Okay. We had three guys play great games for them in JT, IT and MT, but I really thought on the court it was the two stars who were only mediocre by their standards that set the tone by coming out as passers -- Reke and Cuz notched our first 7 assists of the game and set the tone for the whole night.
That was on the court. But really, this night and this game was largely about the fans who showed up off the court. They were loud form start to finish, constant chanting, even a wave in the 4th quarter. And I think that energy explians a lot of the team's energy tonight. Was the way it used to be back in the day. All those terrible teams that Kings fans sold out the arena to watch. I always thought those teams were actually much worse than even their bad records, but the fans themselves were worth 5-10 wins a year at home. Tonight they were worth another win for the home team, and let's hope just maybe a push to the ultimate home team win: keeping the team in Sacto.
As part of the Consortium was at the game tonight, tonight
The Grading Consortium is
Stats: 21min 11pts (4-11, 3-8, 0-1) 2reb 4ast 0stl 0blk 0TO
Salmons ( C ) -- I still remember every shot Salmons made on the night, even sans notes, and that is both a good and a bad thing. Despite a great many people having strong games, we still had Reke and Cuz trying to dominate the ball and be passers, IT and MT who were hot but would barely pass at all, and all of it left somebody like John with a portfolio that basically consisted of stand out at the three point line and wait. Which mind you is not the worst thing in the world -- our team loses in part because too many of our lesser players refuse to play like roleplayers. But it does limit your contributions. The 4 scores btw were a pair of simple three point hits on little Reke dropoff passes in the early going that helped get us going. A +1 leakout (or would have been +1 but missed the FT) on the break. And a third and final 3pt hit in the third quarter. Minutes were limited, but during only 21+min he put 11 shots, 8 of them from three. Normally far too many shots for a roleplayer, and he wasn't exactly hot with them -- after rattling in the first 2 threes he only hit 1-6 afterwards. But you will note I did not use the term "chuck". Isaiah, Jimmer, Brooks, Thornton, these guys chuck, as in dribble around, think of themselves, and pull up for long 3pt shots off their own dribble that only make sense in the mind of a chucker. But what Salmons did tonight was just spot up and be the outlet man trying to space the floor -- weren't even any of his own drab dribble around and throw up a contested midrange jumper chucks. If he had shot them better, he would have even got a pretty good grade for it. As it was, he wasn't great, but he played a role that needed playing. --Brick
Stats: 36min 21pts (9-11, 0-0, 3-5) 7reb 0ast 1stl 1blk 0TO
Thompson ( A ) -- two games against the Jazz, two different graders, but same result. After a solid month of mediocre erratric play where he lost his title as Kings most consistent player and started to have rumblings of even losing his starting gig, all of a sudden back to back matchups against the Jazz's deep frontline have resulted in two of JT's best games of the year. And if last time in Salt Lake the game was notable for JT stepping up in a big way when we lost Cousins at halftime, this time he was strong and effiicient from the opening tip playing alongside the stars. The fact that Jason is just not a great rebounder anymore aside, this is how you play the roleplayer. He took 11 shots, made 9 of them, and I am not sure there was a single bad shot amongst them. Reke and Cuz created all his early looks, and he just simply knocked them down, whether they be jumpers or dunks. He ran the floor, followed misses. Eventually the passing contagion passed from the stars to the rest of the team, and on an unlikely, spectacular, and dangerous (as in high risk could easily have not worked) play he even got a gratuitous pass from MT on the break for a heavily contested +1 dunk (again, would have been a +1 if he had hit the FT). Marcus had the clear lane himself and threw it to Jason in traffic so it was both unexpected and from a technical standpoint the wrong play. But I say if you're going to error, error on the side of being too unselfish, not too mini-chucker. In any case, Jason did little wrong tonight, and like Salmons really epitomized the roleplayer for us. I had a few reservations about Isaiah and Marcus's strong games because there were selfish elements that would be bad basketball if the shots were not falling. There were no such reservations wiht JT. He played it well, took only the shots you want him to take, and hit them. That's how you get an A as a roleplayer.--Brick
Stats: 29min 13pts (4-9, 0-0, 5-9) 11reb 6ast 3stl 0blk 6TO
Cousins ( B- ) -- you know what you call a team that let's the likes of Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Thornton put up 30 shots in a game while DeMarcus Cousins puts up 9? Well generally you could opt for "morons." Idiots. Either will do. So will other synonyms. But to Big Cuz's considerable credit he made that work tonight. Was having a hard time getting it from the guards in the early going, so did his steal and breakway thing for his first attempt again. And most of the time responded well to the Jazz's defensive attention as he and Reke were splitting the duties creating all the shots in the early going and combining for our first 7 assists of the game. Had a couple of pretty takes inside early during the few times he got the ball cleanly and wasn't doubled. When he returned in the 2nd was nto in rhythm and immeidately missed a jumper, and then had two bad passes for TOs -- should be noted on another both good and bad feature, that most of his turnovers were again of the bad pass variety. That's a salute to a passing focus that went beyond him merely nothcing 6 assists, but its also a continuation of a trend that has been going on for weeks now where for some reason Boogie is trying to pass, but its not consistently ending up in the right hands. Also began to rack up fouls of the "no no no don't foul!....sigh" variety, and they would limit him as the game went along. Started the 3rd off well, again being patient and beating a double team finding IT on a late bailout cut, and started being more featured as the guards consented to getting him the ball and getting out of the way. responded by aggressively racking up fouls on the Jazz frontline and snatched some strong boards. Best play may have been when he hit Jt with a no look bounce pass on the interior for a dunk. Scoring was not huge, but then again tough to score on 9 shots. Turnovers certainly have to be taken into account. But on the other hand I felt like both Cuz and Reke deserved bumps here for helping to set the tone that led to this win. And Cuz was last seen over on the bench participating in the wave that rippled around the arena as the game wound down (slowly as Tyrone Corbin just coaches a ridiculous foul happy endgame). Call it a C+ with tone setting bonus, so B- overall. --Brick
Stats: 30min 12pts (4-10, 0-1, 4-4) 4reb 6ast 2stl 0blk 1TO
Evans ( C+ ) -- This was a hard one. Tyreke didn't play badly, but he didn't impact the game that much either. He made some nice passes for 6 assists, and also played good defense all night long. He started the game by stealing the ball, going end to end and then leaving a layin just short. He followed that by coming off a screen and hitting a 12 footer. He then made a great spin move to the basket, but had his shot blocked. He ended the 1st quarter by by missing a 3 pointer. He started the 2nd quarter by playing great one on one defense on Foye and causing a turnover. He was fouled on his way to the basket, and made both freethrows. He closed out his scoring in the 1st half by dunking the ball on a good outlet pass from Hayes. I won't bore you with all the gory details of the second half. For the most part Tyreke missed most of his attempts in the half until he hit a pullup 20 footer, and finished with a drive right down the middle of the lane for an easy layin. He ended up with 12 points on 4 of 10 shooting in 30 minutes. Not his best night, but he certainly contributed to the win by driving and dishing to teammates, and hustling all night long. One could argue that he deserved a B. --Baja
Stats: 33min 25pts (10-16, 2-4, 3-3) 4reb 3ast 3stl 0blk 3TO
Thomas ( A- ) -- little guy had himself a game, but it was a game with more nose wrinkling to it than JT's, so that's where I am drawing the line between stright A and A-. Was shot over a couple of times early by Tinsley and Watson, but wihtout Mo Williams the Jazz are the last team in the league with the personnel to really take advantage of a PG matchup, and things quickly swung in ITs favor. Hit a catch and shoot corner three in the early going -- and after the month long uberslump has been hitting a few of those recently -- and was taking advantage of all the attention being paid to Cuz and Reke by the Jazz defense and darting into the lane. Unfortunately as often happens with IT, when he has a little success you can almost see his chest puffing out like a blowfish, and by the second quarter he was flat forcing selfish shots and leaving all those assist type things to other, obviously lesser, players. Thing is, it worked. And that's why we have both a good grade, and a grade with a minus here. Fact is that a lot of what we saw was the same thing we hae been seeing from IT. Running too many plays for himself, taking almost as many shots as Reke and Cuz combined. Ego unbecoming a roleplayer etc. When the stuff is not falling it has the non-IT faithful slapping their heads and throwing eggs at pizza guy delivery boys (IT is apparently the local pitch guy for a local Sacto pizza chain). But when the stuff is falling...well, you get a big game. And he had one. At the end of the half raced out on the break and barely beat the halftime buzzer for a layup, and Reke raced over to embrace him as we walked off the court with an 8pt lead. And in the third had calmed back down, the focus was back on Cousins in the post, and IT started the quarter smartly cutting to the hoop to give Cuz a target after the Jazz slapped a hard double on him. Was at least trying to distribute during that quarter (once amusingly to somebody in the 2nd row -- don't know what happened there). But it reverted back in the 4th with IT beginning the quarter looking for clearouts, and sort of breaking the passing meme of the night as he started running up and down the floor taking shots off his dribble -- he hit 4 shots in the first 5 minutes of the quarter, none of which were assisted. But then again...he scored 10 points in 5 minutes to begin the 4th before sitting for the rest of the way. And that was the dual rub here. Tonight it worked and unlike the game in Utah where I felt his numbers were a little empty, he was an impact palyer tonight, and the Jazz never were able to get our perimeter guys under control. You score 25pts on 10-16 shooting that means an A of some kind. --Brick