Kings Blog and Q&A

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

January 10, 2009
Overtime: Wilting in the Heat

MIAMI 119, KINGS 115: Game story; Game notes; Photo slideshow.

Box score (Video highlights below)

Well, Kings fans, at least there's this to feel good about: your team's last five defeats all combined don't come close to matching the Boston beating that preceded them (with a win over the Clippers squeezed in between).

Dec. 28 vs. the then-dominant Celtics: 108-63, thus a 45-point margin.

Subsequent losses to Detroit (98-92), Indiana (122-117), New Jersey (98-90), Chicago (99-94) and the Heat (119-115): 28 points.

It's not for naught, at least in terms of the way the team is being perceived in-house. Kings interim coach Kenny Natt continues to receive credit for having the team competing, although the late-game slip-ups from both him and his players are being noted.

Things to mark down as relevant on this night...
* Beno Udrih is officially in the doghouse. At this point, the fact that he remains a starter seems like a token tag. He had a bad start to the third quarter and sat for good midway through the third. The latest tally: 16 minutes, six points on 3 of 6 shooting with two assists and three turnovers.

And for anyone not convinced yet that Natt won't have his decisions dictated by the fact that Udrih signed a five-year, $32 million deal signed last summer, read this pregame quote from him carefully. Natt was discussing his life story and how his father was a minister in Louisiana when the conversation segued into his take on the modern NBA.

"My father was a minister, (and) that's why it's tough on me to see the kind of money these guys make and (how) they don't want to put in the time and energy," Natt said. "That was one of the adjustments that (mentor and Utah coach Jerry) Sloan told me coming in (to the job). He said 'Kenny, let me tell you something right off the bat: Don't look at the money these guys make because it will eat you alive. Just try to push them to play, play hard every night, get them to believe in you and what you're doing.'
"That's why he's coaching as long as he's coaching. And (Sloan said) 'Don't think it's (about) you.' He said, 'Never take the credit. Just praise the guys who are working hard for you and all the accolades will come.'"

* For as phenomenal as Spencer Hawes was late, it's a wonder Kenny Thomas couldn't get a couple of minutes to help slow down Michael Beasley.

Just as he had against New Jersey, the defensive-minded Thomas entered in the second quarter and had an equally-productive start like he did against the Nets. But whereas he returned in the fourth quarter in that game, he was done after those initial eight minutes while Beasley scored nine of his 23 points in the fourth quarter in which Hawes played all 12 minutes.

* Speaking of Hawes, he certainly didn't agree with official Jim Clark's decision that his late overtime foul on Dwyane Wade was a flagrant.

The call came with 2:01 left, leading to Wade hitting one of two free throws as Miami led 112-110. Hawes' point is a valid one, as he seemed to be going for the ball and thereby should have avoided the flagrant call.

"I don't think it was a flagrant," said Hawes, who is ranked 14th in the league with 1.67 blocks per game. "I think that if you watch the tape and watch how I played all year, I've been going for pretty much every block that someone brings in there. Whether it's Dwyane Wade or Joe Schmoe. I think the way I've been playing, you know my intentions were not to hurt him. I think the way he landed probably was more of the reason for the flagrant than the foul itself."

The video below is worth watching, but this picture is a good look as well.

Spence.jpg

* Not that upper-echelon players of any kind are itching to come to Sacramento at the moment, but Shawn Marion fell short of showcasing his talents for a possible Kings trade.

The once-marvelous Marion had eight points and seven rebounds in 28 minutes, this after he had briefly returned to Matrix form in a 25-point, 13-rebound outing at Denver in a loss on Wednesday. Marion's expiring deal ($17.1 million this season) and his track record as a such a versatile player mean he will command attention before the February trade deadline, with the Kings possibly among the teams interested.

The Heat start 6-foot-9 Joel Anthony at center, meaning they are among the short list of teams that could use a more serviceable big man like the Kings' Brad Miller. Forward Udonis Haslem, however, stopped well short of endorsing the idea when I pitched it his way.

"Me and Shawn didn't play that much together last year due to my injury, so we're still learning each other every day," he began. "That's part of the game, trade rumors. I've been in that situation. Everybody has been in that situation. You just have to go out and work on focusing on your game and everything else will take care of itself."

Is Brad the type of player you think could help this club, Udonis?

"Who knows?" he answered. "Who's to say if we get a guy like Brad Miller that would make us better? That could make us worse. You never know. It's all about chemistry and getting an opportunity to play together. And right now, with the team we have, I'm confident that we can continue to grow and continue to get better and put ourselves in a playoff situation."

Marion, Haslem said, is a defensive asset to this club above all.

"He's great defensively," he said. "He blocks shots, can guard the one, two, three, four. It's hard to find a guy who can guard four positions and play four positions. He's one of our better defenders and one of our better rebounders."

* Since I was already chatting with Haslem, I thought I'd ask about new Kings assistant GM/team general counsel Jason Levien.

The former agent of Kings shooting guard Kevin Martin is also Haslem's former agent, although they parted ways a while back after Levien inked a five-year, $33 million deal for Haslem. The comedic part of the conversation came at the beginning, when Haslem looked up from his locker room seat with confusion when told of Levien's new position. He wasn't aware of the job change, but said he wasn't surprised by the news.

"I'm happy for him," he said. "I knew he definitely had the intelligence. He's always been one of the smartest guys I've ever met in my life. He's always been a very intelligent guy. We had a great relationship personally - off the court (and) not just business-wise.
"We talked about hoops a lot, and also about life. He was a good friend for me. He always had a love for the game of basketball and a high basketball IQ."

Haslem didn't care to elaborate on why he didn't retain Levien as his agent.

"It just got to the point where we went our separate ways," he said. "We had done all we could for each other. He'd done a great job and I did a good job working and getting myself in a certain position. It was nothing personal. I still think he's a great guy. I'm happy to hear he got an assistant GM job."

- Sam Amick



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