K, for most of the game the bright spot was Tyreke slipping right back into his rhythm -- the longer this goes on, the more chance there is that its a permanent condition, and then your big boggle will be simply how much do you offer for a 50% shooting 20ppg defensive minded SG?
Then of course the IT supernova flared and made the normal bright or dim spots irrelevant. Actually it should be noted IT's defense was pathetic and I'm not going to give him a "+" to his A because of it. But he got as silly hot as any King in recent memory, poured in 23 points in the 4th quarter, and singlehandedly had us in position to steal it.
All of which means no Girls, which is just as well, as a whole bunch of kids out this way got killed today by some gun toting nut, right in my backyard -- I used to work with a partner who's kids went to that very school. I have an ex girlfirend with a 3 yr old daughter (with her husband) who lives less than 10 miles down the road. Its possible in a few years her girl would have gone there. So...not in a festive theme mood. Grades will come as usual though.
Don't normally post the kingsflix highlights for losses, but since I am not doing a theme:
Stats: 28min 3pts (1-7, 1-4, 0-0) 2reb 3ast 0stl 0blk 1TO
Salmons ( D+ ) --- you know, from before this game even began you knew John could not guard Durant. No hope. We saw that last year, and gee is it any shocker when your blown up (and not even really that blown up) SG can't guard the other team's PF height SF. And it was there from the very first shot of the game, with Durant calmly splashing one in over our smallballer. There in the final boxscore too as Durant dropped a cool 31pts...on 10-14 shooting. The only sweat he worked up on the night was while watching the dance team's moves during the breaks. So John fired back with...3pts. On 1-7 shooting. For a few minutes early in the game he disguised his impotence by greasing what offense we had early with willing passing. He set JT up for his first two hoops, and doing the roleplayer thing. Unfortunately the roleplayer thing also includes hitting open threes when you get set up for them, and John only hit one shot on the night (indeed a three, in the early third to cut the lead to 10). On any reasonable team that would jump out as a major weak link. On ours, he fit right in and might have been the strongest SF to take the field -- the other two, Cisco and Johnson, combined to shoot 1-8 for 2pts. So Them: 10-14 31pts. Us: 2-15 5pts. Hmm.
Stats: 29min 15pts (6-7, 0-0, 3-4) 6reb 4ast 1stl 1blk 2TO
Thompson ( B ) -- all of our early points on little garbageman gimmes from Salmons, and carried that role through all game lng without ever losing the efficiency. Knocked down one jumper and some FTs in the earyy third as we made our (non-IT) move, but for the most part was just putting on a clinic of making himself available near the hoop. Grabbing some rebounds would have been a nice complement, as we got crunched again, but picked up a few in his later minutes. Never did have any control over Serge Ibaka, who knows a thing or two about doing the roleplayer/present yourself for open shots thing himself. Course, that gets easier when JT is leaving you entirely open half the time. Like the other starters, lost all his late minutes because IT was completely carrying our bench and making them look good. Still would have liked to have seen the guy with 15pts on 6-7 shooting get back into the game for the stretch minutes and see if we could actually have stolen this one.
Stats: 28min 10pts (3-12, 0-0, 4-4) 7reb 2ast 1stl 1blk 2TO
Cousins ( C ) -- after having his first jumper blocked by Perkins, which wasn't a terribly promising start, settled in and had himself a very solid/strong/in control first quarter. This was one of those learning games for Boogie, where you saw him alter his style of play based on past problems. In this case the problem, if you may remmeber, is that Serge Ibaka likes to block every single groundbound flip Boogie puts up inside. So as it was vs. guys like Hibbert, Boogie shifted his game outside toward the long jumpers. And after the opening miscue, that worked pretty well for him aginst Perkins, who would just assume not be out that far. If that was all he had done though, it would just have been a passive finesse center sort of game. Fortunately however we got to see flashes of a lot of his stuff out there. Had a nice interior pass through traffic to set TRob up for his only hoop. Picked up a long rebound at full gallop and raced down the floor for the layup. Amazing one handed snatch on a too high pass from Reke on the break led to more points. Didn't get into foul trouble -- in fact in a development that underscores our desperate need to require a shotblocker in there, on multiple occasions in this game visibly pulled back rather than challenge things around the rim in order to avoid any chance at a foul. Hey, if that's what he has to do to stay on the floor then...ok I guess. Its like he was playing with 5 fouls from the beginning. But it leaves you without even the pretense of a defensive anchor in there, which means you NEED to go get another one to handle the duties. Was played well into the 2nd quarter as Smart tries something new rotationwise, and in a welcome development left Reke and Cuz out there to try to stabilize the bench. Of course it did not work, and they were left out so long that fatigue probably hit, but at least it beats the 12 minutes of 5 scrubs out there togetehr crap we've had to watch all year in 2nd quarters. When Boogie returned, never regained his former level or comfort zone. He immediately forced a fallaay jumper with no hope that was just a bad shot. Started the 3rd with a sdie jumper which was short, and then was largely frozen out/forgotten about in the third, and I think as that often does with Boogie, that sort of damaged his rhythm and calm and he ended up forcing up a togfh tough poor shot in the late 3rd, leading to his being replaced by Hayes. Givne that Chuck Hayes scored 0pts and grabbed 1reb in 20min of action while using his awesome suhtdown defense on such scoring studs as Kendrick Perkins and Hasheem Thabeet, I still would have liked ot have seen Boogie back in that game for the final 3-4 minutes to try to help IT close this thing out. Grade better than numbers this time, as if you watched the game you could feel the control and maturity and strength of the game early, whatever the numbers said.
Stats: 35min 21pts (8-12, 0-1, 5-7) 4reb 2ast 3stl 0blk 2TO
Evans ( A- ) -- slow start to this one as he was maybe our least involved starter in the early going, and yet came on stronger on stronger until he was easily the best player on the court not named Durant. Made a great one armed offensive rebound in the early going, but the ofense did not really get going until the Thunder put Kevin Martin on him, and all of a suddent he Jordan tongue came for Reke as he just physically overpowered Kevin to the hoop for the +1 the same as he has done in the past -- Kevin just can't guard him, and Reke knows it and seems to relish it. I'm nto sure how much confidecne Reke had in the jumepr this time as he seemed to be avoiding situations where he's have to sue it, once passed on an open three to dribble in a few steps and miss a tougher one etc., but ketp coming up with real nifty moves to the hoop, and impressively took on all comers. Embarrassed Westbrook with a lightning spin move. Began to look very confident almost toying with Thabo Sefalosha as the game went along, and Thabo is a pretty damn good defender. Had a real nice drive in the early 3rd, and then a a steal up top and breakaway to cut the lead down to 12. Played some splashed of excellent defense on Westbrook as well as he was up on his toes -- the nnoyance there is that he did not get a chance to play more of it, as we didn't keep him consistently in that matchup nad our little points were, as usual, infeffective defensively. In his final minutes came up with a beautful spin drive to the kickout to Salmons for a three, but John missed it. And a nifty flash play on the break with the faked behind the back pass leading to the +1 finish -- looked like something out of those summer tournament youtube videos. Played long minutes, but when it mattered the coach choked again, inexplicably sticking with Jimmer for the stretch run rather thann bringing back the guy with a spectacular 21pts on 8-12 shooting. Regardless of coaching, he was clearly right back into that great rhythm we've seen him in for a long time now. Get this: despite the early season struggles, Reke is now shooting the highest percentages of his career from the field, 3pt land, and the line. He's shot .520 in the last month of action. Excepting a 3 game in 4 night struggle from Nov 2- Nov 4 where he shot 9-38, he is shooting .508 from the field on the season. And somewhat unnoticed, Reke closed last season shooting .498 in March and .500 in April.
Stats: 23min 13pts (4-8, 2-4, 5-7) 2reb 1ast 0stl 0blk 3TO
Brooks ( C ) -- he weebles, he wobbles, but somehow he gets just enough done that our starting unit remains functional. Forced a dumb jumper off his dribble from the corner to start, and Westbrook was having his way with him early. But forces or not, Brooks started to get some points back the other way and by the end of the first quarter was one of two guys along with Cousins who had us right in this thing. Never did show any contorl of the team hwoever, which is almost a nightly comment in his grades. Always on the border of being out of control, and kept on overpenetrating late in the half. Added yet another technical complaining after he was stripped on a drive -- with our starters we've gto two stoic stoenfaces in Reke and Salmons, and then three bitter beer face complainers. Bright spot in the early third, when he drained back to back threes off of good ball movement. But as the quarter wore on, slowly slipped toward selfishness again, and of all the starters, he was the one who it would have been justified to keep out late, given that his replacement scored 26 pts in 16 minutes of course.