Speaking of opportunities wasted, the Kings displayed exactly what I meant at the end of the first quarter when they allowed Tony Parker to catch a pass near halfcourt after Bonzi Wells shot free-throws with 3.2 seconds.
Parker, perhaps the league’s fastest player, utilized the on-the-run catch to apply pressure on the Kings defense and suck it in. Parker passed to Rasho Nesterovic, yes, the seven-footer, who made a three-pointer at the buzzer to get the Spurs within 22-20 entering the second quarter. Nesterovic’s three was the first of his career. So, there was some element of surprise.
However, for teams getting good looks against the Kings in those situations, there are many precedents. Far too many times this season, the Kings either have relaxed or been ill-prepared to slow teams going coast-to-coast during the final moments of quarters.
Think those three points may come in handy sometime later tonight.
The defensive talents of Ron Artest showed up early in the game when he blocked a running tear-drop by Parker. It’s one of the All-Star guard’s pet shots and I can’t remember seeing it get blocked before.
At practice the other day, Bibby said he will continue to look to get Brad Miller shots and did that during the first quarter. Miller took five shots in the first, scoring four points. Little steps, baby. Little steps.
Bonzi Wells was missing layups and following them up with buckets like he spent the past two days watching that “Fundamentals of Basketball” video by Moses Malone. However, the larger point is, I don’t know how much Wells – the free-agent-to-be this summer – will demand, but to break up that power, bruising duo of Artest and Wells, should be something the Kings avoid all almost all costs.
There’s 34 seconds left in the first quarter when Ginobili pump-fakes Artest and leans into him. Artest never moves and gets whistled for a weak foul. Then the referees attempt to explain to Adelman how they were right when they were wrong. Nothing phonier than an official doing that. Just shut up and walk away.
For the second time this series, one of the Kings came away from a play with no blood and no foul. Guess that does away with that no-blood, no-foul concept.
Wells came away with an offensive rebound during the final minute of the half and then went down to his knees in the lane. A few seconds later, Beno Udrih, San Antonio’s third point guard, scored a layup at the other end, and Sacramento’s 12-point lead had been whittled to four points.
Artest scored on a power move to conclude the Kings’ scoring and give them a 47-41 halftime lead.
But 12 points down to six. There we go again with the opportunities wasted. And Bibby needs to slow down or his 2-for-9 shooting is going to turn into 4-for-18. He’s going too fast when his game, like Miller, should be to kill the opposition slowly.