by Charlie O. Mallonee
NBA Crew Chief Mike Callahan answers questions on the last 2.4-seconds of the Kings vs Raptors game
Dave Joerger said no small lineup and then said yes
In his pregame press conference, Kings head coach Dave Joerger said he was not sure that a “small ball” lineup was going to happen against the Raptors. Joerger indicated he was really upset after the game on Friday and may have spoken to quickly.
Then … we were waiting for the starting lineups to be announced. They are usually brought to the press tables approximately 20 minutes before the start of the game. We were still waiting for the lineups when the National Anthem was performed.
Just before the player introductions, we received the official starters sheet. Coach Joerger decided to go small. Cousins slid into the number five slot while Gay and Matt Barnes took over the forward positions. Joerger went with twin point guards – Ty Lawson and Darren Collison to start the contest.
The small lineup played fast but was not able to overcome the four to five point lead the Raptors had established. At the 6:23 mark, Joerger switched things up and inserted center Kosta Koufos for Lawson.
The Kings responded to the new configuration and tied the score. Then, the “2 bigs” unit started establishing a lead that grew as large as 10 points. At the end of the first period, Sacramento was up 36-28.
The Kings had a tough second quarter without Cousins
DeMarcus Cousins picked up two personal fouls in the first quarter which was obviously part of the Raptors plan to neutralize the Kings star center. With 8:54 to go in the second, Joerger felt like he had to get Cousins back on the floor. At 8:34 on the clock, Cousins was headed back to the bench having picked up his third personal foul.
Willie Cauley-Stein came into the game for Cousins and the second-year center went to school. He had the task of trying to defend Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas. At seven feet and a solid 265 pounds, the very experienced Valanciunas was just too much for Cauley-Stein to handle by himself.The Toronto center scored six points, grabbed two rebounds and blocked a shot during Cauley-Stein’s time on the floor.
Kosta Koufos reentered the game and was able to slow down Valanciunas while Rudy Gay and Arron Afflalo went to work scoring points. The Kings were able to cut the Toronto lead to five – 63 to 58 – at the half.
Kings got small again in the third quarter
Dave Joerger returned to his “small” starting lineup to start the third period. The small Kings kept the game with five points but were unable to cut into the Raptors lead.
At 7:17, the Kings returned to the “2 bigs” lineup when Koufous subbed back into the game. The presence of Cousins and Koufos made Toronto’s Valanciunas much less effective.
Sacramento – led by a quick five points from Matt Barnes – began to score points. First, they tied the score. Then, Cousins converted a layup and the Kings took the lead. Sacramento scored the final four points of the quarter. At the end of three quarters, the Kings held the lead 86-81.
The fourth quarter lacked execution
Both teams shot just 25-percent from the floor in the final period. Toronto scored 18 points and the Kings 16 points in the quarter. Rudy Gay had the hot hand for the Kings shooting 3-for-5 and scoring seven points including the crucial final two points of the game for Sacramento.
Kyle Lowry tried to will the Raptors back into the game single handedly. He scored nine points, hauled in five defensive rebounds and dished out two assists in the final 12-minutes.
Toronto committed seven turnovers that created seven points for the Kings while Sacramento turned the ball over just three times which yielded three points for the Raptors.
Each team had four starters with 30 or more minutes of playing time in the game.
Joerger went deep into the bench
After having played a shorter rotation in several games, the Kings used 11 players against the Raptors. Only Omri Casspi and Gerorgios Papagiannis did not play. Coach Joerger was very proud of his team and their effort.
A little rest and some practice time
The Kings will get some time to rest and get in some practice as they will not play again until Wednesday night when they will host the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Thunder will be playing the second game of a back-to-back set after facing the Lakers on Tuesday night in LA.