Rising Rockets Visit Kings, Where Defense Continues To Concern

Bless Keith Smart for instituting a good offense that remains fun to watch. The Sacramento Kings are up to No. 20 in offensive rating this season, and as a graphic during Thursday's game indicated, only a couple teams have improved on offense as much as the Kings have after the All-Star break. But defense remains a huge concern, especially considering that Smart's Warriors club had a solid offense and an awful defense. What we (think we) know about defense raises a red flag in this regard. Indications are that coaches can affect defense more readily than offense, and that a good defense is cheaper to build than a good offense. So while it's great that the Kings do something other than offensive rebounding well, there is still a whole lot of rain pouring.

On Sunday, the Houston Rockets visit for a tussle. They remain shorthanded, without Kyle Lowry or Kevin Martin. But since we last saw them, the new backcourt -- Goran Dragic and Courtney Lee -- has gotten its sea legs and the team is smoking. The Rockets on Saturday moved into the No. 6 spot in the West, and beat the Bulls and the Lakers on the road this week. Their four-game road trip finishes up with the Kings and Blazers, and they could be solidly in No. 6 when all is said and done.

The biggest visible problems with the Kings defense would seem to be that shooters get open way too easily and the team gives up too many offensive rebounds. Samuel Dalembert, Luis Scola and Marcus Camby can take advantage of the latter; a wealth of Houston shooters can kill Sacramento from deep, too. But the Kings have played Houston tough this season, so we'll see what shakes out. Lord knows the Kings are capable of looking like world-beaters now and then.

The game's at 6, and game threads are slated for 6 and 7:30. Let's go Kings!

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