Any road win is a good win. Period. Sure, a three game road swing featuring the Minnesota Timberwolves, New Jersey Nets, and Cleveland Cavaliers certainly isn’t compiled of the most daunting foes. In all actuality, they’re three of the most poor teams in the NBA – but a win is a win, especially on the road for a young squad like the Kings.
The Kings, much like they did in New Jersey (and even Minnesota, to a point) struggled early, only managing 19 points in the second quarter while giving up 67 to the Cavs in the first half. The third quarter though proved to be different (again, as it did in New Jersey and Minnesota) as the Kings stalled the Cavs offensive onslaught, holding them to a putrid 15 points while they poured in 31 thanks to a juggernaut of Tyreke Evans and Omri Casspi.
Casspi, again starting for the apparently demoted Donte Greene, went 6-7 from distance, ending the evening with 20 points. And while the firebombs he was dropping from the arc helped the Kings get back into (and eventually win) the game, it was his hustle and grit that really overpowered the Cavilers. Casspi broke up multiple easy baskets with his help defense and recovery, diving on the floor and throwing his body into the Cleveland crowd. If a game ball was given out tonight, Casspi very much deserved it. If he keeps it up, he also wont be looking over his shoulder at Donte.
Tyreke Evans didn’t have the best shooting night – only going 6 of 20, but along with Casspi brought the Kings back in the third quarter pouring in 14 of his 21 along with three assists.
Outside of Cousins, turnovers were kept to a minimum and no King was ever in much foul trouble, a vast difference from last night. In other words, the Kings didn’t shoot themselves in the foot (well, for the most part….*glares at free throws*) – and for a young team, that’s something to be proud about.
Hassan Whiteside again was inactive, so the rookie report stays quiet on the lengthy shot blocker but DeMarcus Cousins had his third consecutive solid game. The Kentucky big man finished with his first career double double, 14 & 10, to go along with two steals and assists.
Carl Landry was quiet other than from a points perspective – doing his best power forward imitation of Kevin Martin, Landry finished with 17 points on 8 of 11 with little else in the box score.
The bench was quiet, Jason Thompson having the best game of the bunch with 8 & 5 in just 12 minutes. Francisco Garcia cooled off after his two premier performances, but still played his normal hustle defense as we’ve all come to expect.
A glaring weakness continues to be the Kings lack of late game execution on the offensive end, something most of us took issue with last year. Yes, it looks fantastic when Tyreke holds the ball only to rip the heart out of the opponents with a circus shot or rainbow bomb. It’s certainly not the most effect trick though and the Kings offense bogged down when they needed it most tonight. They were able to escape, but there were multiple possessions in the final moments that would have allowed the Kings to put the game out of reach but it resulted in a poor quality shot or a turnover. I hate to harp on it so much, but….a little more ball movement would be nice.
The Kings take the red-eye tonight from the land of stinky lakes and will take on the Chris Bosh-less Toronto Raptors Monday night for their home opener.
2-1 to start the season? I’ll take it.