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The Fast-Approaching Passenger Train Named 'Mediocrity'

Early November losses shouldn't be so headache-inducing.

I mean, compared to Game 6 or Game 7 in 2002 or Game 2 in 2003, losing to the Knicks before Thanksgiving is not a big deal.

But when a team defies everything they've come to define over the last half-decade, and it's summed up perfectly in one game, it's mindblowingly infuriating.

  • 21 turnovers. The Kings routinely have one of the lowest turnover rates in the league, year in and year out. Against the Knicks, they had a RIDICULOUS 21% turnover rate. For every five times they brought the ball down, they turned it over once. Usually, the figure is around half that.
  • Horrible shooting. 47% eFG. Sub-30% from three. Sub-80% from the line. Bad bad bad.
  • Poor decision-making. You're trying to play catch up late in the second half. You have the best-shooting small forward in the league and the best-shooting point guard in the league. It's early in the shot clock. Yet Brad Miller (whose range ends definitively at 18 feet), Shareef Abdur-Rahim (whose range ends definitively at 15 feet) and Jason Hart (whose range ends definitively at the layup line) are all taking threes. Let's throw Mike Bibby getting overly aggressive on defense (go ahead, do a double take)and committing a foul on Marbury in the waning moments and Shareef getting a truly bonehead technical into the mix.
Everyone was whining about effort after the game and this morning. I saw effort in the game, plenty of it. Unfortunately, it didn't show well. The guys really looked like they were trying to get back on defense - New York is one of the quicker teams in the league, though, with ball-pushers like Marbury and Crawford (who could not be defended last night) and flyers like Ariza and Frye and Richardson.

There are fast breaks to be had by New York - but what do you expect when you commit 21 turnovers AND shoot poorly from deep (which leads to long rebounds and kick outs)? Disaster waiting to happen.

There was effort, just not any sort of ration or crispness at all. Why is Shareef getting the ball at the top of the key when Malik F. Rose is on him? Why is Brad constantly trying to drive when he has a fairly open shot? Why is Bonzi Wells handling the ball in traffic? Why is Kevin Martin taking on four Knicks when half his team hasn't crossed into the frontcourt? Why is Rick Adelman leaving timeouts on the board when the Kings seems to score every time they come out of a break? Why is Kenny Thomas afraid to shoot or drive unless there's a double-team or help coming? Why is Brad Miller, he of the best hands for a center this side of South Florida, committing six fricking turnovers to three fricking assists?

Mike Bibby had a nice game by boxscore standards - 50% eFG, only one turnover, seven steals and four steals, two of which were pure effort plays. But he didn't run the team - Jason Hart was running the show almost exclusively in the last eight minutes of the game. Bibby's not a leader. He's just not.

That's the problem - this team does not have a leader. The coach, venerable offensive wizard that he is, isn't one of those Larry Brown-like barkers (more on THAT guy later). The point guard, who is most likely to be nails when it counts, is really REALLY laid back. The best player, who has been known to shrink under pressure despite his best efforts to rid that tag, isn't exactly a floor general - his one talent is getting open and shooting.

So there are your choices. You need a leader, either from the bench, from the point guard or from the star. The point guard is likely to be here for a while, unless Petrie can find a taker. The star may or may not be retained after this season; if he is, it'll be very costly. The coach - well, you know his situation.

I'm not ready to vote someone off the island just yet. With every blasphemous loss like Sunday's, though, I'm getting a bit closer.