Sacramento Kings Post Game Boogie: Game One


Sacramento Kings basketball is back.  It feels great to be able to write that.  The Kings opened up the season against a top five team in the NBA in the Los Angeles Clippers.  There were some good takeaways from this game but overall the Kings did not put together four quarters needed to beat a quality team like the Clippers.

The Kings opened the new season with a starting five of Rajon Rondo, Ben McLemore, Rudy Gay, Kosta Koufos, and DeMarcus Cousins.  George Karl had hinted that he was leaning towards starting Willie Cauley-Stein but Karl opted to go with the guy he trusts in Koufos.

The Kings opened the first quarter extremely slow and even looked quite a bit nervous.  The Kings opened the first two possessions of the game going at Lance Stephenson with Rudy Gay which was a match up I would have liked to see them going at more as the game progressed.

The first quarter produced little ball movement and little to no defensive stops.  The Clippers continually went to Blake Griffin who was shooting a blistering 69% with 4:23 left in the first quarter.  Blake was able to get to wherever he wanted on the floor and continually hit shots.

More from Kings News

The much improved bench unit was brought on in the first quarter that showcased Darren Collison, Marco Belinelli, Omri Caspi, Caron Butler, and Willie Cauley-Stein.  The second unit got the Kings back in the game led by Darren Collision.

Collison provided an instant spark and allowed the Kings to get back into the game only trailing 25-17 after a terrible first quarter.  A problem throughout the preseason was the high number of turnovers which carried over into the first quarter.  The Kings committed five of their 16 turnovers in the first quarter.

The Clippers defense stood out in the second quarter particularly on DeMarcus.  Cousins often found himself catching the ball on the perimeter and dribbling into a sea of red waiting to collapse with help defense.  DeMarcus finished the first half -11 with five turnovers.

Blake Griffin continued to dominate.  He finished the first half with 20 points on 10/12 shooting.  Karl elected to finish the second half with a lineup of Rondo, Collision, McLemore, Gay, and Cousins which sparked a late surge to cut the lead to just six points.

However, McLemore committed a bad foul on JJ Reddick resulting in a four point play.  The first half ended with the Clippers leading 56-46.

Oct 28, 2015; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) drives in between Los Angeles Clippers guard J.J. Redick (4) and center DeAndre Jordan (6) during the fourth quarter at Sleep Train Arena. The Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Sacramento Kings 111-104. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Kings began to show some life in the third quarter.  With 2:33 left  in third the Kings started to take advantage of Blake Griffin and Chris Paul off the floor.  The one-two punch of Griffin and Paul killed them all night especially off the pick and roll.

Again, the Clippers deserve major praise in regards to their defense.  They forced the Kings to take tough contested jumpers all game and executed their game plan of defending DeMarcus.  At the end of the third the Kings trailed the Clippers 85-74.

The fourth quarter was the Kings team we had hoped to see for the first three quarters.  The most intriguing question that was answered in the fourth was who was going to play crunch time minutes.

With 7:47 left in the game, Marco Belinelli or as Jerry deemed him Marco from the Arco (Hopefully he comes up with a better one than that) hit a three pointer to cut the lead to just four.  The biggest part to getting back in the game was the Kings began to get stops.

On the next possession, Omri Casspi hit a long three which had everyone watching the game screaming no and then a screaming yes like the guy who can’t shoot in a pick-up game but hits the game winner.  That three narrowed the Clippers lead to just a one point game at 92-91.

At the five minute mark Karl went with his crunch time lineup which included Rondo, Collision, Belinelli, Rudy, and DeMarcus.  This seems to be Karl’s favorite lineup from his comments in the preseason.

After an incredible pass by Belinelli to DeMarcus an easy dunk tied the game at 100.  A turning point in the game was Collison’s missed three pointer on the next possession which would have made it 103-100 with 2:56 left.

After the miss the Clippers immediately went to the vet Paul Pierce to hit a turnaround jumper over former teammate Rajon Rondo to make it 102-100.  The Truth is still getting it done.

On the next possession DeMarcus committed a costly turnover going cross court which resulted in being picked off by Austin Rivers.  Doc Rivers designed a perfect play out of the timeout resulting a huge alley-oop dunk by DeAndre Jordan which was the icing on the cake.  The final score was 111-104.

A critical decision made by Karl in the fourth quarter was his decision not to intentionally foul DeAndre Jordan.  Jordan played 9:31 of the fourth quarter and wasn’t sent to the line at all.  In the first three quarters he shot 0/3 from the stripe.

Although this wasn’t the result Kings fans’ hoped for there is room for optimism.  The Kings battled back against a top tier team that will be playing late into May.  Some things to take away from this game was the much improved bench play of the Kings.

The bench unit contributed 37 points which is extremely encouraging.  In addition, the Kings three point shooting was a strong takeaway from this game.  The Kings shot 11/24 from distance.

This was the same team that ranked 28th last year in three point field goals made at just 5.6 a game. The Kings will look to get back on track against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday.

More from A Royal Pain

Next: The Kings Top Ten Draft Picks