Saturday, January 8, 2011

Kings making moves to become relevant

It has taken nearly three months, but the Sacramento Kings have become worthy for time spent viewing.

Actually, the Kings (8-25) only were unworthy of watching if you were looking for victories. Winning was the game’s feature they couldn’t decipher.

Now, they’ve won three of their past four home games and with Thursday night’s 122-102 victory over the Denver Nuggets, Sacramento earned its first win over a plus-.500 team.

Moreover, the Kings recently have begun to receive productive play from four, five and even six players. That was not happening a month ago and still isn’t something coach Paul Westphal can wake up in the morning and count upon.

Really, though, counting upon major nightly, consistent production from five or six players only is a dream/fantasy for coaches on any level.

Yet, when you are the Kings, it’s time to appreciate blessings. Seeing patience and nightly growth from DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans, ages 20 and 21, respectively, is a blessing.

Surely, Evans has played a number of excellent games during his brief time as a King, but this performance was as complete as I’ve seen. His scoring (27 points) was timely and impactful and against solid defensive guards in Aaron Afflalo and Chauncey Billups.

More importantly, Evans looked to make plays for his teammates. He had a season-high 12 assists, in part, because the Kings made a season-high 56.4 percent of their field-goal attempts.

However, it also was because Evans made timely deliveries to give teammates layups, dunks and wide-open jumpers.

Include five rebounds, two steals and only one turnover in more than 41 minutes and there is the type of performance Westphal needs to get his team on the right track.

Cousins continues to show more poise and composure. His shot selection is improving and subsequently, his field-goal percentage rises.

By the way, when you see Cousins get excited over referee’s calls, keep this in mind. He received a technical in the third quarter for his reaction over a non-call.

He also heard Denver’s Carmelo Anthony threaten in front of an official to beat up Omri Casspi and go without a word.

That’s the type of stuff NBA officials need to clear up. It’s one thing to give stars calls non-stars don’t receive. Yet, stars often are allowed to say things other players are not.

All that does is give stars more belief they are untouchable and make others believe they are not getting a fair shake.

Think Cousins needs to feel that anymore than he already does?

Cousins, though, consistently reveals more facets of his skill set. It’s always important to remember he’s 20 years old.

There are parts of Cousins’ game that barely have been touched. There are things he’ll soon learn he can do that he never imagined himself capable.

That’s what growing up as a player and a person is about.

Now, as a team, the Kings have to prove they take their show on the road. They begin a six-game East Coast road trip in Toronto.

Certainly, it’s easier to play at home, but if Sacramento can use its longest trip of the season to display consistency of performance and focus, it can continue to improve.

They’ll need continued production from Omri Casspi, Francisco Garcia, Beno Udrih, Pooh Jeter and Carl Landry.

Samuel Dalembert and Jason Thompson need to continue pounding the boards to help the Kings continue to lead the league in second-chance points (16.4) per game.

Dalembert wants the Kings to show him more time, but he’s got to show he can score consistently around the basket to earn that.

No doubt he is a defensive impact guy, but missing six-footers is not the way to increase playing time.

Side note: Dalembert’s decision to attend the recent funeral of long time Philadelphia sports Phil Jasner was as classy a move as I’ve seen from a player during 32 years in the game.

And I’ve seen many classy acts unlike others who lump all young athletes into one group of knuckleheads with no sense and awareness of how fortunate they are.

Indeed, I’m aware how many knuckleheads populate, but I’m also aware of how many chumps there are in my profession and many others.


  1. Marty Mac, another excellent article. Keep up the good work!

  2. You write like a high schooler