Kings Blog and Q&A

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

January 16, 2009
Opening tip: Francisco Garcia, the starting lineup and the possibilities

Bucks (19-22) at Kings (10-30)

Scoring: Kings 14th (98), Bucks 19th (97.4).
Shooting: Kings 24th (44.4 percent), Bucks 20th (44.7).
Scoring defense: Kings 28th (106.8), Bucks 13th (96.9).
Shooting defense: Kings 27th (47.4 percent), Bucks tied for 13th (45.2).
Rebound differential: Kings 27th (minus-3.4), Bucks fifth (plus-3).

The link: Bucks coverage in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The almanac: On this date in 1962, Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia Warriors scored 42 points, the most ever in an All-Star game, and grabbed 24 rebounds en route to MVP honors even though his East team lost 150-130. The West's Bob Pettit had an All-Star record 27 rebounds. On this date in 1966, Chicago was granted a franchise, to be called the Bulls. On this date in 1993, Michael Jordan of the Bulls scored 64 points in an overtime loss to the Magic.


Forty-two minutes Wednesday was an aberration. Kenny Natt squeezed the rotation, triple overtime on the second night of a back-to-back or not, and 42 minutes was fifth-most among the Kings in the Oakland endurance test.

Francisco Garcia's eight previous games: 27, 27, 24, 24, 21, 21, 24 and 23 minutes. An average of 23.9 per. Toss out the rarity of the 3 OT late late show the other night and he hasn't broken 30 since Dec. 26.

Plus, his possible move into the starting lineup just turned fuzzy again. Natt hearts Beno Udrih again and for now apparently trusts Udrih enough to close tight games, which didn't happen for the longest time. Natt doesn't love Garcia at point guard, but likes the defense he couldn't get from Udrih or Bobby Brown and obviously liked anybody but Beno in a fourth quarter or overtime, and imagine the possibilities if the Kings had gone ahead and moved Cisco into the opening lineup:

PG -- Garcia, at 6-7.
SG -- Kevin Martin, at 6-7.
SF -- Jason Thompson, at 6-11.
PF -- Spencer Hawes, at 7-0.
C -- Brad Miller, at 7-0.

Going big is intriguing. It gets Hawes and Thompson in the lineup together, which is important, it creates some mismatches while only slightly weakening the Kings defensively, at small forward. Thompson would be playing a bit out of position and couldn't handle any of the quick 3s, except that it's not like he's a stopper at power forward. And Garcia for Udrih is an upgrade on D.

The real problem is the demotion for John Salmons, and this is not the season for that. The alternative, then:

PG -- Garcia.
SG -- Martin.
SF -- Salmons.
PF -- Hawes.
C -- Miller.

Really radical is going small, strange as that sounds with two 6-7 guys in the backcourt, but Miller and four wings, along the lines of that endless stretch drive against the Warriors, would be the same attempt at creating mismatches, or at creating something. Anything. Udrih, Garcia, Martin, Salmons and Miller.

That's the fluky lineup and more spit balling than anything because you can't play everyone the same way you play Golden State, the definition of fluky lineups. Small lineups need to be fleet and often trapping to compensate for the size deficiency and avoid getting crushed on defense, and Udrih-Garcia-Martin-Salmons-Miller does not confuse for fleet.

This all comes from someone who has long believed Garcia is an ideal sixth man - the energy boost off the bench, the versatility to be plugged into three positions depending on the need of the night. A long career as a sixth man is a valued role.

There has to be some way, though, to scrounge more than 23.9 minutes a game over two weeks for the player who delivers exactly what you're lacking. Defense, energy, leadership. That's Garcia.

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