Kings Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Sacramento Kings and the NBA.

January 3, 2009
Opening tip: And One

Kings (8-25) at Pacers (11-21)

Scoring: Kings 22nd (95.7), Pacers sixth (102.3).
Shooting: Kings tied for 21st (44.3 percent), Pacers tied for 14th (45.1).
Scoring defense: Kings 28th (105.1), Pacers 27th (104.5).
Shooting defense: Kings tied for 26th (47.5 percent), Pacers tied for 19th (45.5).
Rebound differential: Kings 27th (minus-2.9), Pacers 10th (plus-0.9).

The link: Pacers coverage in the Indianapolis Star.
The almanac: On this date in 1998, Bill Fitch of the Clippers coached his 2,000th game.


*Kenny Natt says he needs to get Beno Udrih back to being hungry, as noted in Jeff McDonald's story in the San Antonio Express-News? Back to being hungry? The edge is gone two months into being a full-time starter for the first time in his career? Not quite six months after getting a five-year free-agent deal? Seriously?

*This might be a good time to locate that hunger. The next five matchups for Udrih: the speed of T.J. Ford (tonight at Indiana, though Ford has been slowed by a back injury), Devin Harris in an All-Star season (Monday at New Jersey), Derrick Rose as one of the best young talents at any position and clear favorite for Rookie of the Year (Tuesday at Chicago), Mario Chalmers developing in his first year (Friday vs. the Heat) and Jason Kidd (next Saturday vs. the Mavericks). The Harris-Rose back-to-back should be the worst of it, but if Udrih gets taken apart by rookies Rose and Chalmers in consecutive games, you'll see a new definition of angry fans.

*The best race of the regular season just heated up: Celtics vs. Thunder. Celtics wins vs. Thunder losses. Three defeats in five games put Boston on pace for a 70-12 finish while Oklahoma City, with the encouragement of beating the Warriors on Wednesday followed by playing the Nuggets to the buzzer Friday, was tracking to 10-72. Plus, the Thunder signed Nenad Krstic to fill a need at center. When the 76ers set the mark for futility by going 9-73 in 1972-73, they finished 59 games behind the Celtics in the Atlantic Division and for the best record in the league, but Boston of John Havlicek and Dave Cowens went 68-14 and didn't threaten the statistical anomaly.

*Rudy Tomjanovich is good Hall-of-Fame debate as a nominee for the Class of 2009. His 525-416 coaching record with the Rockets and Lakers ranks just 25th on the all-time list, but the .558 winning percentage was better than 13 of the peers ahead of him at the start of the season. Plus, 51 playoff victories is 18th on the postseason list. As voters will likely weigh, in the moment that makes his case unique, Rudy T would have climbed much higher on both rankings if not for the health issues that forced him to unexpectedly quit in L.A. in February 2005 at age 56. The top of his resume also includes two championships in Houston and an Olympic gold medal with the United States in 2000.

*Being traded from the Clippers to the Knicks on Nov. 21 turned out to be the greatest thing to happen to Cuttino Mobley. The former Kings guard played 11 seasons -- only to have a heart ailment detected as part of the physical that is standard to complete any deal. New York wanted the cap space and approved the swap that sent Zach Randolph to L.A. and Mobley retired at age 33 because of the condition that had been linked to the deaths of Reggie Lewis and Hank Gathers. Mobley said doctors told him he could lead a long life by walking away and significant risk if he continued to play. Fate hasn't intervened in such a welcome way since Nene of the Nuggets was selected for a random drug test and as a result found to have testicular cancer. Early detection led to surgery to remove a malignant tumor, and Nene returned to action a little more than two months later.

*Raising a big sign for you, Sign Lady. A fixture at Arco Arena for the supportive psuedo-billboards she and husband Nick make and hold high about 10 rows up from the corner of the baseline near the Kings bench, Barbara Rust recently spent about three hours to create one for the state-champion Grant High football team that would be acknowledged at a game later that night. Their reason was the best of all: Just because. The Rusts have no connection to Grant. They simply thought the players and coaches should be saluted for what they did. Nick and Barbara deserve the same.

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