Nets (6-7) at Kings (5-11)
Scoring: Kings 15th (98.4), Nets ninth (99.4).
Shooting: Kings second (48.6 percent), Nets tied for 19th (43.7).
Scoring defense: Kings 27th (104.1), Nets 28th (104.5).
Shooting defense: Kings 29th (47.9 percent), Nets tied for 22nd (45.9).
Rebound differential: Kings 22nd (minus-2.3), Nets 11th (plus-0.9).
The links: Nets coverage in the Newark Star-Ledger, New York Post, New York Times and New York Daily News.
The almanac: On this date in 1986, the Bucks beat the Washington Bullets to give Don Nelson his 500th coaching victory in 817 games, at the time reaching the milestone faster than anyone in league history. Pat Riley later got there in 684 games. On this date in 1994, the Cavaliers set a record by attempting two free throws the entire game, breaking the previous mark of three. On this date in 1999, A.C. Green of the Lakers set the professional basketball record by playing in his 1,042nd consecutive game. He passed Ron Boone, who set the mark in the ABA and NBA. On this date in 2000, John Stockton of the Jazz set the record for most career games with one team, 1,271.
But the additional supporting evidence, just in case someone starts putting empty boxes in his office, hint, hint:
*Brad Miller, 35.3 minutes a game.
*Spencer Hawes, 29.3.
*Jason Thompson, 27.
*Mikki Moore, 22.3.
*Shelden Williams, 10.1.
Take Williams, the guy most squeezed by Miller's return from the season-opening five-game suspension and the speedy development of Hawes and Thompson, off the list. That's still four bigs deserving of minutes, a major logjam, and four bigs getting minutes. Quality time management of the roster.
From the impossible position of needing to play veterans to win games and needing to play prospects to get to the future, Theus is making it across the tightrope.
Hawes has come a long way since late October. Thompson is a rookie success story. Miller has been a bright spot. Moore is an inconsistent rebounder at power forward, but stays in the starting lineup because of defense. (Monday at Portland, Theus needs a stop on the final Blazers possession, who does he put in? Moore. That's a sign of where Moore stands with the coach. And then Moore had a major role in the successful stand that got the Kings the ball back with a chance to win.)
Theus has had some help in putting the minutes through the sausage grinder. Miller missed five games. Moore missed four in a row because of a sprained ankle. Francisco Garcia has yet to play because of a strained calf and Kevin Martin has missed the last nine because of a sprained ankle, moving John Salmons to shooting guard and opening a hole for Thompson to play somewhat out of position at small forward. Unwanted help, but help nonetheless.
Yet, proving it's more than capitalizing on openings created by circumstances, the minutes in the seven games with all four in the lineup:
That's close to the overall numbers. Theus is creating opportunities for everyone, not letting situations generate chances.
But now Moore is back, Garcia is nearing a return and Kevin Martin isn't too far behind, so managing minutes is only going to become more critical. Garcia mostly playing in the front court will mean a squeeze at small forward and Martin resuming his post at shooting guard will mean a greater squeeze because it will also put Salmons back at SF. The trickle-down effect is much less time for Thompson there, making it strictly Miller, Hawes, Moore and Thompson for two spots.
Joe Maloof's memorable venting on Theus also included praise for the way the second-year coach is handling the roster, noting the bosses are pleased with the distribution of minutes and the development of some young players. Fair is fair.
It would be noteworthy anyway, because that's the co-owner talking. But it's especially noteworthy because Joe Maloof hit Theus pretty good late last season for not investing enough in the kids. No such concerns now surrounding Hawes and Thompson, the two brightest hopes.