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GAME 20 - at Golden State

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Wait, what? There's a game tonight?

The Kings appear to be out of the Iverson sweepstakes (though I know and acknowledge some of you will hold out hope and this will continue to be a big topic of discussion - I encourage that). Golden State appears to be the frontrunner for The Answer's services. Unless something pops in the next three hours, all will still be unresolved at tip-off.

This game is pretty damn important. The Kings are 2-6 on the road. To get into the playoffs, you figure you need to have a 35 percent road winning percentage or better. Right now, the Kings road percentage is 25 percent. Couple that with a home court record (7-4) that is below Sactown expectations, and you're not looking at a good start to the season.

And 20 games is a good chunk of the season. Yeah, it's only December. But the NBA season isn't as long as it sometimes seems. The Kings climbed out of a deeper hole a year ago, but how many times can lightning strike one squad?

Beating division opponents is crucial. Beating beatable opponents is crucial. These "easy" road games - ones that come with at least a day of rest and without long itineraries - are crucial. Punching a rival like Golden State in the mouth after being punched in the mouth by said rival a couple weeks ago is crucial.

And surfacing with breath left in your lungs after this suffocating Iverson chat is important, too. I think it's safe to say Kenny Thomas and John Salmons at the very least had reservations about the trade proposal; I don't think suggesting Kevin Martin and Ron Artest were also worried is out of the realm of reality. This could be a rallying point - the powers got together and said, "Hey, right now, we trust this team. We don't need Iverson that bad. We like these players." That could be a crock of sh*t, and we'll probably never know what the mood of the collective is right this second. We'll get an indication tonight.

To the game thread stuff!

STARTERS:

SACRAMENTO
PG - It'd be a nice time for Mike Bibby to come out like gangbusters to show Kings fans what they could be missing.
SG - Kevin Martin has to feel pretty good that he was the untouchable player in a trade for Allen Iverson.
SF - Ron Artest: Still the face of the Sacramento Kings.
PF - Poetic justice: Could Shareef Abdur-Rahim take Kenny Thomas' starting job permanently after that flu day against Atlanta? Hmm.
C  - Brad Miller is right back where he belongs. Well, in the starting lineup. He still needs to get back to, you know, All-Star level and all that.

GOLDEN STATE
PG - I'm quite glad I dismissed that "Baron-Davis-to-the-Kings" report from earlier. Otherwise, I'd be part and parcel of a fairly grotesque scene on a San Francisco sidewalk under my building right now.
SG - I'm torn: I want Monta Ellis to be the hell away from Golden State, but I also don't really want Iverson to be a Warrior. Torn, I am.
SF - Is Mickael Pietrus better than Ronny Turiaf? I'll give him Gelabele, but otherwise, Pietrus might be the worst of the young Frenchmen in the league. (Anthony Parker not eligible.)
PF - Troy Murphy is a B- version of Brad Miller. Yet, Murphy is also rumored in trades and Miller never. So strange.
C  - Andris Biedrins > Darko Milicic.


THE LINE:
The Warriors are 3-point favorites. The Kings will win outright. I can feel it. I have no idea what my record is on the season.

INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT FACT:
My friends at Golden State of Mind are fretting a perceived "panic mode" move from the GSW front office. In my opinion, if you're getting Iverson, you might as well find a home for Monta Ellis, too. How much of Monta's game would be absorbed my AI? He just doesn't seem to be the right type of player to stick beside Iverson for the next 2.5 years...

PREGAME HAIKU:
This game is second
to the long game of whispers
for one of these teams.

Alright, ladies and gentlecousins: Let's get happy! I'll be sure to shoot a nasty look over at Oracle on my ride home. Let's go Kings!