`Twas a trip to the woodshed for us tonight, but that's not too surprising. Normally you'd ask what caused us to lose. A better question tonight might be what didn't...
--It may seem silly to start with something on the bright side, but our offense was fairly good for most of the game. There wasn't too much wrong with the plays we were running until the game got obviously beyond reach. I say it a lot but it strikes me sometime during almost every game: when we are moving the ball well we are magnificent to watch.
--When our offense did bog down you could tell it immediately. Whoever had the ball on the perimeter was forced to hold it for 3-4 seconds when we stopped cutting and moving well. That's a sure sign our offense is dead and a deep, contested shot is forthcoming. We don't have the face-up players who can blow by guys to create their own shots in those situations (at least not while Roy is out).
--We're letting people score an awful lot of points in the paint lately. Hurry back, Joel!
--We got outrebounded something fierce and got beat at the foul line too. That's usually a sign of defeat.
--I say this a lot too, but things are going very wrong in our pick and roll defense. One of two things appears to be happening: either we're not supposed to be switching on picks and the guards (particularly Jack and Sergio) are just giving up when picked off or we are supposed to be switching and our big man defenders are doing a lousy job of showing and picking up their assignment. Either way we are just lousy.
--We threw a press again tonight! And this time it was sustained! We were forcing more than a turnover a minute there for a while. I don't think this will ever be our primary game plan (and it probably shouldn't be on even as long as it was tonight) but it's a nice surprise tactic. And look who was the point man...Mr. Aldridge. Nobody could have called that, like, three weeks ago, could they? (cough, cough)
--In honor of Jans let's get some Zach praise in here. He shot very well and played under control even when the game wasn't. He was establishing GREAT deep post position early on and just chewing people up. Around the 6:00 mark in the 1st quarter he called for the ball to be passed into the post...to Travis Outlaw who had established great position. Good court vision there and great unselfishness. Also he was doing a pretty good job of passing back to the entry passer when double-teamed in the post. Not only does this allow him to reset with only one guy on him, it has also drawn Defensive 3-Second Technical calls a time or two this year, as the guy helping on him tries to get back to his own man and doesn't quite make it. This was another of those games that you can't really pin on Zach as much as his supporting cast.
--Martell Webster got a fair amount of run early on and the first play was designed for him...a 3-pointer which he hit. He's still having problems though. At one point in the first he got burned three straight times off the drive, the last one leading to a foul on Lamarcus Aldridge. He's also been reduced to taking long-range shots exclusively. Though that's his forte, he's never been as good when he's not mixing up his game.
--Sergio had another one of those games where he looked lost. That'll happen (probably a lot). I wish he could be a better defender but it's too soon to assess that. I also wish his offense wasn't so darn random, but again he needs time. The one major complaint I do have right now is that anybody who makes the NBA should be able to hit a reasonably wide-open layup. My vote is six laps for him the next day in practice every time he misses one in a game.
--We went small ball for a while but this was not a team against which we could pull it off. Travis Outlaw got manhandled a few times by Corliss Williamson. I did see some more of that nice selective aggression from him on offense though. We've seen relatively few spastic shots from him in the last couple of weeks. Every one he's taken has made me say, "Good shot!" whether it went in or not. That's a step forward for Outlaw and I hope it continues. A couple more rebounds in addition to that and he's good.
--As mentioned above, Aldridge did a nice job heading the press. I think the extended up-tempo play did wind him a bit though. His shot started falling short and he wasn't getting great defensive or rebounding position. I suppose we have to weigh the cost/benefit ratio. Also getting some healthy centers back would help.
--Jarrett Jack's stats aren't all that flashy, but it always surprises me how quietly he accumulates them. That's a good, solid player there. (The Sacramento guards made mincemeat out of him but they did that to everybody on the floor so he gets a pass on it for tonight.)
--What a bad night for the Kings to get all their players back from injury. When will that happen to us?