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GAME 22 - vs Phoenix

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Congratulations, you have beaten the Utah Jazz. Your prize is... the Phoenix Suns! Bwa ha ha.

The NBA is truly evil for the mediocre. It's cliché as all hell, and hearing players say it usually makes me cringe, but damn if it isn't true: There are no nights off in the NBA.

Fresh off an exhilarating win in Utah, the Kings get to host Phoenix for the first time this season. In their first game this season, in Phoenix, the Suns ran away sprinting, and let the jackass Pat Burke go off in garbage time while the bench hooted and hollered. Damn you Pat Burke, you son-of-a-b*tch.

Mike Bibby mentioned the episode in last night's postgame remarks. He said the Kings hadn't forgotten the embarrassment Burke and company thrust at them. He said the Kings will have something for them.

Also, don't forget that Ron Artest didn't play in Phoenix due to his back problems. Remember preseason, when Raja Bell and Brad Miller got into it, and Ron-Ron later said Raja is a dirty player and will get what's coming to him? Can you think of a better night for Raja to get what's coming to him? Twenty-four hours removed from a frisky victory and in front of a sure-to-be a packed house for the Phoenix Globetrotters. Consider it done.

Also, Golden State decided to help out and give Phoenix a tough game last night. The Suns were up by 25 before the Warriors roared back to take a lead, only to hand it right back to the Phoenix starters. That's the thing with the Suns - because of the style and speed they play, the breaking point deficit is closer to 30 than 20.

I don't know if there's ever a set gameplan to employ against the Suns unless you're also an uptempo, free-shooting team. You want to attack, attack, attack Steve Nash, and try to force jumpers for the most part. You can't leave Leandro Barbosa open under any circumstances. You would typically deign to protect the rim, though that's expecting a bit too much from this Sacramento incarnation.

Should be fun. Always is. Except last time. Anyways, to the stuff!

STARTERS:

SACRAMENTO
PG - Last night was nice and all, but since when is an 8-18 game a slumpbuster? Let's hope Mike Bibby continues his path to normal.
SG - Kevin Martin's long range shooting hasn't been entirely dependable lately. He's still way over 40 percent, though.
SF - I really want to see Ron Artest on the court at all times, but I cringe ever single team he has the ball on offense. It makes my head hurt.
PF - Shareef Abdur-Rahim was dominant in the second quarter. Imagine using that gift in the starting lineup. Crazy, huh?
C  - Brad Miller has been what you would call "effective" lately.

PHOENIX
PG - Steve Nash is not the MVP right now. That is Yao, and Yao is that. I'd take Nash, though.
SG - Raja Bell will suffer a painful bruise the first time he and Ron Artest share some personal space tonight.
SF - I'm telling you: if Shawn Marion gets traded, he will be a ghost of the player he is with Phoenix.
PF - I'm going to lobby David Stern to add an expansion team in Montreal. Tony Parker is my first pick, and Boris Diaw is my second. (Samuel Dalembert is third.) The Arcade Fire and Stars will alternate as halftime entertainment. Great joy will be had.
C  - Amare Stoudemire is f*cking scary. Where's Tonya Harding when you need her?


THE LINE:
The Suns are favored by 3. I'd give it to them. They are a very good team. You might have heard, they have won 13 straight games. I think three points is reasonable.

INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT NOTE:
Shareef Abdur-Rahim is getting ignored by most of us. Why? He's had a very blah season. The Memphis, Toronto, and Utah games are the only ones in which he really stood out. Coincedentally, those were big Sactown wins. So, um, someone get Reef loose, OK?

PREGAME HAIKU:
Bibby's not back yet,
But that was encouraging.
Now, it's Miller's turn?

Tonight, it's your standard 7p News10 affair. Dare the Kings shock us again? Dare they?!?

Enjoy.