The final score hardly describes the way the Kings absolutely manhandled the Warriors tonight. They out-muscled, out-shot, and generally outworked the Warriors in every facet of the game. 66 points in the paint and a +22 rebounding advantage shows just how dominant Cousins and Dalembert were inside. Big nights for Marcus Thornton and Dalembert who notched career highs with 42 and 27 points, respectively.
It was a typical start for the Warriors who dug themselves a quick 10-3 hole, forcing Keith Smart to call another early timeout. If there’s a stat for timeouts taken in the first 5 minutes, the Warriors would assuredly be leading the way. Another timeout, 4 turnovers, and an airball later and the Warriors were looking at a now 3-19 whale of a hole. The entire affair was rather demoralizing as the Kings constantly found open cutters and shooters for easy baskets.
Down 25 at one point, the Warriors used the bench for the entire 4th quarter. They managed to pull within 7 on the back of a determined Al Thornton. However, 15 points in the final quarter wasn’t nearly enough to overcome the 23-point lead Sacramento held. You should never count out the Warriors with the way they can light it up, but the Kings gave a consistent effort throughout, never allowing the lead to reach single digits until the waning minutes.
* * *
1st Star: Dorell Wright
He took smart shots, and used his effective pump fake to draw two 3-point fouls. He played the passing lanes and rewarded himself with a couple tough finishes around the rim. Kids, take notes from from your uncle Dorell. 18 points and 3 steals for our sole championship ring-bearer.
2nd Star: Stephen Curry
I feel like a jackass for not giving Steph top honors on his birthday, but he was getting repeatedly burned by Beno, who weaved his way through the minefield of screens set by the Kings. At his current size and skill level, he’ll continue to be a defensive liability, but he has to learn to limit the easy baskets. In spite of that, Curry had it going from deep, 5-8, to no one’s surprise. He’s hardly the same player Allen is, but he even Ray-Ray wasn’t as good a shooter at this age. 19 points, 3 rebounds, and only 1 assist for Steph.
Marcus Al Thornton
If I wasn’t a stickler for my own rules, I’d put the other Thornton up here. In fact, I’d only put Marcus here, but we’ll get to him later. Al did his best M. Thornton impression by pouring 15 points on a series of spot up jumpers, fadeaways in the post, and trips to the line. He’s probably the second best shot-creator on the team, but by no means the second best scorer. As much as I hate his game, black hole, and the way he doesn’t fit the team, no defense, he led what could’ve been the best comeback in NBA history. From down 24 with 5:18 remaining to down 7 with 21 seconds left, they were only a couple of miracles away from making it happen. 23 points on 8 shots(!!!) in only 21 minutes. Stuff of legends, but I’ve already praised Al too much for the night.
* * *
Curry as an elite scorer: Of the top 20 scorers in the league, zero attempt more 3s than 3-pointers. Of the top 40 only one person has a greater 3PT/FT differential, Ray Allen. Curry doesn’t have the benefit of playing off the ball, instead having to run the offense himself while selectively looking for his own shot. If Stephen ever expects to be a top-flight scorer, he’ll need to get to the line more often. Especially with his pristine FT% he’ll be scoring with Kevin Martin-like efficiency. Certainly, not an easy task without the speed or size of the superstars of the league. I suspect his craftiness will play a huge role in how he develops as a point man.
Big Bigs: The lack of size, which should’ve been more apparent against Orlando, was shamefully bared for all to see Monday night. The Kings’ frontcourt certainly isn’t the biggest — the Lakers own that title — or the most talented, still the Lakers, but they were aggressive. They recognized their advantage and made us look foolish for sending Beans out as our starting pivot. The way Cousins and Dalembert embarassed the opposing frontcourt should’ve been like a flare against a pitch-black sky to the new owners. We need size and we want it now! Make it talented, too. And preferably with a heart of gold. Thanks.
Lou Amundson: A series of strong defensive plays against Cousins late in the game makes him worth mentioning. He’s still the biggest liability on offense, and that’s saying something.
Bench play: 59 points for the bench who played the entire 4th, mostly against the other 2nd unit. I don’t like any one player too much, but together they can make it work. The ball is always moving with them, whereas Monta’s offensive talents can sometimes cloud his judgment.
Marcus Thornton: Averaging 22 points with the Kings, he hit a new career-high with 42 points against an uninspired Ellis. On one possession Ellis played a good 8 feet off of Thornton and responded to a front-screen by, uh, standing there. Thornton drained the 3. That pretty much sums up both their nights. More than just being a hard-nosed scorer, Marcus knows how to use his somewhat stocky build to back down smaller defenders, like Steph and Monta. 42 points on 20 shots is astounding. With the season already lost, hopefully the Kings will shut down Tyreke for the rest of the season.
Tyreke Evans: He’s still out with the nagging plantar fasciitis, but his absence was significant. The Kings have an immensely young and talented roster, I truly believe that. However, with Tyreke out the Kings can fully embrace the team aspect on both sides of the ball. Even though they’ve lost 6 straight prior to tonight, they’ve been competitive. It’s not Tyreke’s fault that the Kings have forced him to become more of a playmaker than the natural scorer he is. I’m not saying he’s bad for the same, but he’ll need to elevate his game much further if he ever hopes to be in playoff contention.
DeMarcus Cousins: After hearing all his stories and watching him play tonight, I’ve realized something rather startling. DeMarcus Cousins reminds me of Kobe Bryant. While their actual basketball skills are nothing alike, it was his personality that really struck me. The way he confronted Donte Greene after a tough loss, that’s Kobe. The way he tries to exert his will over his opponents, that’s Kobe. Well the similarities sort of end there, but to see that type of competitive fire from a rookie, elicits images of a young Kobe. Cocky, ruthless, and zero hesitation to give up his first-born for a W. I don’t claim to know anything about his actual off-court personality or work ethics, but it’ll be interesting to see how his persona develops in the media’s eyes.
Anaheim: It seems like the move is all but official. The date to sign a new lease has been extended, but it seems as though everyone is preparing themself for the worst. It’s sad, but it’s times like these we need to remind ourselves that the NBA is still a business at its core.
* * *
The Warriors host the Mavs Wednesday for their first ever Bollywood themed night. The game is expected to be aired in India with “Got Curry?”
t-shirts handed out to the first 15,000 fans. Dallas will be coming off a tough game with Portland the night before. With a day’s rest, the Warriors should have no excuses to play competitively. Every game at Oracle is winnable, so 115-109 please.