'Miss You!,' Kevin Martin Calls Out to Dick Bavetta As Suns Smack Kings 143-127

The normal referees will be back next week. Thank goodness.

Kevin Martin fouled out of Tuesday's game in Phoenix. Martin told The Bee's Jason Jones this was his first foul disqualification since third grade. But he has actually fouled out twice in his NBA career (in March 2007 against the Clippers and March 2008 against Houston). It's just so rare, because Martin so rarely commits fouls. He averaged just over two per game last year, playing more than 38 minutes. So to foul out in 29 minutes is just ... foul.

But hey Tim Greene, Kurt Walker and CJ Washington ... peace!

Otherwise, Hail to the Reke, who held his own against two-time MVP Steve Nash. And don't forget Omri Casspi, who blew the shroud off his NBA career.

I don't know how Tyreke Evans looked out there, but he put up his best shooting night of the preseason, hitting 21 points on 18 shot attempts, a True Shooting percentage of .583. Along with that he scored eight assists on four turnovers, and added a steal and two blocks (including the from-behind version you see at right). All that in 31 minutes.

Meanwhile, Steve Nash, who left in the third nursing an ankle tweak, had 13 points on 10 shots, with four assists and a turnover in 19 minutes of work. Evans certainly didn't stop Nash, but we used to Nash doing much, much worse to the Kings.

The real problems for the Kings were three-point defense and post defense. Amar'e Stoudemire ended up with 21 free throws. Channing Frye hit 4-5 from behind the arc. The Suns as a whole hit 10-21 back there. That's reminiscent of year's past, and it is a bit worrisome.

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Most NBA starting centers ain't taking Spencer Hawes out to the perimeter the way Frye did -- only Mehmet Okur, really, will consistently shoot from beyond the arc. But the position continues to move that way, and we can expect the Kings to run up against line-ups which will test the team's ability (and desire) to defend the three-point line from the one through five positions. Until Hawes and Thompson can prove they can defend the three-point line, expect coaches to through smaller frontcourts at the Kings. It certainly worked in Phoenix.

Frye was the only Phoenix starter to hit a three -- the other four Suns who started shot 0-6, with four of those bricks coming from Jason Richardson, who had an atrocious shooting night all around. Who else hit Phoenix's threes? Leandro Barbosa hit two off the bench. Jared Dudley went 1-2. Goran "Lil' Beno" Dragic hit 3-4. Bascially, Channing Frye and Goran Dragic beat you from the perimeter. I think you can almost live with that ... until it's replicated by any number of underwhelming players in the league. Like it was last year.

I've mentioned Stoudemire's high FTA figure, but I consider defensive rebounding to be a big part of post defense as well. And the Kings were awful on the defensive glass. Sacramento only rebounding 62 percent of its defensive rebound opportunities. The Warriors were worst in the league last year at 68 percent. So that's bad. Real bad. As much as the Kings earned on the offensive glass (Hawes and Sean May had five each, Thompson had three) they gave it all back on the defensive end. (Casspi in 21 minutes off the bench, led the team with six defensive rebounds. Martin was second with five in 29 minutes. FYI, these are not your typical top rebounders.)

Speaking of Omri ... BOOM!

22 points on 14 shots (.786 True Shooting), seven rebounds, two assists, one steals, just one turnover in 24 minutes. And this gem, from Jones:

"We have to tell him 'Hey Omri, back off a little bit,'" Westphal said after Tuesday night's exhibition game against the Phoenix Suns. "He wanted to guard (Amar'e) Stoudemire. 'I'll stop him, I'll stop him.' Not tonight Omri. Save that for the regular season."

I love this kid. In the admittedly small sample of five preseason games, Omri is averaging 23 points per 36 minutes on .680 True Shooting. He is playing out of his gourd.

That said, it might make sense to keep Desmond Mason as a starter for a little while, so long as Westphal is convinced Andres Nocioni shouldn't start. If you put Mason on the bench, he's irrelevant and completely wasted -- you might as well cut him. The bench actually does need scoring help, as Nocioni is having a rough time getting into gear and as Sean May will likely see limited minutes (though it's increasingly clear he'll be the first big in the game). Casspi could very well be a more disrupting defender than Mason at this point, but Omri is proving he can make a huge impact from the bench. Mason might not be able to do that. So it'd be a net plus to keep the status quo. (Again, I think starting Nocioni is the right move here -- Martin and Evans are doing beautiful work together by the numbers, and adding a stretch shooter could only help, provided Chapu gives his all on defense, which might actually be a question mark, sad as that is.)

Either way, if you're the type (like me) who has been praying for an impact small forward in the pipeline and you aren't stoked about Omri, take some Pixi Stix and get buggin' out. This dude could make it.

Check out Bright Side of the Sun's game coverage.

***

On a personal note, I'm going to be away from the site for a week or so. section214 and Exhibit G will take you up to the start of the season. Enjoy Opening Night, everyone.

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