January 15, 2017, 10:01 pm
The Kings finished the week with a record of one win and three losses, which was somewhat expected due to the reputation of teams they had to face. There certainly wasn’t a lack of effort by the Kings as they showed some fight against some of the better teams the NBA has to offer. In the end, the superior talent of the Warriors, Cavs and Thunder won out against a Kings team that struggled to play with any real consistency. The win over the Pistons was solid, but again they found themselves behind at halftime and were fortunate to dig themselves out of the hole. Here’s an individual breakdown of the Kings’ games from this past week:
Sunday 8th Jan – Warriors 117, Kings 106
Despite the Warriors coming into town with the NBA’s best record, the Kings came out strong which was an unusual sight considering their poor first half efforts so far. Led by some hot shooting and generally good team basketball, the Kings jumped out to a 33-24 lead at the end of the first quarter. The strong play continued over into the second quarter too as they were doing a good job of containing the Warriors on the perimeter and forcing them into uncomfortable shots. However, with 4:14 left in the second quarter all that momentum went out the window.
DeMarcus Cousins picked up his third foul which led to an outburst of emotion on the bench, resulting in a technical foul. From this point on the Kings were outscored 75-52 including a 39-22 third quarter burst by the Warriors. This tech by Cousins really seemed to deflate both the team, and the crowd and they just couldn’t recover. Cousins turned in a sub-par performance for his standards posting just 17 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, one steal and two blocks on 4-of-11 shooting from the floor and 8-of-9 at the line.
The Kings’ top performer of the game would be Rudy Gay who finished with 23 points, one rebound, three assists, two steals and two blocks on 9-of-17 shooting. An honorable mention would go to Garrett Temple who put forth his usual production on both ends registering an efficient 14 points to go with some sturdy defense on Curry and Thompson. Anthony Tolliver and Ty Lawson also deserve mentions; Tolliver dropped 16 points, five rebounds and three steals on 5-of-9 shooting and 3-of-4 from three while Lawson had 15 points off the bench on 4-of-8 shooting and 7-of-8 from the line.
Tuesday 10th Jan – Kings 100, Pistons 94
It’s safe to say the Kings forgot to show up in the first half trailing 56-43 at the break. The margin should have been a lot wider but thanks to the Pistons’ inability to make shots with any consistency, the Kings managed to chip away at the deficit in the third quarter and they put themselves within striking distance to begin the fourth, only trailing by nine.
They went on to out score the Pistons 32-17 in the fourth quarter behind some clutch three-pointer shooting from Cousins and Lawson and some great play off the bench by Kosta Koufos. It was easily Koufos’ best game of the season as he was executing pick-and-rolls to perfection and getting easy dunks at the rim. He also recorded the block of the game denying Aron Baynes at the rim late in the fourth.
Cousins bounced back from his rough outing against the Warriors to post 24 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, one steal and one block on 8-of-14 shooting and 4-of-5 from three. Cousins was easily the MVP for the Kings, as he should be most nights, and he really stepped up in a big way when the team needed him most. Anthony Tolliver had another solid performance dropping 17 points on 3-of-7 from three and 6-of-6 from the line while Koufos had 12 points, eight rebounds and one big block in 22 minutes off the bench. Omri Casspi is certainly another name worth mentioning too as he put forth 18 solid minutes and recorded a season-high 10 rebounds.
Friday 13th Jan – Cavs 120, Kings 108
It was another slow start out of the gate for the Kings. They trailed 32-15 after the first quarter and you know it’s going to be a rough game when Iman Shumpert, who was shooting 2-of-12 on threes in 2017 prior to this game, comes out and hits back-to-back threes on the Kings in the first. Kevin Love also came out hot scoring nine of the Cavs’ first 13 points. The Kings managed to settle down in the second quarter and outscored the Cavs, 29-28. They carried that momentum into the third and managed to cut into the deficit nicely putting up a 31-23 third quarter on the Cavs.
The Kings managed to shoot over 70 percent for the majority of the second half but in the end the Cavs’ superior talent just had the edge. Normally that kind of production would have been enough to get by a team in the second half but not against the defending champs and the lesson was certainly learnt that the Kings just can’t afford to get so far behind in the first half because they aren’t going to be able to claw their way back every game.
The MVP for the Kings would again go to DeMarcus Cousins who narrowly missed out on a triple-double with 26 points, eight rebounds, 11 assists and one steal on 9-of-16 from the field and 7-of-9 from the stripe. Rudy Gay turned in a solid performance with 23 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and an impressive four blocks. He shot 8-of-13 from the field, 3-of-3 from three and 4-of-5 from the line. It really was a great game for Rudy who looked calm on offense and energetic on defense running back to get some big-time blocks. Also, Ty Lawson dropped 17 points, four rebounds and four assists on 7-of-10 shooting off the bench after he came alive in the fourth.
Sunday 15th Jan – Thunder 122, Kings 118
It was another rough first half for the Kings shooting just 39 percent and giving up 15 turnovers. They bounced back to win the second half 72-63 behind a valiant fourth quarter effort but in the end it wasn’t enough. As the Kings learned against the Cavs, they can’t get down by double-digits in the first half and expect to come back in the second half as it just won’t happen against good teams.
DeMarcus Cousins ended up three assists shy of a triple-double posting 31 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists, three steals and a block on 8-of-20 shooting, 1-of-6 from three and 14-of-17 at the line. Cousins again led the Kings but they just didn’t have enough firepower to handle the Thunder and some poor execution at crucial times really held them down. Rudy Gay put in a nice performance with 22 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks but he shot just 6-of-18 from the field. Rudy Gay had his moments and on the surface posted a really nice stat line but his inability to make shots, which he usually hits, hurt the Kings.
Darren Collison had his best game of the week dropping 21 points, one rebound, two assists and two steals on 7-of-9 shooting, 2-of-3 from three and 5-of-6 from the line. Collison was getting to his spots on the floor and hitting his open shots which is what the Kings need when Cousins is getting doubled in the post. Anthony Tolliver also deserves a mention as he finished with 10 points, four rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block while shooting 4-of-6 from the floor.
Player Power Rankings:
#1 – DeMarcus Cousins
This is an obvious choice. Cousins was clearly the Kings’ best player over the past week posting averages of 24.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.0 blocks per game. He shot 47.5 percent from the field, 37.5 percent from three and 76.6 percent from the line. The most impressive stat there would be the 7.3 assists which is a promising sign moving froward. He has been looking to get his teammates more involved and it has certainly helped the flow of the offense when Cousins operates from the post.
#2 – Rudy Gay
You could say it was an up and down week for Rudy but it was enough to slot him at #2 for the week. He averaged 19.6 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.6 steals and 2.6 blocks per game. He shot 42.7 percent from the field, 55.8 percent from three and 86.0 percent from the line. He had his moments throughout the week but his three-point shooting was very good. If he can continue that trend and become a reliable three-point option then it only bodes well for himself and his trade value moving forward; especially with the open looks Cousins has been giving him.
#3 – Garrett Temple
With Temple a lot of his play is based on the eye test. You could argue that he should be up at #2 but Rudy Gay just edged him out. Temple only averaged 9.5 points but he shot 51.4 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from three. Those are solid stats and that’s exactly what the Kings need from their starting shooting guard. His most valuable asset is clearly his defense. He gave Curry and Thompson some trouble earlier in the week. He forced Kyrie Irving into bad shots when they matched up and he did the exact same to Westbrook too. Without Temple, these deficits could be a whole lot worse.
#4 – Ty Lawson
Like Gay, Lawson put together a somewhat mixed bag as well. Lawson posted averages of 11.0 points and 3.6 assists while shooting 35.6 percent from the field. He had great outings against the Warriors and Cavs and also hit a big three to help beat the Pistons. Lawson is slowly coming around and he’s playing his best basketball since his days with the Nuggets.
#5 – Anthony Tolliver
Tolliver had a very solid week since being inserted into the starting lineup averaging 12.5 points and shooting 52.4 percent from three. He’s been a great fit next to Cousins and he’s another player that has benefitted from the open looks that DeMarcus creates. Hopefully he can keep up the strong play moving forward.
#6 – Darren Collison
Collison wasn’t spectacular nor was he bad. He averaged 14.3 points per game for the week including his best outing coming against the Thunder notching 21 points. His efficiency has been great too as he shot 59.8 percent from the floor which is exactly what you need from your starting point guard.
#7 – Kosta Koufos
His stats certainly don’t pop out at you but his big game against the Pistons is what helped land him the 8th spot. 12 points and eight rebounds with one huge block to essentially seal the game is what the Kings were after to help propel them to a victory. He has his critics but Kosta has proved his worth as the Kings’ backup center.
#8 – Arron Afflalo
After being replaced in the starting lineup by Garrett Temple, Afflalo had himself a quiet week. He only averaged 14.8 minutes per game off the bench but when he did come in he seemed to play efficiently. Afflalo will likely remain in this bench role moving forward as Temple doesn’t look like he’s moving out of the starting lineup anytime soon.
#9 – Omri Casspi
He only played in two of the four games but his season-high rebounding performance against the Pistons is what has earned him this spot, and also with the help of Matt Barnes being Matt Barnes. Casspi deserves more minutes but is stuck behind the impenetrable Barnes, or in Joerger’s eyes anyway.
#10 – Matt Barnes
Then there is Matt Barnes who has really found a way to get under the skin of every Kings’ fan and media member. It was no coincidence that the Kings only win came when Barnes sat out. While you look at his stats and think it doesn’t seem to bad, Barnes fails the eye test miserably and he hurts the Kings whenever they gain any sort of momentum. Costly turnovers, wide open misses and bonehead technical’s have put Barnes right at the bottom and unfortunately that doesn’t look like it’s going to change anytime soon.
Out of the rotation: Ben McLemore, Willie Cauley-Stein and Malachi Richardson
In Reno: Skal Labissiere and Georgios Papagiannis