It’s official: the Kings are fed up with losing to teams they feel they can beat. Monday night was the latest example, as they lost to an Orlando team that had the look of an Eastern Conference champion coming in.
Throwing away the Magic’s blowout loss to the Clippers on Sunday night, they had won 12 of their previous 14 games despite eight of them coming on the road. Really, the Kings were a Kevin Martin or Mike Bibby three-pointer from pulling the upset -- though the combo was 1 of 8 from beyond the arc. And they nearly pulled off the upset without Ron Artest, whose back problem is starting to look like the sort of injury that he may have to battle through for much of the season.
Games like these may be the difference when playoff seeds are handed out in late April. Officially, the 8-8 Kings are in eighth place in the Western Conference, ahead only in tie-breaker fashion of .500 teams New Orleans, Golden State, and the Clippers. How’s that for a sign that plenty of decent teams will be watching the postseason from their couch a few months from now?
What’s more, the underlying elements aren’t in the Kings favor. They’re still taking chemistry lessons, are inconsistent defensively, have had plenty of injuries to slow them down, and are showing the same road woes as they did early last season by dropping five of their first seven games away from Arco Arena. Beat Phoenix tonight, though, and you have your much-needed spark.
-- Sam Amick