It took a while, but the Nets are feeling pretty good about themselves right now. Brooklyn put an end to their seven game losing streak and finally got their first win of the season, an impressive 106-98 victory over the Rockets in Houston on Wednesday night. This is the third game of a four game road trip and first leg of a back-to-back. Who's the opponent tomorrow night? The defending NBA Champion Golden State Warriors. Nothing comes easy.
Waiting for Brooklyn will be the Sacramento Kings. Like the Nets, the Kings have struggled and are near the bottom of the conference. They ended a very long day (more on that in a minute) with a win over the upstart Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night and hope to put a winning streak together.
Where to follow the game
YES Network on TV and WFAN 101.9 FM on the radio. Tip off is after 10 PM.
The Nets are (relatively) healthy.
Darren Collison has been out with a left hamstring injury and is out. Seth Curry has been dealing with an ankle injury, but feels confident that he'll be able to play tonight.
It's one thing to be bad. It's another thing to be bad AND dysfunctional. The Kings are both, and it looks like things are starting to fall apart. On Wednesday afternoon, The Big Lead broke news and reported that Demarcus Cousins cussed out George Karl in the locker room following the Kings' loss to San Antonio on Monday night. Boogie later apologized. We also learned that Vlade Divac asked the team if they should fire Karl and after that, another report came out that stated Karl might be fired this week if the Kings don't get things turned around quickly. However this ends, it'll be fascinating thing to watch.
The matchup at center promises to be incredibly fun. Boogie Cousins has been dealing with a sore left Achilles recently, but he made his return on Monday and will be good to go tonight. Boogie has worked on incorporating the three pointers into his arsenal, and has already made eight of them. He's shooting a career worst 40.7 percent on the season (albeit in only five games), and efficiency has been an issue. He's never shot 50 percent from the field, but he's been able to make up for it. He's averaged a double-double four out of the last seasons (missed a fifth by one tenth of a rebound) and currently leads the league in free throw attempts a game. There's a decent case to be made for trading him (for real this time), but it won't be an easy decision.
It's a shame the Nets have been so inept because it's taken away from what's been a great start to the season for Brook Lopez. He didn't shoot well against Dwight Howard and the Rockets, but did set season highs in rebounds (12) and blocks (five). He's one of the team's few bright spots so it was good to see him back on the court after the foot scare in Milwaukee. Assuming Karl actually lets him play big minutes for a change, Willie Cauley-Stein will have a great challenge ahead of him. The Kings are eight points better per 100 possessions when Trill is on the court, but he only plays 21 minutes a night. Some of that is due to having Kosta Koufus in front of him, but a valuable rookie like Trill should get as many minutes as possible.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has been playing well this year, but had a poor showing on Wednesday night. He had some early turnovers and didn't see the court until the fourth quarter. That bad outing shouldn't take away from what's been a good start to his rookie season. He'll get his chance to defend Rudy Gay this evening.
Player to watch: Rajon Rondo
Rajon Rondo is with the Kings and hoping to regain some of his credibility after his disastrous stint with the Mavs. He's on a one year deal and if he has a good year, will get some team to offer him a long term contract.
With the other point guards battling injuries, Rondo has had to carry the load at the PG position. He's played 48 minutes in two of the last three games, a feat he hasn't accomplished since 2012. The book on him is still the same: Bait him into shooting jumpers and live with the results. He's at 41 percent from the field, 22 percent from three point range, and 37.5 percent from the free throw line. He's still a great rebounder for his position and still can find good looks for his teammates, so it's not all bad.
Jarrett Jack and Shane Larkin will handle point guard duties for Brooklyn. Larkin got most of the fourth quarter minutes on Wednesday and it'll be interesting to see if that happens here if this game is close late. Jack operates more as a scorer than Larkin and the Nets' strategy might focus on tiring Rondo out. With no other point guard on the roster, it wouldn't be surprising to see Rondo play 40+ minutes again.
From the Vault
Players hating George Karl isn't a new phenomenon, but none may have hated him as much as Kendall Gill did. Here's what he had to say about his former coach on the eve of a Sonics-Nets game in 1996:
"Yeah, he did (try to ruin my reputation)," Gill said yesterday after practice at Ramapo College. "Which is why I wouldn't mind running into him in a dark alley somewhere and then we'd see how much smack he's gonna talk."
"Judgment day will come and he'll have to meet his maker. . . . All the characters he's tried to destroy, he'll have to pay for."
Speaking of Karl, there were rumors the Sonics would've fired him if he didn't make a deep run in the 1996 Playoffs. They had been eliminated in the first round the previous two seasons, including 1994 when they were the number one seed in the West. They were the top seed again and facing a team that was making their first playoff appearance since 1981. This was Mitch Richmond's first playoff appearance since 1991 (the Run TMC Warriors) and he was looking to make a statement.
More reading: Sactown Royalty
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes -- Brooklyn Nets
- Sacramento Kings Game Notes - Sacramento Kings
- Brooklyn Nets at Sacramento Kings - STATS LLC
- Nets' Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has shown flashes of brilliance along with inconsistent play - Rod Boone - Newsday
- Hollins’ ‘preaching’ finally pays off for Nets - John Torenli - Brooklyn Eagle
- Eight Points: On The Nets' 106-98 Win Over The Houston Rockets - Devin Kharpertian - The Brooklyn Game
Shane Larkin’s brutal honesty with Hollins pays off - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- Kings debacle somehow worse than doomsday predictions - Jonathan Lehman - New York Post
- Omri Casspi becoming efficient shooter for Kings | The Sacramento Bee - Matt Kawahara - Sacramento Bee
- Kings vs. Brooklyn Nets at a glance - Matt Kawahara - Sacramento Bee
- Vlade Divac’s attempt at détente lowers Kings’ temperature - Aileen Voisin - Sacramento Bee
- Kings of turmoil: DeMarcus Cousins curses out George Karl, apologizes, stars in win - Marc J. Spears - Yahoo! Sports