Harlem Globetrotter legend Curly Neal may have suffered serious confusion as he watched the Washington Generals stumble about in unexpected purple-and-black uniforms Tuesday night.
Neal sat courtside to watch the team otherwise known as the Sacramento Kings struggle through their first game back from the All-Star break. NorCal’s royalty trailed 63-44 at halftime en route to a 117-97 loss to Eastern Conference-leading Miami.
Not convinced that the Kings resembled the Globetrotters’ hapless foes in their anemic performance? All the necessary evidence lies in the nightmare performance of rookie DeMarcus Cousins.
In the first quarter alone, DMC went 0-6 from the floor, committed two fouls, and had shots blocked by Mario Chalmers and Erick Dampier. He began the second quarter by missing a running hook, having his follow-up shot blocked by Dwyane Wade, and losing Joel Anthony for back-to-back baskets. Intent on making up for his misdeeds, he started the third with back-to-back misses and a turnover that Chalmers turned into a layup.
Cousins finished 3-14 from the field in the Kings’ most glaringly awful performance, but he got little help on a night when Sacramento’s leading scorer, Tyreke Evans, remained sidelined with plantar fasciitis. Its fourth-leading scorer, Carl Landry, did not dress for the game, as the team may be finalizing a deal sending him to New Orleans.
While the Kings took turns missing jumpers and coughing up the ball, Miami enjoyed its best shooting night in over a week. The Heat shot 31% from 16-23 feet in their three games prior to the All-Star break, but blistered the nets from that distance tonight, with Chalmers (4-4 on long 2s) leading the way and Chris Bosh (5-10), LeBron James (5-9) and Dwyane Wade (4-8) all chiming in. Every time Sacramento threatened to cut into the double-digit lead, one of the Heat shooters knocked down another tough jumper to silence the threat. Freshly-minted three-point shootout champion James Jones joined the party with a 3-4 night from downtown.
Of the Kings, only center Samuel Dalembert enjoyed similar accuracy, incredibly hitting 6-10 from 12-21 feet after coming into the game as a 43% shooter from midrange. He compiled 18 points and 13 rebounds, though most of his damage came long after the game had been decided.
Heat TV analyst Tony Fiorentino also brought his A game, of sorts, mangling an analysis of the Nuggets-Knicks-Timberwolves trade by mentioning “Shammond” (actually Shelden) Williams and Renaldo “Blackman” (rather than Belkman), then later confusing the injured Tyreke Evans with the uninjured (but still ineffective) Luther Head.
Kings coach Paul Westphal may have been right when he lamented, “This is an awful matchup for us . . . we’d have to play our best, they’d have to play their worst” in his pregame interview. (This is quoted per Fiorentino, so take it with a grain of salt.) Sacramento did itself no favors, though, by repeatedly bricking open shots and settling for contested 2s. With three more stops looming on their seven-game road trip, the Kings will need to find more consistent offense and take far better care of the ball to stand a chance against upcoming opponents Orlando (Wednesday), Charlotte (Friday) and Memphis (Saturday).
About the Author
Written by Steven Jones
Portland native, Highland Park resident, middle school teacher/basketball coach.