Frozen

Przythompson_mediumSomeone replaced the strokes of Spencer Hawes and Jason Thompson with that of Kenny Thomas. Harsh, I know. But there's no other way to explain the shooting slumps Shock and Hawes have suffered.

The Blazers defended Hawes well enough -- he had only one open look out on the floor -- and Thompson took everything in traffic. These events were resulting in points in November, and for all the discussion we can offer focused around Beno Udrih's sloppiness or Brad Miller's inconsistency -- the game is just different if the young pivots can score. But Hawes had 8 points on 8 shots, Thompson finished with 4 points in 9 shots. Many of the misses came in critical stretches in which either the Kings could have extended a lead or stayed within realistic third quarter striking distance.

John Salmons is tired as heck. I don't blame him. The 43 minutes in the first game of the four-in-five stretch killed his energy for all but Tuesday's first 12 minutes. It doesn't help that Kevin Martin's absence makes him a focal point -- Salmons is good enough to score on most NBA defenders, but he can't take on two of them. And while Francisco Garcia can score, he's not Martin. He just doesn't require a level of attention large enough to relieve pressure on Salmons.

The flow of this one mirrored the first Blazers game in Sacramento. In November, Steve Blake and friends wore out the Kings defense by hitting threes. This time, it was all offensive rebounding (19 in 48 opportunities -- a completely disastrous 40% OReb rate for Portland). The Blazers offense is strong. It doesn't need extra chances. No Kings big man has more than three defensive rebounds, despite all of them playing at least 17 minutes (and Hawes played 28 minutes). Part of it can be credited to Portland -- the team rebounds well on the offensive end -- and a bit comes on the refs; Joel Przybilla shoves an opponent on every rebound opportunity, yet Przybilla finished with exactly zero fouls. But in the end, the Kings bigs really need to hit the defensive glass better. This is on every single one of them -- the 30-year-olds and the post-teens alike.

We won't likely see Beno Udrih, Hawes, Thompson, Garcia and Bobby Brown all shoot terribly in the same game again, except perhaps against Boston. Of course, the team needs a few of those guys to score efficiently, and the young bigs are as good a couple of candidates as any. Let's hope the strokes thaw out.

(Photo by AP via Yahoo!)

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