The Sacramento Kings play their final game before All-Star Break. They try to end a season-high six-game losing streak against the Washington Wizards in our nation’s capital.
Gametime: 4:00 pm PT
Broadcast Information: Click here.
For Heat perspective, visit fellow TrueHoop Network blog Truth About It.
Kings Probable Starters (10-22)
|Isaiah Thomas||Marcus Thornton||Tyreke Evans||Jason Thompson||DeMarcus Cousins|
The Kings couldn’t have played any better than they did yesterday, particularly from long-range. From beyond the arc this season, the Kings are ranked 25th and shoot just a paltry 31.3 percent. But last night, they made 13 of 27 attempts en route to a 48.1 three-point percentage. Isaiah Thomas tied a franchise-record in threes made in a single quarter with five and scored 20 points in the third period. Francisco Garcia had perhaps his best game of the season, making three-of-six from three-point land on his way to 11 points in 22 minutes of action.
Wizards Probable Starters (7-25)
|John Wall||Nick Young||Trevor Booker||Chris Singleton||Javale McGee|
After a five-game road trip, the Wizards return to our nation’s capital to close out the first half of the season. Unfortunately for them, they’re not a very good home team. The Wizards are 4-12 and have lost their last two contests at the Verizon Center. John Wall has had a sluggish sophomore campaign, but has picked up his play recently. In 11 games in the month of February, the Wizards point guard has posted averages of 17.8 points, 8.3 assists and 4.4 rebounds.
You may be familiar with ESPN.com’s 5-on-5 roundtables, which feature opinion and analysis from ESPN writers and TrueHoop Network contributors on pressing NBA topics. Along with other THN blogs, Cowbell Kingdom has brought that format to the local level in the form of our own 3-on-3 roundtable.
1. Match-up to watch?
Kyle Weidie: I’ll be curious about former John Calipari disciples, John Wall and Tyreke Evans, facing off for the first time as pros. But the match-up I’ll be watching is DeMarcus Cousins versus JaVale McGee. These two bigs faced off at the lockout-induced Capital Punishment game in D.C. last August by displaying their contrasting abilities: “Bad Attitude” Braun vs. Flighty Flight. Cousins is apt to go ‘Al Jefferson’ on McGee (Big Al torched a fight-less JaVale in Utah last Friday), but the high-flying ability of the one-time dunk contest participant could get the Washington crowd behind the home team.
Mike Prada: DeMarcus Cousins vs. JaVale McGee. What a contrast in styles. Cousins is averaging nearly 14 rebounds per 36 minutes and is somehow leading the NBA in charges taken. He’s clearly a below-the-rim kind of player despite his size. McGee, meanwhile, is starting to pick it up again after struggling for several games, and in contrast to Cousins, he’s clearly an above-the-rim player. McGee often struggles against players like Cousins, so this will be a good test for him. Plus, there’s the whole Goodman League revenge factor.
Jonathan Santiago: Isaiah Thomas vs. John Wall. Averaging 20 points, 6.7 assists and five rebounds, Mr. Irrelevant has made himself relevant since becoming the Kings starting point guard. Meanwhile, Wall is playing better over his last 21 games, where he’s averaged 18.7 points, 7.8 assists and 5.3 rebounds per contest.
2. Stat that decides the game.
Kyle Weidie: These are two of the worst shooting teams in the NBA — Sacramento’s .446 eFG% ranks only above the Bobcats, Washington’s .454 eFG% only ranks above both of those teams. So, it’s going to come down to shooting. The Kings, however, with the third best ORB% in the league (.297), are more apt to turning missed shots into second chances. The Wizards, ORB% of .267 ranked 16th, no so much. If contested shots were a stat people keep, I might say they will decide the game. Otherwise, keep an eye on that FG% while also keeping in mind that Sacramento attempts 2.8 more free-throws per game than Washington, and the Kings shoot 74.1-percent from the line compared to 72.7-percent by the Wizards.
Mike Prada: Offensive rebounds. The Kings are third in the league in offensive rebound rate, and the Wizards are 29th in defensive rebound rate. Washington has to gang rebound to have any chance at winning.
Jonathan Santiago: Free throw attempts. The Wizards are 1-6 when they attempt less free throws than their opponent. The Kings rank eighth in the league in total free-throw attempts. The Kings need to play aggressive to pull out a win in Washington tonight.
3. More disappointing season so far: John Wall or Tyreke Evans?
Kyle Weidie: I would have to go with Evans as having the more disappointing season. Despite a slow start, Wall has actually improved upon his PER (17.6) from last season (15.8). In three seasons Evans has gone from 18.2 to 14.4 to 16.6 (so at least he seems to be bouncing back from a sophomore slump). Wall has also improved upon his field-goal percentage (although, going from 40.9-percent to 42.2-percent is nothing to brag about); Evans, meanwhile, is shooting 41.3-percent from the field (although, Evans’ eFG% is 43-percent to Wall’s 42.4%). And while Evan’s plus/minus numbers are better this season, there’s no hiding the fact that he’s not living up to his 2010 Rookie of the Year Award. Wall has a long way to go before he’s a true leader (he pouts too much), but his talents right now are more overshadowed by mentally challenged teammates who lack heart.
Mike Prada: I’ll say Tyreke. Wall had a horrendous start to the year, but really has been balling recently. In the month of February, Wall is averaging nearly 18 points and over eight assists per game while shooting nearly 48 percent from the field. Evans, on the other hand, continues to struggle even after the coaching change. It may be time to accept that he simply takes too many jump shots and converts at too low a percentage on them to be the superstar we all envisioned.
Jonathan Santiago: Evans. He hasn’t regressed as a player. Rather, he just hasn’t progressed since his record-setting rookie year. Evans still doesn’t have a reliable jump shot nor does he possess better instincts as a point guard. With all his talent, Evans still has a shot at becoming great, but his lack of progress in year three makes you wonder about his potential.