Kings (16-62) at Nuggets (53-27)
Scoring: Kings 12th (100.7 point per game), Nuggets 6th (104.51)
Shooting: Kings 25th (44.7 percent), Nuggets 5th, (47.2)
Scoring defense: Kings 29th (109.5 points), Nuggets 19th (100.91)
Shooting defense: Kings 30th (48.4 percent), Nuggets 4th (43.9)
Rebound differential: Kings 30th (minus-5.06), Nuggets (+0.40)
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Before George Karl became infatuated with offensive basketball, a la his good friend Don Nelson, he was regarded as an excellent defensive coach (Cleveland, Seattle). So look what happens when old George goes retro? The Nuggets slash payroll, basically give shotblocker Marcus Camby away to the Clippers, and actually improve defensively. Maybe that swap of Allen Iverson for Chauncey Billups rekindled Karl's passion for defense, though Billups isn't in Gary Payton's class as a ballhawker. Anyway, Karl can't believe that no one believes. He reminded the Denver Post last week that, "It seems like the national media does not want to jump on our bandwagon. The only thing I say to those people is, 'go watch the film.' Defensively, we (have) led the Western Conference in (defensive) field goal percentage the whole year." It's true. He is not exaggerating.
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The Kings have two road games remaining (Denver and Minnesota). They cannot possibly play more poorly than they did in the opening quarter of Friday's debacle against the lowly Los Angeles Clippers, can they? Even a smidge of defense would be a monumental improvement ....
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The expansion team Reno Bighorns, the Kings' affiliate in the NBA Developmental League, finished the season Saturday night with a 25-25 record and just missed the playoffs. Not bad given that Jay Humphries' club started the season with a bruising road schedule and a 1-11 record . Still wondering what Donte Greene was doing in Sacramento when he could have been in Reno for an extended period (a) playing himself into shape, (b) distancing himself from the zone defense played during his one season at Syracuse, and (c) developing the mechanics for a jump shot. His form is ever-changing; sometimes the ball's rotation is perfect, other times the seams are off in different angles. Weird.