Taking the self inflicted wound meme to new heights, from the coaches on down to the 12th man, this was going to be fugly no matter who won it. Alas we did not, and it was there for the taking.
Highlights via kingsflix:
Stats: 21min 9pts (3-6, 0-0, 3-4) 5reb 0ast 2stl 0blk 4TO
Johnson ( B ) -- a bright point as he had the strongest game of the young season. Was not perfect as there was still some real slop with the ball, and just dumb pass attempts resulting in obvious TOs. But lots of effort, and found out something surprising in that he could get aroudn his man with relative easy and the Spurs lane was not closing as he rumbled down the lane for layups and dunks. Our defense was much better when he was on the floor as he again made a number of effort plays trying to keep us breathing in that 2nd quarter mess. Lost far too many minutes on the night to guys he should not have lost minutes to, and our lineup balance issues were obvious when JJ, who was right there as effective as anybody else on the squad on the night, watched the 4th quarter fade from the bench and only notched 21min on the night. Of course then again, at the rate he was handing the Spurs the ball, he might have had 10 TOs had he played big minutes.
Stats: 38min 17pts (7-10, 0-0, 3-4) 6reb 1ast 2stl 1blk 0TO
Thompson ( B+ ) -- stood out, way out, for again being the guy playing within himself and playing efficiently. The irony that JT is now our efficient playing within himself rock is enormous. Got off to the quiet start, but hit a smooth long jumper after Cousins went out, and as the second quarter turned into a debacle, was about the only King doing anything in the later stages of the half. Was sittting on 10pts at half, so we then came out of the lockerroom and called the play for him to start the third...at which point he promptly airballed the 16 foot jumper. It was that kind of night for the whole team. Followed that by missing a Cousins pass for a turnover. But maybe got lucky when DeJuan Blair smacked him in the mouth later in the quarter, as JT responded very well, playing very actively and highlighted by a strong spinning move through 4 Spurs (its in the highlights). Was playing well enoguh that he got a lot of the 4th quarter minutes, but may have blown his chance to prove he should have them every night, as he got very quiet when we needed him to continue his strong play. Rebounding remains a bit of a concern as well. Just hasn't been hitting the boards thus far this season, and it was only another 6 in 38min tonight. Jason's 8.9 rebs/per 48 thus far in the season puts him at #158 in the NBA, tied with Kyle Lowry in between Kawhi Leonard and Matt Barnes, and still trailing Tyreke.
Stats: 23min 14pts (4-14, 0-0, 6-7) 9reb 3ast 1stl 0blk 2TO
Cousins ( C- ) -- sigh, these foul trouble games are tough to grade. The fact is that DeMarcus Cousins is averagng 27.7pts 15.6reb per 48 min right now this season. Dwight Howard is averaging 27.8pts 13.2reb per 48. The problem is that every other game DeMarcus is lucky to get half that many minutes. This was one of those too where the early fouls that pinned him weren't in the course of good action. Had one big early highlight,as he is thriving with our new defensive strategy of having our bigs show up top and deny and got another one of his steals and full court gallops, finishing with a dunk+1 over Green. But little ticky mistakes, and one time Tim Duncan abruptly getting clumsy and falling down and Boogie getting called for being nearby and not helping a senior citizen, were the story fo the night. With Tim Duncan having recently drunken from whatever elixir of youth that Nash has been sipping from for years (and let's hope that is just a turn of phrase rather than something like the other sports have dealt wth) it was going to be a battle all night anyway. But once the fouls quickly piled up -- Boogie got fewer than 10 min before half -- we barely got to see the matchup with both guys able to play hard. Got called for his 4th foul fighting hard and playing good physial defense on Duncan. But at some point there both we and he just seemed to say screw it, and we started to run iso post sets with Boogie on Duncan, and let's just say that he wasn't shy about contact. Took an amusing page straight out of Shaq's book after he found that Duncan can still smother you in the post, and twice just lowered his shoulder, sent Duncan flying, and stepped through to lay it in. If that's back in the NBA rulebook, Boogie is going to be a monster. Otherwise though, even when he got the step on Duncan and got to the rim, was again having problems squeezing it on up and finishing those opportunities. The other way, as mentioned Duncan looks like 2005 Duncan right now, and Boogie was no more than decent on him in the early going, then had to stick his hands his pockets in the midgame, and finally got loose and sloppy as the game got away from us and watched Duncan get several easy ones late. So more big per minute productivity (14pts 9reb 3ast in 22min), but lacking minutes, and what got the minus here is that his scoring consisted of 1 steal and breakaway, 2 things that could have been offensive fouls, and 1 late jumper, mixed around 10 flubs and missed finishes.
Stats: 33min 12pts (5-13, 0-2, 2-2) 6reb 3ast 1stl 0blk 1TO
Evans ( C ) -- first of all, the defining trait of this early season has reached a stage here where its really not about Reke having a good jumper a poor one -- you can see in game after game rihgt now he has NONE. Which is a mental thing not a physical thing. Right now its been so long since one has fallen through that you can see it playing with both his head and the opponents', who are just collapsing back in a huge way and invitiing him to shoot. On the other hand he has no confidence in it and all and doesn't want to shoot it, but feels like he has to. In the early going of this one the Spurs did the collapsing thing, but Reke did not force anything, and the result was a very quiet early game. Not accomplishing much offensively, but doing no harm if you will. Think he had 2pts 2rebs at half, and was kicking the ball around rather than forcing stuff, save for one spin move into heavy traffic immediately after returning in our lousy 2nd quarter. And that was a recurring theme -- we needed soemthign there, so he pressed the issue and tried to create, although it was a mistake. Similiarly, after we lost Cuz in the 3rd one more time we saw the step up response as he got much more aggressive, if not much more efficient. That was the period when much of both the good and the bad of his game took place, as he startign attacking into heavy traffic, and trying to take those offered jumpers and give us a spark. He did, but there was no long stretch of dominant play, and he was missing as often as hitting. Rebounding and general energy picked up at the same time, got his hands on several balls creating steals, and in general was an aggressive player. After returning for the stretch run did not do much other than hit one tough drive that was probably a bad decision. Threw up a final bricked half assed three at the final horn I think just hoping to see that ball go through the basket. Haven't mentioend the defense much here because its beocming pretty much a constant at this point -- had nobody much to guard, but nobody he did guard did much. So another night of contributing across the board, except as a shooter where he is just nonexistent right now.
Stats: 29min 10pts (3-11, 1-5, 3-4) 4reb 2ast 1stl 0blk 3TO
Thomas ( D+ ) -- well, a game with a lot of flavor. Most of it not good flavor, but at least there was a lot to talk about. Struggled mightily in the early going on offense, missing shot after makeable shot , adn then getting a timeout called and a chewout from Smart after he tried to dribble through 4 Spurs and turned it over to break a run that had put us up 13-10. Continued throwing up brick after brick, many of them on openish jumpers, until he finally broke his streak when he came up with a layup high off he glass in the mid third to cap a big surge and give us the lead back. Felt there was a little more energy/physicalness to his game tonight than he's had early this season, and against a Tony Parker apparently slowed by the flu his defense was good. Unfortunately Tony Parker did have the flu, which means that Pop threw Patty Mills on the floor. And that got ugly as for some reason, call it the Barea effect, Mills (averaging 1.5ppg coming in) just lit IT up. Just killed him to the tune of 8-9 shooting and 18 points in 21min (not all on IT, but most). Part of it being a nasty habit IT has developed of leaving his men open aroudn the 3pt line and then trying to run back to recover when they get the ball. Except he's 5'9", and they are paying him no attention at all. And Mills was all over him the other way too, as he matched IT's quickness and didn't allow us to get into sets. Isaiah returned at the 3 minute mark with Brooks not effective leading us. Got fouled and hit both, but then one more time gave Mills the wide open corner three, and after forcing a drive resulting ina TO the game was effectively over. Got a little padding when he finally hit a three off ball movement with 1:00 to go -- his only hit on a 1-5 night from out there. Despite the poor game I'll had a + here for the Parker defense, suspect as Parker may have been tonight with the illness.