Preview & Chat: The Sacramento Kings

Kurt —  November 23, 2008

Records: Lakers 10-1 Kings 5-9
Offensive ratings: Lakers 109.7 (3rd in league) Kings 107.2 (11th in league)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 95.6 (1st in NBA) Kings 113.4 (29th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Vladimir Radmanovic, Pau Gasol, Andew Bynum
Kings Beno Udrih, John Salmons, Jason Thompson, Donte Green, Brad Miller

Lakers notes: No live blog here tonight, but this gives me the chance to point you to one of my favorite things this season — Mike Trudell’s in-game live blogs at Trudell joined Ty and the gang over there this season and has been a fantastic addition. Great sense of humor, good game insights, just a generally good read, something all Lakers fans should be checking out.

After the last couple of games, what else can you really say but that the Lakers need to keep playing the way they have been. Keep focused on defense, keep getting good play from the two bigs coming into games they can dominate.

Most Entertaining Game I’ve Seen This Season: Went to the home opener of Long Beach State last night, playing Weber State. Bit of background, Long Beach was honoring former coach Jerry Tarkanian (Tex Winter, Lute Olsen, and Seth Greenberg all coached at Long Beach as well). Now Dan Monson (one of the architects of Gonzaga) is trying to resurrect the program.

Long Beach is small, so they packed it in early with a 2-3 zone to try to protect the paint against a bigger squad. It didn’t work, three point shots and offensive rebounds killed Long Beach and they were down 20. But in the third quarter Long Beach switched to an aggressive man-to-man, started trapping on pick-and-rolls, and they extended the defensive pressure out to half court. On offense, they started hitting the shots over the top of the Webber State zone.

Long Beach went on a 26-1 run to take the lead, and the crowd was going nuts. There is just nothing quite like the college hoops atmosphere with the student section. Things remained close near the end. Long Beach had a three-point lead with :05 left, and Weber State was stymied with their offensive set, and were force to settle for a 30-foot fade-away three by Damian Lillard, who hits it Vince Carter style. OT. Long Beach continues the aggressive defense and hit key free throws to get the win in an OT that was back and forth.

Nobody in this game is likely to end up at the next level (at least in the NBA, a couple maybe in Europe). But Long Beach has made big strides in the last year, the talent level is not great but it’s better and some of the most impressive guys were freshmen and sophomores. This is a program headed in the right direction, keep an eye on them.

The Kings Coming In: The Kings come in to Staples without Kevin Martin and Francisco García, Martin was averaging 22 a game for the Kings before spraining his ankle, and they are 2-5 without him. Injuries has been one of two key problems for the Kings, according to arguably the best NBA blogger around, Tom Ziller of Sactown Royalty (and Fanhouse and Sporting News).

There are two real reasons the Kings find themselves a stones throw behind where they’d like to be: injuries, and terrible perimeter defense by everyone but John Salmons.

Brad Miller sat the first five games; two games later, Kevin Martin went down and hasn’t been seen since. Francisco Garcia hasn’t played a single second this season, and Mikki Moore (an admittedly lower level player, even for this time) has been out three games. Whatever roles Reggie Theus attempted to define in the preseason, those have been all shaken up. Spencer Hawes started at center for five game, Jason Thompson spent three games starting at small forward and two more at the power forward. Donté Greene, a rookie deemed too raw for action the first week of the season, has started the last two games. AH!

Also, Beno Udrih either cannot close out on shooters or chooses not to. And a myriad of rotations have been blown by a Miller who can’t muster up the energy to get out at deep shooters. That’s why the Kings are among the worst in the league at opponent’s three-point percentage.

One of the bright spots for the Kings has been the play of Spencer Hawes. In his second year in the league, he has the second best PER on the team. On offense he has a true shooting percentage of 58.7% and is a seven footer hitting 44% from three. He can be a good player in this league and a is a piece the rebuilding Kings will want to keep.

Keys To The Game: The Lakers have advantages all over the place in this game.

Inside, Brad Miller can’t handle Bynum on the block. Green is a green rookie who can’t hang with Gasol (the four is position the Kings struggle most to defend, opposing fours get 24 an 10 per 48 minutes shooting 53%). That said, Ziller notes that the interior defense for the Kings has been improving.

The perimeter is another story all together. Teams are shooting 42.5% from three against the Kings, Radmanovic and Fisher should get good looks. The Lakers should be able to run on the Kings, particularly with the second unit. Salmons generally does a decent job on Kobe, but #24 is still going get into the lane and draw doubles, and that is going to open things up for others.

Bottom line, is the Lakers should score a lot of points tonight.

The Lakers need to keep playing their defense as they have the last couple of games.. Udrih is a nice PG, but he is not the player who can cause the Lakers aggressive traps problems. (Martin is the one guy who could but the Lakers don’t have to worry about him tonight.) If the Lakers trap and create turnovers (leading to transition points) that will be a big step to the win.

But if the Lakers take the night off, the Kings still have players that can hurt you. Brad Miller can still shoot the ball if you leave him. Hawes can score as well. Salmons can score. The list goes on. The Lakers need to be focused to win.

Where you can watch: Another Fox Sports and League Pass night.



70 responses to Preview & Chat: The Sacramento Kings

  1. I think it’s going to be a good practice scrimmage for the team. I expect to see a lot of Mihm, Powell and Walton. Certainly would not be surprised if Pau and Kobe do not get more than 28-30 minutes. A big first half and pretty even play after that with our reserves going up against the Kings after halftime. Anyways, W is a W, and let’s hope we get it without any unintended complications and problems

  2. big concern for me tonight is that by the stats, this game should be a blow out…and you can be sure our team knows the stats…
    so watch out for a very determined Sacto team to come out with the intent of stealing a game on our court.
    it’s teams with a season like this who play like they have nothing to lose.
    and teams with a season like this can “make their season” with a W against a highly regarded team (and intense rival) like our Lakes.
    if the lakers come in with the attitude like they are going to take this game with little effort, they could get a nasty surprise.
    the good news is, if our starters are not motivated, we have a deep enough team with loads of motivation to get some PT, and I’m sure coach will be quick to let them show it.
    of course I hope I’m wrong, that our team knows that a team like the Kings tonight could be dangerous and they are not going to roll over, and we need to come out with FOCUS, and ENERGY, and DETERMIINATION!!
    go lakes!
    if we bring all that, we should build up our record, take advantage of the soft schedule, cause we’ll be happy we did when the schedule gets tougher, it always evens out ya know.

  3. I do not think that Focus, determination and energy is a problem for a team that has Kobe Bryant. Even if Sacramento brings their A+ game, they do not stand a chance. A team of Farmar, Sasha, Walton, Powell and Mihm would play them equal for a whole game. And that is our second unit plus bench guys that rarely play.

    As a Laker fan I am still not completely acknowledging what is happening this year. No matter how good the Lakers look and dominate teams by blowing them out from early on, I still have a weird sense of fear and a collection of “what if” this or that happens. And that can not be called caution… I think that is just distraction for me from trully enjoying the greatness of this team.

    I am not saying they will break Chicago’s 96 record, but I am pretty sure they will dominate this league with at least 60 wins in the regular season. And our losses will only come from super good teams like Boston, Detroit, Utah (not looking good yet) and perhaps Rockets (still need to get better). Teams like SAC, OKC, LAC, MIN, MEM and WAS are good practice partners for us in terms of staying in shape and I expect the Lakers to go undefeated with bottom feeders like those teams

  4. I love the pic accompanying the preview column with Horry drilling a 3 with C-Webb in his face

  5. The Lakers should take care of Sac, but the question remains when will they get a thug? The Lakers need someone that plays nasty and is not afraid to mix-it up. Bynum nice kid, Lamar nice, Gasol nice, they need someone like a Perkins from Boston, Artest, Rasheed Wallace in order to win a championship. Do you think Bynum will ever be a physical or intimadating figure on the low block ala Shaq, NEVER! They ‘re a very good team and will continue to roll up wins against inferior competition, but in order to win a Championship, and that’s all that counts! They must have a Rambis type, a Mike Cooper type; who while thin was as tough as they come. Until they get this type of player come Playoff time, they’ll get punched in the mouth and cry home to momma losers. They have excess players in place they can move, but who is out there that fills that prototype? Maybe McDyss? As long as they are carrying types like Luke Walton; who is stealing money! Radmanovic, Mihm, and DJ Mbenga the Lakers will not win a Championship!


    Good article about the new Lakers defense. Doesn’t break any new ground, but it’s still a good read.

  7. Our wealth of talent is almost embarrasing. Let’s hope it shows on the box score tonight, either in raw scoring differential or minutes played by Luke.

    To think that Luke was arguably the 2nd best guy on our team only a couple years back.

  8. 5. Dana, I mean this with no disrespect, but what team have you been watching? It can’t be the Lakers, because your comments are based on the talking head media perception and not the reality of anybody watching this squad on a regular basis.

    This team is 10-1, rolled everyone in the west, and the only loss had nothing to do with toughness and everything to do with slow defensive rotations and the other team hitting perimeter shots (the Lakers had more points in the paint in that game, remember). This team has the best defense against the league and has done that against the Hornets and the Suns, they have been dominant. If you think this team needs to make a move, I really think you are watching to see what you want rather than with clear vision.

  9. How well is this season going? The Lakers are favored by 17 and I’m not touching that because it really seems like a 50-50 proposition depending on how much energy the team puts into it. In years past, I’d always bet against a double digit laker spread as they’d inevitably putz around for 3 quarters before getting their act together to win by single digits. This year 17 is fair. That’s a college football spread.

  10. I’ve been a longtime reader of FB&G, and I usually don’t feel too compelled to speak out, but I have to comment about the play of Radmanovic. I honestly feel that second to Bynum, Radman’s defense has been the most consistent of all the starters. Kobe gambles on steals all the time, and sometimes doesn’t even attempt to close out on a 3-point shooter. Fisher plays close, tight D, but too often this leads to him giving up a foul and negating his solid defense. And while Pau has made strides defensively this year, he still gets pushed around by some undersized 4’s (Leon Powe comes to mind). Radman’s defense on Carmelo the other night was nothing short of brilliant, given that he managed to stay in front of Melo, as well as challenge his shots.

    If anything, I feel Radman’s defense this season is the most underrated feature of this year’s Lakers. Just a season ago people were claiming he was just another defensively allergic European; Now watching his play, he’s like a completely different player.

    Sure he blows some dunks and has a streaky shot, but his offense is just there to keep defenses spread out and honest. It’s his defense that matters most.

  11. Nice pic, but I’d prefer one with Bavetta, Bob Delaney and Bernhardt working their triangle offense that 2002 night. It’d be more appropriate. 😉

    Let’s watch a good game tonight.

  12. Doug Christie clearly fouled Kobe’s elbow with his nose in that series. Of course theyre going to call that.

  13. Any links for the game?

  14. So the Lakers will only have problems if they start thinking about the former Miss Universe across the street, huh.

  15. That last shot by Fisher was even worse than a PUJIT.

  16. I’m trying to come up with the right comment for Radman’s goggles. Not sure what it is yet.

  17. Spencer Hawes = Michael Phelps

  18. Are they corrective goggles. Might be the reason his shot has been off for most of the season. He is severely near sighted.

  19. Just for the record, I’m fine with Buzzer Beating PUJITs.

  20. Lakers stop turning the ball over and they can run away with this.

  21. Lakers need to wake up on defense. This Kings team has plenty of scorers even without Martin. Last week they went into NO and lit the Hornets up.

  22. So far the Kings shooting 59.4% eFG% and with an offensive rating of 111.1, which is way higher than what the Lakers give up.

  23. Wow.. T-wolves just massacred the Pistons a bit eariler. Now I’m not that confident for a blowout tonight… D:

  24. RadMan’s goggles look like the kind you wear when you go hunting or skeet shooting.

  25. I can’t shake the feeling of something preseason-ish about this game, i wouldn be surpised if kobe would just play the 1st and third.

    Probably cause I tuned in when the lakers have a line up of bench + pau and the kings have a line up of bench + brad miller (without Kevin martin, the movements they had to make to the starting unit makes their bench is really steep)

  26. BTW, I found another link for the game. This one’s in English.

  27. The Lakers are simply not really challenging shooters, going for steals and not getting in front of the guy going up for the jumper. The Kings shot 54.5% eFG% for the first half. But the Lakers have done better shooting, getting to the line, on the glass. If they just get in front of the shooters they can run away with this one.

  28. RE: Radman’s glasses.

    I’m repeating what I said in an earlier thread about Amare’s protective “goggles,” but where I’m from those are known as Joke-leys (Oakley sunglasses that make you look like a joke when you wear them).

    The first half reminded a bit of the loss to Detroit, in that the Kings are getting some good looks but are still hitting a lot more of those outside shots than one would expect.

    I expect that they’ll cool off and that the Lakers will start to limit turnovers in the second half and really put this one away.

  29. Put simply, the Lakers are going to win this, but this defense is not taco winning defense.

  30. The Lakers might be doing the fans a favor by not winning them Jack in the Box tacos.

  31. 30

    I’m not sure how much you can expect them to cool off though. Their team is packed with good midrange shooters who will punish you if you leave them open. Lakers need to start closing out on pretty much everybody or the Kings will probably rack up 100 or so.

  32. I agree, I can’t eat those things. Read Fast Food Nation and you really stop going for fast food period.

  33. Kobe’s defense on Salmons has been diabolical.

  34. Are we clearing the paint for these guys? Sure looks like they’ve got a clear path to the hoop on half their posessions.

  35. 34. Funny, reading Fast Food Nation actually made me hungry to eat out afterwards.

  36. they look like they’re sleeping on d. that last drive i saw kobe not even do his usual attempt to have a hand on the lane or on the ball. salmons is scoring efficiently or is he that good?!

    nice dunk by pau. i’ve always wanted to know what he says after those kind of plays. fisher better not shoot jumpers. go lakers!

  37. Just turned on the TV. Did Radmanovich come straight from snowboarding or something?

  38. 37 – I have to admit that watching Super Size Me made me crave a Big Mac. I felt kind of bad about it, but I still wanted one.

  39. 3:25 in third time to dominate!

  40. 38

    He’s good enough that he will torch you if you play matador defense…

  41. Is it just me or has Kobe been dunking the ball way more this year compared to last season.?

  42. Drews touch around the basket has looked mighty impressive tonight.

  43. I’m just baffled as to how we’re up 11 when they seem to have such an easy time scoring, barely miss, and with us turning the ball over like crazy.

  44. Like I said, the Kings are not going to cool off if you don’t guard them. 5 point game and they’ve hit 100 with more than 6 minutes to go.

  45. lead down to possibly 4. bring in kobe. man, we should cut on this tendency to just lose leads in a hurry…it simply shows our moments of weakness that teams like boston will surely love to have a crack at.

  46. ugh. center draws a charge on the pg.

  47. Here’s what’s bothering me.

    Fisher is next to Kobe in terms of shots attempted. Since I’m at work now, I was wondering if that’s just fisher really shooting too much or if it’s an effect of the kings sagging off fisher.

  48. Its just fishers role on the team to jack up shots…

  49. 49

    It’s an effect of Fisher being a chucker.

  50. Well at least the Lakers decided to play some D for the last 7 minutes in order to win the game.

  51. Wow, can’t believe a 10+ victory can bug me this much. Throughout the whole game, we let the Kings waltz into our paint at will. We shot 57% or so from the three, and had 23 FTs, which kept us afloat – they had high percentage shots all night long while we had some real circus shots going (thanks Kobe).

    I hope it’s not them finding some scheme to get our bigs off the paint, for some reason i couldn’t see them at all, although we did out-rebound them by a fair margin. What really bugged me is that nobody really seemed too interested in little-things-defense, just a LOT of gambling, overreaching, and a LOT of scrambling with like two or three guys rushing out to the three point line.

    A win is a win and the outcome was never really in doubt, but it kinda leaves a bad aftertaste. We seem to be playing down to the opposing team’s level a lot, and in a game where our bench could’ve used some burn, they couldn’t.

    I’m just wondering if they have a secret grandiose plan, PJ secretly letting players to take some games off or trying to keep our offense secret – letting Fish shoot 12 times making only 25% can’t be a ‘real’ offense, can it?

  52. Definitely not this team’s most inspired defensive performance …

    We’re still showing that we can win almost every conceivable type of game, I guess. Including ones like tonight where we show very little urgency. It’s downright baffling that we were able to win by double-digits given the sort of looks the Kings were getting. All. Night. Long.

    Ultimately, this is one of those rare cases where you won’t hear me saying “a win is a win.” Hopefully the Lakers feel the same way.

    Nice game by Trevor, though. The line-up Phil put out on the floor midway through the 4th to turn the tide says a lot about who he trusts most at this point in the season.

  53. This game was a great example for those misguided metric followers whose calculations show that Bynum and/or Gasol is more important to the team than Kobe Bryant. It’s not simply about the statistics that show up on the box score, it’s the spacing, the opportunities, and the abilities of the players that matters, and that is not always reflected in the statistics (even plus/minus scores) that are use in PER, Wages of Wins, you name it .

  54. Remember when playing the Queens was a difficult task?

    We were just toying with them tonight. The Maloofs don’t look nearly as excited to own a basketball team anymore.

    Does anyone know where all the Kings fans went?

  55. Kings played hard without 3 key players

    Their young players looked good too

    Once they get healthy they will be a nice dark horse team

  56. and all the Kings fans are over at Sac Royalty. And trust me, they’re excited about the Kings young core. Hell even the LAkers gave them props at the end of the game. They ONLY lost by 10. It could have been worse.

    and toying with a team missing 3 players and two very good offensive ones isn’t very “elite” like.

    You don’t “toy” with teams, you beat them down good if you want to be a championship team

  57. Just checked the box score. Pau has 14 shots. Bynum has 8. Fish has 12. Of which he made 3.

    I’m not trying to suggest I’d make a better coach than Phil, but at what point does Phil tap Fisher on the shoulder and go “Pssst….our offensive game plan actually doesn’t revolve around you?”

    I think it’s time to start a new feature around here: What Is Fisher Thinking? Designed to get to the bottom of what he could possibly be thinking when chucking up all those shots.

    I have 2 theories:

    1. When Kobe announced he would be taking much fewer shots this year to spread the ball around, Fisher was confused into thinking Kobe was giving up those shots for him. Not for the former All-Star/Olympian and almost-max-money center.

    2. More realistic: After last year’s humiliating loss, everyone spent the summer dwelling on how they could improve the team. Fisher apparently reached the conclusion that he needed to increase his role in the offense, because that’s clearly what was missing in the Finals last year.

  58. wondahbap,
    Boo is entitled to his opinion. He thinks that because we didn’t dismantle the short-handed Kings (like we could/should have), that we are not yet a championship caliber team. I happen to disagree. Sure, we could have played better and more consistently throughout the course of the game. But the Kings shot the ball quite well and they have NBA players too. And we still won by double digits.

    Also, I don’t think we “toyed” with the Kings at all. They had enough talent and shot making ability to keep the game within arms reach. However, we had the talent to make sure that they never gained the upper hand and ultimately we were able to put them away when the game was in the balance. Every NBA team makes a run and the Kings made theirs (on more than one occasion), but we held them off and took control with our defense down the stretch.

    One thing about the Kings that I think gave us problems was that *both* their main Bigs (Miller/Hawes) can stretch the floor and play the mid-range game. On the P&R, the players that are going to give us the most problems (besides players that slip the screen) are the Pickers who don’t “roll” but those that “pop” out to shoot the jumper. Miller and Hawes did that tonight just like Rasheed did it in the Pistons game. It’s to tough to recover to the player that sets the Pick when he floats to open space and we are trapping the ball handler. Our defense is designed to shut down the paint and control the penetration. Our rotations are dicated off covering the lane and then the 3pt line (and in that order). Realize too that the Kings still run a motion offense and we still need to get better and communicating on off ball screens where the players involved have different options and may not run the same action on any given play. On the Kings wing screen action where Miller has the ball at the elbow, we got caught on back cuts on more than one occasion, and then when we adjusted to that, we would get caught on the pass back out to the wing for an open shot.

    Overall, we didn’t have the intensity we needed for the full 48 tonight. This is something we can improve on, but, in the end I’ll take the win.

  59. No personal insults here, people.

  60. I wanna see how Vladimir’s glasses looked like. I only had a very small streaming vid to look at and when I looked Vlad wasn’t even on the floor at that time hehe

  61. I should add though that it was mostly the turnovers and transition D that were severly lacking tonight. Our defense (like any other defense) is most effective when it can get set and dictate to the offense. Our turnovers fueled their transition offense and we were unable to get back and effectively defend the paint.

    It’s funny, after the Piston’s loss (and in other games where we haven’t played that well or up to standard) I’ve been more upset. I guess in those other games I saw bad habbits that popped up in (seemingly) every game. In this game, I thought the things we were doing poorly (excessively turning the ball over in live ball situations, not protecting the paint) weren’t the types of things that we we’ve done too much during the regular season….I chalk it up to a semi-poor night, really.

  62. Just saw the Fox showing of Game 4, 2002 Playoffs against Sac where Kobe misses a one foot driving shot that Shaq picks up and then he misses the putback and then the ball ends up in Horry’s hands beyond the arc for that last second shot to win the game by one point. The good old days…

    Next up New Jersey on Tuesday.

  63. I think our Defense was bad last night because of 1) our turnovers and 2) our guard play (especially Jordan on defense, who let Bobby Brown torch him).

    The Kings have lots of young talent, and shouldn’t be overlooked when talking about teams of the future.

  64. The Defense was bad last night but I would argue that the main reason was that we turned the ball over too much and then did not get back in transition. The Lakers played great defense for the last 7 minutes (minus one play where they did not rotate back to cover the back door cut by one of the Kings big men) holing the Kings to 7 points to put the game away. The Lakers also did not turn the ball over during that stretch which helped.

    Sloppy game, defense was slow and uninspired but a W is a W. Hopefully next game they come out with more intensity on the defensive end.

  65. Our D wasn’t as cohesive as it should be, definitely, although we still maintain active hands (11 steals). Watching Kobe for a few possessions, I really wish he would stop gambling and play solid fundamental defense. He won’t be this athletic his whole career, and now is a great time for him to start to make the adjustment. There isn’t too much about offense that Kobe can teach himself at this stage in his career. IMHO, Kobe wants his career to mirror (and exceed) Jordan’s career. But the DPOY is a different award now, and steals can’t win you the trophy (ask Chris Paul about that one).

    Brian Shaw always seemed to play underrated defense on the 3peat teams. I know that he is the Lakers’ assistant coach. We need B-Shaw to calm that guy Kobe down a bit, and convince him that lockdown D is the only way to his DPOY trophy.

    As an aside, if 8 players scoring double digits isn’t toying with another team, what qualifies? When a cat is playing with a mouse, it *almost* lets the squeaker get away only to pounce on it as it is making a run for daylight.

  66. They were toying with the Kings alright. You didn’t sense anyone being overly serious about anything, very casual, nobody really pressed, everyone gambling on defense, never really putting their hands up to contest shots, scrambling for blocks and leaving their feet…

    It’s just that if they actually want to win something, they should seriously learn to put the other team away after 3 quarters and let 10-12 play. Annerving.

  67. Kurt,

    I didn’t think my comment was insulting. What’s wrong with a little ribbing from a Laker fan to a Kings fan? It wasn’t personal. He came here to speak his mind that our team isn’t at a “championship” or “elite” yet, and I merely hinted that the Kings fans have never experienced one to know the difference. C’mon. We have to protect our turf. You can’t tell me you haven’t had some back and forth with Ziller.