Kings vs. Blazers Preview: HYDRAULICS

Up and down and ... ugh.
The valleys? More like canyons.
Make peaks of molehills.

Sacramento Kings at Portland Trail Blazers
7 p.m. Pacific on Comcast SportsNet California

I'm really battling with myself right now. The hopeful Kings fan in me wants to look at the 3-5 spell in this brutal eight-game stretch as the first melt of snow on the dawn of spring. The Kings have won two -- two! -- games on the road now after looking so pitiful in the team's first escapades away from The Gymmer. The Spurs are wounded, but they are the Spurs. The right Kings looked so good in that game that it felt like a real victory, a stone to step on to reach new heights.

The analytic side of me looks at these brutal losses, these mammoth deficits and wonders if that isn't closer to normal for this club. I believe heavily in points margin as a more accurate reflection of team quality than win-loss record, primarily because it grows the population of data that goes into such an assessment. A 1-1 team with a 2-point win and a 50-point loss isn't better than an 0-2 team with two four-point losses, you know? The analytics say that the Kings are a disaster: the wins have been seat-of-the-britches affairs, the losses have largely been complete inplosions. In 10 road games, the Kings have won two games by a total of nine points (+4.5/game) and lost eight by a total of 192 (-24). Of those eight road losses, five have been by at least 20 points and two have been by at least 30. Two 30-point losses 17 games into the season!

I see the offense looking more like an NBA-level offense ... but I don't see it in the numbers, and I wonder if my hope is shrouding my judgment. I look at the spreadsheets and see that the Kings might very well be the second worst team in the league despite a not-embarrassing record ... and I wonder why I've felt so good about the performances to date of Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins and Jason Thompson, and about the coaching of Keith Smart.

If the Kings can pull off a win by any margin to get to 4-5 on this spill, I'm going to banish my analytic side for the rest of the season ... OK, until the All-Star break. If it's another blow-out loss, I'm afraid I'll need to re-assess any warm fuzzies I've gotten over the past couple weeks. The internal conflict is just too much to sustain.

Game's at 7. Game threads at 7 and 8:30. Let's go Kings!

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