Post game notes and quotes: Kings vs. Pistons

Coaches Notes and Quotes:

  • Coach Westphal’s opening statement:  “When I watch the Pistons play, when I look at there talent and the way they play, I think they’re a playoff team in the east.  I don’t think there is any doubt about it.  They played really well.  They shot the ball incredibly well and they hit big shots.  I thought that we played well.  We didn’t shoot the ball incredibly well, especially from the line and three point shots.  We had open threes for really good shooters and went 2-18.  Sometimes that’s the difference in a game in the NBA.  You like to think that the difference is always how well you take care of the ball, how well you rebound, getting to the line more than the other team, drawing charges, rotating on defense- all that stuff, the tough things.  We did all those things tonight.  We didn’t make shots and they made shots.  It was discouraging for us and at the same time encouraging because I thought we played well but you have to hit some of those shots to get over the hump.”
  • On whether the Kings took too many three point shots:  “If they don’t go in!  I mean, I understand the question, you know, it’s always easy to look at the stat sheet after the game and say oh, we took too many threes if they don’t go in.  But we tell our shooters, guys like Cisco, guys like Omri, Luther Head, if you are a good three point shooter and you are open, you have to shoot it with confidence.  When Omri made five out of six that one night, nobody said six threes is too many and tonight he’s taking the same shots and makes one out of five, I’m not one of those guys who are going to look at the stat sheet and say too many after the fact.  You take your best shot and if it’s not good enough, you move onto the next game.”
  • On Jason Thompson:  “I thought Thompson really showed why we like him so much.  He got a DNP last game and he was ready tonight.  He’s been ready all the time, he’s always ready, I thought he played very well, he’s very professional.  I was real happy for him.”
  • On the teams play tonight:  “I like the way we played.  We ran our stuff, we moved the ball, we worked on defense, hit the boards.  It was a nice effort by us.  Sometimes you don’t get a win when you have a nice effort.  If you get that effort, you can’t be upset with the players.  They were working and they did a good job.”
  • On whether the team is working to improve at the free throw line:  “That’s all we can do.  (laughing) When we have practice, we don’t sit around playing soccer.  We have free throw drills, shooting drills, and the guys work on their own.  We have guys coming in late at night working on their free throws, working on their shot.”

This was an optimistically frustrated Paul Westphal tonight.  The team is working extremely hard on both free throw and perimeter shooting every day in practice, I can show you the pictures.  Some games the shots just don’t find the bottom of the net.

Players Notes and Quotes:

  • Tyreke Evans on his health right now:  “I think my ankle, I have a bone spur.  I just have to play through it, that’s part of the NBA.”
  • On whether the guys are sticking together through the losing streak:  “We’re out there trying to fight and play together as a team.  I think everybody knows their roles.  We’re just not getting enough at the end to win the games.”
  • Jason Thompson on his play tonight:  “Every time I come on the court, I try to bring a different presence with energy.  I try to block shots and just take what the defense gives me.”
  • JT on going from a DNP to playing and trying to control his energy on the court:  “I’m always excited, you just may not see it as much as you used to.  But I control as much as I can control.  I try to do as much as I can as long as I’m healthy and not in foul trouble, I think I can be productive for the team.”
  • JT on playing the power forward position tonight instead of the small forward position:  “I played what I think is my natural position at the four.  I felt good.  I felt comfortable.  I’m trying to do all the little things.  I’m trying to hit jumpers, some moves to the basket- just play aggressive.”
  • JT on the DNP-CD against Phoenix and whether it was on his mind tonight:  “I think it is.  It’s something I’ve never experienced before, not even as a rookie.  I just didn’t put my head down, I was like, what’s next.  For me, I’m a different type of player.  Even if I go through a little adversity, I’m always going to have my head up.  It makes me work harder.  I think I contributed to the team but I can do even more.”

Jason Thompson looked relieved tonight following the game.  He is one of the most positive players I have met, and for him, sitting on the bench and not getting into the Phoenix game was a fate worse than death.  Only time will tell how Coach Westphal and the Kings brass will handle the glut at the power forward and center position going forward.  For tonight, Jason Thompson got to play and boy was he happy.

In case you missed it, here is a link to tonight’s game recap.

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Game Recap #9: Kings vs. Pistons.

Starting Line-ups

Kings

  • Tyreke Evans
  • Beno Udrih
  • Omri Casspi
  • Carl Landry
  • Samuel Dalembert

Reserves:  Francisco Garcia, Luther Head, Darnell Jackson, Jason Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins, Donté Greene, Antoine Wright.

Inactives:  Pooh Jeter, Hassan Whiteside.

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Petrie reacts to Jason Thompson rumors.

Thanks to the Sacramento Bee’s Jason Jones, via twitter:

Kings hoops prez Geoff Petrie on Jason Thompson: “We’re not having any trade discussions regarding him.”

This makes a lot of sense when you factor in that Samuel Dalembert, Carl Landry and Darnell Jackson are all free agents at the end of the season.  Thompson, considered a building block of the future last season, has seen his playing time diminish this season, hitting rock bottom on Friday night when he received his first DNP-CD of his career against Phoenix.  Coach Westphal had this to say last night:

“I’m a big fan of JT.  Right now, we have Sam and DeMarcus ahead of him at the five spot.  Carl and Jackson ahead of him at the four spot and all of those guys played a reasonable amount minutes and didn’t have bad foul trouble so he didn’t get in at either of those spots.  It’s pretty tough to expect him to play the three against the Suns, the way they’re constituted, so there were no minutes for him.  It’s hard to not put him in the game, knowing what kind of player he is but there are only so many minutes to go around right now.”

When I asked Coach Westphal today at practice, he said that he thought Thompson would play against Detroit, he had these two statements to add:

“I think we’ll see him in there.  I think Jason is a really good player and it’s really hard not to play him in that game.”

“I think Jason can bring a lot and we don’t want to have him get too many DNP’s, it’s just the way it worked that game.”

Coach Westphal is charged with the difficult task of balancing both the present and the future.  Jason Thompson should still be considered part of the future unless a can’t miss deal comes the Kings way.  For the present, Dalembert, Landry, Cousins and Jackson are playing the majority of the minutes.  If the Kings don’t end their four game skid tomorrow against Detroit, that may change.

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Cousins' reaction to the criticism.

After practice today, Kings rookie center DeMarcus Cousins was asked about the negative portrayal of him in the national media over the last few days.  He stood in tall and answered the criticism:

It’s bull.  You haven’t heard it from us.  It’s like me saying Tupac is alive so go write a story on that.  I mean it’s rumors.  You see us in here.  You see us in here and everybody gets along.  They said I had a fight with Truck, me and Truck work out everyday before the game so I mean, it’s rumors.

Cousins on whether what happens in the locker should stay in the locker room:

Yeah, I am.  We’re a team and also a family and families have problems and they go through things.  The rumors that got put out there, they’re ridiculous.

DeMarcus was not specifically asked, nor did he answer if he was fined during the pre-season as reported by both Marc Stein and Sam Amick.

For what it is worth, I have seen him in the practice facility every day the Kings have held practice for the last six weeks and I have not seen DeMarcus Cousins have an issue with anyone of his teammates or coaches.  There are plenty of times where we are not allowed to see the team in action but I have yet to see residual effects of an altercation when we are allowed in.

I will have more on today’s practice in a few, including quotes from coach Westphal.

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Game Recap #8: Kings vs. Suns

Starting Line-ups

Kings (3-4)

  • Tyreke Evans
  • Beno Udrih
  • Omri Casspi
  • Carl Landry
  • Samuel Dalembert

Reserves:  DeMarcus Cousins, Jason Thompson, Darnell Jackson, Francisco Garcia, Luther Head, Donté Greene, Antoine Wright.

Inactives:  Pooh Jeter, Hassan Whiteside.

Suns (3-4)

  • Steve Nash
  • Jason Richardson
  • Grant Hill
  • Hedo Turkoglu
  • Robin Lopez

Reserves:  Hakim Warrick, Goran Dragic, Jared Dudley, Josh Childress, Channing Frye, Garret Siler, Earl Clark.

First Quarter Recap

Samuel Dalembert came out strong, taking Robin Lopez off the dribble for a lay-up to start the game.  Jason Richardson, the resident Kings killer, missed four of his first seven shots, including two wide open three pointers.  Nash and Udrih went toe to toe for a stint but Nash showed why he is a hall of famer, going for ten points, five rebounds and six assists in the first.  The Suns have a remarkable three rebound advantage to go with a six point lead at the end of the first.

Kings  24  Suns 30

Leaders

Kings:  Udrih (6) Points;  Landry (3) Rebounds;  Evans/Dalembert (2) Assists.

Suns:  Nash (10) Points;  Nash (5) Rebounds;  Nash (6) Assists.

FG%:   Kings  47.8%  Suns  56.0%

Rebounds:   Kings  10  Suns  13

Assists/TO:   Kings  4/2  Suns  6/1

Second Quarter Recap

The Suns bench put the metal down in the fourth, pushing the lead to nine at the six minute mark.  DeMarcus Cousins had a nice spin move and dunk on the baseline to get the first “throw it down big man!” by the Kings new broadcast addition Bill Walton.  The Kings continued to play the same isolation basketball that has hurt them over the last three games.  They did a better job controlling the glass in the second, taking a four rebound advantage but they need to get the ball down low to their post scorers.  The Kings shot 2-11 from three point range, clearly the Suns are gave up the perimeter in order to stop the Kings penetration and post offense.  Steve Nash continued his spectacular night finishing the half with 17 points, six rebounds and six assists to lead the Suns nine point advantage after two quarters.

Kings  43  Suns 52

Leaders

Kings:  Evans (10) Points;  Casspi/Dalembert (5) Rebounds;  Evans (3) Assists.

Suns:  Nash (17) Points;  Nash (6) Rebounds;  Nash (6) Assists.

FG%:   Kings  38%  Suns  57.9%

Rebounds:   Kings  26  Suns  22

Assists/TO:   Kings  8/5  Suns 9/6

Third Quarter Recap

The third quarter was a wild ride.  The Suns pushed the lead to 14 early, the Kings cut it to four at one point but pushed the lead back to nine to finish the third.  The Kings went to DeMarcus Cousins early and he played well with the starters.  During the third, Udrih scoring on a myriad of pull up jumpers while Casspi hit two big three’s to keep it close.  The Kings played the Suns straight up in the quarter but that is not what they needed when they started with a nine point deficit.

Kings  68  Suns 77

Leaders

Kings:  Udrih (15) Points;  Dalembert/Cousins (8) Rebounds;  Evans (7) Assists.

Suns:  Nash (23) Points;  Richardson (7) Rebounds;  Nash (9) Assists.

FG%:   Kings  41.5%  Suns  54.2%

Rebounds:   Kings  39  Suns  32

Assists/TO:   Kings  14/9  Suns  14/9

Fourth Quarter Recap

The Kings made it close a couple of times, cutting the lead down to three a couple of times but the Suns just kept scoring.  Steve Nash was unbelievable from start to finish.  Carl Landry did his best to keep the Kings close late, going for 20 points and 11 rebounds but it wasn’t enough.  The Suns pulled away late with Hakim Warrick putting on a nice dunking exhibition.  Suns win by 14, pushing the Kings losing streak to four.

Kings Lose!

Kings  89  Suns  103

Leaders

Kings:  Landry (20) Points;  Landry (11) Rebounds;  Evans (9) Assists.

Suns:  Nash (28) Points;  Richardson (8) Rebounds;  Nash (14) Assists.

FG%:   Kings  40.9%  Suns  51.9%

Rebounds:   Kings  50  Suns  42

Assists/TO:   Kings  18/11  Suns  19/11

Stats that Stick Out

  • Antoine Wright played 10 minutes, going 0-3 from the field with a turnover.
  • Jason Thompson received his first DNP-CD of his career.  Coach Westphal discusses this below but it is still a tough pill to swallow for the third year forward/center.
  • Donté Greene received a DNP_CD as well, his third in seven games this season.
  • Carl Landry scored 20 points and had 11 rebounds including 7 offensive boards.  I’m not going to guess how many of those offensive rebounds came on his own misses.
  • The Kings hit 12-19 free throws for a whopping 63.2%.

Coaches Notes and Quotes

  • Coach Westphal on the effort tonight against the Suns:  “I have to say, I can’t really find a whole lot of fault with our team, or effort.  We’ve been having turnover problems the last couple game, we kept our turnovers to a minimum.  We got good shots. We got good shots for good shooters.  We hit the offensive boards.  We got second shots.  We missed too much but that is not an effort thing, that’s basketball.  On the other end, we were the victim of a hall of fame player having a hall of fame night.  Steve Nash was unspeakably sensational with his decision making and his execution.  We tried double teaming him, we tried making him score and taking away his other options, we tried zoning.  Everything we tried he had the answer and if I wasn’t sitting on the visitors bench, I would have applauded him, because it was an unbelievable performance by Nash.  I was proud of my team, we just weren’t good enough tonight.”
  • On whether the team make progress tonight:  “It was progress, I’m never happy to lose but I’m happy with the way we competed, the way we executed, the way we played together.  We need to make more shots and that’s NBA basketball.  If our guys give that kind of effort, we’re going to win a lot of games.”
  • On Jason Thompson not playing tonight: “I’m a big fan of JT.  Right now, we have Sam and DeMarcus ahead of him at the five spot.  Carl and Jackson ahead of him at the four spot and all of those guys played a reasonable amount minutes and didn’t have bad foul trouble so he didn’t get in at either of those spots.  It’s pretty tough to expect him to play the three against the Suns, the way they’re constituted, so there were no minutes for him.  It’s hard to not put him in the game, knowing what kind of player he is but there are only so many minutes to go around right now.”

Player of the Game: Steve Nash was amazing.  28 points, 14 assists and 7 rebounds.  Enough said.

The Difference Maker: Hakim Warrick played really well in his 23 minutes, scoring 18 points on 6-8 shooting and 6-7 from the line.  He was all over the offensive end in the fourth quarter, helping Steve Nash to end any run the Kings had in them.

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Game #8 Preview: Kings vs. Suns

Starting Line-ups

Kings (3-4)

  • Tyreke Evans
  • Beno Udrih
  • Omri Casspi
  • Carl Landry
  • Samuel Dalembert

Reserves:  DeMarcus Cousins, Jason Thompson, Darnell Jackson, Francisco Garcia, Luther Head, Donté Greene, Antoine Wright.

Inactives:  Pooh Jeter, Hassan Whiteside.

Suns (3-4)

  • Steve Nash
  • Jason Richardson
  • Grant Hill
  • Hedo Turkoglu
  • Robin Lopez

Reserves:  Hakim Warrick, Goran Dragic, Jared Dudley, Josh Childress, Channing Frye, Garret Siler, Earl Clark.

Summary

Both teams come in with a 3-4 record in their first seven games.  The Suns lost Amaré Stoudmire in free agency this summer and filled that void by trading for Hedo Turkoglu and signing Hakim Warrick.  The combo has combined to score 22.4 points and 8.2 rebounds per game but neither is a true power forward.  It will be interesting to see how the pair match up against the size of the Kings front line.

The 36 year old Steve Nash continues to defy his age, scoring an impressive 18.7 points per game while chipping in his standard 8.9 assists per game.  Jason Richardson has long been a King killer and it will be interesting to see how the Kings play him with Tyreke Evans recent penchant for getting in foul trouble.

This is no longer the upper echelon Phoenix Suns team that we have grown accustom to over the last decade.  They are scoring like the Suns of old at 108.3 points per game but they are giving up 109.6 on the defensive end.  On a positive, the Suns are shooting a quality 39% from behind the arc which bodes well when you consider the Kings are allowing their opponent to shoot 40.5% from deep.

The Kings need to get back to basics.  The Suns are a team that struggles inside and on the glass.  The Kings should have no problem getting baskets at or near the hoop and they should dominate this team on the boards.  The rotation of Dalembert, Landry, Cousins, Jackson and Thompson need to get position down low and the guards need to use their bigs to dictate the pace of the game.

The Kings need both Tyreke Evans and Carl Landry to come around in this one after both players have gotten off to a slow start.  After losing the last three games at home, the Kings a win on the road against a much smaller opponent.

Prediction:

Kings  107  Suns  102

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Notes and Quotes: Kings vs. T-Wolves.

David Kahn and Geoff Petrie.

Sorry, my notes and quotes are not only late but pretty brief today.  As opposed to most evenings where I sit in the media box up stairs, I had the privilege of sitting in row AAA with Sactown Royalty’s BetweenTheEyes last night, which was a great treat.  For once this season, I took in the game as a fan which was nice and heaven forbid, I may have even had an adult beverage to wash down the stench of defeat.

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