Kings hit on all cylinders, outrun Mavericks on way to 110-97 blowout
What a difference a couple of months make.
It was back on January 14 when the keepers of the castle were in Dallas and getting blown off the court. They only scored 23 points in the first half, 60 in the game and shot twenty-six percent in possibily the most disappointing performance of the season.
Fast forward to the present.
Coach Smart has had more quality time to spend with the team, thus the cohesion and his style of play are finally taking shape.
On Friday night at Power Balance Pavilion, the Kings put on display the collective knowledge that Smart has infused into the team as they put a whooping on the visiting Dallas Mavericks 110-97 in front of a nearly-packed house.
For the first time this season, almost everything seemed to go the Kings way. They shot over fifty percent, forty percent from beyond the arc, made all 13 free throws, had 25 assists and only 14 turnovers. A complete game in anyones book!
Early action had the game close, but the Kings were clearly setting the tempo.
On the back of what is becoming one of the most entertaining three-guard combos in the league – Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton and Isaiah Thomas – the home team acquired a 13-point lead several times in the opening quarter.
Every time in the first half the Mavs made a run, the boys from Sac Town pushed back as if to say ‘not on this night.’
As the game kept moving along, the scenery stayed the same.
Jason Terry was doing everything he could to keep Dallas in the contest as he had 12 points, a couple of long-range bombs and two steals by halftime.
The Kings big men – especially Donte Greene, who got the start because of the Dirk Nowitzski matchup, kept the leagues former MVP under wraps most of the game. Nowitzki finished with only 13 points on 5-of-13 shooting and a lot of that credit goes to the coaching of Keith Smart, who kept putting guys in the right position to shut him down.
Whether it was Chuck Hayes, Jason Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins or Greene, the Kings frontline kept the first European to ever score 20,000 points in the NBA in check by staying in front of him and making him take shots from many different angles.
The Kings offense was running like a dream. It was like watching a hot Ginsu knife go through butter. Players that sliced through the lane were found by willing passers all game as witnessed by the teams 25 assists.
Coach Smart has done a great job in getting everybody involved as every player that hit the floor in the first half in a white and purple uniform scored. For the third game in a row, the team had over 20 dishes.
Each time the Mavs got close, the Kings turned up the speed of the game. The Kings would get up by 13, then Dallas would cut it to six, then back up to 10. It was like that until the halfway through the third when the Kings would push it to a 19-point lead and never look back.
With six minutes left in the game, Coach Rick Carlisle threw in the white towel as he took all five starters off the floor and let the bench clean up the mess.
All night long, the Kings made the Mavericks look old and slow. It was like they were moving through quicksand and the Kings were skating on ice.
Coach Smart talked about getting these players to think as a team instead of individuals.
“If I see that you are hunting, like we did earlier in the year, then this guy hunts and he goes for his shots and wants his numbers. He looks up at the scoreboard and sees he has eight points and decides he wants to score, I got to get him out of the game. But they understand that. But I think overall, what our guys are doing now is trusting each other and cutting hard.”
“I am proud of these guys because they are buying in to what we are trying to preach to them. When you have a game like this against a really good team, on the things that you are doing and preaching every day in practice, it works out.”
Donte Greene, who Smart started in place of Thompson because of the Nowitzski matchup, can feel this team starting to bond.
“Team chemistry man, just building that team chemistry,” said the 6’11” forward out of Syracuse. “A lot of guys really didn’t get a chance to hang out with each other during the lockout, so during the season (we’ve been) hanging out and learning each other’s games.”
Rookie point guard Isaiah Thomas sees things the same way. The guys are starting to click.
“We’re trusting each other,” said Thomas. “If we do that a lot more, we’ll be a better team. You guys see it. If we play together, hit the open guy and make the extra pass, we always play a lot better. That kinda motivates us to play even better defense. We’ve just got to be consistent with it and once we are a consistent team with the way we did today with our offense and our defense, we’ll be a pretty good team.”
GAME NOTES: Francisco Garcia (10 points, 2 3‘s, 3 steals and 2 blocks) was everywhere on the floor . . . Cousins, who was still a little sluggish from the food poisoning, had 5 assists to go along with 15 points . . . Evans was the teams leading rebounder with 9