Wednesday night, the Sacramento Kings held a ceremony for Tyreke Evans in order to show their support for his Rookie of the Year candidacy. There were t-shirts given out, video presentations and a special introduction for Tyreke Evans.
Oh and by the way, there was a basketball game between the Kings and the Toronto Raptors. The Kings have relied on Tyreke Evans all year to be THE guy, despite the fact that he’s the third youngest player in the league. He’s been deemed THE King of the future for Sacramento basketball. And on the night celebrating his inevitable Rookie of the Year award, he showed up and gave the fans a show.
Let’s get this out of the way, first and foremost. He was credited with his first triple-double of his career – 19 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. A couple of days ago, I decided to take Warriors’ play-by-play announcer’s challenge of watching the Hornets win over the Warriors in which Darren Collison was credited with 20 assists. He asserted Collison didn’t actually have 20 but more like 13 assists. I checked it. He really had 16 assists and was given four extra based on shoddy stat keeping.
Well, I feel confident in saying that Tyreke’s ninth assist of the game was EXTREMELY questionable. It was a pass to Francisco Garcia on the left wing. It didn’t lead him to the scoring play. Well, I guess it did technically. But in reality, he passed it to Cisco and then Cisco decided to drive to the basket. Four or five dribbles later, he scored inside and Evans was given his ninth assist. Again, it was very questionable and probably unwarranted. But until they take it away, Tyreke had his first triple double of his career.
After the game, he seemed to realize that it might not have been on the up and up. During the game, Tyreke Evans went over to Fat Lever to maybe see if Fat could put in a good word for him regarding the stats for the night. When internet and mainstream media sensation Sam Amick mentioned to Tyreke after the game that Fat used to be “Mr. Triple Double,” Tyreke replied, “I know, that’s why I went to him so he could pad my stats.”
Regardless, it was a special night for more reasons than the triple-double. The Kings played incredible basketball in the second half after hanging in there with a playoff team in the East. Both teams were on the second night of a back-to-back so one of the teams needed to establish themselves as the squad that wanted it more. After the Kings were down 45-40 heading into halftime, they scored more points in the third quarter than they had in the entire first half.
In the third quarter, the Kings dominated with dribble penetration and getting scores inside. They had 24 points in the paint during the third period and 43 overall. They shot 18/24 from the field, outrebounded the Raptors 13-4 and played very good defense. They held the Raps to 23 points on 7/20 shooting in the quarter. It was a total team effort in the period with four different guys getting at least eight points during the period. Carl Landry had 10, Beno and Tyreke each had nine (Beno also had five assists) and Donté Greene had eight points. It was total domination in every sense of the word.
The Kings dominated the second half so incredibly that the final outcome and tally of all the stats is overwhelmingly in the Kings’ favor. The Kings outshot the Raptors 50.5% to 43.9%. The Kings outrebounded the Raptors 52-33, including 25-12 in the second half. They had 27 team assists and just 11 turnovers to Toronto’s 15 and 13. The Kings scored 62 points in the paint to the Raptors’ 42. They had 22 fast-break points to the Raptors’ six.
While Tyreke Evans had the fanfare and the celebration tonight of the historic season, Beno Udrih was probably their best player on the night and the guy that set the Kings apart from the Raptors. They simply didn’t have an answer for him. His spot-up jumpers were pure. He came off screens and knocked down that quick, squared-up jumpshot. He drove past Jarrett Jack and Jose Calderon like there was nobody there. He finished inside and set up other guys. He finished with 24 points and eight assists to cap off a brilliant night of shooting (10/14).
Overall, six guys scored in double figures and Omri Casspi was able to get to eight points off the bench. Seven guys had a double-digit plus/minus for the Kings and Francisco Garcia could have been the seventh if he hadn’t had such a rough start to the game in terms of turnovers early on.
Does this game mean anything in the grand scheme of things? No. The Kings are still 21 games under .500 and have been woefully inconsistent since late December. But this was a good example of the team learning on the job. Often, they’d play a bad game or come up short and have to figure out how to fix it in the film session afterwards. Tonight, they corrected it at halftime and decided that effort and aggressiveness all over the floor would be the cure-all.
So after tonight, celebrate Tyreke Evans but also celebrate the future. While this season isn’t a success in the win column, the accolades and growth from a night like this is imminent.
Final Game Notes
– First off, this shot by Evans was fun. I’m glad it counted because it definitely was valid continuation.
– The forward tandem for the Raptors tonight was pretty rough. Granted, this was the second half of a back-to-back on a West Coast trip for Toronto but you’d still expect better production out of Hedo Turkoglu and Chris Bosh than 20 combined points on 8/28 shooting from the field. The Kings did a great job on Hedo with Donté Greene. And Jason Thompson teamed with Carl Landry to defend Bosh nearly perfectly. They only allowed him to get to the basket a little (3/4) and forced him into a lot of short to long-range jumpers. He was just 1/9 outside of 10 feet.
– In the first 55 games of the season for Spencer Hawes, he pulled down 320 rebounds for an average of 5.8 per game. Since chest-bumping Coach Westphal in the pre-game intros before the game against the Jazz, Spencer Hawes has grabbed 62 rebounds in eight games for an average of 7.8 per game. He had eight rebounds against the Raptors and continued to look very active on the boards.
– Here are some comments from Carl Landry after the game. Be sure to watch the whole thing to see his reaction to the Tyreke heads on a stick.
– Andrea Bargnani is a lot better than people think and I think he may experience an Andrew Bogut type of emergence in the next two years. Now obviously, they’re two different types of players/big men. Bogut is a defensive force on the inside with a nice post game and a tireless work ethic on the court. Bargnani is a sleek-shooting big man who can stretch the defense like Mr. Fantastic. He was the one Raptors player who gave the Kings problems the entire time. He’s bigger than you’d imagine, which allows him to score inside. If he gets position, especially on offensive rebounds, he’s able to use his size to get an easy putback. And of course, his jumper is so smooth that he’s always a threat to score from outside. If he can get efficient at driving to the hoop, he’ll be dropping 20 every game.
– If the Kings are planning on pursuing Chris Bosh in the off-season, they’re going to have quite a bit of convincing and selling to do. Coming out of the first TV timeout during the first quarter, one of the Kings fans in the crowd screamed towards Bosh, “Bosh, are you coming to Sacramento?” Bosh heard the question and shot back at the hopeful fan, “Hell no!” It was probably a bit of a pipe dream to begin with but this definitely makes you start moving towards Plan B.
– Finally, here are the postgame comments of Beno Udrih. The audio gets a little soft with the jubilant yelling of players in the background (I’m looking at you, Donté) but you can hear most of it.