Kings (7-20) at Hornets (15-7)
Scoring: Kings 15th (97.6), Hornets 22nd (96.4).
Shooting: Kings 13th (45.5 percent), Hornets tied for eighth (46).
Scoring defense: Kings 28th (106.1), Hornets third (91.5).
Shooting defense: Kings 28th (47.5 percent), Hornets tied for 11th (45.3).
Three-point defense: Kings 30th (42 percent), Hornets 22nd (36.8).
The link: Hornets coverage in the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
The almanac: On this date in 1966, Seattle was awarded the league's 11th franchise. About a month later, the team is named the SuperSonics. On this date in 2001, Lakers broadcaster Chick Hearn missed the game against the Rockets following heart surgery, his first absence in more than 36 years.
Nothing wrong with any of that. Garcia is three-plus seasons into what should be a long career. He's a leader. He's the kind of versatile talent you want to invest in. Geoff Petrie obviously agrees -- five-year extension -- so it wasn't just life as the teacher's pet.
But if there's a player to watch in this Theus / post-Theus world of the Kings, it's Garcia, for the very reason that no player has as much to lose by the firing. Personally, for sure. On the court would have rated closer to a maybe, given that Garcia is obviously in the rotation.
Except that when Kenny Natt took over, he singled out Garcia for having to get better at individual defense. (Maybe not listing everyone was a matter of practicality: it would have taken too much time.) And that same night of the change, Garcia got 25 minutes against the Timberwolves from the new coach, even though Cisco was 6 of 13 from the field with five assists and getting to the line.
Not a big deal, it turned out. The Kings were winning big and had a game about 24 hours later at Portland, so of course Natt would want to conserve as many guys as possible for what would come next. And, right on schedule, Garcia's time did escalate the next two outings: 30 minutes against the Trail Blazers despite 2-of-8 shooting and 39 minutes at Houston on Friday while making 6 of 11 attempts.
That puts him at 27.7 minutes per game for the season and 31.3 in three games with Natt. Kenny Hearts Francisco, too.
Skewed numbers because of the unique circumstances -- Garcia had to initially be eased in after returning from the strained calf, followed by the coaching change, and three games is no accurate measurement. His importance to the Kings' future makes this important to track as the season moves forward, with Garcia but without Theus.