"A 'W' is a 'W'."
That's what Mikki Moore said on his way out of the Kings locker room late Tuesday night, and I couldn't have said it better myself. But I'll try.
A 'W' is a 'W,' especially when it erases the memory in so many minds that the Kings were down by 20 points in the first half of their home opener to a Seattle team that - at full strength - was projected to be in the Western Conference cellar.
A 'W' is a 'W,' especially when said first half included unfriendly griping at the coaching staff from both Kenny Thomas and Moore and the mood was turning more sour by the minute.
A 'W' is a 'W,' especially when your leading scorer (Kevin Martin) takes one shot in the fourth quarter, misses two key free throws, has a turnover on a key possesion late in the game courtesy of Kevin Durant that leads to a thunderous dunk and temporary momentum-stealer, passes up an open three that leads to a shot clock violation, and gets whistled for a highly-debatable blocking call rather than an inspiring charge going the other way.
A 'W' is a 'W,' especially when your starting point guard (Francisco Garcia) keeps gunning despite no signs of shooting success but saves the day with a late three-pointer to grab the lead.
A 'W' is a 'W,' especially when that 'W' looks so very likely to be followed by an 'L' once LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers come to Arco Arena on Friday.
And last but not least, a 'W' is a 'W,' especially when there were 2,409 empty seats (Arco capacity of 17,317 minus 14,908 attendance) and wins will be needed to start the sellout streak anew.
OK, now for the good stuff on Martin - and there was plenty of it that I didn't get a chance to mention in the recount of their 104-98 win over Seattle.
Here's what should excite Kings fans: seven rebounds, five assists, five steals. To wit: In the three games coming in, he had a combined 10 rebounds, three assists, and five steals.
He has the body, the athleticism and the instincts to do this much more often. Martin was a maniac on both ends, jumping in lanes to pick off balls, leaping above Wally Szczerbiak in the post to deny ball entry after the Sonics forward had been scoring at will against John Salmons. He can, and should, do this more often.
And as for Martin's lack of late scoring, he said he wasn't simply content to finish the game after leg cramps threatened to take him out. They kicked in right after a third-quarter play in which he went high for a rebound and fell hard.
There was an out-of-place DJ Mbenga sighting at the Kings-Sonics game, though I've yet to have someone tell me that he should be expected as the Kings' newest frontcourt addition.
The 7-foot, 240-pound Mbenga was waived by Dallas on Oct. 30, having played in just one preseason game after returning from an ACL injury last Feb. 7. In the one game against Chicago, Mbenga had five rebounds, two blocked shots and an assist in 12 minutes of play.
It would make perfect sense that the Kings worked him out and were considering signing him, although he remains not only a recovering hobbler but a player who didn't start playing basketball until later in life and who's in need of major development. Folks on the Sonics' side gave no indication he was there to meet with them, so it's a mystery for now.
UPDATE: My man Marty Mac has solved the Mbenga riddle (be sure and scroll to his last note).
Let's play a hoops version of "Where's Waldo?" with today's stellar picture of Francisco Garcia's game-winning shot against Seattle (the fine work of the Bee's Hector Amezcua). We'll call it, "Where's Kevin Durant's mother?" Here's a clue - look for the only person who's less than ecstatic. (Click on the pic to make it bigger)
You find her yet? Yep, the woman standing in the bottom right corner just behind her boy.
- Sam Amick