Fun game, eh? I always love to watch the Kings on national TV, not necessarily for the respite from Grant Napear (though the Schulman-Hubie team was very good, I thought), but just to see what the non-locals think about our players. We know Kevin Martin's a stud, we know Francisco Garcia is hyper but exciting, we know the power forwards are wasting space. Confirmation of our observations is still nice, though.
So to hear the announcing table fawn over Speed Racer, that's pretty nice. For the second game in a row, he had unquestionably the best game between both teams. It didn't translate to a win, but this was LeBron James and the Eastern Conference Champion Cleveland Cavaliers. This same team whooped Golden State and damn near beat the Jazz in Utah this week. People talk about the Cavs slipping — and I agree, they will miss Anderson Varejao and a serviceable point guard behind Daniel Gibson — but it's not like got awful overnight. Losing by a possession? That's an overachievement for these Kings.
The lack of a point guard in the rotation showed last night. Seven total assists on 28 made baskets — a whopping 25% assist percentage. (League average is typically around 50-60%.) Ball movement was clearly a problem — John Salmons and Garcia don't even really look to pass on most possessions, Quincy Douby is rightly relying on his shot instead of his playmaking ability. Martin shouldn't be passing — I'd call him unstoppable on offense were it not for the last possession. An update: Speed is #12 in the league in PER, and I think we'd all agree he's missed some shots he made last year.
We expected Spencer Hawes to ride in on a golden steed or possibly a Segway; even Sam Amick reported before the game Big Pastey was available for action. Had the game been ugly early — like, you know, the team's first four games — Hawes would've gotten in there. I think we're all glad it wasn't ugly, not because we aren't incredible eager to see Shawes, but because we're all eager to win more games. And we were one idiot no-call from overtime.
This team has some fire, a heart. I'm not saying ARCO Arena will fill up again any time soon… but mix that energy with the exciting young pieces on the roster, and we've got the rumblings of a team here.
(Unrelated note: I'm gone fishin' for the next three days. Mr. 214 will get your previews and recaps. Make sure to use the diaries if you've got a hot link or possibly even a lukewarm link. And, um, go Kings.)