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January 17, 2009
Overtime: No defense for this defense

MILWAUKEE 129, KINGS 122

Game story, Game notes, Photo slideshow
Box score, Video recap

The Warriors had 105 points at the end of regulation on Wednesday night, so it's not like the triple-overtime excuse is going to fly.

There's really no defense for this. No defense at all.

The Kings' last three games - from their 32-point loss to Orlando to their 3OT win over Golden State that finished with the Warriors compiling 133 points to Friday night's loss to the Bucks?

Four hundred and one points.

As confirmed by the Elias Sports Bureau, the Kings of the Sacramento-era have never had a worse three-game stretch on the defensive end.

The poster play for the Kings' Washington Generals-like ways came just two minutes after tipoff, when their sloppy ways led to Michael Redd scoring five points of his 44 points in seven seconds during the fatal first quarter. A bad Beno Udrih pass intended for Kevin Martin was picked by Redd atop the arc and turned into a Redd layup. An ill-fated Brad Miller inbounds downcourt was then nabbed by Charlie Villanueva, who found Redd for a three that put the Kings down 11-4. Not long after, of course, the Kings had given up seven of their 20 turnovers in the first quarter while trailing 37-18.

"We looked out of sync, we were a little flat, it was everything," Kings swingman Francisco Garcia said. "(Lack of) communication. Easy layups. We've got to (have energy) from the beginning of the game."

Natt was calling for that midway through the second quarter, when Redd was alone in the paint for a layup that put Milwaukee up 57-43 and the Kings coach yelled, "Can somebody play defense on Michael Redd?! I don't care who it is."

POINTS TO PONDER

* Elias may want to answer another question as well after this one: How often has a starting point guard ever logged as many as Udrih's 38 minutes when totaling just two assists against five turnovers? The point guard is no longer in Natt's doghouse, but the vote of confidence (he played a team-high 56 minutes at Golden State) has yet to pay dividends.

Udrih, who drew praise from Natt after the Warriors game for his energy and defense, still managed to hit just 7 of 21 shots. Against the Bucks, he got his offense going (6 of 10 for 14 points) but was badly outplayed by Milwaukee counterpart Luke Ridnour (17 points, 10 assists, no turnovers). His first assist, believe it or not, came with 8:54 left in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, rookie point guard Bobby Brown played just three minutes and has averaged 10.5 in the last nine games after being one of Natt's favorites in the rotation just a bit ago.

Udrih had a rough finish. He was beat by Ridnour through the lane in a play that led to two free throws (after a Jason Thompson foul) and a seven-point Bucks lead with 2:04 left. After a Udrih layup with 1:11 left cut the lead to six, Udrih fouled Charlie Villanueva after he blew by Brad Miller en route to two more free throws and a 125-120 Milwaukee lead. Udrih then missed a three that would have cut the lead to two with 31 seconds left.

* Miller's finish wasn't much better than Udrih's. He spent almost all of his six fourth-quarter minutes watching Villanueva blow by him, as the Bucks forward scored 15 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter.

Natt said the mismatch wasn't enough in his mind to prompt a change.

"I wanted Brad on the floor because I wanted him on the other (offensive) end," Natt explained. "I just didn't think it was fair to put him on (Bucks rookie forward) Luc Mbah a Moute, and then you'd have to put (Jason Thompson) on Villanueva. ... I was in a bind."

It obviously didn't pan out, though, as Miller's contributions - two points, one rebound and two assists in the fourth quarter - couldn't keep up.

* You'd never know it with the way the Kings continue to incessantly argue with the officials, but they're getting to the line at a high rate in the last two games.

They made a season-high 43 free throws against the Bucks, falling just one shy of the Sacramento-era single-game record of 44 (set April 10, 1998 vs. Golden State). They also attempted a season-high 51 free throws.

This, of course, came after they buried 35 of 36 free-throw attempts against the Warriors and 25 of 31 against Orlando. As Melody Gutierrez notes, Thompson fought back against his reputation as a poor free-throw shooter by hitting 14 of 15 attempts while scoring a career-high 22 points.

* The defensive confusion was bad tonight, captured best when a frustrated Thompson looked at the coaches on the way off the floor in the first half and said loudly, "What (defense) are we in?!"

* Mikki Moore's fall continues, as the 20-game starter has played a combined 26 minutes in the last five games.

Yet he hasn't looked nearly as fed up as second-year big man Spencer Hawes, who has played a combined 19 minutes in the last two games. Hawes repeatedly shook his head in disagreement when he was taken out, not even trying to hide his dissatisfaction.
- Sam Amick



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