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The year 2015 is ringing in the same way 2014 rang out. We’re laughing at the Sacramento Kings from afar.
The Kings actually won on Thursday night, downing the Minnesota Timberwolves by a 110-107 score in what was a borderline-incredible win considering the circumstances. The team had lost in Boston the day before, and took an overnight flight halfway across North America over New Year’s Eve, losing an hour along the way, to take on a Minnesota Timberwolves team in perhaps the NBA’s cruelest back-to-back (even considering the lottery status of both the C’s and Wolves) scheduling of the season.
Perhaps this is why DeMarcus Cousins decided to take a play off, in the fourth quarter of a one-possession game.
Or, perhaps DeMarcus just doesn’t care anymore. Watch:
Bad jokes aside, there are a lot of excuses to be made here.
Again, the Kings’ travel schedule in the hours leading up to this fourth quarter was brutal; and that’s not even counting the element of the national holiday (one that encourages both young and old to stay up past midnight). NBA schedule-makers do a genuinely fantastic job with the limits that they’ve been charged with working through, but asking a team to play one game in Boston on a Wednesday afternoon and another in Minneapolis on a Thursday night is ridiculous.
That could, possibly, add to DeMarcus Cousins’ fatigue.
Then there is the looming residual aftereffect of Cousins’ nasty bout with viral meningitis. Though this play was on the offensive end, he hasn’t been the same player defensively since returning from what can be a debilitating illness. NBA players have to consume an ungodly amount of calories and hydrating properties as it is just to keep up with the day-to-day drain that is the league’s practice, shootaround, travel and game scheduling – so to be hit with something as disastrous as that midseason can really knock a guy’s wind out, to say the absolute least.
There is also the slight chance that DeMarcus Cousins might be really ticked off.
The Kings came through with an exemplary offensive game against the Timberwolves, but they also played terribly defensively against a Wolves team that was alternating out-of-timeout shots for the ancient Mo Williams and the 19-year old Andrew Wiggins (who dropped 27 points in the loss). Kings swingman Rudy Gay, who was working the ball in the possession that DMC took off, tied for the team lead with 21 points but also turned the ball over eight times.
Meanwhile, Cousins (who was ejected after reacting more or less appropriately after Marcus Smart undercut him on Wednesday afternoon) picked up a series of frustration fouls and had to leave his second straight game.
Meanwhile, Cousins is still dealing with the aftereffects of a serious illness.
Meanwhile, Cousins is still dealing with the aftereffects of seeing a quite capable coach in Michael Malone be tossed to the unemployment line in favor of Tyrone Corbin’s obvious lame duck turn as head coach.
Meanwhile, Cousins is still dealing with the aftereffects of being drafted by the aimless Sacramento Kings in 2010.
You want to believe that current general manager Pete D’Alessandro is just working at the behest of owner Vivek Ranadive, as the new’ish Kings boss figures out his NBA way. You’d like to hope that the Kings are shooting for the stars in their dismissal of Malone, that they’re taking chances in the attempts to go for 60 wins instead of cobbling together a pretty good 45-win team in the very good Western Conference. That they’re working pound-wise and not penny-wise.
Still. We’re not the ones that have to play through this, under Tyrone Corbin, working two games on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day on the road in both Boston and Minneapolis against terrible teams. We’re not the ones that have to spend 49 games and four months working through a Tyrone Corbin Era that we know what make it until summer. DeMarcus Cousins acted like a lout last night, but we’re not dealing with what he’s dealing with – physically, and mentally.
The Kings have beaten the lowly Timberwolves, Lakers and Knicks by a combined 16 points under Corbin, and they’ve lost six other games during his initial run. The team’s offense has improved and its pace has shot up under Corbin, but the team’s defense in that nine-game run has been amongst the NBA’s worst.
Hovering the magnifying glass over a team near its midseason point that just made a coaching change a couple of weeks ago is no way to scout a club, but this is exactly what the Kings encouraged by making such a change. There might be a method to the madness, one that will reveal itself in the form of a new coaching staff, a new style of play, and scads of wins in the years to come.
In the meantime, though, they’re working through yet another lost season. Of their own design.
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