

It would be unfair of me to fail to at least note that Andres Nocioni did similar stuff in the second half, hitting 3 pivotal threes to help the Kings regain control of the game late in the third quarter, just as the Pacers were making their final push towards a hopeful victory by mounting a 15-2 run. But that’s the only nice thing I will ever again say about a guy who is unquestionably the biggest bummer in the league. In fact, just to counteract any praise I already conceded to this dunce, I need to include my three Nocioni-related in-game tweets from last night, lest anyone ever be confused on how I feel about him.

@8pts9secs I’m not sure there’s a human I hate more than Andres Nocioni. This dude is plotting genocide. I just know it. He’s evil.
Nocioni definitely fights dogs. Probably bunnies, too.
Nocioni kills drifters for sport. He makes bowls out of their skulls. He’s a sicko. Call the cops.

Omri Casspi, on the other hand, is the mathematical inverse of Nocioni. This dude is just a Santa sack full of never-ending awesome. He didn’t fill up the stat sheet last night during his 24 minutes on the floor, but he just plays the game exactly how I think it should be played.

His second-quarter stretch in particular was a joy to watch. In 9 mins, he hit a three, got another bucket, grabbed 2 boards and handed out 3 assists. But, really, he did much more. He consistently made the right pass and — as the assist stat generally does — his dime numbers don’t properly illustrate how well he helped make the offense work. He just always makes the right pass. And even when it was just a simple swing pass that anyone in this league aside from Corey Brewer could easily make, it forced the Pacers defense to rotate and react (which is a good thing to force this Indy roster to prove it can do). He’s the type of guy who facilitates the motion then makes the pass that leads to the pass that leads to the open shot.

Tyreke is the King rookie that everyone is rightly making such a big fuss over. It might be Casspi, however, who proves to be one of the better value-picks we’ve seen out of the past several draft classes. I couldn’t like the guy more.

That’s just about everything that’s worth discussing from last night’s victory, aside from noting Beno’s consistent and head-scratching-to-me solid play this season, and maybe also taking a quick second to mention that, while I was impressed with Spencer Hawes long-range shooting, that’s really not what anyone on the Sacramento coaching staff should be encouraging him to do. I guess I shouldn’t really expect much else from a 7’1″ dude named “Spencer” though. That’s really his parents fault more than anything. I guarantee you that “Rick Hawes” gets 14 boards in that 98-possession game last night while never leaving the paint.

Ultimately, the Kings beat a bad team while playing in their home arena. That’s what you’re supposed to do in this league. So the team doesn’t deserve a gold sticker. But doing what you’re supposed to do is not something the Kings have been doing ever since CWebb was traded.

Well, they did it last night.

And they’ve been doing it all year, moving to 8-2 at home for the season thus far after last night’s win. And that, along with their young, fun-to-watch nucleus has once again put the Kings into my — and many, many other diehard NBA fan’s — League Pass rotation.

Congratulations, Kings fans. Your franchise is relevant again.

Must be nice.


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