There are no two ways around it — that is disgusting basketball. Keith Smart and the Sacramento Kings had a whole offseason together, including a training camp where chemistry was the name of the game. But against a Minnesota team lacking two of their top players, the Kings looked awful. The offense, for the second straight game, showed no cohesion. One-on-one basketball ruled the day and when you shoot 36 percent from the floor, that ain’t gonna work. The defensive lapses only added to the agony. Minnesota cruised to a 92-80 victory, sending the Kings to an 0-2 start.
QUESTIONING SMART – The lack of effort, absence of any conceivable game plan and quirky rotations most definitely call into question Coach Keith Smart. I was willing to give Coach the benefit of the doubt because his work ethic is seemingly solid and the guys seemed to have bought in to his system. But what is his system? After two games, we’ve seen no real progression. It’s definitely early in the season, but it’s going to be a long one if this continues. On top of looking unprepared, Smart is trying to compensate by throwing spotty minutes to everyone on the roster. Sorry, but until they prove otherwise, Francisco Garcia and Travis Outlaw (combined 1-7 FG in 23 MIN) will not be the answer and shouldn’t see time. Let’s hope this is just a slow start and not a sign of things to come.
COUSINS ERASED – It’s hard to say DeMarcus Cousins (25 MIN, 11 PTS, 5-13 FG, 4 REB, 5 PF) was ineffective against Minnesota because he had no chance to get in any kind of rhythm. The big man was taken out of the game early and often by foul calls. As a result, Sacramento had to make due without not only a big scorer, but the team’s primetime rebounder. Minnesota took advantage, snaring 17 offensive rebounds and outrebounding Sac 53-43.
ISAIAH COMES ALIVE…BRIEFLY – Isaiah Thomas (26 MIN, 20 PTS, 7-13 FG, 3-7 3FG, 2 REB, 2 AST, 2 TO) is another King who started slow. In the first half against the T-Wolves, Thomas failed to assert himself the way a point guard should. Smart responded by limiting his minutes. But in the third quarter, Thomas came alive and single-handedly brought the Kings back from the dead. He drained all three of his long balls in the third and showed the energy on both ends of the court that Kings fans have come to love. With Aaron Brooks (7 MIN, 0-5 FG) struggling and Jimmer Fredette (15 MIN, 6 PTS, 3-5 FG, 2 TO) still inconsistent, Thomas deserves at least 30-35 minutes a game. But it’s on him to play with more aggression. Take the reins of the team and make it impossible for the coach to take him out.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS – I’m going to like James Johnson (21 MIN, 5 PTS, 2-5 FG, 6 REB, 2 AST, 2 TO, 2 STL) a lot more when he focuses on defense and only fills in the gaps on offense. No more trying to take guys off the dribble or running it up court when a guard is available. Play within yourself and limit mistakes … Tyreke Evans (30 MIN, 6 PTS, 3-14 FG, 7 REB, 4 AST, 2 TO) was far less effective than he was in Chicago. Reke was getting to the rim but couldn’t find the net … The T-Wolves took it to the Kings but the 34-17 foul disparity in their favor was ridiculous … Sacramento made just 3-of-16 from downtown; 0-for-9 if you take out Isaiah’s line.