Don't Make Me Use The Bat
A thoroughly depressing experience was revived and broke out into a fun finish as Coach Malone went a searchin' down that bench, with initially disastrous first half results. But finally he found what he was looking for, and with Boogie a Boogieing again all over the underpowered Suns' frontline, enough hustle and scrap was scrounged up to wrestle away a win that seemed lost in the first half. Of course it never should have come to that, but hey, we're the Kings, you take 'em however you can get them.
Your Consoritum Graders tonight:
Stats: 27min 4pts (2-4, 0-0, 0-0) 7reb 2ast 2stl 0blk 0TO
Mbah a Moute ( B- ) -- As usual, Mbah a Moute spent most of the game just staying out of the way on offense. He made two easy shots at the rim (one on a good hustle play by JT to knock a loose ball to him). Outside of that his most important offensive contribution was a drive where he missed, missed a putback, got a second rebound and kicked out to Vasquez for a three. He also had one nice feed to Cuz down low in the first. Oddly enough, he was setting down screens in the lane for the first few possessions of the game and then I'm not sure he ever set another one. But Mbah a Moute is out there for defense, and let me go strongly against conventional wisdom and say that, for this game, Luc's defense really wasn't that strong on the whole. The thing is that he's a great lockdown man-to-man defender. But he's absolutely wasted out there if he doesn't have a good on-ball player to guard. You just don't gain anything by putting him out there to shut down P.J. Tucker. Sure, he completely locked Tucker down the one time Tucker tried to post, but that's one possession. His other two defensive standouts were a play where he picked up a head-of-steamed Goran Dragic one-on-one and not only shut him down but drew the offensive foul to boot, and the final play of the game where he and Outlaw combined to smother the Suns' inbound attempt and force a terrible shot. He also came up with two good defensive help plays in the lane. But really, the rest of the game he didn't stand out defensively because the Suns didn't need to go to P.J. Tucker. In fact, for those of you who were asking who left Goran Dragic alone on that transition play where he got to the basket - yep, it was Luc. He picked up ball, then inexplicably decided to switch over to his own man without checking to see if anybody had stepped in behind him to take the lane (nobody had). Oops. My point is, Outlaw in the fourth was probably the right call for this game situation. But Luc did OK, he was just far from our most important player, even defensively (Cousins, anybody?) in this game.-- Capt.
Stats: 26min 8pts (4-8, 0-0, 0-0) 6reb 2ast 0stl 0blk 2TO
Thompson ( C+ ) -- got off to the good start in this one despite some difficult defensive matchups. Was helping defensively inside and on the glass -- i.e exactly what you would like a roleplaying big to do -- and made a nice hustle play falling out of bounds and saving the ball back under the basket to Mbah a Moute for the hoop. Did miss the ultimate little gimme jumper in the lane though after Cousins slipped it to him out of a double. Wide open from 8 feet, 6'11" tall. You would think... Anyway, it was still a good first stint, but when he returned after the reserves had blown the big lead, he didn't look nearly as settled or effective, and he never really got back into that same groove. Defensively Marcus Morris looked a step quicker, and offensively JT looked borderline incompetent, although he did drop in a nice little power move with a flip finish in the early third. But he seemed to keep on coming up with loose balls and rebounds, and aside from one ugly little sequence with Channing Frye where Frye went inside on him -- itself an insult -- and then proceeded to miss, grab the miss, go over JT again, miss again, and get the o-reb AGAIN and go over JT again for the score...well actually just reading that maybe JT deserves an F for that play alone. Eventually was chased from the game with Frye and the Morris twins chucking away from deep (well one Morris twin, the other sucked eggs all night) and wasn't there for the finish. But he was ok. Nothing special, but on the list of guys who contributed to this one and guys who didn't, he'd be on the positive side of the ledger. --Brick
Stats: 35min 27pts (9-18, 0-0, 9-15) 12reb 3ast 4stl 2blk 4TO
Cousins ( A ) -- It was apparent right from the tip that the Suns couldn't handle Cousins inside. The Suns have some toughness on the perimeter, especially when Bledsoes out there, but Plumlee and Fry make up one of the softest front court in the league. Because of this the Suns smartly doubled Cousins all night down low. He started off playing patiently against the double team, not forcing anything just moving the ball and finding the open man. And to start things off his shooter were actually taking advantage of the open looks. As the first quarter wore on Cousins began to assert himself more down low, picking up a slew of fouls and a couple trips to the line, where he uncharacteristically went 1/4. It should be noted that despite the big numbers Cousins outside shot was off. He didn't look comfortable from the line and missed on all six of his outside shots. Came back in fairly early into the second with the lead the starters built completely wasted. Immediately sparked an offense that hadn't manage a single point in the second, but couldn't do much against an endless stream of guards waltzing into the paint as our "perimeter defenders" look completely out matched. Cousins actually played alright during this horrendous stretch that had me breaking down as I muttered indiscernible things about the whereabouts of Tony Douglas and something about preferring Scott Skiles style mediocrity over this nonsense. Took a hard hit to the shoulder near the end of the quarter which looked serious enough to sideline him, but he managed to tough it out. Came out for the second half with a brace on the injured shoulder but after a few awkward possessions decided to head into the locker room to get it removed. When he reentered a few minutes later the game was on the verge of getting completely away from us. I'm not sure whether it was the injury or his teammates inability to find him but Cousins wasn't much of a factor on the offensive side during this stretch. Was still doing work on the boards and once we subbed out some of our more embarrassing defenders helped right the ship with a solid defensive stretch to close out the quarter. Came back in mid fourth and just carried us on both side down the stretch. Spark the crowd with a huge block on Tucker which lead to a fast break score in what was the first of a string of huge defensive plays. Showing off those great hands once again snagging a steal off Dragic and then went down on the other end and manhandled the defense for a three point play. Followed that up with another block on a Fry jumper and then with under 30 seconds left he grabbed his fourth steal of the night... and then decided to play a little point guard with less then stellar results. We can discard all the qualifiers at this point, Cousins is a star on the offensive side. If he can tap some of the defensive potential we witnessed tonight consistently then things get really scary.-- Henkel
Stats: 34min 19pts (5-13, 4-10, 5-5) 5reb 0ast 0stl 1blk 1TO
McLemore ( B- ) -- This was a tough score. He did score 19 points, but he was 5 of 13 from the floor. On the other hand, he was 4 of 10 from the three, which is 40%. Nothing to sneeze at. And lets not forget the drive down the middle for a dunk. For entertainment value alone, it improves his grade. Gee, I wonder how many dribbles he took to get to the basket. I hear he's only capable of two. He hustled all night long, and at times, played pretty good defense. Especially in the second half and down the stretch when it mattered most. He also pulled down 5 boards, which is good for a SG. I might add, that he made a few nice passes, which unfortunately didn't end up as assists, but its the thought that counts. Right? Seriously, he played a good game. His shot was off a little, and in the first half, he lost track of Green a few times, and those times ended up being completed three's. He did have one spectacular block, when he missed a shot on the offensive end, recovered, and then ran the floor to block a shot at the other end. Not many could do that. Bit by bit, you can see improvement, and him getting used to the pace of the NBA. This was probably his second best game of the year. Hopefully, there are more to come. -- Baja
Stats: 24min 11pts (5-9, 1-2, 0-0) 1reb 6ast 0stl 0blk 2TO
Vasquez ( C ) -- Vasquez had a ‘tale of two halves’ thing going on tonight. He was playing very effective offensive basketball to start the game (as was the whole starting unit). He was setting guys up, he was able to beat Dragic off the dribble for a few of his runnerish layups, and the offense as a whole looked good. He was once again a liability defensively however, and it didn’t take long for Dragic to draw two fouls on him forcing Isaiah Thomas to enter the game earlier than normal. It was mostly down hill from there. He made a few really terrible decisions, included more than one soft pass that turned into transition opportunities for Phoenix, and a surprising inbound violation. His one positive contribution in the second half was the amount of times he fed Cousins the ball. He must have passed the ball exclusively to Cousins 5 or 6 possessions in a row when we were just trying to stay in the game. That shouldn’t go unnoticed. Vasquez’ numbers look a little bit better than how I thought he played, particularly when you realize he only saw 24 minutes of action. I think a C is fair, but man – If he can’t stay in front of Goran Dragic I don’t know who he can stay in front of. -- Mass