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January 7, 2009
Overtime: Nothing Bullish about this Kings outlook

CHICAGO 99, KINGS 94: Game story; Game notes.

Box score

CHICAGO - The enormity of these losing ways requires that we start with the big-picture. The irony is an extra bonus.

Brad Miller knows losing, largely because of his time spent - here's the ironic part - in Chicago as a member of the Bulls. Those Bulls lost just as badly then (2000 to 2002 - a combined 36 wins in those two seasons) as this Kings team is now (12 straight road losses, worst start in Sacramento-era history at 8-28). And so the Kings center is by default the expert on all things atrocious.

Specifically, the Kings just went 0-4 on a road trip in which no loss was by more than eight points. Closing out games just might be a weakness.

"That is the toughest part to learn in this league," said Miller, who had 18 points, 12 assists and two blocks in 34 minutes. "When I was here in Chicago we had the same (problem). We really have to finetune the details. These four games on this road trip are ones where we could have won all of them. Sometimes if you can get one it will be a building base for you to go on a run."

Despite the loss, there was a silver lining for Miller. Considering the Bulls aren't sure if they want to make a push for him via trade, he did a nice job of showcasing his talents.

More notables from the latest loss...

* Speaking of centers, Spencer Hawes returned to the lineup after a four-game absence with an abominal strain.

He came off the bench to log 16 minutes, but he missed all three of his shots and had just two rebounds.

* Kevin Martin as a starter wasn't quite as explosive as Martin the super-reserve, but the Kings still managed to win a first quarter for just the third time in the last 10 games (23-22 with Martin scoring six points)

More to the point, Martin the still-ailing shooting guard isn't as explosive as Martin the fully-healthy scorer. The fifth-year player is still experiencing pain from the left ankle that kept him out of 22 games this season, and his lift is not what it once was just yet.

It showed with 7:31 left in the first quarter, when he had his fastbreak layup swatted back down his throat by Thabo Sefolosha. It was a play in which the dunk is the no-brainer choice, yet Martin seemed hesitant to give it a go.

He wouldn't make the same mistake twice, dunking on a backdoor pass from Beno Udrih with 5:45 left in the quarter to put the Kings up 18-15. It was the first dunk I can remember seeing Martin finish since he returned five games ago.

* Beno Udrih was on the bench at the end yet again, sitting for the final three-plus minutes while Francisco Garcia ran the point.

As for Garcia, he did a nice job on Derrick Rose and almost had the game-changing highlight when he pickpocketed the Bulls point guard with 1:50 to go and hit the layup at the other end to cut the Bulls' lead to 90-89. Udrih remains in quite a rut and I'll have more on his situation in Thursday's paper. He and I had an interesting chat before tipoff in which he addressed his many critics - Kings coach Kenny Natt chief among them.

* It was back to the bench for Kenny Thomas, who had a rare shining moment at New Jersey on Monday only to not play on Tuesday.

* In what was an otherwise-dreadful game, Mikki Moore and Tyrus Thomas managed to entertain with their dunk-off in the third quarter.

Thomas went first, sneaking in behind Moore to take an alley-oop pass from Sefolosha and posterize Moore so badly the play wound up as SportsCenter's No. 3 highlight. Moments later, Thomas gained steam on the runway and looked primed to dunk on Moore again before the Kings forward made sure he didn't with a foul. Moore shook his head and looked at Thomas with a stern grin, saying "Not a second time."

Moore got his retailiation with 8:45 left in the third, when he slipped a screen, took a Udrih pass and slammed a right-handed dunk over Thomas' head for a 57-52 lead. When the two players were ribbing each other good-naturedly after the play, they were whistled for double technicals that were absurd.

* Last but not least, I was pondering a possibility tonight: What if Chuck Person had been hired as the Bulls coach last summer?

By all accounts, the former Kings assistant was a finalist for the job. And while he has never been a head coach, that didn't stop the Bulls from hiring Vinny Del Negro.

The question, at that point, becomes this: Would Reggie Theus still be the Kings coach if Person went to Chicago? I say yes, for all the reasons I expained a while back in this story. - Sam Amick



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