Game 35 Recap: Warriors 108, Kings 101

Editor’s Note: Sorry for posting this so late. Coached last night and didn’t get to the game until this morning. Then I couldn’t find time to write the recap until right before tonight’s game.

Well, that was disappointing.

The Sacramento had this game won. They were beating the Warriors by 18 in the third quarter. The Warriors are a very bad team. Don’t let the high scoring and the hype around guys like Monta Ellis, Anthony Morrow and Anthony Randolph fool you. They’re a very bad team. So when you put them into a nine-possession game, you’re usually going to come out on top.

However, you have to finish those games with the same intensity, fight, and execution that got you the big lead. And that’s something the Kings flat out couldn’t do. When the Warriors started to make their run towards the end of the third quarter, you could sense a different level of energy on the court. The Kings seemed to think the game was over, or at least that’s what the body language would tell you. The Warriors, however, seemed to get a spark out of Corey Maggette who began attacking the basket.

When the Warriors get momentum, they pick up the defensive energy a lot more. They don’t necessarily start playing sound, San Antonio Spurs level defense but they do get more active, take more chances, and cause a little more chaos than usual. And that’s exactly what happened. All of a sudden, the Kings were turning the ball over and the Warriors were tipping everything from dribbles to cross-court passes to basic post-entry passes.

In the first half, Monta Ellis was able to score (18 points on 7/13 shooting) but they took away a lot of looks he would normally be able to get. They cut him off going to the basket (for the most part) and made him work hard for what he scored. But in the third and fourth quarters, he completely took over on the offensive end of the court. He pushed the tempo, shoved the envelope and got basket after basket at the hoop.

So why did the Kings lose this game? Three simple answers – they missed threes, they didn’t finish strong around the key, and they turned the ball over.

The Kings shot 6/23 from behind the arc against the Warriors. I’m no mathematician but that’s just a hair better than making one-quarter of your three point attempts. And last I checked, that’s not good shooting. So maybe you’re saying to yourself, “why are they taking so many threes when they aren’t falling?” Well, I think they were primarily good shots the Kings SHOULD have taken, even if they weren’t falling.

Remember, this is the Warriors. If you put a little pressure on them, they usually break. It’s nearly impossible to keep up their pace of the game and do it efficiently so they usually end up giving up more runs than they make for themselves. The Kings are shooting 35.7% from three this season (good for 10th in the NBA). You want them taking those shots, especially if they’re open. And trust me, they were open. We’re going to classify open threes in this game as either no defenders around them or horrendously late closeouts on the shooters that made them pretty much wide-open. The Kings missed 11 of those “open” threes. Normally, the Kings would have made eight of those 23 attempts, which puts them behind by one in this game. But if you factor in the amount of open threes, they probably make two or three more at the minimum on a normal shooting night. They just flat out couldn’t hit them (especially, Nocioni who missed five open threes).

The Kings also didn’t finish well around the key. I blame this on them being worried about Ronny Turiaf. Turiaf was extremely active early and even blocked a shot or two. It seemed like because of this, the Kings were really timid around the key. They missed some easy buckets because Ronny Turiaf established that early as his area. If they had remember what type of player Turiaf is, he fouls a lot more than he blocks. Give him a pump fake and he’ll fall for it. He’ll most likely foul you and be on the bench in foul trouble in no time. Then you have battle either Andris Biedrins or something called a Chris Hunter inside and you’ve successfully established the inside game.

Lastly, they turned the ball over WAY too much at the end of the game. The ten turnovers were bad but we’re also going to throw the terrible possession after terrible possession that the Kings threw out in the fourth quarter. They played the old prevent offense that you might remember from their road win in Utah way back in early November. In that game, they were able to hold on to their big lead and eventually squeak out a win because they went to the free throw line and were just good enough offensively and defensively to outlast Utah’s run.

They weren’t so lucky against the Warriors Friday night. Tyreke Evans capped off a seemingly spectacular evening with an atrocious fourth quarter. He only got three of his 25 in the fourth and ended up with more turnovers in the quarter than points. But don’t blame this loss on him – it was a total team effort to blow this game. They let the shot clock run down way too much on far too many possessions. They only scored three points in the final five minutes of the game.

Final Game Notes

- Anthony Randolph apparently fractured his ankle. Watching the play in which he got hurt, you just feel really bad for him. It’s rare that you’re hoping it’s a bad sprain. To find out later on that it was a fractured ankle, you can pretty much write him off being effective for the rest of the season. If it’s a serious fracture, you want him to rest, recover and get healthy for next season. No sense rushing back.

- On the brighter side (for Kings fans), Jason Thompson dunked on Randolph earlier in the game.

- It appears from the box score that the Kings defended the three very well. The Warriors made just three of their 11 attempts. But the 11 attempts are where you should be tipped off. The Kings did a terrible job of protecting the interior. They closed out on shooters well but didn’t recover and rotate in order to keep them out of the paint. And when they weren’t being scored on inside, they were giving up points at the free throw line.

- I can’t believe I’m going to say this but why didn’t Spencer Hawes play more? 10 points in 15 minutes isn’t bad. In fact, it’s pretty good. And he only committed two fouls. Sometimes, I feel like going small is not the way to go after a Don Nelson team. Go big, make them adjust to you and punish them inside. This didn’t happen Friday night.

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