SEATTLE - Brad Miller needs to buy Kevin Martin dinner.
The big man joked after the Kings' 103-101 win at Seattle on Sunday that he and his teammates were "glad not to be the Indiana Pacers tonight." The Pacers, to review, helped Miami end its league-long 15-game losing streak on Saturday. But the Kings were as close as a team can be to falling in this one, and a loss would have pointed straight to Miller's moment of frustration with 43.1 seconds left.
Miller had been battling with Sonics center Kurt Thomas all night. And when Thomas forced a turnover by mugging Miller in the paint after he had retrieved his own missed five-footer, Miller had one of his infamous lapses where he shoved Thomas aggressively and sent him to the line. His two free throws brought Seattle within two.
Of course that's when Martin began his game-saving stretch with an alley-oop tip off the inbounds pass from Ron Artest that came - of course - with Thomas hanging on him and just one second on the shot clock. Martin finished the outing with his 14-footer that helped the Kings avert what would've been a complete disaster of a loss.
The hysterical part about the Miller-Thomas battle was how these guys could appear on the verge of going to blows only to be smiling moments later. Even after Thomas was shoved by Miller, the two were grinning about it just seconds later on the other end. As Miller said later, that's all part of being a veteran in this league.
"That’s just a couple of old farts having a good time," he said of himself and Thomas. "We’ve both got the same dirty tricks. He knows he’s fouling, and I’m fouling too. Just two old guys having fun."
I caught Thomas on his way out of KeyArena later that night, then couldn't help but to relay Miller's "old farts" sentiment.
"That's it," Thomas said with a laugh. "Brad's a good man, a good man."
* The alley-oop play to Martin was apparently in the bag of tricks all season long, but it just hadn't been used.
Martin joked on television afterward that he had always told Theus it wouldn't work. Theus, meanwhile, said he took some solace in knowing the Sonics wouldn't see it coming.
"It’s a play that I had in college (at New Mexico State)," Theus said. "I hadn’t run that play, so I knew it wasn’t in their (scouting report). Kevin just made a phenomenal, athletic play. Mikki Moore was actually open on the slip, too. But there’s no doubt about it - Kevin Martin made that play work."
* The Kings won on the road against a Western Conference opponent for the first time. They are 1-10 now.
* Mike Bibby is playing with a sprained right pinkie finger, although Bibby said he's fine. He wore tape on the finger against the Sonics, hitting 5 of 11 for 13 points.
* As was the case on Friday in Utah, Ron Artest wasn't sure if he could play until later in the day of a game.
Artest indicated at shoot-a-round that he couldn't play because of soreness in his right knee and foot, but wound up starting come tipoff time. He had 10 points (3 of 10 shooting), six assists, six rebounds, and two steals in 31 minutes. And, no, he wasn't anywhere near as theatrical as he was against the Jazz (which, by the way, was captured here by someone who reflects the sentiment of so many Jazz fans that night).
When it came to crowd interaction, forward Mikki Moore was, if nothing else, the most comedic of the bunch. When a fan yelled at Moore to "stop whining" about calls, Moore said in a semi-soft tone, "Hey Santa Clause, shut up." The fan, of course, had a white beard and mustache.