TORONTO 113, KINGS 97
TORONTO - At least it gets easier from here.
Easier to lose, that is. The Kings must still go to Cleveland and Boston because the schedule says so, but the big money (I'm guessing betting lines of 15-ish for both games) is on the Cavs and Celtics teams that have lost twice in 42 tries at home and so it's fair to expect that the Kings' draft stock - if not their record - can only improve. Cleveland is the one that is perfect on its turf, which makes this the prime opportunity for this hard-luck team to gain rare national exposure by pulling an upset.
They could use the good exposure in a bad way.
It's rough enough that the Kings are off the national television radar (no games this year), off the NBA radar (they've gone four All-Star Weekends without a participant in the game, the three-point shootout, dunk contest, skills challenge, rookie-sophomore game - nada), and have to put up their own radar - so to speak - in the form of their own TV show in order to get on the boob tube outside the Sacramento region. Now the only way they get talked about in coast-to-coast fashion is to serve as a punchline.
A few recent examples...
* ESPN radio (I forget which show) spent a large portion of its programming the other day asking listeners to tell them what could possibly be worse than watching the Kings play Washington last week.
* On ESPN's television show, Pardon The Interruption, sidekick personality Tony Reali asked that he be referred to as "Anthony Joseph Beno Udrih Reali." Leading into that segment on one of those raw studio shots they have during the commercial break, Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser could be seen debating how to pronounce "Udrih." They're not the first.
Anyways, you get the point.
Somehow beat the Cavs, and you not only beat a team from the East for the first time in 19 tries this season but you also get a night's worth of national run for felling the giant.
QUICK HITS BEFORE HEADING TO CLEVELAND
* Ryan McNeil of HoopsAddict has a well-done piece on Kenny Natt and his coaching days in Canada.
* Speaking of the aforementioned All-Star snubs and possible Kings reality show, I can only provide one update in regards to the two situations.
While the Kings won't know until the Jan. 28 announcement whether Jason Thompson or Spencer Hawes will be in the Rook-Soph game, I am hearing that the "Rebuilding the Kingdom" show continues to move forward and there could very well be filming for the series from this season. If I'm running the show, however, I start the show on draft day and tell the story of how the Maloofs convinced Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio to come stateside to be part of the foundation and even lay a couple bricks of his own (metaphorically speaking, of course).
* If the super fans want to dissect the Cavs and see where the Kings may be able to find the weak spot, no better place than Brian Windhort's blog. The Cleveland Plain Dealer beat writer, formerly of the Akron Beacon-Journal, is consisently top-notch even after he moved to the North office in the region. - Sam Amick