Many Kings fans, including myself, came into the game excited for the opportunity to play against the hottest player in the game in one of the most prestigious stadiums in the world. Unfortunately, it looks like the Kings didn’t get the memo. Just a completely embarrassing effort by Sacramento. Weak effort on defense, ugly execution on offense and just a total lack of energy. The Knicks smashed the Kings, 100-85, and now the good vibes from last week seem to have already disappeared.
KINGS GET LINNED – Assuming you haven’t been under a rock, you’ve heard of Jeremy Lin and his stellar play against any team in his path. That said, I really thought the Kings had the defenders to give him trouble. Tyreke Evans’ length and smarts make him possibly the Kings best defender, and Isaiah Thomas’ quickness has earned him playing time as one of the team’s best on-ball defenders. But any hopes of Sacramento slowing Lin were quickly shot down. The Knicks put their new point guard in positions to succeed, running him off of multiple screens and setting up strong shooters around the perimeter for him to kick it to. The Kings showed no desire to stay in front him and were slow as ever in reacting to drive-and-kicks. So many meltdowns on the defensive end for the Kings, and they found out that Lin has the skills to make you pay.
TIME TO SIT SALMONS – Will it happen? Not yet, but John Salmons (21 MIN, 1-5 FG) is the wet blanket on the Kings fire. The other members of the starting five certainly have lapses on both ends, but for the most part, each guy has young legs, brings the effort and plays with passion. Salmons is just so…BLAH. Give us something, John. Now he won’t even look for his shot because he’s been so terrible. He’s bringing absolutely ZERO to the table and he’s more laid back than an ironing board. Throwing Donte Greene (8 MIN, 2 PTS, 1 REB, 1 STL) into the lineup brings an instant charge of energy that would match his fellow starters. Donte can certainly shoot as well as Salmons, defend as well as Salmons and players will feed off his energy. Keith Smart is killing the drill with his insistence on riding out Salmons. Try him on the second unit; who knows what will wake him up. Salmons is now 7-for-his-last-31 on field goal attempts.
SHOOT THE ROCK – How many times tonight did Kings players pass up open shots, only to get an uglier shot or no shot at all? Some guys, specifically Jimmer Fredette (24 MIN, 2-5 FG, 8 PTS), need to stop hesitating and start shooting. That doesn’t mean take forced, rushed shots. But if you get set up on a tee for a wide open jumper, let it fly. It really cannot get worse than it has been — 37.9 percent from the field tonight, including 22.2 percent from downtown. When nobody can hit, Jimmer needs to step his game up. That’s his job on the second unit — ignite the offense when it becomes stagnant.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS – Tyreke (6-14 FG, 19 PTS, 5 AST, 4 REB) was not himself tonight. No impressive drives to the hoop. Forced to settle for open jumpers, which he generally missed, then he started to pass them up. Just a bad night … The Kings turned to Travis Outlaw (14 MIN, 4-5 FG, 9 PTS, 2 REB) in stretches to guard Lin. Not bad as a change of pace. And Travis also was much more conservative offensively, not firing up a shot as soon as he touched the ball. Still only the 3rd/4th small forward option though … Amazing how the Kings bring out the best in so many opposing team’s shooters. Steve Novak and Bill Walker — combined 11-for-20 from the floor for 28 points — were the beneficiaries tonight.