The Kings take on the Cavaliers and Kings James tonight at 7 p.m. on News10.
“We’re playing better than we have been playing,” Ron Artest said. “And we can only get better."
“I like the direction that we are going.”
Artest and Co. hope to take care of business tonight against a Cavs team that has won only one game in ARCO Arena (last year) since the 1997-98 season. The Kings realize that the main focus for the fans is going to be on LeBron James, who began his career here just four seasons ago . The Kings, as a whole, are going to have to come up with a game plan to limit James’ ability to get everyone on his team involved.
“I don’t think there is any question of his ability to do so much on the floor,” Coach Eric Musselman said. “He’s not a one facet guy. He scores in a variety of ways. I think Cleveland has done a really good job of surrounding him with shooters and they also have guys that pound the backboards, so I think the roster for Cleveland has continued to improve as James has improved as a player.”
The Cavs have won four straight games and yet LeBron hasn’t been putting up huge numbers. Like Kobe Bryant last week , the Kings know James can score in bunches or spread the ball to his teammates. When the Kings forced Bryant to get his teammates involved, the Lakers played at their best and led the Kings by more than 20 points. When the Kings baited Bryant to score in the second half, the rest of the Lakers went cold. Although the Kings lost the contest, Bryant ending with 42 points was a good indicator of how to game plan against a guy who can completely change the dynamics of a game when passing first or shooting first.
James has helped his team reach the best record in the Eastern Conference, 21-12. He has done it through team play rather than individual dominance. In the four games they have won in January, James is only averaging 19.5 points. But he has nearly doubled his output in steals from December, 2.2 per game up from 1.3; he has also improved his number of blocks and increased his rebounding.
But despite being one of the biggest advocates of the 'old' leather ball, it actually has worked against James. His three-point shooting is down more than 12 percent from December and his shooting percentage from the field is down nearly eight percent, which is why he is averaging less than 27 points per game for the first time this year.
While James’ play has been less than King like, Larry Hughes has made an impact, after recovering from his high ankle sprain.
“I’m getting into the flow of things,” Hughes said. “Having the ball in my hands, I am able to make plays and play in rhythm.”
Stats don’t lie and if Hughes gets going tonight, it’s not in the Kings best interest, especially if James is also on a roll. The Cavs are 18-2 when Hughes dishes five or more assists, 13-2 if Hughes scores 20 or more points, and 12-1 if Hughes, who is shooting lights out from downtown (52.6 percent) in January, drains two or more threes.
One of the toughest things for the Kings this year has been rebounding the ball consistently. The Kings have been outrebounded by opponents in their last five games and in six of their past eight. Tonight won’t be any easier on the glass for the Kings, as the Cavs are fourth in the NBA in rebounding. But the Kings have still been effective, winning four of seven and nearly seven of seven by getting in the passing lanes. In the past four games the Kings have outscored their opponents by 28 points on the fast break. In the past six games, the team also has forced their opponents into a combined 32 more turnovers.
“Anytime we can create offense with our defense it helps us get easy scoring opportunities,” Musselman said reciting one of his defensive commandments. “Because of the lack of rebounding, it is important that we get extra steals, extra deflections and extra possessions with loose balls and jumping in the passing lanes.”
While the Kings rebounding has been less than profound, their three-point shooting is improving. In the past four games the Kings have shot 36.9 percent from long range, including an impressive nine of 18 performance against the Blazers on Saturday. In comparison, if they were shooting that well from long range all season, it would be good for seventh best downtown percentage in the NBA, rather than 29th on the season, which is where they currently sit.
The recent play of Corliss Williamson off the bench has been positive for the Kings. In the past five games, Big Nasty is averaging 11.2 points on 50 percent shooting. He has also created opportunities for the King on the break with his 1.4 steals per game.
“Corliss has done a really good job for us,” Musselman said. “He’s scoring the ball at a high level, he always plays hard, and he does a good job banging in the post.”
Tonight the Kings need Williamson to bang in the post with Drew Gooden and the 7-3 Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Williamson’s scoring ability down low creates more opportunity for the Kings to drive and kick or dump it off to Williamson for the close jumper or hook. His consistency also allows the Kings guards and wings the ability to drive and get fouled and head to the line, where the Kings are one of the top five teams in the NBA at the charity stripe.
It will be the first game I've watched in about 3 weeks; hopefully, I can bring some goodluck the Kings way.
And just for conversation, What do you guys think of adding Stro Swift to the Kings? ISH reported that the Kings are interested.
Keep LeBron out of the paint somehow and front Ilgauskas/Gooden because once they're posting up K9/Reef/Weak Miller we're done for. I dunno how winnable this game is, be nice to pull it off though after two heart breaking losses.
BTW I'd love to get Stro Swift here. A guy who can run and alter shots and hit a 15 footer would be awesome to have.
I swear to god that I don't know why Geoff Petrie doesn't seem to realize you can't win a game with only 3 players and I don't realize why Musselman still has a job. He's a flat out horrible coach, almost as bad as our front line. Bring on Stro Swift please.
that was absolutely dreadful ....its funny mike found his what looks to be his shot back and we're still losing games and melting down in 3rd quaters still...Petrie needs to get off his ass and do something and stop checking for other players feelings...the hell with what they think and where they wanna finish their career because it clearly shows that they arent checking for petries feelings
Lets target guys who want guys who want out their teams quickly guys like Ely Stro Mopete
have a 3 team deal with toronto kings and griz
where we trade corlis kenny cisco price and filers
Is it time to blow up the team and start rebuilding around Kevin Martin? or atleast try to make a big trade involving Brad, Bibby, or Artest.
I'm sure we could get a good assortment of capspace, young guys, and draft picks for Bibby and Artest.
The current roster is not working. We overacheived the second half of last season due to great coaching and momentum; however, the team we have seen this season is just not workin...
That should def. be the plan. Give Kevin a season as the #1 guy, get cap space to sign a defensive PG like Billups, get a high pick to draft a Kevin Durant or a Brandan Wright(we won't be able to get G. Oden), and make a come back next season. Kenny, Mike, Ron, SAR, Brad, all need to go for cap space. They don't fit, they're all average/below average players or wannabe #1 guys who could help a contender. We need the cap space to sign some defensive players, a pick to get another franchise type player, and the cap space can also help us sign the role players we don't have.
On a good team they have guys who do a specific job or two, who are supposed to leave the offensive load to the main guys but they can contribute on offense when open. Just look at the Mavs, their offense comes from Nowitzki, Terry, and Howard. But they have other guys who can contribute when open too, like George and Stackhouse can hit open 3 pointers they get and Harris and Stackhouse can also create their own shot. They have guys who are specifically on that team to play D, block shots, rebound, like Diop and Dampier.
Where are our role players who come in specifically as a spot up shooter and defender? Where is our #1 guy? Where is our shotblocking and rebounding? It's simple, we don't have any. We have a bunch of guys who can hit an open jumper, Brad-can hit an open jumper and pass, Mike-can hit an open jumper and pass, Ron-can play in the post but prefers not to, Kenny-can't hit an open jumper, or lay up for that matter. Well who is going to get these guys open shots? We don't have a #1 option(yet, Kev might develope but probably not as long as Mike is the point guard) and we don't have an offense because Musselman doesn't know how.
You can't score, well you have to be a good defensive team then. Too bad Ron and Salmons(to a lesser extent) are our only good defenders who can get a stop. Everybody on this team is slow and we can't hit a shot so we get killed in transition. Your offense sucks and you turn to long jumpers after a bunch of dribbling 1 on 1 and you end up creating long rebounds so the other teams guards get up the court even faster. Even if this team gets back on D they are always disorganized because they're defensively retarded so the defense is scrambled. Our front line consists of guys who are either unathletic, short, or washed up.
Basically if we were able to get a defensive PG, a new PF who blocks shots and can play offense, sign a new center who blocks, and get someone on the FA market like James Posey to come off the bench to defend and knock down an open 3 then we'd be a much better team.
Basically this team is a jumbled mess of average or slightly above average talent that has no game plan.
Geoff had that 1 great offseason in I think 98, since then he's sat around "and waited for the right move". Well when you have the roster we do, there is no 1 trade that's "the right move". The right move is blowing it up for cap space, young players, and draft picks. There are so many flaws in this team it's not even funny. It's basically a bunch of 1 dimensional unathletic shooters who can pass(but are selfish and would prefer to shoot). Hell we have nothing inside and no slashers so we can't even take advantage of the fact that we have shooters that suck at everything else. I think the Maloofs are afraid of rebuilding for a year because they're afraid of the fan base walking, but when I went to Arco for the game vs Portland a lot of the season ticket holders weren't there(it was hard for me to get tickets though). The fans are already getting pissed off, apathetic, whatever you want to call it. Add to that, there seems to be no future. We have 1 good player and a couple young guys who might end up good, but they're all backcourt players too.
We already know my POV on Petrie, he needs to prove himself all over again. This "team", if that's what you call it, is weak as hell. The Maloofs already pissed off more than half of the town with the crazy arena proposal. Don't get me wrong I'm all for a new arena, but that's a whole other topic. Then we gotta hear all the rumors about them leaving, now they let the team just stink and do nothing about it! It's like they still think we have a chance or something, like this team isn't as bad as they're playing. Well, wake up maloofs!! Wake up petrie!!! DO SOMETHING!!!! Let's rebuild, at least we can suck with a purpose....the 2008 draft.