Don't Make Me Use The Bat
Well that was exactly what was needed if we were going to make any sort of go of it this season. A bounceback game after a lineup change, renewed energy, a first real appearance of Grevis and Marcus, who separately excelled where they had scrubbed it up together. And of course, a victory.
Meanwhile the big guy picked up his third foul with 1 minute to go in the 2nd quarter, which had me slapping my head because that's precisely the sort of foul that can change entire games. And sure enough he got called for a fourth on a cheap little nothing in the early third, and if we'd truly needed him, we were going to be in a lot of trouble. Instead the reappearance of JT as a second big filled the gap, and Grevis orchestrated a blowout. So yay and all that.
We complete our Grading Consortiuum tonight with the permanent addition of MassachusettsKingsfan and Rainmaker to the ranks, as well as the return from a lost week of debauchery by bajaden and Uncia03. So tonight your graders will be:
Stats: 31min 7pts (3-5, 0-0, 1-1) 1reb 2ast 2stl 0blk 0TO
Salmons ( C- ) -- So everyone expected that someone would replace John Salmons in the starting line-up after Malone said that changes need to be made. I was looking at the ‘Guess the new starting line-up thread’ and basically no-one guessed that Salmons would maintain his starting job. So…..SURPRISE! So did Salmons justify his position as a starter in today’s game? Of course not. He pulled the same invisible act that he’s been famous for. In 30 minutes of play he took 5 shots (made three of them) grabbed a single rebound (which bounced right to him) and got 2 assists (one of which came on the 1st offensive play of the game when he was the inbounder and threw a long pass to Cousins who hit a tough contested jumper to beat the shot clock). Yay! On the other hand he didn’t have any turn overs and didn’t hurt the offense by missing a lot of shots. He also played solid defense the entire night, doing a good job bothering both Pierce and Joe Johnson. (Though he let Pierce get the baseline drive twice against him). Overall, he was out there. He didn’t really do much to help the team, but he didn’t do anything to hurt the team either. So for his efforts I’ll give him a C- mostly due to the lack of rebounding and call it a day. --Uncia
Stats: 26min 9pts (4-12, 0-0, 1-4) 11reb 0ast 0stl 0blk 0TO
Thompson ( C+ ) -- If not for JT's bad shooting night, he would have had a higher score. For the most part, he did everything else fairly well, especially rebounding, where he pulled down 11 boards. He had the tough assignment of guarding Lopez, and made him work hard for his points. Offensively, he just wasn't present in the first half, scoring most of his points in the third quarter, where he got hot hitting three jumpers in a row. The string ended with a missed heat check from 20 feet. He went to the line 4 times and missed three of four. JT did set some good picks in the game, but in my opinion, he has a long way to go to emulate Hayes, who is like a brick wall out there. Defensively he played hard for all 26 minutes he was on the floor. It wasn't perfect, but the effort was there. Its hard to give a C+ to a player that grabs 11 rebounds and plays good defense, but I know he's capable of more, and thus the grade. --Baja
Stats: 22min 15pts (5-14, 0-0, 5-6) 9reb 1ast 1stl 3blk 1TO
Cousins ( B- ) -- Due to foul trouble did most of his damage in the opening minutes. Almost all of his touches were coming up top as he looked to face up the bigger Lopez. With the dominance inside this season it's easy to forget how comfortable Cousins looks in the high post. Showed Lopez that he wasn't afraid to take the outside shot early which transitioned into some nice drives. Missed a couple which you'd expect him to normally makes but overall was shouldering the load on offense once again. Should be noted that with JT out there Cousins avoided a match up with Lopez. Considering Cousins ongoing issues with foul trouble it's nice to have the option to hide him and let JT take the tougher match up at four or five each night, which wasn't an option every night with the undersized Patterson. Came back in mid way through the second, had some nice looks that he was unable to finish. Picked up a weak first tech due to a frustrated outburst that didn't seem directed at anyone in particular. Didn't complain or pout afterwards and unlike past foul trouble which was the result of a frustrated Cousins spiraling out control I didn't feel that's what happened here. He pick up two quick fouls once again playing defense too much with his hands. He can be disruptive, just look at all the steals he picks up, but overall it plays into his biggest and most persist weakness at this point. I don't think he made it more then two minutes into the third before he picked up his fourth foul. Came back in in the fourth with Brooklyn on a run and provided a steadying presence. With a small lineup for both sides outside of the center spot he cleaned up on the glass and got to the line. Managed to pick fouls five and six as well. The production for 20 something minutes of action is outstanding, but tonight was an exception and in general the number one key to this teams success is having Cousins on the floor. --Henkel
Stats: 15min 2pts (1-8, 0-2, 0-0) 0reb 2ast 0stl 0blk 1TO
McLemore ( D+ ) -- Pretty typical ‘first start of your NBA career’ type game from Ben tonight. He showed his usual flashes, but never really got going. I’m going to chalk it up to nerves more than anything else. You could tell he was making a conscious effort to score instead of letting the game come to him. We’ve seen this from McLemore in the past, (summer league) when he’s forcing and trying to create his own shot bad things happen. It was by no means a disaster; he held his own defensively against Joe Johnson, he put his athleticism on display on the fast break connecting on a smooth alley-oop from Vasquez (his only 2 points), and generally looked OK outside of the forced shots and marginal overall impact on the game. I went back and forth between a C- or a D for his grade tonight, but ultimately decided that he didn’t actively hurt the team enough to warrant a D. The Kings won the game comfortably, and he only played 15 minutes. Here is your one free pass, Ben. --Mass
Stats: 33min 17pts (7-13, 2-6, 1-1) 4reb 12ast 1stl 0blk 2TO
Vasquez ( A- ) -- This was Gre-Ivis's first real floor generalesque game of the year. The first time he looked something like what we hoped he might be. The first quarter might actually have been his weakest, and yet it wasn't weak at all. Was doing a pretty good job of pushing it and got McLemore his first hoop as a starter on an alley oop that of course got the crowd up. He hit an early three off a broken play, then missed a second one off a Cuz kick. And maybe most importantly he was not having any real problems on defense against the slower Nets. His size finally came of some use too as he spent time checking Pierce and did fine. In fact a little better than Outlaw did after checking in for him. Returned in the late 2nd and helped us stop a Nets' comeback attempt as he hit back to back shots and got us organized. Deron started the second half attacking him off the dribble for his only extended stretch of defensive trouble, but Gre-Ivis had the last laugh as after we lost Cuz Gre-Ivis really picked things up and played a really strong offensive 3rd orchestrating our blowout with slick passes and some saavy barely contested sneaks to the hoop. Returned to the game in the early 4th with us again spiraling, and once again helped us regain control. It was a very distinct effect he had all night in classic floor general fashion. He pushed IT over to SG, took the ball, and resumed setting people up and throwing in occasional running flips. Just a quality game pretty much start to finish, and major step forward from the impotence we have seen thus far. Now we'll just have to see if this was an old and slow opponent special, or if eh can achieve this same control and comfort level against quicker teams too. --Brick