Game #16 Preview: Kings Without Crowns

Indiana Pacers @ Sacramento Kings
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
10:00 pm EST
Arco Arena
Sacramento, California

I watch a ton of NBA basketball, but I have to be honest with you on this one: I haven’t seen the Kings play much this year. I probably haven’t even caught 10 quarters worth of Sacto ball, which is a crying shame considering they were one of my favorite five or six teams to watch last year. Much of this was due to Omri Casspi, who I simply adore, and Tyreke Evans, who last year looked like a guy who would be playing in near-double-digit All Star Games during his career.

He hasn’t been playing so hot this season, however, and that’s probably a big reason why the Kings are 4-11, which includes a good-for-the-Pacers 2-7 home court (dis)advantage. Other than that, the fact that Paul Westphal’s job security has been questioned and DeMarcus Cousins got kicked out of practice the other day, I really don’t know what I’m talking about when it comes to Sacramento basketball.

Luckily, I have solicited one of the people on this earth who know the most about the team to enlighten us further. Our old friend Zach Harper of Cowbell Kingdom drops knowledge below.

What’s going on with Tyreke Evans this year? He hasn’t been playing as well as during his incredible rookie campaign.

Zach Harper: There are four problems with Tyreke this year: bad ankle, plantar fasciitis, elbow issue and some effort problems. The injuries have really limited his ability to get to the basket efficiently and finish, which is hindering how well he scores. However, the effort problems are a little more concerning. I think it’s easy and a cop-out to chock the effort problems up to the injuries but he doesn’t seem as motivated as he was last year. If he can get into a rhythm, you’ll see a much more driven Tyreke on both ends (it happened against Toronto this season). Until then, it’s just one big ball of frustration with him feeling like he has to make every play (which he does).

Carl Landry has now had a full offseason to blend in and get acclimated to Sacto. How is he looking?

Harper: He looks terrible. He’s also not in any kind of rhythm and he’s been much more of a ball-stopper this season than he was last season. Part of that is I just don’t think he’s a starter in this league. He’s much better providing scoring off the bench than trying to help set the tempo on both ends of the floor to start out games. Looking at him against decent-sized, starting power forwards, he just doesn’t have the bulk or the length to defend them properly. He’s now back to the bench where he can get back to being the sixth man he was so good being in Houston.

Tom Ziller had an interesting piece today about how the fact that DeMarcus Cousins got kicked out of practice will make it harder for the Maloofs to can Paul Westphal. First, do you think Westphal is going to be let go soon? Second, should he be? Third, will he be or is what Ziller said valid?

Harper: I don’t think the Kings will fire Westphal this season. I think his option getting picked up for next year forces the Kings to stay patient until the start of next year and see if Paul can get everybody on the same page. The Kings just don’t have the luxury of eating that $2 million. Secondly, I don’t think he should be. I think his approach, while much different and potentially volatile, is the right thing. Outside of Tyreke, every player has had to earn their time with the Kings and that’s the way it should be. I think Ziller is dead on with his assessment.

You think they will beat Indy tonight?

Harper: I actually do think they will beat Indy tonight. Not that they’re the better team but they always seem to respond well to team controversy. Also, it’s hard to imagine they’ll keep losing at home, and perhaps Indy will be looking past them.

Who is your favorite king: King Tut, King Richard the Lionheart, Don King, King Kong Bundy or the Burger King?

Harper: Don King. He’s still holding strong with the denim jacket despite it not being the 80s. Have to respect that kind of loyalty in a guy that’s probably murdered a lot of people.

Pacers vs. Kings By the Numbers

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