It didn't take long for all the goodwill generated with the Kings' victory over the Lakers last Tuesday to dissipate. Saturday night's crowd at Arco Arena was uncharacteristically brutal. If you didn't know better, you would have sworn the Kings were playing the Knicks in New York. As the Kings were being hammered 43-21 in the opening period, Reggie Theus turned toward one particularly vocal group seated behind the press table and asked, in his classic, controlled manner, "Do you guys like those seats?" That shut the guys up for a few minutes, but they were back at it after intermission. They blasted the Kings for being "soft," for that 17-3 drubbing on the boards in the first quarter, for their indefensible defense - most notably the inability to defend the three-point shot - and stayed on Theus throughout.
"Thank god they sell beer," cracked one of the fans, a longtime Kings partisan from Walnut Creek. "This is unwatchable."
As for the offense? It's probably a good thing Pete Carril returns home to Princeton on Monday. The legendary "Coachie," who has been in town for his annual visit with his doctors, must have become ill watching the "my turn, your turn" sequences, along with the Kings' chronic dribble, dribble, dribble tendencies. What ever happened to movement, hard screens and the extra pass?
Whither Brad Miller?
Sam Amick, The Bee's Kings beat writer who wrote about Brad Miller for Sunday's editions, has impeccable timing. Miller is a mess. There is little doubt that the veteran center, a two-time All-Star, is struggling with both his game and his role. For the first time since he became a starter in the post-Vlade Divac era, he was removed from the lineup at intermission. Spencer Hawes slid over to center, and rookie Jason Thompson started the third quarter at power forward. But Miller is a sensitive guy and a very capable player, and I suspect all this talk about the rebuilding/youth movement has him unsettled, especially since the five-game suspension (for violating the league's substance abuse policy) started his season off horribly. Even before last night's four-point, one-rebound, 11-minute first half, his playing time and production have been increasingly inconsistent, his rebounding most noticeably. He seems to be getting pushed around under the basket, and on the offensive end, he has been tentative with his perimeter shot and his once-scintillating passes. When Miller's sharp, he's the best passing center in the league. Too often this year, though, his bounce passes have been late, or forced. He seems out of sorts, discouraged. Someone in the front office might want to talk to him and ask what's going on, or better yet, offer some clarity.
Seeking a breather
Before Saturday's game, I spent about 15 minutes chatting with Mike D'Antoni, the New York Knicks coach (and former Italian League scoring star), about his move from Phoenix to New York and his offseason spent as one of Mike Krzyzewski's assistants with the U.S. Olympic team. While there is no doubt that USA Basketball czar Jerry Colangelo is hoping for a Coach K encore in London 2012, D'Antoni said he needs a break from USA hoops. He has a son in high school, he noted, and it's not like coaching the Knicks is a stroll in the park.
If Krzyzewski decides that coaching one gold medal team is enough? Just a guess here, but that might make things interesting. London isn't Italy, but it's close.