If today's Mikki Moore piece just wasn't enough, there's Moore.
NEW YORK - When Kings forward Mikki Moore talked about the upcoming season and his individual goals in training camp, he noted the importance of consistency.
He's not there yet, with his performances bouncing up and down as much as those braids of his as he runs the floor. Exhibit A is the last four games, with Moore scoring in single digits in three of those games (for a combined 17 points) and busting out with a career-high tying 24 points in the other game (win over Philly on Friday).
Nonetheless, he has certainly progressed from the early season struggles, alternating between making a huge impact on the Kings play and disappearing when the system that sometimes serves him well breaks down. Kings coach Reggie Theus has changed how he uses Moore, running him mainly off of pick and rolls rather than using him as a traditional post presence like he did early this season.
"In some ways, I think (his improvement) is kind of a two-fold thing," Theus said. "I think Mikki put a lot of pressure on himself early, but I also think that I found a way to play that works for him.
"Brad (Miller) and Ron (Artest) are the only two guys on our team who have been primary guys in their careers. So all of a sudden, instead of playing off of people, you say, ‘Here, get it done (to players like Moore)’ and they’ve never done that before.
Theus said a conversation he had with Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie earlier this season helped Moore's cause, as did the addition of point guard Beno Udrih.
"I remember sitting down with Geoff talking to him about Mikki and watching some tape with him and really, kind of simultaneously, we were thinking the same thing in terms of what was best for Mikki," Theus said. "Watching those tapes, I realized that Mikki is a great roll guy (off of pick and rolls), so that played right into Beno (Udrih's skills), so that’s where we came up with the offensive set that puts Brad in the corner and opens up the floor.
"He was just getting different touches. The game changes when you put him in different spots. We’ve been able to find a way for him to play and put him in a place where I think he’s comfortable now."
As for Moore, he's adamant that he won't be letting up just because his three-year, $17 million deal ($12 million guaranteed) is inked. In fact, he has the plan all plotted out.
"(The partially guaranteed third year) is just to prove to (the Kings) that I’m not going to be satisfied coming into that last year (of the contract)," Moore said during the preseason before he became the starter. "This year is to prove that I’m worth the contract and to get this team to the playoffs. The second year is try to get some All-Star votes and solidify my starting role. That third year is to show I’ve still got it in me."
And lastly, Udrih says he's enjoyed playing with Moore.
"Mikki, with all of the guys, is great," Udrih said. "He’s a great guy, and we are a good team wtih him....Mikki’s not a selfish player. When I pass to him, he’s going to go up aggressive. He’s long. He can dunk the ball, but if he sees somebody open he’s going to pass to them. It’s great playing with him, and he’s a great teammate, a good player.
"As long as we’re going to use him as we did (in Friday's win at Philadelphia) and in the first half (against Washington on Saturday), I don’t think we’re going to have any problems. We can match up with any team."
The perfect day was not to be.
I wound up watching the Knicks game on TV, which isn't anywhere close to the same thing as being there to soak up all the soap opera material inside Madison Square Garden. Kings practice went a bit late, then it was off to Ron Artest's charity event in Queens that was delightful in every way. Well, almost every way.
Driving the 19 miles from downtown to the Jamaica neighborhood took more than an hour, and it was the worst kind of driving. Anyhow, that delay and the one on the way back meant no Knicks game for me. As it turns out, Artest - who had planned on seeing the Pacers and Knicks play as well - didn't make it either.
It was an unorthodox choice by Theus to practice in the home of the Knicks when his team is in town to play the Nets. Theus, though, said he was going for a more authentic surrounding rather than heading for an athletic club or even going all the way to East Rutherford, N.J. (the team is staying in New York City).
"I don’t think the floor (at clubs) is regulation, for one," Theus said. "And I just think it’s more private, not as much going on. An opportunity to get in this building never hurts. - Sam Amick