Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE
Kings lead for most of the game, go up by 13 in the 4th, only to be stopped when it counts the most
NBA Regular Season 2012-2013, Game 13:
Sacramento Kings 102 @ Utah Jazz 104
Having looked at all the info, I'm really happy for this win -- but I was pissed off at the Jazz for the first 40+ minutes.
The Kings and Jazz started this game off nicely, but then Sacramento went into overdrive with Aaron Brooks and his guys hitting every three they took. DeMarcus Cousins was holding it down defensively one on one against Al Jefferson, while Tyreke Evans got into the lane at will -- drawing in all kinds of defense, and dishing it out to open shooters. The Kings went on a 7-0 run and then a 12-4 run BOTH in the first quarter. The two teams went to the bench and immediately the Jazz went on a 9-2 run, and ended the first quarter ONLY down 4.
In the second quarter the Jazz bench continued to beat up on the Kings bench, bringing the lead down to 1; before the tide turned. The lead ballooned up to 4 again (not the 10 that the starters got it up to, but hey), and both teams returned to their starting lineups. The Jazz actually tied the game before halftime, and held serve over the next few minutes. The Jazz finished the half down 1.
During the second quarter Mo Williams sustained a right ankle sprain and had to leave the game. Earl Watson played his first basketball of the season. Marvin Williams had 11 first half points, mostly on going to the line 5-5, while our pair of 2010 Draft Classers, Hayward and Favors, brought much needed energy and defensive effort to the table. The Kings were still hitting threes while Tyreke and Marcus Thornton dominated us. Oh, also there was this Jimmer Fredette guy too, and he was quietly having a very nice game.
For my sanity I'm not going to go into it in much detail -- but after the starters on both sides were keeping it close, the Kings starters went on a 10-0 run in the third. In the ultimate "I learned it from watching you" moment, then in the early fourth quarter our bench surrendered an 8-0 run and before you know it, we were down 13. Tyrone Corbin, looking for that magic, kept mixing and matching groups (mainly in response to the Mo injury, he would not return to play after he left the game in the second) -- benched Randy Foye (it wasn't pretty for him tonight despite hitting his customary 2/5 from deep). The Jazz finished the game with a 17-2 run while Jamaal, Gordon, Marvin, Derrick, and Big Al were on the floor. That's 4 guys who have (at times) come off the bench this season with Jefferson (who has started every game since he's been here).
Utah clawed back into it with perfection from the free throw line, the Kings kept getting whatever they wanted via dribble penetration or just flat out great outside shooting (Jimmer, the forgotten man after all the great play by Brooks, Evans, and Thornton, made as many threes last night as our entire team did . . . ). Defensive stops and dumb-dumb plays by Cousins (0-2 FG, 2 fouls, 1 turn over in the last 4:55) allowed the Jazz with a chance to win it.
And they did. Thank God! I was so pissed off for most of this game . . .
- Gordon Hayward (SF/SG -- 29:34), Hayward was aggressive all game long. Being off the bench and in a situation where he can be so assertive brings out a completely different Gordon than the passive one we see with Big Al on the floor. He did not stop attacking all game long and finished with 23 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block. He went to the line 9 times, making all of them, and defensively was the last man back on a number of transition attempts -- and his length prevented a few easy baskets. (Look at it this way, yes, he got the game winner tonight, but his hustle back on defense in transition prevented 4-6 points which is more individually impressive to me) While Gordon didn't hit any threes (0/2) he did have the biggest shot of the night. His defense was mixed in the halfcourt, but let's be fair here, Marcus Thornton and Tyreke Evans were making some insane shots. Hayward got us the win by being a two-way player: offense and defense.
- Marvin Williams (SF/PF -- 33:30), Maaaarr-vinnnn was "that guy" that we saw in the preseason and first game of the regular season tonight. I really, honestly, think it's because they started him off by posting him up and getting him to the free throw line. Usually he starts off as a guy taking cold spot up jumpers as an "option C" type player on a given play. That works for Randy, but Marvin is more of an AK slasher first, than a spot up shooter. Marvin came to play and finished with 20 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 made three. He also went to the line a lot last night, and went 7-7. He wasn't as big of a defensive impact player tonight as I would have wanted, but he was an offensive impact player. Often he was the guy working hard to get open, and he wanted the ball and took the shots at the right movements to cut into leads and sustain momentum. He shot 50 fg%, and finished with 1.67 PPS.
- Jamaal Tinsley (PG -- 30:52), he was called into action with a bigger role due to Mo's injury and he responded with a 12 assist (1 turn over), 6 rebound, 2 steal, 4 point game. He's not a scoring threat by any means, but he does work all game long to set up his team mates. A 12:1 assist to turn over ratio allows you to be on the floor while shooting 25 fg%. Jamaal, though, was huge on defense. Not just with the steal to set up the game winner -- that was huge as he stopped Aaron Brooks one on one -- but also his rebounding and ability to draw fouls on dumb players. That was key.
- Al Jefferson (C -- 33:36), Al quietly had one of his more efficient games tonight. He scored 17 points, had 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block; however, more impressive to me was him going to the free throw line 4 times (making 3), and shooting an over-all 53.8 fg% for the night. This was a game where the margin of victory was razor thin, if he's shooting poorly (or his regular) then we don't keep it close. In the 3rd quarter Big Al went 4/5, with 2 rebounds and 2 assists. In the 4th quarter he went 2/3, went 3/4 from the free throw line, and added 1 rebound and 1 steal. He finishes much better than he has starts this season, and we needed every bit of his offense on this insanely efficient second half just to stay in it (1.88 PPS in the second half)!!! His defense was really bad at times, getting killed on the pick and roll and rotating as poor as ever. But I guess that's just who he is, 574 games into his career (regular season and playoffs combined).
- Derrick Favors (PF/C -- Favors pretty much had his best game against DeMarcus Cousins ever in H2H. Well, I guess it was more of him going up against Jason Thompson. Favors was the guy I singled out in the player focus, particularly because he was sent to the bench for this game. He responded with 16 points, 14 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. He had 9 offensive rebounds, got to the line 3 times (made 2), and managed some really good defensive rotations. The "young guys" lineup didn't look great, but I think it's not really the "young guys" lineup if DeMarre Carroll is in there for Alec Burks, but you already can assume how I feel about that. Favors anchored not just that line up, but also the lineup that finished the game. (Just like he was the anchor in that Toronto Raptors game as well) He really makes up for what Al Jefferson surrenders on defense, and is capable of doing this better than Paul Millsap (who played 19:42 minutes and finished with 10 points and 1 rebound). Favors really made a huge impact on offense as a guy setting screens. The Kings were routinely killed by his screens, not because they were the Boston Celtics style moving screens, but just that Favors was so big with them. He's worked on this a lot and he really freed up his guys all night long. He freed up Gordon for the game winner, but did that earlier in the 4th as well. He also freed up Marvin on a couple of his jumpers too. Favors only shot 46.7 fg% tonight, but the team still managed a 129 ORtg with him on the court, and the best individual DRtg of the night.
I would have normally written about Marvin Williams here and his Marvelous game; had it not been for Jamaal Tinsley's heroics. Mo Williams had to leave the game in the second quarter, and Earl Watson isn't at full game speed just yet. Jamaal had to step up, or wilt. And he stepped up. Bigtime. He's not a threat to score but we know he can pass, and he demonstrated that all game long. He's not usually supposed to be able to keep up with guys who are a) in their physical peaks, and b) already way faster than him -- but he did when we needed it most. Underrated game changing aspect for tonight? Which was more impressive -- sinking those late free throws, drawing fouls, or the fact he had 6 rebounds (3rd best on the team, with 2 of them being offensive)?
In his last stint of the game (with the Jazz down double digits) he ended up finishing with 2 points (100.0 FT%), 1 rebound, 4 assists (no turn overs), and 2 steals in the last 8:07 of the game. This is our (if everyone's healthy) third string point guard we're talking about here. We're not in this game without Marvin Williams, and we don't seal the deal without Gordon or Derrick; but we don't win it without Jamaal. He was the game changer.
All things considered, Earl Watson's return, his Alley Oop pass to Gordon Hayward, and so forth -- the big moment of the game was the end of the game with Jamaal Tinsley's steal on Aaron Brooks, and then the great screen by Derrick Favors that resulted in the game winner by The Precious.
It was quite similar to the play these two made LAST season to beat the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 3 of the lockout shortened year.
The Good News:
The Jazz remain undefeated at home!
The Bad News:
Mo Williams sprained his right ankle, left the game, and did not return. The Kings starters when on their big 1st quarter run after he went out and the Jazz struggled to get back in the game after that part. Mo's been battling a right adductor (groin) injury all season long as well and he's picking up injuries at a really fast rate for a guy who is in the #1 most important position for our team (starting point guard). Getting Earl Watson back is super key because Mo isn't an Iron man to say the least. (Mo has played in 601 of a total 735 regular season games in his career, 81.8% -- which translates to an average of 67/82) Because the PG spot is so vital to our team having Mo out (or successively banged up) really changes how dangerous we are. It has a distinctive trickle down effect for the whole team -- for example: moving from a Mo / Randy / Marvin / Paul / Al starting line up to a Jamaal / Randy / Marvin / Paul / Al line up means that our third biggest three point threat changes from Marvin (687 career 3PTA) to Paul (92 3PTA).
I think more than that, Mo helps by setting the pace and by leading. I hope he's not seriously injured, but I do hope that he finds a way to get fully healed. With Earl back maybe this means sitting a few games out here and there. (Prevention? The second best medicine after inaction?) (Don't quote me on that, America! We have an obesity problem!)
Tonight we play these same Kings in Sacramento, then play back in 'The Solution on Monday against the Denver Nuggets. These next two games comprise the first of two "3 games in 4 nights" sets to finish the first "Month" of the season. (1 game in December + All of November + 1 game in December = "Month") Of course, I wrote about it in more detail over here, if you are interested in that type of thing.
Back to tonight's game . . . if fatigue is a thing you look at . . . the Kings have 5 guys who played 30 or more minutes last night (DeMarcus Cousins, Jason Thompson, Aaron Brooks, Tyreke Evans, and John Salmons); while the Jazz had only 3 guys (Al Jefferson, Marvin Williams, and Jamaal Tinsley). Tonight's game will be the third game in four nights for the Kings. The Jazz had three nights off before last night's game, so they are "fresher".
Post Game Immediate Reaction Video: