PHILADELPHIA - This being an East Coast affair, the question wasn't a total surprise.
Before the Kings' first road win on Friday night, a local reporter asked coach Reggie Theus if any of his offense has ties to the legendary Pete Carril Princeton offense that was utilized by Rick Adelman during the Kings glory days.
"None," Theus quickly responded. "I can’t put myself in the same category with the great one, but it’s just playing basketball. It’s not brain surgery. You cut to the open spot, you look to the open man. If the (defender) turns his head, you slip behind him. It’s the way you learn to play since you were a kid. Nothing should change. It’s amazing to me how sometimes it’s so hard to get guys to understand that."
By the time the Kings had downed the Sixers, the words would only seem truer. To quote one-time Kings coaching candidate Larry Brown, they did things "the right way" against Philly. For starters, I lost count of the times when the wingmen almost pulled the trigger on long jumpers only to keep working the possesion. They finished with 62 points in the paint to the Sixers' 46.
And, of course, it certainly helped that the one player gunning from the outside (Brad Miller) was on target as he hit all five of his elbow-area jumpers and one of two threes. Thus, cuts to the hoop came with less resistance as the Sixers were coming out on Miller. And while Ron Artest took a season-low seven shots, he spent much more of the outing camped out down low as part of a session in spacing that certainly pleased Theus.
"The difference is we worked on the spacing and those cuts today at shooting practice, talked about them after the game in Boston," Theus said. "I told them, said, ‘Hey listen, 30, 40, or 50 percent of our offense is Ron with the ball in the post. So if that’s going to be the case, then we have to find a way to play.
"I thought Ron gave it up extremely well tonight. Brad made some great passes. And we really just moved our bodies to the open spots. So many times, we elect to stand. And it’s not the way I coach. It’s not what we’ve done since Day One. It’s something that we just have to keep getting better at."
Forward Mikki Moore, who spent the evening not only dunking seven times but yelling loud enough when he did it to have his voice amplified by the backboard speaker, noted the improvement as well.
"Brad Miller's a great passer, and Ron was getting double-teamed in the post," Moore said. "And when Ron swung it up to Brad, if he didn’t have the jumpshot he found me. It’s just playing good basketball. Before, we were forcing things. Tonight my teammates made me have a good game like this."
Moore noted the third quarter play of point guard Beno Udrih as well.
"He came out the second half and set the tone," he said. "He came off the pick and roll very aggressive, opened up a lot of things for us. He didn’t come off trying to see who was open and play with the ball a little bit. He came off straight - smashmouth basketball coming straight to the basket at you and that’s what we have to do."
REMEMBERING A FOND FAREWELL
The presence of Chuck Person was expected.
After all, his Indiana Pacers were scheduled to play Philadelphia on April 17, 1987 at the old arena just across the street from the current Wachovia Center. But when Person saw legendary soul singer Patti Labelle in the building to perform the national anthem, he knew something special was going on.
The Kings assistant and longtime Pacers player recanted his memories of being on hand for Julius “Dr. J” Erving’s regular season home finale near the end of his Hall of Fame career. The festivities could do nothing to change the outcome, with Indiana winning 115-111. Erving’s true goodbye at home came with a win on May 1, 1987, when the Sixers downed Milwaukee in Game Four of a first round playoff series they would lose in five games.
TROUBLE IN PARADISE
The line of the night belonged to Theus, who was asked before the game if his players remained loose despite the struggles on the road.
"We need to win a game," he said. "The pressure is on. This isn't Club Med."
- Sam Amick