Melody Gutierrez is on game duty tonight, so I'll be updating with a few observations from courtside as the action goes along. (Keep hitting refresh every few minutes, in other words)
First, though, there is a Francisco Garcia update: the swingman is out approximately two to four weeks with a strained right calf. True to form, Garcia told me before the game that he would be ready to start the regular season. For the record, that's only nine days away.
As for point guard Beno Udrih, he is not playing tonight due to the same left hip flexor strain that kept him out of the first exhibition game.
* A 16-6 deficit just six minutes in has only supported my already-growing sense that this starting lineup isn't necessarily set in stone.
They entered having given up an average of 104 points per game, so they may be looking for more defensive presence in the lineup. Kenny Thomas anyone? As much as some fans may not like it, he's been impressive defensively thus far and is a much better rebounder than Mikki Moore. (Speaking of which, Kings coach Reggie Theus just hollered Moore's way, "Come on Mikki, you've got to rebound baby!" It's 17-13 Portland now). Thomas can has always been able to run the floor and can finish on the break, although he will never finish as emphatically as Moore.
* Udrih being out isn't a bad thing right now, as Bobby Brown needs more time to get comfortable. The rookie point guard hasn't played all that well in the last week or so.
* We interrupt for a quick plug - I updated our players salary database today. The only thing missing at the moment is the year-by-year for Garcia's deal, which I'll dig up soon enough. There are a few new details about Moore's contract and more accurate terminology overall. Click here to check it out.
* Bobby Jackson banks a runner in the paint at the first quarter buzzer to make it respectable: 27-21 Portland.
* Scratch that "respectable" part: three assists, nine turnovers. Not good.
* More bad news: Jackson's shot didn't beat the buzzer - 27-19.
* I will not miss a Rudy Fernandez pass. I will not miss a Rudy Fernandez pass. I will not miss a Rudy Fernandez pass...Watch No. 5 in the black at all times. I missed way too many incredible passes in the preseason opener and vowed not to make that mistake again.
* Going back to the Thomas possibility, he continues to make a case for himself. The first 5:50 he played, Portland was finally slowed (six points in that time) and he even hit two buckets from close range.
* Kevin Martin's personal coach, David Thorpe, implored him to finish with "speed and violence" during their offseason workouts. There was a little of both in his dunk through the lane midway through the second, when he blew by Fernandez and LaMarcus Aldridge and dunked it before Greg Oden could get up. Score 41-38 Portland.
* Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie told me the other day that Martin needs "15 to 20 shots" per game this season. He had 14 and 18 in the last two games, respectively, but has just five with halftime 2:17 away (hitting four for 10 points). John Salmons leads the team with 10 (hitting five) for 15 points.
* Greg Oden has been called a "bear," but this is ridiculous. His claws put quite a slice in Jason Thompson's arm (between his bicep and forearm on the inside). As trainer Pete Youngman cleaned it up with what I'd assume was hydrogen peroxide, Thompson felt the burn and said, "Woohee!"
* Halftime: Portland 57, Kings 50. The highlight: Kings shooting 55.6 percent. The lowlight: 12 turnovers.
* OK, apologies all around for the false advertising. I spent the second half making the rounds for some quality background material. I may or may not return to the blogosphere tonight. - Sam Amick
- Sam Amick