SAC (10-14) 28 24 25 29 106
NJN (10-15) 25 25 28 23 101
If you'd been asleep the past year and you woke up to watch that team win that game last night... you'd be pretty curious about what the hell happened to the Sacramento Kings. John Salmons and Francisco Garcia are Options #1 and #2 on offense. Dahntay Jones plays crunch time minutes. Brad Miller's the stalwart defender. Ron Artest takes nothing but threes. Beno Udrih suffers a key late-game injury. Those were your Sacramento Kings last night -- barely a hint of the past there. It's almost a team of mercenaries, moreso than the standard mediocre NBA team. Of those players mentioned, only Salmons and Garcia have a +50% likelihood of being here in two years (depending on whether Miller keeps this up). This is almost a carnival of NBA castaways.
But the guys were more... together than they ever seemed to be last year. We forget, but last year's version had a better start to the year than Reggie Theus' bunch. Last year, the team was just now slipping away from .500. Now? .500 would be cause for firecrackers and wine coolers. Of course, as fans we're in a different place. Under Eric Musselman, we would have seen some rather iffy decision-making in the final minute (Salmons' foul on Richard Jefferson, Dahntay leaving his feet on his own baseline after a big rebound) and cautioned against putting stock in a sloppy victory. Now? A 'reckless abandon, it's good to be the winner vibe' persists. I like it.
Salmons was terrific -- it was almost a Martinesque performance. The early clock threes, the fast-break and otherwise easy buckets to pad the numbers/score... everything but the incessant foul drawing. And you know what? He can do that alongside Kevin. There's no book which says two guys can't combine to take 38+ shots a game. I'm not ready to pawn off Ron Artest just yet... but I'll be excited to see Martin and Salmons reunited in the starting lineup for sure.
I think the number of Francisco Garcia game clinchers is up to three this season. This one was a special treat. Why? The YES Network. Close your eyes and imagine the sound coming from a playoff game on TNT in two years...
Ahem. YES! Thank you.