Well...I think you classify this win as "we'll take it". Not the way you drew it up. Well except maybe in one of Smart's smallball fantasies. The numbers and roles were all jumbled for us, as they often are of course. DeMarcus Cousins did not play for the final 15 minutes of this one, making it imperative we win it. But win it we did, on a selfish 1 on 1 hero shot that would have had the place screaming had it missed. But it went in, capped IT's best game in a long while, and gave us the victory at the end. So...you take it, move on, hope the win mollifies Big Cuz (who again looked tired and mopey for whatever reason -- his mojo is rebroken and needs refixing), and live to fight another day.
Stats: 12min 0pts (0-4, 0-2, 0-0) 0reb 1ast 0stl 0blk 0TO
Salmons ( INC ) -- came into the game suffering from the flu, and you could probably tell how it was going to go from the beginning, when he flat got beat off the dribble by Martell Webster, something that should not happen (ironically it did several more times to other Kings over the course of the game). Went ont o play the entire first quarter despite getting nothing accomplished on either end because Smart wuvs him some Salmons, but there were no highpoints to grade. Was just tolerated because the other guys were playing well enough to make a game of it. Never returned after the end of the first though, and if this bug is nasty enough to bagel out a starter, even if it was only John Salmons, you gotta hope nobody was sharing a water bottle with him. --Brick
Stats: 14min 2pts (1-4, 0-0, 0-0) 5reb 1ast 1stl 0blk 0TO
Thompson ( C ) -- thought about calling this an incomplete as well, so short were the minutes again. But not as if he was really terrible enough to deserve only 14 minutes...just kinda happened. Not really effective or comfortable, ineffective defensively, and I suspect it being TRob's hometown mattered too under standard Smart pee wee doctrine. Started the game immediately making a mistake, fouling Webster on the corner rotation trying to contest the long jumper. Got his and our first hoop on a nice little cut on a called play out of the early timeout. It would be his only score. Picked up his second foul, and wiht TRob playing better than his numebrs tonight indicate, Hayes having some effect with the push and shove game against the thick Wizards frontline, just never came back. Started the thrid again, and made a nice post pass to a cutting Reke in the early minutes, but again was gone by the midquarter, and never returned as the backup bigs were part of an effective defensive group that caught Smart's fancy the way a little red dot does a cat's. Grabbed a few rebounds, but was not smooth, and defensively seems to just somehow be a master of finding ways to hide a 6'11" 250lb body on the court. Double his minutes to his normal 28 and its a 4pt 8reb night. That's about where I'll set the grade. --Brick
Stats: 26min 12pts (5-8, 0-0, 2-4) 4reb 1ast 2stl 1blk 3TO
Cousins ( D- ) -- I don't know if he's got a case of the flu or a case of I-Don't-Give-A-Crap-Anymore (and given his postgame comments, almost certainly the latter), but Cuz has been pretty darn horrible lately. We're talking three lackluster games in a row. Today his strategy was to loaf every time he got a chance, be the last guy up the floor basically every time, stay out of the post, and refuse to crash the offensive boards. Cousins actually started the game by playing in the post, touching the ball in the post five times in the early first quarter. Unfortunately, in that time he missed both of his shots (a turnaround jumper and a post move) and committed an offensive foul trying to get to the basket. And that was largely it for Cousins in the post until the late third, when he got posted up three times in one possession, wasn't getting doubled, and passed all three times (one decent pass to Tyreke in the lane, but Tyreke wasn't able to get a shot off). One more possession in the post led to a bad pass TO and when he came out of the game, he didn't come back - 16 straight minutes on the bench to end the game. Just like Saturday night, Cuz had terrible rebounding numbers - only four. His defense could have been worse - he only allowed 11 points on 12 shots and caused 5 turnovers, 4 in the first quarter. The last was a patented Boogie steal on the perimeter leading to a past break layup, but it was unfortunately preceded by getting beat down low by Okafor, and followed by a second Boogie steal attempt that Wall and Okafor read, leading to another open layup for Emeka. He also picked up a steal on a miscommunication between Webster and Nene in the third, but that was more of a look-what-I-found! than a forced TO. 5/8 shooting and 4 rebounds would be a pretty nice game for some players, but we need a lot more out of Cousins. Mostly, we need him to play hard enough to get his number called in the fourth quarter. --Capt.
Stats: 36min 13pts (4-10, 0-2, 5-8) 5reb 6ast 4stl 0blk 3TO
Evans ( C ) -- I will admit that I angonized over his grade. Tyreke was a lot more aggressive in this game, and for the most part, played good defense on Beal, and later on Wall. His stat line wasn't bad, especially the 6 assists. But this is Tyreke Evans were talking about here. So I expect better results from him. He started the game by grabbing a rebound, and going down the entire court just to have the ball stripped in heavy traffic. He followed that by making a nice pass to IT for his first assist of the night. He finally made his first basket on a tough drive to the basket. The rest of 1st half wasn't very positive. It was an aray of missed shots and missed assignments. Twice he failed to get back after a miss and both times Beal scored. Once a 3pt'er and the other time a dunk. The second half started off much better with Tyreke scoring a layup on a beautiful pass from Cousins. He followed that with another layup on a pass from JT as he cut down the lane. A bit later he scored again on a pass from IT as he ran a backdoor. He then forced a tough jumper in the lane and missed. He followed that with a drive down the lane and was fouled. But missed both freethrows. He made up for it a bit later with another drive and a foul, and made both freethrows. It was at this point that he reverted back to overdribbling the ball and killing clock. A bit of a disappointment, because he came into the game and Jimmer stayed in the game and had been handling the ball. Unfortunately the ball movement stopped and one on one play started. Once again, Tyreke stood and just watched as his man, Wall streaked down the court for an easy layup. All in all, Tyreke played hard, and at times he played very well. But he did have a few mental lapses, and he occasionally threw up some wild shots. I thought at times he moved very well without the ball, and the result was easy baskets almost every time. --Baja
Stats: 32min 20pts (9-16, 1-4, 3-7) 4reb 7ast 0stl 0blk 1TO
Thomas ( A- ) -- best game in weeks, and really given the irrelevancy of his garbagetime heroics against Miami, probably in a month. Notably was effective on both sides of the ball after really struggling defenisvely in recent weeks. We hid him on Beal while Reke took Wall, and Beal did nothing. Caused a Beal airball early, and the Wizards just almost never went to the rook after that. The other way was not so much hot -- in fact anything involving shooting was shaky all night long. He finally broke what had stretched to a 1 for 21 streak from 3pt land with a mid 4th bomb, and he missed 4 FTs, including one at a critical time with 2:15 to go that put us in danger. But what he was able to do all night long was get by John Wall and get into the paint, and if his threes and free throws were off, his flips and layups were not. Washington never did figure out an answer for it. Did better as an assistman as well, tying his season high with 7 assists on the night, and creating for most of them rather than just picking up gimmes. It being Isaiah there were moments of heroball, and he sat on the ball something fierce at times, seeming to frustrate both Reke and Cuz at differnt points as he took his ball to the other side of the court, but in general he was running the team rather than running plays for Isaiah and he and Reke combined for 13 assists on a good passing night for us. Unfortunately that broke down at the end of the game, when everybody, IT especially included, suddenly decided it was time to go 1 on 1 and show the world just why they are so good at losing basketball games. But it was IT's night, he got selfish, quit passing, took tough shots in the paint...and hit them or got fouled. And that's why they call it hero ball. You pull it off, you are the hero. You don't you are a selfish slug. Well tonight, IT was the hero, and he won it at the buzzer on a play where he looked off Reke, ignored an open Jimmer, ran right into the teeth of the Washington defense...and went right by Wall to win the game. So not how you draw it up. Not something you can do often and win. But we won, and it was on the strength of It's best game in a logn while. So into the A range we go. --Brick