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GAME 32/82, Vs. Indiana, Open Game Thread

I promise to come back full force on Monday. If not, I'll give you your money back.

I'm not yet ready to pronounce the Kings as back - 3 out of 4 is cool and all, but it was the Clippers twice and Boston. And we're still five games under.

Indiana is a pretty good test. They aren't the Indiana everyone thought they'd be - they're underachieving quite a bit, given the Artest Fiasco.

But that doesn't mean the Pacers aren't trouble - look at what they did to Golden State a couple days ago. Giving this team an early lead is like giving them a can of spinach - you've absolutely got to get out ahead and try to hold them off.

I'm pretty glad Donnie Walsh and Larry Bird haven't found a taker for Artest - I've been personally tormented over the question of whether I'd want him in Sacramento. When we're losing bad and looking horrible, I think, "Yeah, what do we have to lose? At least he'll be interesting."

But when our offense is playing well, when we're getting the stops we need to win games, I'm less excited. I like having a team full of sane, if not elite players. It lets me sleep at night.

Someone is going to take him, though, and I kind of hope it's not someone in the division. The Lakers with Artest is frightening. I'd be relegated to praying for Ron-Ron to go Hannibal Lector on Kobe. I wouldn't be horribly concerned if the Warriors got him - they couldn't get that motley crew together in time to make it matter. The Clippers become a lot better, even if they move Corey Maggette, because a lock-up defender is the one thing they lack.

Minnesota seems like a no-brainer; Denver is so crazy about Artest that you'd think they could make it work. If I were the Pacers, I'd give Ron-Ron his wish and work out something with the Knicks. Artest deserves nothing less than to play for the hardest coach on a horrible team in front of his people, who will no doubt refuse to put up with his crazy Hoboken bullshit.

(Can I get into a witness protection program now? Please?)

To the early morning lineups!

PG - Jamaal Tinsley? I really need to brush up on my Indiana Pacers.
SG - Stephen Jackson, former World Championship/Atlanta Hawk
SF - Danny Granger, heralded rookie
PF - Jermaine O'Neal, superstar
C  - Jeff Foster? Again, I need to brush up.

PG - Mike "Still Not An All-Star?" Bibby.
SG - Kevin "Star of the Frosh-Soph Game During All-Star Break" Martin.
SF - Peja "Three-point champion" Stojakovic.
PF - Kenny "Ha ha" Thomas.
C  - Brad "Perennial All-Star" Miller.

The line: It's not up yet on Bodog, so I'm going to throw out a +2. And no, I wouldn't bet either way. Maybe an under, if the line is somewhere around 192.

Fun bet o' the night: How vehemently will Grant Napear argue against bringing Ron Artest to SAC? Your choices are a) more vehemently than his assertation that Bonzi did not call out Peja, b) more vehemently than his assertation that Bonzi did not call out Peja, or c) equally vehemently than his assertation that Bonzi did not call out Peja?

Sideshow most likely to be entertaining: Peja Stojakovic, rebounding beast. For what it's worth, Peja was very self-deprecating in talking about his 13 boards after Friday's game. He actually seemed human, as quoted by Sam Amick. But hell, he has seemed a lot more active in all aspects of the game since his last injury. Maybe something snapped inside him? Who knows.

Best matchup: Kings offense vs. Pacers defense. Can they throw up 60 in the first half and shoot over 50 percent from the field? Can Bibby get to his spots at will? Can Brad Miller explode into flames? Will KMart and Peja be able to attack the offensive glass like they did against LAC? If so, this (and probably every game) is a win.

6 p.m. start on Comcast. Watch some football, settle in for hoops. It's on!