If you need a handy argument as to why the Kings desperately need Kevin Martin back, stick Tuesday's fourth quarter against Orlando in your back pocket. Sacramento scored 10 points over the period, shooting 4-22 from the floor. A two-point lead heading into the quarter turned into an eight-point deficit within three minutes. After a Jason Thompson mid-range make with 11 minutes left in the game, the team scored only a pair of Tyreke Evans over the next six minutes. Orlando scored 13 points over that six-minute span. Thirteen points in six minutes ... that's about right. Two? No.
The Kings shot less than 35 percent from the floor all night, with Evans struggling at the rim and the entire team failing from the perimeter (excepting Andres Nocioni's 2-4 performance). Both teams shot 8-27 from beyond the arc, and that kept Sacramento in the game through three quarters. But the ability of Orlando -- specifically Dwight Howard -- to score easily on twos (31-50, 62 percent) while the Kings struggled mightily (22-59, 37 percent) decided the game. Rebounding wasn't much of an issue for the Kings, despite Dwight's mammoth presence. The rebound margin heavily favors Orlando (50-41), but all those missed Sacramento shots skews that. The Kings rebounded 77 percent of defensive opportunities, and the Magic grabbed 78 percent. The problem is that the Kings had more trouble scoring than the Magic did.
Martin will help, as everyone and their goldfish knows. All the nonsense about Martin needing to "check his ego" and "understand his role" upon returning is laughable not only because it shows such a sincere misunderstanding of Martin as a player and teammate, but because it misunderstands the team and what it needs. It needs efficient scoring. So much of the overachievement the Kings offense has experienced since Martin's injury is tied to, yes, Evans, but also undependable production from surprising players. Expecting 20 points every night from Omri Casspi is overshooting all fair targets. Ditto Donte Greene, and even Beno Udrih, Jason Thompson, Spencer Hawes and Andres Nocioni. Think about it: the team's offense has had one guy averaging 20 points a game, and a rotating cast of heroes. As we've learned over the past week or so, it's simply unsustainable. The viral frigidity racing through the roster was perhaps overstated by Tuesday's final numbers, but this has been brewing.
We didn't get a chance to see if Hilton Armstrong has worth as an interior defender just yet. Depending on how you look at it, the Kings defense did well enough that only a disastrous cold streak knocked them out in the fourth quarter. But a better job would have left Sacramento with a better cushion, and it's hard to ignore that Howard has shot something like 75 percent over his last five games against Royal Purple.
Thompson continues his winter of discontent. Eight points and six rebounds. Greene shot awfully in his return from injury, but defending decently -- I was surprised he didn't get more than one possession (a successful switch) on Howard. Greene was also able to remind me that if the NBA was 30 teams populated by 12 Donte Greenes, I would still have League Pass and I would still watch every game I could.