The Boogie Monster is starting to really heat up now (16.5pts 12.5reb 5.8ast in 4 games since returning), and he has a Robin. Against the Cavs frontline its exactly what should have happened: 37pts 26rebs 8ast between them. And ballgame.
Stats: 32min 7pts (3-6, 1-4, 0-0) 3reb 3ast 1stl 0blk 3TO
Salmons ( C ) -- not this time. For the entire game that 3 word phrase would have described this outing: not this time. Gee was just better than Salmons at pretty much everything, and John was mostly just a body thrown out there to eat some minutes. His only hit in the early going was a tough shot, i.e. one of those Salmons drives and pullups for a tough little jumper he should never have taken. He wasn't hitting his threes, although the mere threat he might do so got him subbed back in for Johnson at one point as Cuz needed somebody to be a real threat on the kick. And then, after 31 largely wasted minutes, Cuz DID find John on the kick to the corner for the three, and he drained it with 53 seconds to go to send us into the lead and break the Cavs' backs. So, quiet game, clutch three = this grade.
Stats: 36min 19pts (8-16, 3-4, 0-0) 10reb 2ast 0stl 3blk 1TO
Thompson ( B+ ) -- His game rarely wavers anymore. Some nice little scores in the early going hit a jumper, missed a one on one post move, got a garbage hoop, the normal. But not on the glass. Once Cousins went out became more effective banging inside and was useful in making sure we almost always had one big inside presence out there in this one. Provided Boogie support in the early 3rd as DeMarcus began working the Cavs over. Support boardwork, cleaning up Boogie misses. Hit a long jumper to start the 4th again and was able to battle and alter numerous shots from the Cavs' shaky frontline. Luke Walton eventually hit a three on him, but who cares, you want Luke shooting. Being solid is oh so valuable to this Kings team, but doesn't make for a lot of grades chatter. Just good/solid Grades grades.
Stats: 34min 18pts (7-17, 0-0, 4-4) 16reb 6ast 2stl 1blk 1TO
Cousins ( A- ) -- another very strong game for Cuz. In fact probably stronger than the numbers, and the numbers were big. Got off ot the fast start both on the boards and scoring, but again it might have been the composure and passing that was most impressive. Half the time when he went inside he was actually looking pass first and setting up people both inside and out. Its a huge huge thing when your stars do that. We saw Reke getting that before he left, now Cuz. If we could ever get the two of them together... Ran several good pick and pass plays with Cisco ala the old Webb/Brad Miller offense. Started to overwhelm Zeller as he went along, and then when the Cavs went to the bench and came up with Luke Walton it reached you have to be kidding level. Looked very good and comfortable out there, and when he returned later in the half he immediately resmed the strong play. Hit a jumper, grabbed a strong rebound and made a nice fullcourt pass to TRob leaking out for the layup. Started the third with a bang, hitting a jumper and simply dominating the glass, and still bieng active on defense. Maybe got the benefit of a close call on Walton trying to take a charge, and got the +1 out of it. Not sure how Bill will feel abou Cuz running over his kid next time we are blessed with his presence on a telecast. On the other end blatantly, and as it turns out correctly, refused to even guard Walton, giving him 8 feet of room and encouraging him to chuck up broken jumpers. When he returned to the game for the last time came in as a passer not a scorer, and immediately started setting people up again. Had several near misses, and settled for a jumper when you would have rather have seen him inside -- the shooting numbers are stubbornly low, and that is what I hung the "-" on in this grade, but they weren't bad shots. Just still has to get better at gathering himself inside rather than trying to quickly flip something in. Watch old Shaq videos or something...and I mean game videos, not Kazaam. Came up with the huge steal at a critical time with 3:00 to go, took it rumbling the other way...and damn near fumbled it away at the end. Got enormously lucky Cisco was there to pick it up and lay it in. He was not abel to finish those shots late, and hence as I said, the minus, but he still won the game for us as the passing came forth one more time, and with 50 secodns to go he rumbled across the lane and ratehr than try to flip up the tying shot, he turned it into a drive and dish to Salmosn spotted in the corner for the backbreaking three and a lead we never relinquished therafter. Is averaging 5.8assists/gm since coming back, which is the belated promise he showed the second half of his rookie year.
Stats: 34min 14pts (6-14, 2-6, 0-0) 6reb 2ast 2stl 2blk 0TO
Garcia ( B ) -- if last game Cisco was ineffective as could be, during this one he roleplayered up a storm. And really moreso, as he took an abnormally large number of shots, many of them set up by Cuz, both spotting up for threes, and cutting to the hoop as Cuz worked as high post passer. Defensively it was not an excellent outing as he could not control Miles in the early going, and later would have problems with Waiters, although both of those Cavs benefitted immensely from our small guards and got a lot of their production against Jimmer/Brooks. But if Cisco wasn't exactly locking people up, he was very active, got several of his help blocks including a big one in the late 4th, and was even a factor on the glass, which is so rare its almost a first. Was taking a lot of our shots late. Not exactly an ideal situation. Made some big help defensive plays, but missed most of those shots, and a missed open three off of good ball movment at the 1:15 mark could have sunk us . Made plenty fo contributions this time, but remained just Cisco.
Stats: 19min 8pts (3-8, 0-2, 2-3) 1reb 4ast 1stl 0blk 1TO
Thomas ( C- ) -- got off to a poor start to this one, on the very first defensive possession, fouled Irving on the +1 play, and somehow missed several wide open looks he created for himself. He was quickly replaced by Brooks and never returned for the rest of the half. Got off to the much better start to the third, got an assist to Boogie, a 3pt play, and was playing solid defense on Irving. But his team play broke down as the quarter went along and he became increasingly 1 on 1 oriented. Irving began to wake up as well and force offense through him, and after some selfish play in the final minutes of the quarter and a lousy shot to close the quarter, was again repalced and never returned.