Preview and Chat: The Sacramento Kings

Phillip Barnett —  December 26, 2011

Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Devin Ebanks, Josh McRoberts, Pau Gasol
Kings: Jimmer Fredette, Tyreke Evans, John Salmons, Chuck Hayes, DeMarcus Cousins

The Lakers Coming In: The Lakers opened the season with a tough loss to swallow: with less than a minute to play, the Lakers blew a six-point lead and allowed the Bulls to score the final seven points of the game, and that’s exactly what Mike Brown touched on in his post-game presser.

“We played pretty good basketball until we went down the stretch,” said Brown. “Obviously there were a lot of things that went wrong. We didn’t quite finish the game — and we had a little bit of trouble closing quarters. But uh, I thought we did a good job closing the third, which was definitely encouraging. But down the stretch, you name it, whether it was missed free throws or turnovers or unnecessary fouls or blown defensive  — we had all of that in a 50 second span.”

While there were lots of positives to take away from the season opener (Blake, McRoberts, Murphy, Ebanks, and ball movement to name a few), we still can’t shake the fact that the Lakers, and most notably Kobe, have been turning the ball over way too much through two pre-season games and one into the regular season.

The Lakers still haven’t seen a win under Mike Brown, but they proved that they still have the ability to play with one of the league’s elite teams in Chicago.

The Kings Coming In: Last year, the Kings were led by two young and talented ball players in Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins. As good and exciting as those two have been, all of their on court ups and downs were overshadowed by the fear that the Kings could be moved from their home in Sacramento. While they’ll spend at least one more season in Sacramento, things still remain unresolved in terms of bringing a new arena to California’s capitol.

While the Kings won’t be playing in a new city this season, they will be throwing out three starters new to the team this season: Jimmer Fredette, John Salmons and Chuck Hayes — two veterans and a rookie who can shoot the lights out. This Kings team also sports a bit of depth with guys like Marcus Thorton, Francisco Garcia and J.J. Hickson coming off the bench.

Kings Blogs: Make sure you check out Cowbell Kingdom and Sactown Royalty for all Kings news and updates.

Keys to the Game: For the Lakers, things remain relatively simple: Take care of the ball. After averaging 21+ turnovers in the preseason followed by a 17 turnover performance in their home opener, this team knows how costly giving teams extra possessions can be — especially against a young, fast squad in Sacramento.

For the most part, I liked what Mike Brown has done with the offense, as J.M. mentioned this morning, the offense looked its best when Kobe was moving without the ball, having him catch in different spots, making it harder for the defense to predict where Kobe would be on any given possession.

The Lakers could use a bigger contribution from Pau tonight, too. Last night, Pau had trouble shooting outside of 10 feet and uncharacteristic trouble from the free-throw line. Some of Pau’s shooting woes have a bit to do with Chicago’s defense, but more of it had to do simply with Pau’s rhythm. For most of his misses, he caught the ball in spots away from where he’s been most successful in the past: the pinch post on either side or on the left block. He also found himself in much too many isolation situations against a premier defensive unit. On plays where Pau caught the ball in pick-and-roll situations or plays where he could catch and shoot from 15-feet in, those generally ended successfully. However, there were too many times were Pau was catching the ball from 17+ feet and was forced to make plays off the dribble. To get Pau going, Mike Brown is going to have to find a way to get Pau the ball in better spots and closer to the basket.

Defensively, stopping dribble penetration will be the Lakers biggest challenge as Tyreke Evans and even Marcus Thorton have the ability to really hurt teams if they can get into the paint. Gap penetration opens up the perimeter for shooters (Fredette, Garcia, Salmons) and opens lanes for offensive rebounds (Hayes, Cousins, Hickson, Thompson). For the most part, Derek Fisher and Steve Blake did a relatively good job on making gap penetration tough on Derrick Rose, and will have to pick up where they left off tonight against Evans, who has had his way with Laker defenders in the past.

Where you can watch: Tip off is at 7 p.m. and can be watched on KCAL locally or on NBATV nationally.

Phillip Barnett


67 responses to Preview and Chat: The Sacramento Kings

  1. common, Warren, let’s get this one!

  2. as opposed to the first game, this is a game which will annoy me to no end if we lose. go lakers!

  3. Great chris h, yesterday we beat the spread with the honorary first comment, tonight we will do it and get the W.

    I am just all excited and happy that NBA games are back in my life.

  4. Lakers were last Kings game in 2010-11 season. Now first in 2011-12 season.

  5. KevinDing KEVIN DING
    Pau Gasol has sprained right shoulder suffered yesterday. It’s bothering him enough that he’ll wear supportive device on it tonight in SAC.

    KevinDing KEVIN DING
    Excuse or not, Gasol hurt shooting shoulder during Bulls game and didn’t score in fourth — and missed two free throws with 1:40 to play.

  6. why isn’t Garnett getting punished for choking bill walker? League sources say he won’t receive any punishment (fines/suspensions…etc)!

  7. Darius Morris inactive for tonight’s game

  8. Could someone please post a link to the game

  9. I don’t understand why Morris isn’t even active after that great first showing. Wonder what’s going on.

  10. Kaos thanks so much.

    Offensively Murphy is a breath of fresh air, that floor spacing has been sorely missed

  11. Kobe 2/8
    Fisher 2/4
    Gasol 0/2

    Don’t like that Kobe is chucking up shots.

  12. I like what I am seeing from the two new big men. Good hustle and smart plays. Also like Ebanks.

    Kobe – as JM Poulard pointed out last post – just needs to play off the ball. He’ll get his points and not have to work as hard. I doubt he’ll buy into that though 🙁 Also, he may be the weakest defender on the team right now the way he is playing.

  13. Against a team without interior defense, Artest looks quite good at the hoop. But that last closeout on the corner 3 by Thomas was pathetic. Mike Brown’s going to roast him in the timeout for that lazy closeout. He’s lost so much speed. We don’t need another post scorer, we need our wing defender back.

    Ebanks is quite skilled at finishing in transition. He also has a much better handle than Ariza. I’d like to see more of him. I also wish we could see some of Morris, but he’s not active tonight.

  14. Agreed Snoopy most of Artest’s points are fools gold, they look nice now but he’s been in fortunate spots and going up against a team with no shot blocker.

    I also am very impressed with Ebanks and as young as he is I wish he got more clock

  15. still lookin’ like 0-4, to me.

    on a related note, did anyone see the OKC v. T’wolves game earlier? MN has a good-looking young team. OKC won this game (104-100) totally on their rep. with the officials!

  16. Is it just me, or have Kobe’s passing instincts gotten worse? Both defenders followed him on the screen, Murphy was wide open, and Kobe instead waved him over to set a 2nd screen. It seems like the more handicaps he picks up, the more determined he becomes to show he can still do it himself.

    I like McRoberts and Murphy working the backtaps on the boards. When Bynum is back, it’s going to be a hard decision between the two. McRoberts is probably better overall but I love this spacing dimension Murphy brings. I’m still shocked every time a Laker shoots a 3 and it goes in cleanly.

  17. I’m sorry Derek Fisher doesn’t need to be on the floor. The veteran play there would have been to kick it out to Ebanks for a wide open 3, not to drive the ball into 3 defenders for a charge.

  18. 13

    Unfortunately Kobe couldn’t play off the ball even if he wanted to because the rest of the Laker guard play is so atrocious.

  19. This is going to be a long season. I can tell already.

  20. Kobe forcing the issue a lil’ bit too much & Pau, once again, needs to be more agressive .. There guards are getting to the hole with ease. We’re lucky to be down by only 9 @ the half .. It’ll be interesting to see what type of defensive adjustments we make n the 2nd half n order to contain there penetration.

  21. This looks ominously similar to the Pau we saw in the playoffs last season.

  22. Unfortunately it’s going to take a miraculous game from Kobe to win this one

  23. Pau is probably my favorite Laker … but he looks so, so awful. I hope it’s just the combination of the shoulder and a great defender in Hayes. But throwing away that inbounds pass … just screams funk. I had hoped to see Pau rebound from last year and come back with a vengeance. Let’s hope he settles down once the shoulder heals and Bynum comes back.

  24. Ugh. Bench Fish. Aside from that pull up jumper he’s all over the place, in a bad way.

    Anyone know why Barnes isn’t getting any court?

  25. Walton in, but Barnes isn’t?
    Is he in the doghouse or something?

  26. Watching Kobe running out there with Walton, Murphy, Artest, and Blake has an eerie similarity to the 06-07 days. I like the “pluckiness” and grit of our role players, especially Murphy and McRoberts, and I enjoy watching this team play. But it definitely doesn’t scream championship basketball.

  27. I’m really hoping that Brown is using these first couple of games to figure out who else can contribute at the end of the rotation. I don’t see anything from Luke that shows he’s got anything left in the tank.

  28. Snoopy, it barely even whispers playoff basketball.

    Bynum can’t come back soon enough.

  29. Lakers having issues guarding the 3 pointer tonight and making the 3 pointer

  30. This is painful to watch

  31. Murphy is the slowest person that I’ve ever seen.

  32. What’s wrong with Gasol? I’m more upset at his body language than his poor performance.

    When he hedges a S&R, he comes out so far all the guards just split the defenders.

  33. One positive thing I’ve seen so far, damn, Kobe looks great. Keeps on attacking the rim.

  34. Barnes is just so active he makes things happen, he HAS to play Brown needs to find his time in his rotations

  35. Lakers fighting back…

  36. let’s go lakers

  37. How is Fisher allowed to play?

  38. Fish is just pathetic. Yes, if he’s going to continue to play and be his worthless self, then I’m going to continue to repeat the same things that so many others keep saying on here every day.

  39. Point guard play has been a real killer tonight.

  40. I mean seriously? Steve Blake has been playing well how do you let Fisher ruin a good thing?

  41. Pau has got to be freaking kidding, if you box someone out properly they can’t out muscle you

  42. Mmmm there’s that veteran savvy. We sure know how to close out games.

  43. This is going to be a looong short season.

  44. Somehow pau has managed to look even worse tonight than he did last night, his trade value is quickly dropping.

    Kobe is having to force crunch time offense as no other laker can be relied on to even make a jumper

  45. Let’s see… who’s going to be the potential number one pick in college this year? I guess I need to start paying attention…

  46. Bynum can’t come back soon enough, without him this team is only Kobe unless Pau wakes up.

  47. Last time Lakers started the season 0-2 was the 2002-3 season

  48. 2 down and 64 more to go. 0-66 here we come.

  49. Zirk, that would be Anthony Davis of the University of Kentucky. Guy is the freakiest athlete I have ever seen (even more than KG was coming out). He was a guard in high school and he grew 7 inches going into his senior year, he’s a little raw offensively but he is a defensive stopper, great handles for a seven footer and can even shoot outside.

  50. Too bad, another loss that came down to the end of the game, somewhat.

  51. Lakers8884,

    Thanks for the info. I was also thinking maybe Sullinger from Ohio St.

    I was being sarcastic about the #1 pick, but this team does not look like a contender, let alone a playoff team right now. Pau is back to being a weak headcase, and Fish is, well… (insert adjective here).

  52. I guess we have to wait until Bynum gets back to measure this team. However, to all of you Pau Gasoft believers, what do you have to say about the last 2 games. Kobe has held up his end of the bargain scoring 28 and 29 points the first 2 games and Gasol has come up way short. If he scored like a #2 player these past 2 games we would have won both of them.

  53. Couple of points:

    The West is balanced and competitive down to the bottom of the conference. That will make it hard on the Lakers’ W-L. Every team in the West has some real talent, and no team is truly terrible. With the compressed schedule, the Lakers do not play some of the weakest Eastern teams. There will be no easy games for this team–any night.

    When it ended for Brown in Cleveland during that nightmarish loss to Boston in 2010, he took criticism for his jumpiness–casting about, trying different combinations without focus, hoping for a hot hand, and for his game management/play calling. It is still very early and he doesn’t have Bynum, we are already seeing signs of both problems. I said before the season that flexibility is good, but there is a fine line between that and confusion. It is great to adjust to matchups, but there needs to be some order as well. To start, I think Ebanks and Blake each need to get 25-30 minutes of burn a game. They are Brown’s best options at those spots (yes, I know MWP scored 19). And while I do not blame Walton at all for not retiring with 12M coming to him, with Ebanks, Barnes and MWP on the team, there is no reason to play Walton, even with teams using longer rotations due to the schedule.

  54. so glad this weak season will only last 66 games… hopefully the Lakers get a high draft pick next year and finally get a decent point guard.

  55. What a pathetic sights of Lakers tonight, two airballs, PG falling down while dribbling, Center being blocked by a forward and fell down TKO’d, old PG blocked and lost the ball too…b2b games and b2b injuries of superstars, Mr. Jim Buss, we have a problem don’t you think so? You seemed to be too confident on the article of T. J. Simers, well in tonight’s game, it really showed the age of the Lakers, too old and already suffering from fatigue at this early part of the season.

    Granted that we lose all these first four games without Bynum, w/injured Kobe & Pau, will Mike Brown always rely on Fisher and Walton as his knights of shining armor? As soon as they got in, Lakers got creamed & got behind by double digits.

  56. Who would have thought at the time that Bynum’s elbow shot on Barea could become the difference in whether the Lakers make the playoffs the following season.

    0-4 is a real possibility, and so is the lottery in what will be a very stacked western conference this season.

    I like what Brown is trying to do, and I see some positives on the court. But Pau’s playoff funk seems to have carried over into the new season, and Fisher’s just useless at this point.

    There are a lot more obvious holes/question marks than any of us are comfortable with. Bynum’s return will make a difference, but Pau needs to start playing like Pau again and Fisher needs to start playing at the YMCA or Venice Beach — anywhere but wherever the Lakers may be playing.

  57. Like I have been saying. This is a very, very slow team. Fisher can’t shoot, defend or even dribble down court without falling on a crack. Finally Pau has turned into a average player and needs to be traded.

    This team wil be lucky to make the playoffs. Nice job Mitch!

  58. Very sloppy game. The younger teams havetrue advantage right now, but things should even in a balanced West. No reason for people to panic! 1-16 from 3 tonight..

  59. Mike Brown, time to work…

  60. 61 (Ken). Yes, teams are lining up to trade for a player you described as “average” who happens to make close to $20 mil and has $60 mil left on his contract.

  61. Way too much sky is falling talk for Lakers fans. We have a new coach (and a new system), a new bench (many of whom have been with the team for ~2 weeks), damaged psyches from the CP3 fallout, and a team that played together as a unit exactly two preseason games before the season started. Gasol has a hurt shoulder, had to play center (not his natural position), Kobe has a wrist problem (he figures out how to manage his injuries over time) and Bynum is out for two more games.

    Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt, and judge them in a couple of weeks. The Thunder, we’re not, but a lot can play out favorably for us once the Lakers work through the kinks, and have the reps they need.

  62. Once Andrew Bynum returns the Lakers rotation will change and another player will move to the inactive list. Lets see how Bynum’s presence will affect both offense and defense performance as well as the rotation of players to get a better idea on how this team will do as the season progresses.

  63. By the way LO was 1 for 11 today after being thrown out in game one. He looks out of shape and confused. Looks like we got the better end of that deal and we got nothing!

  64. Pau’s injured and playing out of position. It’s not like he isn’t trying out there, he’s just getting muscled by stronger players. He’ll be better once he goes back to PF. The team’s problem is that its personnel are built for the triangle, but Mike Brown isn’t running the triangle. Luke is the worst player in the league, and IMO the 2011-12 sans-triangle version of D-Fish is the second worst. That’s quite a large handicap for the rest of the team to overcome on the second night of a back-to-back when the opponent is fresh. And tomorrow night, it will be the third night of a back-to-back against another fresh opponent. The schedule maker did the Lakers no favors this season.