Kings 117, Wolves 116: Kings win first season opener in 7 years

How We Feeling?
Is it time to trade Tyreke Evans?

Of course not.

But it was fun to see the Kings play so well without him and find a way to pull out a rare road win. The way the ball moved throughout the night was pretty fun to watch and it was a nice change from the ball dominating we usually see with a Tyreke-led offense.

That’s not to say Tyreke is bad for the team, bad for the offense or a tough player to play with, by any means. I don’t buy any of that nonsense that is probably being floated around by someone who has the same motives in promoting guys like Ricky Rubio and Kevin Martin (now who could that be … ?). It’s just the Kings didn’t have a guy that could really break down the defense with penetration and it showed. So they adjusted, whipped the ball around and got quality shots.

Long-term, it shows the Kings can adjust to life without Tyreke on the court. And being able to switch up the tempo, gameplan and offensive attack with or without him on the court could prove to be invaluable, especially when the fourth quarter of a tight game comes along. Experiences without Tyreke like this one help the team grow and find an identity without him. This is a good thing because there will be nights in which he has foul trouble, sore ankles, or just isn’t in the flow of the game. The Kings learning how to adjust to that is huge.

Of course, it helps immensely to being playing a bad defensive team like the Wolves. The Wolves are improved from last year in the fact that their athleticism allows for more rotation. However, their rotations seemed late because of getting lost out there before they had to rotate.

Key Sequence in the Game
For the most part, this was a very even game. The Wolves took control in the second quarter and the Kings responded with a great third quarter that including a big 16-2 run to start the second half. The run happened in the first four minutes of the period and it went a little something like this:

Francisco Garcia mid-range jumper curling off of a screen. 2-0
– Donté Greene contests a missed jumper by Michael Beasley off the dribble.
– Cisco with a really weird travel after not being able to decide on a shot or jump pass.
– Beno contests a jumper by Ridnour off of a screen.
– Carl Landry makes a jumper over Love, plus the foul and the free throw. 5-0
– Ridnour makes a floater off the glass after Beno gambled to double the post and then rotated almost as poorly as he closed out on Ridnour before the drive. 5-2
– Beno passes up a 3 to make the extra pass to Garcia in the corner for his own jumper. 7-2
- Landry tips a pass by Kevin Love and creates the turnover. Beno ends up making the pull-up jumper in transition. 9-2
– Beasley jump pass goes out of bounds when Love cut to the basket instead of looking for the pass.
DeMarcus Cousins turn-around jumper in the post. 11-2
– Cousins helps and takes a charge against a driving Love.
– After loose balls and blocked shots, Cousins cleans up the play with a dunk inside. 13-2
- Donté Greene blocks a jumper by Beasley.
– Offensive rebound by Landry inside and gets fouled on a shot attempt. Makes 1/2 free throws. 14-2
- Kings pick up the loose ball and Beno knocks down a pull-up jumper in transition. 16-2

The energy out of halftime in this sequence was just incredible. The defense was contagious with the Kings. Four different players in this four-minute stretch tipped passes. Cousins was all over the place on both ends of the floor. Greene was locked into his role of stopping Beasley. The ball movement was crisp and flowing well. It was just an all-around good effort for the Kings to take control of this game when they could have easily come out flat on the road and laid an egg.

A Big Concern

How did nobody pick up on the fact that Luke Ridnour is deadly in transition with his pull-up jumpers? It’s like his calling card. Not only was this not something the Kings were prepared for, but they also never adjusted to it. Wolves got a lot of easy buckets because the Kings simply didn’t adapt.

Advanced Stuff

My favorite stat from this game was the percentage of assisted made field goals. Last season the Kings had assists on 53% of the shots they made. In this game, that number was 64%. Yes, it’s just one game but I love to see the ball moving the way it did.

Player of the Game
I’m going to go with Francisco Garcia. He finished with 22 points (7/12 FG, 6 assisted, 6/6 FT, 2/2 3FG), 4 assists, 3 rebounds and 3 steals.

He set the tone throughout the game with his play on the court. He tipped passes, stayed in front of his man and stayed active the entire time he was on the court. He was also ready to shoot, didn’t hesitate (aside from that weird travel) and moved the ball extremely well.

On to the Next One
Friday at 4pm PT in New Jersey. Nets are 1-0 with their win over the Pistons.

Key Matchup – DeMarcus Cousins vs. Derrick Favors
DMC couldn’t believe Favors was selected over him and it makes sense. I’m excited to see what Cousins will do to show the Nets they messed up.

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