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GAME #5 - vs Detroit

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Tonight should be a nice cleansing exercise for the city and fans of the Kings - the team can't leave midseason, right?

Sport is the ultimate distraction (ask my wife) and win or lose, I think we can all agree it's nice to be able to watch the Kings play at ARCO Arena.

The game itself, however, is no simple task. Detroit is only a year removed from Game 7 of the NBA Finals, and despite the free agent loss of Ben Wallace, rumors of a Pistons demise are greatly exagerated. This is a good team.

In the young season, the Pistons have the 5th-best offense in the league. They haven't done it by shooting the lights out - they've placed themselves high by protecting the ball and getting to the line.

Sacramento's defense has been as strong early on. (I want to avoid a jinx, but the Kings currently have the 3rd best defense in the league.) How have the Kings done it? Forcing turnovers and forcing the opponent to score from the floor and not the line.

I think Sacramento can keep Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton from getting to the charity stripe often, but the turnover thing is more fuzzy. The Kings' high rate on forcing turnovers can certainly be attributed to tenacious D, but it's likely been propped up by some sloppy early games by opponents Minnesota and Chicago. In that case, it comes down to shooting and Detroit's ability to wrestle away a significant amount of offensive rebounds from Kenny Thomas and Shareef Abdur-Rahim.

The big key over the rest of the homestand for the Kings has to be getting their offensive house in order. It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who has been paying even a tiny bit of attention to the first four that the Kings offense has been awful. (Worst in the league, actually. Also, last in shooting, 3rd-worst on turnovers.) The Kings will be a decent-shooting team eventually. Let's hope it happens sooner rather than later.

"Read More" is the place for more analysis, including the projected starters, the line, and more...




STARTERS:

SACRAMENTO
PG - Mike Bibby wants you to know he is playing despite an injury not because he's a warrior, but because he does not like wearing suits.
SG - Kevin Martin is a quality NBA player, despite a questionable haircut.
SF - The paint is a welcoming home for Ron Artest.
PF - When I need a new double-double, I look to Kenny Thomas.
C  - Shareef Abdur-Rahim is a man of many freckles and many travelling calls.

DETROIT
PG - How would Chauncey Billups look in a Milwaukee uniform?
SG - The plastic mark is not a hinderance to the game of Rip Hamilton; in fact, it is a positive.
SF - Tayshaun Prince is the type of player you forget about until he beats up with his athleticism and defense.
PF - Rasheed Wallace is not the type of player you forget because he does not allow anyone to forget him because he has a mouth that rarely stops moving.
C  - Nazr Mohammed is not Ben Wallace.


THE LINE:
Sacramento is a 1.5-point favorite. The o/u line is 187. I think over is a best choice this time around. And I'm, cough, 2-0 on the season. (Yeah, that'll last.)

INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT NOTE:
ESPN GAME ALERT! This is the first national TV game of the season for the Kings. What this mean? Tons of emphasis on Eric Musselman (and his DUI arrest) and Ron Artest (and his brand of crazy). Also, there will be a hellacious number of mentions of Mike Bibby and Brad Miller's injuries. And that whole arena issue? Yeah, you might just want to watch on mute.

PRE-GAME HAIKU:
Welcome to town, Sheed.
Given Stern's "no-sass" ruling,
I think you'll be hushed.

PARTING SHOT:
A loss would not be devastating by any stretch of mind, and a win would be a tremendous boost for this team's confidence. So don't fret, it's a stressless game tonight! (Right...)

7:30p on ESPN. Let's go Kings!