Trail Blazers (7-5) at Kings (5-8)
Scoring: Kings 11th (98.5), Trail Blazers 15th (97.3).
Shooting: Kings second (48.2 percent), Trail Blazers 11th (44.9).
Scoring defense: Kings 28th (103), Trail Blazers 12th (95.6).
Shooting defense: Kings 29th (47.6), Trail Blazers 25th (46.2).
Three-point defense (being tracked in the House of Maloof): Kings 29th (41.2 percent), Trail Blazers 26th (38).
Turnovers (ditto): Kings 22nd (16.1), Trail Blazers first (12.4).
The link: Trail Blazers coverage in the Oregonian.
The almanac: On this date in 1996, Bill Fitch, then with the Clippers, became the first coach to hit 1,000 career losses.
A huge few days for the Kings and their playoff drive. Hosting the Trail Blazers tonight, at Portland on Monday, with a roadie against the Lakers in between. Hourly updates as the magic number shifts.
Or there's the other option: Now that Geoff Petrie has brought his calming influence to the unstable coaching situation, the next step is for a lot of people to get grounded about the Kings and where they fit in the Western Conference. The calendar of the moment just makes it the perfect time, with the Blazers one of the teams to chase down in the standings and, while we're at it, the blueprint of how to build something special for the future.
The Kings' Wednesday night in New Orleans makes it not the perfect time -- impressive win, a sign of life after a drubbing, and in the big picture a signal that players won't roll over on Reggie Theus. That's the kind of game that should get fans and the front office excited about what could be at full strength.
But Joe Maloof's "I want to make a run for the playoffs and I think we can" sounds a lot like what a guy like Joe Maloof meant when he said the organization is lacking a road map.
Brad Miller at big minutes -- 35, 31, 38, 49 (overtime), 41 and 38 the last six games -- gives you a better chance at winning and, if the victories trickle in, continues the dreamy talk of the postseason. It's just not the investment for the future of Miller at 25-30 minutes and more time for Spencer Hawes and / or Jason Thompson.
It's how playoff chatter goes from internal optimism and delusional-fan talk to tangible. Fan talk is fine and usually fun.
When the team itself goes off the reservation, that's trouble.
There are tangible consequences to taking a shot at the playoffs, after all. One more with Miller: If the Kings have a good deal to trade him and hold off because it's December or January and they feel like they can still touch No. 8 in the West -- wow. Same thing with Bobby Jackson, who will be attractive to teams because of his playoff experience, versatility and expiring contract, though wouldn't bring as much in return and likewise has value here as a free agent-to-be.
We're likely approaching moot-point territory anyway. The Kings, with a start that is encouraging in some ways and disastrous in others, are three games under .500 after 13 games against 11 opponents with a combined winning percentage of .472. Three of the 11 have had winning records. None of the opponents have been named Lakers, Jazz or Rockets and only one has been Hornets.
Between now and Christmas: 16 games against 11 opponents with a .541 winning percentage. Six of the 11 have winning records. The Kings gets the Lakers three times and the Jazz twice.
We'll know a lot more in a little more than a month. About the playoffs and possibly the Kings' trade considerations and rotation.