Kings (0-2) at Magic (0-2)
** 2007-08 stats **
Scoring: Kings eighth (102.5), Magic sixth (104.5)
Shooting percentage: Kings 10th (46.4), Magic fifth (47.4)
Scoring defense: Kings 24th (104.8), Magic 11th (99)
Shooting defense: Kings 22nd (46.6), Magic seventh (44.6)
Assists: Kings 29th (19.1), Magic 22nd (20.8)
Turnovers: Kings 30th (16.1), Magic 13th (14.3)
The links: Magic coverage in the Orlando Sentinel (with an additional story on assistant coach Patrick Ewing being upset the Knicks cut Kings second-round pick Patrick Ewing Jr.) and Florida Today.
The almanac: On this day in 1946, the New York Knicks beat the Toronto Huskies 68-66 in Toronto in the first NBA game.
*Try finding many better days in Sacramento NBA history than Wednesday. A few from the 2002 playoffs, beating the Suns in Game 4 on the road in 2001 as Kings fans invaded America West Arena to be part of the first postseason series victory and, in the real historical context, Oct. 25, 1985, and the first regular-season game in town. But for a sweeping moment, there was the night of Matt Barnes from Del Campo High starting for the Suns, DeMarcus Nelson from Sheldon starting for the Warriors in his NBA debut and Ryan Anderson from Oak Ridge playing 15 minutes for the Nets in his first game as a pro, all within a few hours. The first two were comeback stories as well: Barnes had to accept a one-year minimum deal from Phoenix and ended up bumping Grant Hill at small forward, while Nelson began camp on the bubble to make the team and then became the first undrafted rookie to start on opening night for the Warriors since the team moved from Philadelphia before 1962-63.
*The 54.2 percent from the field by Peja Stojakovic is obviously a soft number two games in, but also very meaningful supporting evidence for the Hornets. Already happy with how he looked playing 77 games last season coming off a back injury that could have jeopardized his career, they are thrilled with the Stojakovic of 2008-09, because of what he went through and because of what he means to their title hopes. "I think he feels more comfortable this year," coach Byron Scott said. "Even though the back was healed last year, he still had it in the back of his mind. This year, it doesn't seem like that." If a healthy, accurate Stojakovic is the third- or fourth-best player on a team -- after Chris Paul for sure and then in some mix with All-Star David West and Tyson Chandler with his ability to change a game on defense -- that's a very dangerous team.
*Few NBA players -- few players in any sport -- may have the positive impact that Delonte West of the Cavaliers can generate by speaking publicly about his battle with depression that recently prompted him to leave the team for two weeks. Mental-health experts, especially those who have worked closely with sports, welcome a spotlight on the topic in hopes of breaking down the stigma that depression has in society, let alone among athletes who are constantly drilled about toughness and can be among the most hesitant to seek counseling. Or as West told reporters in Ohio after returning in preseason: "For a while you feel like a weaker man because you've got to raise your hand and ask for help. But I found out over the last week that made me a stronger person." He should be a candidate for the J. Walter Kennedy Award, given annually to a player for outstanding community work, on that far-reaching platform alone.
*The projected tough decision by Rick Adelman between Ron Artest and Shane Battier at small forward in Houston has become a non-decision as Battier sits because of inflammation of the left foot. Artest, the major offseason acquisition, would ordinarily be an automatic to start, except that Battier is an ideal complementary piece for Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady, a composed wing who moves the ball, has decent range and got superior reviews last season for defense. Artest is a better rebounder and a more versatile scoring threat. Artest had 16 and 29 points his first two games, both Rockets wins. What could possibly go wrong?
*Sirius didn't even use the entire shot clock before throwing NBA fans overboard. As part of the massive satellite-radio merger with XM, it moved the NBA package from the usual Sirius stations to the XM side that is available only for an extra charge. It might help, for starters, if customer-service reps stopped misinforming by saying the switch shouldn't matter since Sirius hasn't had the NBA for a couple years. Incorrect.
*The Warriors stabilized more than the coaching situation when Don Nelson finalized his extension Wednesday. The move also keeps their autobahn offense in place. Even if Nelson had left after 2008-09, the roster would have fit the system since executive VP Chris Mullin also wants to play fast and would have hired a replacement for Nellie with a like mind. Except that Mullin, in the final season of his deal and noticeably declining to deny a much-publicized rift with president Robert Rowell, may leave. If good friends Mullin and Nelson had hit the door together, a decent possibility a month ago, there would have been doubt about continuing with the popular style of play. In a time of great uncertainty on several fronts around Oracle Arena, Nellie's extension at least eliminates that concern.
*He may have lost the starting job to Barnes in Phoenix, he may have turned 36 four weeks ago, and he may be in the final season of his deal, but Grant Hill is not on his victory lap. If anything, he is talking about returning to the Suns in 2009-10, when Steve Nash and Shaquille O'Neal will also be in the last season of their contracts. "I'd certainly like to try and get another one in after this year," Hill said. "With Steve and Shaq having two years left, I'd like to ride it out with them here." Besides, he's still a factor, with 19 minutes in the opener and 22 in the second game on a back-to-back.