Sacramento Kings 91, Toronto Raptors 116

I don’t fancy the Raptors chances in an up and down, no defense, all offense affair where the first team to play some defense or go through a drought ends up losing the game. I’ve seen that movie before and have learned that there’s no thing as a “safe lead” when it comes to the Raps because they’re as liable to score 9 points in a quarter as they are to explode for 36. So when we were up by 20 on the Kings, the thought of a win was about as distant as a warm sun. Not until a few minutes had passed in the fourth quarter and the lead still remained in the high teens was I able to sight a win, and a pretty solid one at that.

Both teams were looking to score without much thought being given to defense and it was very apparent that somebody was one drought away from being down big. In a game of runs, the Kings got cold in the third quarter through turnovers and ill-advised shots and the Raptors capitalized on the other end, often in transition to the tune of a 36-22 quarter. It’s not like the Raptors played great defense, many of the Kings’ 20 turnovers were unforced and careless. The Raptors did however do a very good job of clogging up the passing lanes in anticipation of would-be passes, Anthony Parker and Carlos Delfino’s 7 steals combined is testament to that. The third quarter saw the Raptors completely demolish any 2-3 and 3-2 zone that the Kings were using by moving the ball around to get open looks and even attacking it, forcing it to collapse leading to easy hoops through quick interior passing.

Chris Bosh (11-12 FG, 31 pts) and Carlos Delfino (8-11 FG, 27 pts) led the charge with Bosh taking maybe one outside jumper all game because things came that easy for him. I’m starting to think Mikki Moore slowing down Bosh last year was a total fluke because he couldn’t contend with anything Bosh was trying to do. If CB4 had been eating an ice-cream with one hand he still could’ve put up 20/8 today. Even he was surprised with the space he got:

“I was just trying to be aggressive and drive to the basket. At the beginning of the game, I saw a lot of lanes. Guys weren’t really concentrating that much on me if I wasn’t in the post. Anytime that happens I’m going to try to drive as soon as I catch the ball.”

Delfino shot the ball well in Detroit and his stroke was still there tonight, none of his threes were of the jacked-up variety and usually came after a double on Bosh spawned a string of passes on the perimeter leading up to the ‘Fino. We did an excellent job of quickly moving the ball on the perimeter and forcing Sacramento to make their rotations which ended up getting the last option on the play an easy shot. It was beautiful at times. Granted if this was Detroit, they would’ve locked down Bosh and forced such a bad pass out of the double team that the theatrics that followed tonight would’ve been impossible, but then again it’s not in our place to beat Detroit, Sacramento we can handle.

I think the Kings would’ve had a better chance of beating us if Bibby and Artest hadn’t played because for the better part of the evening, the Kings players’ were trying to get theirs instead of going through any real offensive sets. Mike Bibby and Kevin Martin might be locking horns for FGAs in the future because Kevin Martin clearly feels that he deserves equal if not more touches than Bibby who would beg to disagree. The only reason we would’ve lost to the Kings tonight was if we went through a huge offensive funk or if we played zero defense, we did neither. Our outside shooting was solid with Kapono having his second straight good shooting game and as mentioned Bosh and the ‘Fino going off. What’s lost in the mix is Calderon’s 17 points, 14 assists and most of all his quick and intelligent passing on the perimeter. This RealGM thread pointed out by PsychicSpy debated whether our guard play is lacking. It’s very unfair to create such a thread after a game against Detroit, our guard-play has been generally acceptable all season, it’s hardly the reason we’re still a middle of the pack team in the East.

As is custom, here’s the Bargnani paragraph, I’m going to write it in green from now on: 3-13 FG, 7 points and 6 rebounds. Well, a pretty good game by Bargnani considering his standards. What might be getting lost in the stats is that most of the shots he took were of an acceptable quality level and he simply missed them. I only counted two missed defensive rebounding assignments and he did get back on defense when the Kings were on the break. Two of his field goals were good finishes around the rim and the other was a sweet baseline jumper initiated by a double on Bosh on the weak side. He did log 26 minutes which tells you he didn’t piss off Sam too much. Hopefully against Atlanta he can log 35 minutes, get us 12 points and 8 rebounds while shooting say 5-15? I can live with that. Yeah, it’s depressing but I can live with it.

Yesterday’s loss in Detroit left a bad taste in our mouth because of the way we lost, we played like shit and coached like shit but then again it was Detroit. They’re a cut above us and we should hope to be at that level in a year or two, for now let’s savour a rare blowout against a decent team. The 4 in 5 stretch is going according to plan so far, Friday at home against Atlanta might end up being a similar story as today. The Hawks will be looking for a revenge, the Raptors need to avoid a let-down after a good performance today, they should expect things to be a little tougher especially on offense as the Hawks have enough athleticism to bother the likes of Bosh, Parker and Calderon. Should be a good one.

I’d like to thank the readers especially PsychicSpy, SAMisCOY, Raps Fan, Crank, PapiJulio, Birdman, Red Rebounder and everybody else for keeping the discussion lively on this site. Keeps me motivated.

One-Liners:

* The Score production was very poor, they missed at least 4 live plays when showing replays.

* Leo Rautins demolishing Chuck Swirsky’s bobblehead doll was tasteless. And also not funny. How many times did Leo Rautins point out that Reggie Theus was good-looking?

* Jason Kapono is starting to come out of his spell, that’s good, real good.

* We did a very good job of recognizing the zone and moving the ball around it to get good open looks.

* The see-saw affair of who’s the 2nd string point guard continues with Juan Dixon ousting Darrick Murray Martin. The race is simply too close and Mitchell can’t decide. It’s a good problem to have.

* Bibby and Artest returning turned out to be a good thing for us because the Kings were trying to find themselves through the better part of the game.

* Smitch proved that he’ll bench even his favorite player (Moon) if he fucks up. That was nice to watch.

* Sam Mitchell’s stare down of the officials was classic. It’s one of those things that sometimes makes me look past the glaring fact that he has no plays.

* We had 24 points of 20 Kings turnovers, shot 52.4% and outrebounded them 42-29, that’s the game right there. It goes in line with the theory that if we shoot the ball well and rebound, we have a great chance of winning. A no-brainer really.

* Hope to have Podcast #3 tomorrow in the PM. It’s a solo effort, do tune in.

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