Preview & Chat: The Sacramento Kings

Darius Soriano —  November 11, 2012

There continues to be so much news about the Lakers circulating that one almost forgets there are still games to play. Tonight, the Lakers face off against their second division foe in as many nights with the Kings visiting Staples Center.

With the Lakers still talking with potential candidates to replace Mike Brown on a full time basis, our weekend at Bernie’s continues as Bickerstaff will once again sit in the head seat on the Lakers’ bench. Bickerstaff did several good things in his debut against the Warriors to help put the team in better position to win so here’s hoping he follows a similar plan tonight against the Kings.

Some of the things I hope to see more of that I thought were solid adjustments:

  • More Kobe in the post. Kobe is shooting 63.6% from the post per my synergy sports. That’s a ridiculous percentage that won’t hold up over the course of the season but shows how effective he’s been down low so far. When he scores well from the block, the double teams come. And when that happens his teammates get open shots.
  • More lineups where Gasol is paired with Jordan Hill. This pairing anchored the Lakers’ front line when they went on their big second half run that clinched the game. Hill’s energy and paint presence as a rebounder (on both ends) and defender is a great match for the all around game that Pau brings to the floor. They complement each other very well and can do a lot of damage against teams — especially bench units.
  • Jamison playing the majority, if not all, of his minutes at power forward. Jamison looked as good as he has all season playing PF for most of his second half minutes. He was assertive on offense and seemed more capable on defense. If he can maintain his aggression moving forward — especially if he sees minutes next to Howard in the front court — the Lakers may yet see the player they thought they signed in the off-season.
  • Jodie Meeks getting sustained run to provide floor spacing. Meeks will need to show more discernment in his shot selection over the course of the season but him simply showing a willingness to shoot when open will help create the offensive spacing this team needs to truly thrive on offense. I also wouldn’t mind seeing a three guard lineup with Meeks and Kobe playing next to a PG should there be stretches where the Kings don’t have a great wing threat on the floor that requires Ron’s attention.
  • More pick and rolls and simpler offensive sets to get the big men touches in position where they can do damage. This is obvious but needed to be repeated. The Lakers looked more sure of themselves against the Warriors and the simpler sets was a major reason why. More of this, please.

Beyond those keys, one thing I’d like to see is a more engaged Dwight Howard. Against the Warriors Dwight got in foul trouble and when combined with a more Kobe-centric offense to start the game, his rhythm was thrown off. In the second half when he had to sit with his fourth foul, the Lakers made their big run and made it so Howard didn’t have to come back into the game.

Tonight, however, Howard will be needed. The Kings aren’t an especially deep team up front but they do have talent that can hurt the Lakers inside. DeMarcus Cousins is evolving into one of the better big men in the league with his combination of a size, strength, and quickness. He can hit the mid-range jumper and is one of the best offensive rebounders in the league. Howard will need to help protect the paint against him by cleaning up the glass and contesting his shots when he uses the threat of his jumper to get to the rim off the dribble.

Offensively, it would also be nice to get Howard going. Dwight is a capable post scorer and dumping the ball into him directly is a sound enough strategy to produce points and earn him trips to the foul line. However, getting him involved via motion remains the best way to utilize his combination of power and unique quickness. Involve him in pick and rolls, set cross and back screens for him, and/or have him start on the weak side of the and flash to the ball side to make his catch. All of these actions will get him on the move and let him make a catch on his way to the rim where he can better finish with his trademark authority.

Defensively, the Lakers will have a multitude of very good offensive options to slow down tonight. I’ve already mentioned Cousins, but Tyreke Evans, Isaiah Thomas, and Marcus Thornton all offer plus skill from the wing that can hurt you in a variety of ways. The scouting reports are out on these guys — make Evans shoot jumpers, make Thornton put the ball on the ground, play off Thomas to neutralize his quickness and make his height a liability — but knowing how to slow these guys and executing the plan are not the same thing. The Lakers need to do the latter against the Kings.

In the next couple of days the Lakers are likely to have their new head coach. All signs point to Phil Jackson being that guy but I’m not putting the cart before the horse on this one. If it’s him, I’ll have thoughts on the hire after I know all the details. I will say, though, that I think getting him on board would be a major get. But that will come in due time. Tonight, there’s a game to play. And with the Lakers starting out the season the way they did, they have a little bit of ground to make up. That makes winnable games like this important. They need to get the job done tonight and here’s hoping they do it.

UPDATE: Demarcus Cousins has been suspended for tonight’s game due to a confrontation he had with Spurs’ announcer Sean Elliott following a Kings/Spurs game. Obviously, this hurts the Kings this evening and weakens their depth in the front court. What I did not include in the preview above is that the Kings already without Thomas Robinson, their first round draft pick from this past draft. Without Cousins and Robinson, expect to see the Lakers attack the Kings inside even more to take advantage of their lack of size and capable depth.

Darius Soriano

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74 responses to Preview & Chat: The Sacramento Kings

  1. darius: you are correct sir, there is a game to play tonite over there at staples center. while there are a few hours to go before tipoff, today’s sunday sermon is brought to you by the words microchip, symmetry and midas touch.

    somewhere in some research laboratory there are thoughts of developing a super microchip capable of being implanted inside the human brain equipped with a tiny hdmi attached to the optic nerve that will enable one to forever record what one is viewing/seeing and ultimately what one is thinking. so years from now, during playback at your funeral, your friends and family will be able to see what you saw. imagine the possibilities. phase two of that microchip will enable to view what one has seen during their lifetime. imagine the possibilities.

    which brings me to the second word of today’s sermon: symmetry. hiring coach jackson to a third, for lack of a better term, term would pretty much guarantee the 3rd coming of phil on no less, the veteran on veteran’s day. makes perfect symmetry sense to me.

    lastly, the midas touch. although son jim buss does not possess that touch all have anointed his dad, Dr. Jerry Buss, as son, it will go a long way to anoint a son that will concede the will of laker nation is tantamount to any ill conceived thoughts and plans he had for the immediate future of laker organization. jim buss, always trust in the will of the people, it will reward you in every way possible as you continue your rein and in the footsteps of your father.

    darius: in response to your highlights of tonite’s game, you are spot on. keep up the good work.

    Praise the Lord and Go Lakers

  2. Cousins is suspended for two games:

    I thought all he did was respond when a reporter relayed Elliot’s statements to him. The story makes it sound like there was an in-person confrontation.

  3. Although the firing of Brown obviously lit a fire under the players’ feet, the sudden turnaround just shows that MB was too stubborn and inflexible. He only needed to phase in the offense to win and make progress at the same time, but he couldn’t do that.

    And again, I wish Pau takes the ‘demotion’ and play the Lamar role for us. Except that he’ll play center. We can trot out the twin towers if necessary to close the game when we need length to disrupt inbounds play, but he really should not be sharing court with another center, at least on defense.

  4. Realistically, the triangle and Steve Nash do not fit together. It will fundamentally diminish his offensive impact. It is no secret that Nash has no defensive presence, so I really start to question him fitting into this team.

  5. I don’t believe that a return to the triangle would necessarily not fit with Nash’s game. Phil has commented in the past that the triangle is flexible enough to allow more pick and roll basketball coming off the initial sets. Sure it might take the ball out of his hand a little but I don’t think Nash would be relegated to the spot up shooter Derek Fisher mold. They are smart enough to make it work if the team does go back to the triangle. If my memory serves me correctly though late in games and in crucial moments the Laker teams were flexible enough to play outside of the triangle. It is not a rigid system of set plays, more of a framework from which you have great flexibility every time down the court.

  6. My back feels like PJ’s after moving yesterday but proud to say I’m now a proud member of Manhattan Beach. Now some Lakers ball!

    Missed the news yesterday but PJ wants ,reportedly, at least 7 zeros of salary, the GM job and wants road games off. Well why don’t you make Jim’s office your personal peyote room. That’s a little much if you ask me. Lakers do need a coach whether it’s Phil or not hopefully something gets done fast.

    Lakers catching breaks with centers being out. Now it’s time for Dwight to make his presence felt.

  7. On thing about Steve Nash that is not being mentioned…he should be playing less than 30 min/game to keep him healthy. This means running the triangle, while not playing to his strength, is playing to keeping his playing time easier than always handling the ball, since he will probably put in 30+ min. We have to remember he is one of the best shooters to ever play this game, so catch-and-shoot isn’t exactly a stretch for him.

    Here’s to Time Warner going bankrupt so they have to settle on a decent price for the Lakers games.

  8. In reference to Phil’s demands. I am Phil’s age. Today I am in Chicago. For the companies I run I travel about 40 times a year domestic and internationally. About the same Phil would travel. I am sure my plane seats and hotels are not as top shelf as his would be.

    I do it because that’s what I do. If Phil expects to make $10 million then he either mans up and goes to all games or bow out now and give the job to someone who can give 100% not 50% just because he has the Lakers over a barrel. I won’t send my employees to handle sime of these deals because if they were that smart they would own the business. Same goes for Rambis or Clemons.

  9. By the way Craig you may have missed the point. TWs plan all along was to crush Dish who has taken large chunks of their business. That’s why they pay $120 million a year for the rights. No Dish Laker games means more fans MUST cancel Dish and pay $89 plus for Time Warner. Brilliant business move by TW.

  10. Yes! Finally, we are back to our winning ways… Here’s to PhilJax and the Lakers!!!

  11. Nash is naturally an off-the-dribble shooter, not a pull-up shooter.

    I think that Nash can always find a way to be effective offensively, however it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to deduce that Nash won’t be as effective in a triangle offense. His output will be diminished. Which begs the question? How much is he worth during the playoffs?

    He can’t play a lick of defense and he is very old. I think that the Nash expectations are very overblown.

  12. Any iPad links out there?

  13. Ko: The difference in Phil’s case is that he does not own the business. He works for a desperate guy who does. The options are limited. We get Phil and his 11 rings for 68 games or we get Mike D for 75 games. The choice is pretty clear : ) I am surprised he is not holding out for his own jet : )

  14. Thanks for the reminder about tonight’s game.
    Am I the only one here who thinks Phil Jackson and the Triangle Offense might not be the best fit for today’s Lakers? The Triangle Offense is difficult to master, even for players with high basketball IQs. Kobe took a few years to accept it. Pau took to it faster but was a good passer to start. Aside from Kobe, Pau, MWP, and Blake, the rest of the team – especially DH and Nash — is largely unfamiliar with it. If we are serious about “win now,” then I think that implementing the Triangle (and therefore, hiring Jackson) is NOT the right move.

    A better candidate might be Jerry Sloan, if he was interested in the job. Sloan has credibility. He took a good Utah Team to the finals only to lose to a more talented Bulls team. Sloan is honest and straightforward and is perfectly suited to coach “mature” personalities who want to win-first. He won’t need to baby rookies. His Flex offense relies on lots of posting and off-the-ball cuts.

  15. I say keep Bernie Bickerstaff the rest of the season. He’s been amazing in the games he’s headcoached. Who needs that Phil guy or that D’Antoni guy. Let’s not make it more difficult than it needs to be.


  16. Steve Blake suffered an abdominal strain, his return is questionable for the game.

  17. The Kobe offense. Lakers need a head coach.

  18. Lakers need to tighten things up here. We are really sagging off shooters and not closing out well.

  19. Howard’s line looks great on paper so far but he’s clearly no where near the old Dwight. He would have dunked on that last play rather than shoot that falling away flip shot. Hopefully, it is just a process to get his athleticism back and this is not the permanent new Dwight.

  20. Lakers look more athletic with the simple insertion of Morris and Meeks.

  21. Kevin: Until we do get a coach – the KB offense is the best thing. In fact if we just completely freelanced on offense – it would be an improvement over what we have done. Players were thinking too much under MB. At least now we can win on sheer talent. We can’t win it all this way, but we can beat teams like this. To win it all, we need Phil.

  22. Paul L – Agreed, although he has looked like he has more lift on the defensive end today,which I am taking as a positive sign.

  23. Even if Dwight did not improve from where he is now (and he will, but let’s just say he doesn’t) he is still an upgrade over Drew. First, you don’t hold your breathe every time he jumps that his knee is going to fall off. Second, he is more consistent and reliable both as a scorer and defender (even though Drew may have more raw offensive talent, at least as a post player). Dwight rebounds whether he is getting touches or not. Third, we are not waiting on every possession for Dwight to catch up to the rest of the players on either end. So we are not constantly playing 4 on 5. Finally, Dwight is a more consistent and better shot blocker.

  24. Thinking ahead a bit here, but be interesting now to see how we perform against SA on Tuesday now with MB out of the picture and this team playing better.

  25. Robert: I agree. Lakers need a head coach soon.

    Fell for it vs Detroit not going to against Warriors or Kings. Team still has a long way to go. And the starters are on their way to another 40 min night.

  26. Back to back decent games from Morris maybe? We’ll see how he does in the second half, but the last six quarters are pretty good.

  27. That last play by Kobe was horrible. And Pau not posting up with the huge mismatch he jad was just as poor.

  28. When the Lakers go to a post play, they are scoring nearly every time, so not surprising we are ignoring the post at least on half of our offensive possessions. This is the Laker team I know and love (still better than the Princeton Offence).

  29. Ron-Ron with a St. John’s flashback. Didn’t know that he still had it in him.

  30. Tra – None of us did!

  31. Here’s a look at what the NBA teams get when they fly – trust me – Phil can suck it up for 39 away games (or 37 or whatever it is, can’t really count clipper games as away).

    I don’t think Nash will be as misused under Phil as perhaps at first thought – Phil is clearly interested not just in winning but because of the makeup of this team – so having a prototypical pass first sniper like Nash won’t necessarily be wasted. People think of Phils experience w Payton, but Nash is an entirely different player – Payton dominated and needed the ball in much the same way that kobe or DWade does – playmaking yes, but aggresive scoring – Nash is always looking for his teammates to get the easiest basket. Don’t think for a sec that PJ hasn’t learned something from his last allstar lineup and I expect he’d make adjustmnets to use Nash in a more productive manner than than sending him to the corner.

    As for Nash being old.. in the past ten years he’s never played less than 74 games in a season, takes better care of himself physically than anybody in the league – Kobe and GHill would be the only two comparable – and his performance so far this year is clearly the reult of having to deal w MB’s game plan and trying to fit in. People writing him off/or that he needs to come off the bench behind Blake as 6th man – seriously? Nash’es stats will drop a natural result of less minutes and burden as will kobes and everyones elses once they get in a flow – but you’ll seee his offensive efficiency sky as he gets easier looks. Don’t be surprised if his scoring average rises but assists drop by a couple now that he’s on the recieving end of set ups as opposed to creating for 4 other guys on the flr.

  32. When I previously spoke of Dwight being an upgrade, I failed to mention how much better he passes out of double and triple teams. Part of that is just being a willing passer, part of that is just being a better one. He is giving our bench guys wide open looks.

  33. Up 18 in the 4th? Surely it’s time to bring Pau and Kobe in…

  34. @ AusPhil did we rehire Mike Brown?

  35. This is good. We are crushing teams on sheer talent and we are not even playing that well. That is why the start under MB was so pathetic. Just throw these guys out there and they win 55 games. With Phil for the whole year we could have won 65.

  36. Meeks throwing bricks out there. Good Thing is starters other than dwight played 30mins in this game.

  37. Wow – I spoke too soon. No more jokes of that nature from me!

  38. Two points:

    1. Mike Brown benched the confidence out of Meeks, may take a while to get it back.

    2. Our starters are back in…wait, what??!!

  39. Excellent rotations by Bickerstaff!

  40. Kobe had ZERO turnovers before Bickerstaff decided to channel Mike Brown and bring him back in cold in a blow out. No way Kobe expected to be playing again tonight.

    Bickerstaff may be the first interim coach to be fired rather than replaced.

  41. In a game the Lakers lead 13 after 3 quarters Kobe, Pau, Dwight and Ron will wind up playing at least 34 minutes. Incredible!!

  42. Earl Clark, the new human victory cigar

  43. A game we should win and we won! Looking forward how this team recovers and play Tuesday against the SPURS… that game should be a real test this early of the season.

  44. Every Lakers game has been a blowout one way or another. A real roller coaster season.

  45. Bickerstaff plays all players. Brown was such a disaster, so much wasted time. I’m sorry for Glock, CDR, DJO, Barnes, etc. didn’t get a chance under this bad coach.

  46. Good win. Dwight 23/18 at 75% stength. Kobe coasts to a good game. A coach and Nash will do wonders. It will then become apparent how bad MB was.

  47. Here’s a thought. If we don’t want our starters coming back in during a blowout, perhaps the bench shouldn’t completely freakin suck when they’re out there on their own! Just try it. Give it a shot. You never know, they may actually like not sucking. Geez! I just looked it up in the NBA rule book and it says nothing about our bench not being allowed to go on runs themselves and perhaps INCREASE a lead. I don’t expect our bench to be world beaters, but do they always need to be babysat when 4 or 5 of them are out there at once? Just be average, that’s all i ask…

  48. Could not watch game but following.on net it appears Brown did get one thing right. Meeks not be good! Jamison and Meeks 2 points? Hope Phil has some players in his hip pocket. West and Martin worth the gamble?

  49. I don’t see how people doubt Nash won’t fit in with Phil. Phil gets the best out of marginal players; i’m sure he’ll find a way to put Nash in a position to succeed. Not only that, Nash could just be used as a change-of-pace guard while using a long guard for triangle purposes with the starting unit.

    Possibilities are endless as we’ve got too much talent. It’s just a mystery as to how MB screwed up as badly as he did.

  50. wow ! what a difference. Feels good again to watch a laker game. btw: I like Bernie, he’s batting 100%. Superman MVP NBA 2013 finals.

  51. People in here talking like PJax is g’teed to being the next coach.

    Is really a wrap?

  52. LeBron 33 mpg, Wade 32 mpg, Bosh 31 mpg, Westbrook 34 mpg, Duncan 30 mpg, Durant 38 mpg, Parker 29 mpg, Paul 33 mpg, Griffin 32 mpg.

    Kobe 36 mpg, Pau 38 mpg, Ron 35 mpg. The pronounced head coach has to get minutes under control.

  53. Kevin: Help is on the way.
    Ko: We do have players in our pocket. KB, Dwight, Nash, Pau it is still a great roster.
    Formalhault: I believe he will be our coach. The several day interview period is a “formality”
    Harold/Dubois: Yes Yes. Things are looking up in a big way. We have Kobe and Dwight and if they have an eleven ring coach that spells trouble for the opposition.

  54. im just happy Mike Brown is gone. Cant get any worse than that..I think he’s done as an NBA coach too…

  55. Word is that the Lakers and PJ will talk again tomorrow with a decision one way or the other. At this point, the ball is strictly in PJs court apparently. Not sure if the Lakers gave in to his demands etc… but various sources keep saying thatthe only holdup is Phil debating if this is something he really really actually wants to do and be committed for ftwo years – or if he’s just intrigued and interested by the notion/romance of making one last run. The D”antoni call went great – but there is no need for further discussion with him until PJ decides. Sounds like the Lakers may be willing to give Phil what he needs but they want a hard concrete decision fast – they ain’t messing around and are prepared to walk onto options 1A or 2 to get this resolved quickly.

  56. Seeing how much better this team is without Mike Babbler coaching ya have to wonder how far they could have gone last year. Oh well.

    Hope they do something about this bench. Jamison, Meeks?, Blake, Duhon. These guys are questionable. Hill is very good and Morris is getting better. Need more then 7 guys in spite of how good the starters are. Bet you all a bottle of wine if Phil comes in he brings new guys with him before Xmas.

  57. Unfortunately, are not all of the bench players signed to guaranteed contracts, I do not think the Lakers can just let them go. I mean, the Lakers would certainly have to pay them their due salaries, like they have to for MB, but can they also just release them from the team. Their salaries would probably still count against the cap, I would think? We still have the single amnesty to use though.

  58. unless you can find someone to take Blake or duhon – those are your only trading chips – unless they flip Pau for Josh Smith. After nabbing Nash in a sign and trade and Howard in trade – no one is going to help out kupchak at all. I think this team is what it is for the year – and i think the bench will develop immensely with time and proper rotations.

  59. Meeks was not a bad player for the Sixers. He just needs to find his nitch. Blake however, is pretty much useless and Jamison is really a disappointment so far. We will need to upgrade our bench later on.

  60. Kobe and Howard good and going

  61. I thought the bench looked great when meshed with the stars.

    Morris is 10X better than blake and we were a very good perimeter defense team with him, kobe, and artest with gasol and dwight – they looked awesome together.

    Amazing to see a ron artest alley-oop

    Meeks is at least aggresive on offense, which the bench is lacking – it was weird looking at them play tonight – you got a sense that everyone understood their role circa 2008 – Morris/Farmar – Meeks/Sacha – Hill/Odom – ebanks when he gets back could look more like ariza but we need to see him play with this new ”Team” – to me the X-Factor will be what we get out of Jamison – if he gets anywhere near his old form we will be fantastic- if we could get 8pts per game out of him it would be all we need – he was still used too much as a backup 3 today but I would assume with ebanks out this was out of neccesity.

    Looking forward to San Antonio will be a good litmus test for the freeer play but our defense will definitely be tested against them.

  62. I could easily see them buying out Earl Clark to make room for someone else – even tonight he was given some burn and chucked right away – also who thought we would be able to trade luke walton for ramon sessions – other teams looking to nudge below the cap could easily trade us someone getting paid 5-Mil for Blakes 4 or duhons 2 just o get under the line to actually be allowed to take part in rev sharing which would cover their contracts.

    If anything I really do think we can get someone when they are bought out around the trade deadline – initially I thought Calderon would be good but I think Morris is the better option as a backup 1

  63. I really liked what I saw from Morris this game, especially on the defensive side. He played pretty strong ball denial defense against Thornton, which really bothered his shot-making ability. His offense is still pretty limited as he has no mid-range game to speak of and I haven’t seen him penetrate and pass effectively to warrant him as anything more than a spot-up shooter. He’s still raw but his defensive effort and instincts were a welcome sight against guards who have burned us over the last few years.

  64. I felt the bench looked solid today. Meeks’ shot was off, but he was aggressive and looked confident. I still don’t know why we brought Kobe and Pau back on, but happy overall.

  65. No recap tonight folks. I’ve been having some issues getting the post to display correctly. I’ll work on it but with things moving fast, I doubt I’ll have anything up for this game. My apologies.

  66. The minutes in the boxscore looked much better tonight. Glad to see Pau go back down. Also, 5 bench players over 10 min each looks good – Morris, Hill, and Meeks over 15 is also a good sign.

    It’s not that I think this is the answer, but these players do need time in the game to get used to their roles. Glad to see/hear that Morris is taking advantage of his time with Nash out. If he keeps this up until Nash gets back he will be hard to get out of the rotation, if only for defensive purposes.

  67. laker nation will accept the next new coach with open arms. Bernie is 100%. Lets go with BB until he loses a game. Bernie goes 6 and 0…… ยง

  68. Mike D’Antoni folks.

  69. Mike D’Antoni has not won a thing. He is offensive minded but his teams play no defense. Why not Nate McMillian if you want someone who hasn’t won anything? Oh well, I wanted Adleman last year, let’s see how this works.

  70. LAT and ESPN (via LAT) saying D’Antoni on a four-year deal.

  71. @busboys4me

    Stop complaining on Mike D. Give him a chance. Every team he coached is different. I guess whoever the coach of this Lakers, there will always be someone complaining but I guess thats life.

  72. Holy poop – well now its on. Lakers like this – no PJ power struggles or eccentric behaviour and they have someone who could possibly win now, but also transition with after Kobe”s contract is up. I don’t think they really wanted to go thru all of this all over again in 2 years. Guess reports were right about Phil still being too banged up to truly take on the role 100% – and sources are saying he asked for too much – Buss’s didnt cave and went w D”Antoni.

  73. haha – and hoopshype still have nothing up but all the rumours and articles saying why the pick has to be PJ lol – my how things can change overnight!

  74. The best thing about this is his relationship with Nash. Also, Kobe respects him.

    It is going to be weird rooting for him. If he coaches Friday, his first game will be against PHX.