And that, ladies and gents, is how you do it.
And yes, that even extends to a coach who suddenly and abruptly grew a brain stem after half. I don't hate Keith Smart. I hate idiots who don't understand the game. If Keith Smart wants to act like an idiot, I hate him. But tonight, after half in particular, all of a sudden we looked like a real basketball team coached by a real coach. Rotations tightened, guys came back when they should. We dominated the third quarter running play after play off a high pick sequence with Reke and Cousins involved every time. And with a coach making good decisions, all of a sudden we looked pretty good ourselves. Now we'll see it it means anything next game.
Highlights per kingsflix:
Random funny pic sent to me just now:
Stats: 28min 8pts (3-8, 2-4, 0-0) 5reb 1ast 0stl 0blk 1TO
Salmons ( C+ ) -- a better effort than he had in the first Utah game. He still saw several Utah shooters drain threes in his face, and there you can really feel the difference between having Johnson or Salmons out there on defense -- at 6'9" and long, when Johnson challenges a shooter he smothers them. Salmons is more of a big guard and can play perfect defense and still have guys able to shoot over him. But tonight it wasn't nearly the problem it was in the game in Utah, and after getting outscored 20-4 by Marvin Williams in Utah, tonight John played him to an 8-8 draw, and in fact I think was a little better overall than Williams. Offensively felt he was again taking a few too many of his little dribble around and look for a midrange jumper things, but he hit a little hot streak in the early third, getting one to fall, and then following it up with a three off a broken play as we started gaining momentum. Not a great game here, but we don't actually want great games from John. Just hold down the fort and stay out of the way, and he mostly handled those duties as the Jazz SFs did not have an impact this time out.
Stats: 33min 16pts (6-12, 0-0, 4-6) 9reb 2ast 0stl 1blk 1TO
Thompson ( B ) -- solid and efficient statline, and a particulalry important player for us after Cousins was ejected. Had good energy in the early going, but productivity did not pick up until the second quarter. Had been bouncing aorudn early with a lot of his fugly tips and fumbles inside, and in fact had fought with Cousins over several boards, including one time that led to a turnover. But after his return his energy and activity was almost the onyl thing keeping us going in the latter stages of the first half, as he banged around inside for tips, drew fouls, and scored 8 points in the final 6 minutes of the half. Was never really anything more than solid after half , but solid, and tall, was what we needed. Started the third missing an easy jumper st up for him on a platter, but remained active on the offensive glass working in the shadows behind all the Reke/Cousins two man stuff we were running. Milsap began to get something going against him for the first time in the two games in the third, but after Cousins left and he shifted over to center, was solid on Big Al, including returnign late in the game and making a nice defensive stand against him inside the 3min mark as we put this away. This wasn't an aesthetically pleasing game no matter how efficient the numbers look, but was solid enough to warrant the straight B I think.
Stats: 30min 14pts (6-11, 0-1, 2-4) 9reb 3ast 0stl 0blk 2TO
Cousins ( B ) -- much better start than the last game. Where in Utah Cousins looked oddly uninvolved, he was very active from the beginning this time out, swiping at a lot of balls, playing actively with Reke, could see real effort. The interaction wiht Reke is especially enouraging, as we have been seeing more and more pick and rolls, Reke backcuts, and two man stuff out of them. Came up wiht a couple of spectaculr hoops in the thrid, both on the hightlight reel above. On one dropped a quick crossover dribble on Big Al, whihc again is just not something guys his size do, or have ever done. On the other went into full on beast mode, grabbing a big board and then just bullying Favors under the hoop before finishing with a monster flush on his head. What had him so fired up was the same thing I was watching that was so enoucraging -- as agin and again, for minutes at a time, we were running a high 2 man game with Reke and Cuz, and they were both looking for each other. Both guys were getting their shot,s but more importantly we were suddenly structured and everybody else was getting good looks too as the Jazz struggled to contain it. GREAT sign for the future if we start running a lot of that. After years of having no idea what we were running, it looked like a potential staple using our two best players as anchors. Who would've thunk? Anyway, things were going swimmingly until we had a Boogie moment. Maybe a bogus moment too, because I don't for an instant beleive Dwight Howard would ahve been treated the same way. In any case, Cuz and Kanter started banging viciosuly on one play, and suddenly the ref stepped in...not to calla foul on Cuz, which was possible. But to call a ticky technical on him apparently for swatting the ball away after the whistle, which was bang bang btw. And then 30 seconds later, at the end of what looked like a generally civil conversation wiht a ref, hewas suddenly tagged with a second technical and booted from the game. Which unless he was over there casually talking to that ref about his wife and the 5 midgets and a goat she was with last night, smelled suspiciously like a B.S. reputation ejection to me. Anyway, suddenly he was gone, and the two man game with which we had seized control of the game was gone with him. Our guys responded the right way though, and amazingly so did Smart, ridiing his remaining star in Reke, and even amazingly actually subbing him back in in the 4th on time to help close things up for us. I am mostly ignoring the ejection with this grade, because this wasn't one of those egregious DeMarcus grow up moments.
Stats: 37min 27pts (9-17, 0-1, 9-9) 5reb 5ast 2stl 0blk 2TO
Evans ( A ) -- yay! Reke is back, and he's brought a jumper this time. In the last 4 games he's averaging 21.8pts 5reb 4.5ast 1.8stl on .525 shooting. Sound like anybody we once knew? And the coach even played him full minutes tonight. Now if we could just get Cousins in gear we might have something. Was out on the break attacking from the early going here, and working well with Cuz again, both creating and being created for. Was finding a lot of guys early, but slowed a bit late in the quarter after the Jazz subbed in DeMarre Carrool to check him. On the other end of the court wasn't doing a good enough job of smothering Foye, and we paid for it as Foye drained 4 first quarter threes -- Foye just got silly hot there as he didn't seem to care if he was challenged or not and was drainging them over everybody, covered or not, but still. Suffered through another of Smart's long second quarter freezeouts and didn't do much after returning, but came out in the third with a bang and never looked backed, pouring in 21 seconds half points (that number is a bit exaggeratd by the Jazz playing the intentional foul game late). The lane opened up for him in the early third and he raced in for the big one handed dunk, but what was so impressive as we dominated the third was Reke running the show as we ran play after play featuring Reke and Cuz playign off each other and creating for others. Cousins departure of course ruined that stretch, but maybe it made the decision to bring back Reke on time, at the 8 minute mark, easier for Smart. Was shaky for a few minutes after his return, including committing the sin of fouling Foye on a three point attempt, but Foye amazingly missed all three FTs, Reke picked it back up, and looked exremely confident downt he stretch. He even stepped in to take a big charge in the final minute, and as mentioend knocked down all the intentional foul FTs as he went 9-9 from the line. Almost went with the same minus I have been giving him for the last week, this time because of the defensive mistakes against Foye. But this was star stuff.
Stats: 32min 13pts (5-6, 3-4, 0-0) 0reb 2ast 4stl 0blk 1TO
Brooks ( B+ ) -- another extremely efficient night for Brooks playing next to Reke -- since moving into the starting lineup 5 games ago, Brooks is shooting .704. . Played well early in all aspects, making a nice drive and shovel pass to JT inside, knocking down a three off his dribble, and really trying to smother Tinsely defensively. But in typical fashion never returned after the first quarter as Smart went off on his normal backup PG exploratory mission, splitting the entire 2nd quarter between Jimmer and IT, neither of whom was particularly effective. Came out in the third and was truly off the ball as Reke and Cuz dominated the ball, but was very effective working as that off the ball spacer draining open threes. And Smart finally helped out too, as he amazingly went to a 3-guard rotation after half, played Brooks into the early parts of the 4th, let Reke take over at PG for a spell, and then returned Brooks to help close it out. Textbook. While it didn't matter by that point as we were closing things out, at the 1:30 mark was amused to see him get stripped on a very similar play to the one that lost things for us last night, as he tried to beat Tinsely, and Tinsely reached out and slapped it away form him again. Its a one-diimensional statline, but really has been working well with Reke and Cousins, not getting in the way, and settling things with his experience.