ORLANDO, Fla. - The word from coach Reggie Theus at this morning's shoot-a-round is that John Salmons (left thigh contusion) and Tyronn Lue (calf strain) aren't likely to play tonight.
And considering the way Francisco Garcia has been shooting and the way Salmons has been struggling, the Kings will get along. Speaking of Garcia, I had a lengthy note omitted from today's paper (not sure why yet) that I may as well post here as a pre-game read...
It’s been more than two weeks since the painful impact, when the knee of Utah point guard Ronnie Price found its way into Francisco Garcia’s back and the crowd at Arco Arena watched with concern as the Kings swingman lay so still on the floor.
The injury that was dubbed a lower back strain gave Garcia an early headstart on the All-Star break, 10 days of rest in all that appears to have healed more than his injury. Apparently, it fixed his shot too.
The third-year player who has endured the constant fluctuation of his role to have a breakout season has hit 21 of 32 shots in the three games since his return while burying 15 of 21 three-pointers. Two 23-point outings and a 14-point night have lifted a bench that is somewhat deep but not all that consistent, the production aiding the current three-game winning streak heading into tonight’s game at Orlando.
“Right now, every time he shoots it you think it’s going in,” Kings coach Reggie Theus said. “That’s a comforting feeling.”
The timing of it all is welcome for him and the Kings, too, as Garcia’s toughest stretch to date had been the one immediately preceding the current uprising.
It began with Charlotte on Jan. 30, a 12-minute outing in which he missed all four of his shots and two of three free throws to boot to finish with one point. It was enough for a temporary disappearance from Theus’ rotation – six minutes two days later against New Orleans, 13 minutes against Chicago, and 23 minutes against Chicago as his shot mostly disappeared just as his playing time had. In the four-game stretch, Garcia was 4 of 18 from the field.
“In some ways, I thought his injury came at the perfect time,” Theus said. “He had a stretch of three or four games where he was playing horrible.”
Garcia said the back has given him no troubles since his return. The side benefit to it all, as it turns out, was the slowed pace that allowed him to study his team and his role within it from afar.
“When I was at home watching the games, I realized how I was going to get open,” Garcia said. “That helped my game.”