It was not a good start to the season when the Kings lost all three of their away games to begin the season with 0-3.
Nothing like some Monday morning quarterback observations, to state the obvious. More like Monday morning blues. This season hasn’t started out like anyone had thought or hoped it would. The sweep of the LA Lakers in the pre-season is now a distant memory with no real meaning attached to it.
Three ugly games hardly merit repeating. Perhaps if I gloss over them quickly, I can get to some good news.
Three Ugly Games:
- Ugly Game One Sacramento Kings versus Chicago Bulls 87-93
- Ugly Game Two Sacramento Kings versus Minnesota Timberwolves 80 – 92
- Ugly Game Three Sacramento Kings versus Indiana Pacers 98-106
There, that’s done. Now to go onto some more positive observations.
Tyreke Evans is back!
Tyreke began the regular season looking far more like the former Rookie of the Year player we all fell in love with. Maybe it was his rivalry with the team following the 35-point comeback on Chicago’s home turf, which spurred these stats this week:
21 points on 3-13 shooting, 8 rebounds, 3 assists on 2 turnovers, in 39 minutes.
Tyreke reverted a bit in his second game against the Timberwolves, but came back in Game 3 against the Pacers in double overtime. Reke performed his signature spin move then combining with Cousins on a 10-3 run at the end of the third to bring the Kings back into the game. He put up 14 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks in 44 minutes.
Tyreke looks more comfortable in his role as a 2-guard. He was able to take advantage of his time as a point guard and small forward. No longer having to bear the primary playmaker responsibility, he is free to do what he does best, score and play basketball. This could be a great season for the young man out of the University of Memphis.
Marcus Thornton was raining down buckets in Game 3.
Marcus Thornton reminded us he is clutch in tight games, hitting a 3-point shot to put the game into overtime. In 44 minutes of play he put up these numbers:
26 points, 4 3-point shots on 4 of 10 attempts, 6 rebounds, 4 assists on 1 turnover, 2 steals.
Not bad for the young man out of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
• First three away games were an unimpressive start for a team which is looking to make its mark this season. Offensively, the team looked more like a mishmash of effort, tinged with turnovers, and an array of mental mistakes.
• Coach Keith Smart comes across a bit too cavalier over the losses. He was quick to point fingers at the discrepancy of free throws taken in Game 2. He might have a point about the discrepancy in fouls called, but there was plenty of blame for the loss based on his own team’s performance.
• Jimmer Fredette plays with more confidence than last season. He is more aggressive in looking for and taking shots. Nice to see, but he may have his work cut out for him, trying to get some minutes.
• Chuck Hayes is a factor on the court this season, as opposed to last season, when he didn’t add much.
• James Johnson plays better defense than offense. He should stick to what he does well and not try to force offensive opportunities for himself.
• DeMarcus Cousins is still contending with foul trouble, which seriously limited his minutes on the floor, in the first two games. When he did not have foul trouble in Game 3, he put up 21 points, 13 rebounds, 1 assist, 4 steals, 1 block, only one turnover, all in 42 minutes of play. His shooting was a bit inefficient, but the young man can put up some stats when he doesn’t have to worry about whether he is going to have to sit on the bench because of foul trouble.
• Isaiah Thomas had some slow starts and saw his minutes reduced at a result. He saw 24, 25, and 22 minutes of play, respectively. In Game 2 against Minnesota, he was the Kings’ leading scorer with 20 points, on 7of 13 shooting, 2 rebounds, 2 assists to 2 turnovers in only 26 minutes of play. Not sure where this is all going to lead.
Losing the first three games of the season is not a good start, no matter how you spin it. And as Kings Fans, we are all too familiar with spin. Go to any sport blog of losing teams and they all find ways to rationalize losses, look for silver-linings, etc. We’ve become quite adept at this ourselves. But as anyone who follows a losing team knows, it is much more fun when the team is winning and you are riding this wave that carries you up, up, and up. Bring back those glory years.
This season we have a group of young talented players who worked to come into training camp in great physical condition because they were tired of losing. The players want to turn this season around because they want to win.
I hope Keith Smart isn’t going to turn out to be a lot of flash with no substance. He can talk the talk and work a room, but that won’t cut it without results to back it up. Glib remarks to reporters will only go so far. I realize he doesn’t want to come down on his team, but to try to gloss over a loss is a bit concerning.
Three consecutive losses feels so much like last season and the season before that and all the losing seasons before that… Had the team come back with just one win from their road trip we would have something. To come back with nothing is like going to a birthday party without bringing a gift.
On a brighter note, we are only three games into the season. It isn’t the start we all hoped for, but it may not be a precursor of things to come. Yet, anyone who doesn’t feel the least twinge of concern is fooling himself.
There needs to be a plan. In Game One against the Bulls, everyone in a Kings uniform not named Tyreke Evans looked shell-shocked in the first quarter. You would think the guys hadn’t experienced good defense in their lives. They looked ill-prepared for the match-up.
Still, the first three losses of the season do not define a team, unless the problems are not addressed. Smart has some problems to work out. I don’t want to come down on Smart this early in the season. Every good coach goes back, watches film, and makes some adjustments. We have the home opener against the Golden State Warriors tonight. Here is an opportunity to stick it to his former team, one of our archrivals. A win tonight can provide some salve to soothe the open wound.
The bigger question, while Smart can talk the talk, will he be able to walk the walk?