Kings Blog and Q&A

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

February 4, 2010
The morning after: Another comeback falls short against Spurs

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Follow Sam and fellow hoops scribe Jason Jones on Twitter - sam_amick and jejones_sacbee.

***

Truth be told, I never took the Kings' late rally seriously. As discussed in the game story from their 115-113 loss to San Antonio on Wednesday night, Kings co-owner Joe Maloof never looked enthused and it's safe to say I took his lead.

Upon retrospect, however, it was still a ridiculous run led by rookie Tyreke Evans that's worth revisiting. They were down 13 points with 2:23 remaining after a Keith Bogans three, followed by missed jumpers from Donte' Greene and Spencer Hawes and the subsequent decision from Evans to take matters into his own hands in the eight straight scoring possessions that followed...

1:41 - Evans pickpockets George Hill much like he did in a win over Washington back in this team's glory days, then finishes with a dunk on the break. Down 11.

1:07 - After a Manu Ginobili travel, Spencer Hawes hits a 20-footer after taking the pass from Evans. Down nine.

:46.6 - Evans pulls off yet another sensational steal, this time getting Roger Mason. He finds Greene for the alley-oop dunk on the break. Down seven.

The necessary foul game begins from here, with the Spurs hitting eight of their final 10 to eventually seal it. Nonetheless, the Evans show continues.

:28.5 - A classic Evans drive and layup cut the lead to six.

:18.7 - Evans - who is shooting just 27 percent from beyond the arc for the season - continued his three of five outing from three-point range with a rainbow attempt that cuts the lead to five.

:06.9 - Evans hits yet another three to cut the lead to four.

:04.1 - Andres Nocioni buries a three to cut the lead to three.

:01 - Evans hit a three that was not only a bank shot but I believe it circled the rim a bit before falling in. As Jason Jones commented, Evans will probably never look so disappointed to hit a three as he was shrugging and walking off the floor before it fell through. Kings lose...again.

"You can't really say enough about Tyreke," Kings coach Paul Westphal said. "He's 20 years old and he's gotten respect throughout the league because of the kind of competitor he is plus the kind of talent and voice that he is. He's an unbelievable player."

Other notes from the game that didn't make the paper...

BLAIR WITCH (DOCTOR) PROJECT

DeJuan Blair's story is simply incredible, especially considering he has no ACLs in either leg. He has had a productive rookie season and destroyed the Kings front court for 20 points on 9 of 11 shooting, including a second-quarter stretch in which he scored 13 straight points for the Spurs.

The Kings - like so many other teams - passed up on Blair in the June draft because of the huge red flags being waved by the medical community. They were obviously on the hunt for a backup big (eventually taking Jon Brockman at No. 38 via the Sergio Rodriguez trade with Portland), but Blair - who was once seen as a lottery pick - fell to No. 37 because of the red flags being waived so vehemently by the medical community.

"Every team in the league wants to disbar or whatever you do to doctors who said that guy and his knees weren't OK to draft," Westphal said. "He's making them look like they should have flunked out of medical school and gone to drive a cab. That guy is unbelievable. He was a legendary rebounder in college (at Pittsburgh) and there's no reason to think he won't lead this league in rebounding if he ever gets enough minutes."

BENO A NO-SHOW

Beno Udrih had his second DNP-CD (Did not play, coach's decision) of the season just one day after Westphal and his point guard revealed he has been dealing with foot soreness related to plantar fasciitis. Sergio Rodriguez was effective in his 16 minutes off the bench, hitting five of seven shots for 10 points and posting three assists against no turnovers.

"Beno has had that plantar fasciitis and looked a little slower than he ordinarily is," Westphal said. "It was just a decision to go with Sergio before Beno...I told him I'd probably use Sergio as the backup point and I'd probably use (Udrih) behind Kevin (Martin), but I really didn't want him to go out there and guard Ginobili when they subbed Ginobili in at (shooting guard). So when it was time for Kevin to take a rest, I put Ime (Udoka) in. And in the second half, we used Donte' to guard Ginobili because of the way matchups were. I didn't see (the point in) playing Beno two or three minutes in each half so we just went a different direction."

Udrih had played 32 minutes just two nights before in Denver and had played at least 13 minutes in every game he had played in this season. But he has long since has slowed in more ways than foot speed.

He finished January shooting just 43.8 percent overall and 27 percent from three-point range for the month, this after he shot 51.5 percent overall and 42.9 percent from three-point range in November and December. Aside from his 24-point outing against Golden State on Jan. 26, he has scored a combined 27 points in the last six games in which he has played.

MARTIN - AND NAPEAR - OFF-TARGET AGAIN

The boos were a new experience for Kings shooting guard Kevin Martin, who drew the fans' ire when his reverse layup off an Evans pass through the lane sailed over the rim and barely glanced the backboard.

Martin - who did not address the media afterward - hit just 6 of 17 shots overall, bringing his totals since coming back from wrist surgery on Jan. 15 to 36.4 percent shooting overall and 34.5 percent from three-point range in 11 games while averaging 17.2 points.

On a side note, I did catch wind of Grant Napear's concocted controversy regarding Martin's final attempt in Denver. The KHTK and Kings' company man who so clearly has a beef with Martin ripped me for not asking the shooting guard about the miscommunication Westphal had alluded to in Tuesday's editions.

Had he asked me - which he curiously never does, leading me to this current Donovan McNabb-Terrell Owens-esque state of 'Keep my name out of your mouth' - I would have informed him that all involved said the miscommunication was simply a case of poor timing and nothing more. Martin took too long to get into the play, as it began with 18 seconds left and he drove some 10 seconds later. He shot it with 2.7 seconds left, meaning the Kings would hardly have had enough for a last-ditch attempt had they grabbed the offensive rebound, not to mention the possibility of a drive and kick to shooters on the perimeter if Martin's path was blocked. Not ideal by any means.

And while it was certainly a botched attempt at a game-tying or winning play, the more relevant part of the possession was Martin thinking he'd get that call (which we all knew he wouldn't) and speaking on that topic (which he did). While Napear explained that he doesn't do postgame interviews with players because his TV platform doesn't have that postgame element anymore, he's certainly free to present his various theories to the players in person for material he could later use on his radio show. Especially since he supposedly doesn't read the paper, right? How else are you going to speak in an educated manner on the topic unless you do your own homework? Even the bloggers do that these days.

For what it's worth, Napear's voice was heard the one and only time I questioned his work. Apparently professional courtesy doesn't go both ways.

ON A MORE POSITIVE NOTE, THE GOLDEN HILLS KIDS DO THEIR COUNTRY PROUD

The flag didn't touch the ground, and that's all that really matters right?

Kudos to the kids from Golden Hills School in El Dorado Hills for that. The energetic bunch who was escorted by athletics director Geoff Kaupinnen took part in a game on the Arco Arena floor by day, then held the American flag by night during the pregame national anthem.

In the interest of full disclosure, my father-in-law is a middle-school science teacher at the fine establishment. And as I learned in the brief time spent together with the students, there are about a dozen kids convinced that they - and no one else - are Mr. Blum's favorite pupil. - Sam Amick



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