ATLANTA - Friday's coverage will hit on the plummeting playoff picture and the struggles of Kevin Martin. In other words, nothing real rosy to read about for Kings fans.
So in a half-hearted attempt (isn't that only fitting considering the way the Kings have played lately?) to offer something positive, I decided to pick a positive topic. Before we get there, it should be known who sparked this idea of ultra-optimism. None other than Ron Artest, who gave this take about his team's third straight loss.
"It's going to get better," he said. "It's going to get better. We needed to lose three in a row. It was a good thing for us because we were on a roll. We've got to get brought back down to earth and we'll start going hard again. It was good for us, the best thing that could happen right now."
OK, OK, OK, I'll get on with the power of positivity.
Beno Udrih was phenomenal tonight. He scored (25 points on 11 of 19 shooting). He dished (eight assists). He valued the ball (one turnover). He went toe to toe with the player who is gone largely because of him and surely made Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie feel good about the possible future ahead at that position.
Udrih, to review, will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. And for all the talk of how trading Mike Bibby to Atlanta was to clear salary cap space (which it was) or to remove a core piece in attempt to let the young guys come along (which it also was), it can't be overstated how much Udrih factored in as well. If they didn't trade Bibby, it would have guaranteed Beno would have bided his time - mostly on the bench - in these last few months before signing elsewhere. But now he's in audition mode, one in which he was in bad need of a pick-me-up performance. Udrih had a combined six points in the losses to Orlando and Miami on 3 of 13 shooting while dishing out a combined nine assists.
* There are some nights when you could probably write a game story in one sentence. Tonight, this probably would've worked: The Kings blew it at the free throw line and fell 123-117 to Atlanta on Wednesday night at Philips Arena.
Not much of a read, sure, but the Kings did blow this game by missing 12 of 35 free throws.
* Bibby could be really good for the Hawks if he keeps this up. By this, I don't just mean the obvious production, but he penetrated and looked for his teammates more than I'd seen him do in years.
He finished at the rim when the defense didn't come to help, whipped bullet passes to the perimeter when they did and added in a couple threes for good measure. The locals were buzzing afterward, with Hawks beat writer Sekou Smith of the Atlanta Journal Constitution noting afterward that these fans have seen either rookies or lesser-name veterans for years now. This is new territory, and Bibby has a real chance to put himself back in the national spotlight.
"I think when you make the playoffs youíre already on the national scene," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said before the game. "If your team struggles to get in the playoffs, youíre forgotten about. Iím sure (Bibby) is looking at our situation as (the fact that) we're a younger team and maybe he can be the guy to jumpstart us and get us over the top....Heís still got to learn our system, learn the players heíll play with each night on the floor. Thereís an adjustment period."
And it just entered the next stage.
* Breaking the promise to stay positive, chew on this as Friday's game at Dallas nears and threatens to leave the Kings with a 1-4 record on this trip. The Mavericks are 24-3 at home, having averaged 8.1 more points per game on the home court than they have on the road (103.5 to 95.4).
COMMENT BOX RE-OPENS!
Just when we were starting to get some momentum with the comments on the blog, our system had a meltdown and they were taken down for about a week. But alas they're back, just waiting for your feedback. Like I said before, I will read them and - when inspired - react to interesting things that are being said. - Sam Amick