Ok, so before heading over to San Francisco for Giants media day, the KIngs were so entertaining last night against the Phoenix Suns that I felt compelled to note a few final thoughts:
The ball movement was excellent, resulting in 24 assists. Tyreke Evans (five) and Omri Casspi (four) were the leaders in that category, but Pooh Jeter, Carl Landry and Beno Udrih threw some timely, beautiful passes. Because of the commotion over the newcomers, Udrih has been a bit overlooked during camp. But unlike several of his teammates, he arrived in excellent shape and appears slimmer than in the past. I still like Udrih running the point in the Evans-Udrih backcourt, especially as Tyreke develops his off-game skills. His three-point shot looks much improved, as advertised.
The big men and big muscles. Samuel Dalembert and Hassan Whiteside pounded the weights during the offseason, as apparent from their bigger upper arms. Now, while we all scolded Vlade Divac for his lack of interest in cardio work and conditioning, but his aversion to becoming muscle-bound was right on. As everyone around here knows, Divac was amazingly durable. His theory was that it was more important to have a strong base than bulging biceps.
Jason Thompson, Carl Landry and rookie DeMarcus Cousins set some excellent screens, freeing up teammates for jumpers and cuts to the basket.
Cousins was terrific (16 points, 16 boards). He showed off his superb hands, quick feet, post skills, perimeter shot, and was a physical presence inside. Surprisingly, he had five turnovers and no assists, but the numbers don't reflect his ability to find cutters and shooters in the corners. As Paul Westphal said afterward, once he gets in shape .....
One other thing about Cousins: The question is about maturity and his motor, but he stays after practices and works with the Kings coaches. And, he is a funny, funny young. This is going to be fun.
According to one of the Suns officials, Hedo Turkoglu, who appeared sluggish and overweight during his disappointing season in Toronto last year, has bought into the Steve Nash/Grant Hill approach of eating right and improving flexibility. He looks much, much better. Hill, by the way, turned 38 on Tuesday.