Kyle Lowry is back!
Let me repeat, Kyle Lowry is back. Never have I been happier to be wrong about a prognostication. I thought Lowry would miss the rest of the season, yet here he is. He lost 15-20 lbs while he was sick, yet he remains a badass. He looks too thin, though, not enough like an NFL safety. I suggest he visits Voodoo Donuts and orders a few maple and bacon specials when in Portland. It's near the hotel and open all night.
Also, there was a basketball game in Sacramento tonight. As many of you know, I have a soft spot in my heart for the Sacramento Kings. I like their fans, I still feel the injustice done them in the playoffs back when Arco was the toughest place to play in the NBA. I think Arco is now called Power Balance Smoothie & Bubble Tea Shack & Cell Phone Palace now. But I could be wrong.
So, the game, it started well. The Rockets jumped to a 32-21 lead after one quarter with the team looking sharp and Kyle Lowry briefly reappearing. The star, however, was Courtney Lee, as he poured in 17pts in the frame. He missed exactly once to score those points. Mr Lee apparently agreed with many posters here that he had a bad game in Los Angeles. He started by notching a good game in one quarter tonight.
On to the second, with the Kings reeling from the Rockets layup & three pointer onslaught. It was a more balanced attack, with the Rockets widening the lead to 15. The worst part of this quarter was DeMarcus Cousins fouling what promised to be a Luis Scola hammer dunk off the fast break. That was just rude, but that seems to be Cousin's MO. The league needs more outspoken players, too bad he's not as funny as Charles Barkley was.
On to the second half, and we would see little more of Cousins, who lit up the Rockets for 38 points in Houston not so long ago. Tonight he logged 26 minutes, 9pts, 8 rbs and some truly awful dribbling. Essentially the Kings starters gave up early in the third quarter and Cousins and others wouldn't play again. Instead the Kings got a spark from their most reliable player of the night, former Rocket Terrence Williams.
You know what they say, "Verily, when Terrence Williams is thy most reliable player, thou art completely screwed.". And it's as true now as it was three hundred years ago. But for a while it didn't look that way. Kings coach Keith Smart found some guys on the bench who wanted to play. Hassan Whiteside, former Rocket Draft Object of Affection was surgically removed from the bench, and along with Chuck Hayes, the aforementioned TWill and some zone D, contrived to shut down the Rockets and bring the game within 8pts.
If the Kings could hit free throws it might have been worse. Sacramento attempted a whopping 38 FT tonight. How they got that despite running nothing resembling am NBA offense, and generally playing badly is something only the NBA's Finest Referees can tell you. Fortunately the Kings only hit 20 of those shots. If they had shot like the Lakers did last game (approximately 99.9%) we might have lost. In two games the Rockets opponents have shot 73 free throws to the Rockets 35. You might say, well, Lakers and Refs go together like Peanut Butter and Jelly, but tonight was the Kings, who couldn't buy a call against the Clippers the night before. (No seriously, the Clippers Bobby Simmons concussed Francisco Garcia with a WWE elbow to the head - no call.)
Anyhow, a once-comfortable blowout was beginning to look iffy. Kyle Lowry came to the rescue. He took the ball into the teeth of the Kings defense and got some free throws at last. The Rockets the woke up and reasserted control, reeling off 3 consecutive baskets. By this time the Kings reserves, who had fought back so well, were out of gas. The blow out was back on. The fourth quarter started out 73-63 Rockets and ended with the 104 - 87 final.
A question about the Kings. What the hell is this team meant to do? Most teams have some sort of purpose, and for the best ones it's immediately clear - San Antonio - great core, flawless execution, swappable parts. Chicago - great defense, solid team offense, Derek Rose heroics. Miami - 3 superstars devoted to evil. Etc. Etc.
What is the plan in Sacramento? I just don't get the team composition. If you've got a potential superstar in Cousins, here's a possible purpose - big man scoring inside, kicking out to 3pt shooters who defend like maniacs. What role Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton, and Jason Thompson have in that is unclear to me.
Also see Sactown Royalty for more.
On to Portland.
Kyle Lowry - Welcome back. Dished out 7 assists in 18 minutes, and stopped the bleeding.
Courtney Lee - 25pts in 37 minutes, 11-18 with 4 steals.
Goran Dragic - 15pts, 9 Ast, 4 RB, 1 stl, 1 blk
Terrence Williams Rockets Botherer - 21pts, 8rb 0 Ast
Patrick Patterson - Looking less tentative on the boards, still rushing his shots. P2, you're wide open, don't rush it.
Marcus Camby - Stomach Illness
Chuck Hayes - Judging by STR comments, they don't seem to like him in Sacramento. They think he should be slimmer, and score more. This is a bit like complaining that Boticelli's Venus isn't wearing enough clothing, and the shell seems unrealistic. If you can't figure out what a Chuck Hayes is for, send him back for no refund.