Kings (7-19) at Rockets (16-9)
Scoring: Kings 15th (97.7), Rockets 16th (97.2).
Shooting: Kings 13th (45.4 percent), Rockets tied for 25th (43.6).
Scoring defense: Kings 28th (106.1), Rockets fourth (93.5).
Shooting defense: Kings 27th (47.4 percent), Rockets seventh (43.8).
Assists: Kings 15th (20.6), Rockets 24th (19.5).
The link: Rockets coverage in the Houston Chronicle.
The almanac: On this date in 1956, upon his return from Australia and a starring role in the Olympics, Bill Russell signed his first contract with the Celtics. On this date in 1992, Pat Riley of the Knicks recorded his 600th coaching victory.
There was never one of those phony votes of confidence for Reggie Theus, the tack a lot of other owners would have taken, or at least the ones who deign to communicate with the public more than once or twice a year. Gutting Theus in the Bee and on KHTK on Nov. 14 was surely poor management style, but there are a lot worse things to be criticized for than being too forthcoming with fans.
This is worth reviewing now that the inevitable Theus firing has happened.
Joe Maloof never said he was misquoted, never said he misspoke and needed to clarify his thoughts with more of a pro-Theus bent, never said he was caught in a moment of unusually great frustration. He had obviously been doing a slow burn on the subject for a while, he said it, he meant it, and that's that.
Geoff Petrie, too. His follow-up comments never took Theus off the hook. Petrie did say no decision would be made on the dead-man-walking coach until management evaluated Theus with a full roster, which turned out to be entirely untrue, but Kevin Martin was never expected to be out this long and the bosses could not let the quicksand get any higher.
Naturally, a lot of this transition from lame duck-ness to pink slip came with a laugh track, as in the Sam Amick reference to players not appreciating Theus' level of candor with the public. Reggie had to love that one. He is being too openly critical.
When things go bad, players need an out, and that usually means preferring the opposite of what they had. That's the entire league, not the Kings. If the fired coach had been too much of a taskmaster who made discipline the priority, guys want someone who will let them breathe and bring fun back into the game. If the fired coach had been too willing to treat his roster as adults and wasn't much for rule books, the answer is someone who will hold guys accountable.
That's why it's way too soon for this praise of Kenny Natt to mean much. It's nice for Natt, a relative unknown, and meaningful insight because he has never been a head coach in the NBA or college. His early methods are worth noting. But players publicly backed Theus in his final days, then he got the gate and the level of discontent started to come out, and now they're liking the next guy because the environment is different in practice.
Pretty predictable. What matters is what happens the next few months, not the first few days. What matters are the signals from atop, not the comments from within.