OKLAHOMA CITY - So one of the front page headlines of the local "Oklahoman" newspaper reads, "Beat the Bad Teams" as a message to the Thunder in regards to the Kings.
That notion applies in the other direction, too.
Regular season opener on the road or not, this game is on the short list of winnables when you peek at the Kings' schedule. I'll have my eyes fixed largely on the Tyreke Evans-Russell Westbrook matchup for much of the night, as the Thunder's point guard will certainly be undersized against the Kings rookie but he poses plenty of problems on his own as well. There's not much to report from shootaround this morning, only that veteran forward Kenny Thomas did not make the trip because he has the flu. Kings coach Paul Westphal said he doesn't yet know if Thomas will join the team later on the trip.
Be sure to join me in a few hours on press row...
MULTIMEDIA ALERT: Kings Live Chat starts at 4:45 p.m. with a 15-minute pre-game discussion, then share your comments during the game and I'll jump in and out as I can at www.sacbee.com/live.
We'll live chat from the Kings' first game at Arco on Monday as well, begininning at 6:45 p.m. Sign up now for your e-mail reminder at the above web site.
READ WHILE YOU WAIT:
From The Bee
Kings Seek a Fresh Start, By Jason Jones
Petrie Unplugged, By Me
Hawes Has a New Role, By Ailene Voisin
Financing new Kings arena with seat mortgages is discussed, By Tony Bizjak and Ryan Lillis
From the Oklahoman
Kevin Ollie's NBA odyssey, By John Rohde
Thunder's key to success: Beat the bad teams, By Mike Baldwin
Kevin Durant at ease entering third year, By Darnell Mayberry
TONIGHT'S GAME (By Jason Jones)
KINGS (0-0) AT THUNDER (0-0)
When: 5 p.m. Pacific
Where: Ford Center, Oklahoma City.
Radio: KHTK (1140 AM).
Kings update: The Sacramento bench led a 104-89 rout of the Thunder last week in an exhibition game, but the Kings can't expect tonight to be as easy. At least Sacramento will have Kevin Martin in the lineup. He didn't play last week because of a sprained ankle.
Thunder update: Russell Westbrook is looking to emerge as a solid point guard in his second season. Westbrook scored a career-high 34 points in an overtime loss in Sacramento on Feb. 1. But Kevin Durant remains the player that makes this team dangerous.
KINGS: PG Tyreke Evans, SG Kevin Martin, SF Desmond Mason, PF Sean May, C Jason Thompson.
THUNDER: PG Russell Westbrook, SG Thabo Sefolosha, SF Kevin Durant, PF Jeff Green, C Nenad Krstic - Sam Amick