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GAME 16 - vs Orlando

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Home is always sweeter after a trip to Texas.

Or at least that's what I imagine, based on the annual results on visits to San Antonio and Dallas. Those teams are just flat out good - even San Antonio on a bad night had the Kings down 15 in the fourth. And 30-point deficits are shocking until it's realized the game is in Dallas.

Home is a much friendlier place to be, whether the opponent is San Antonio or the Arkansas RimRockers. So with the fiery but Eastern Conference Orlando Magic on the docket, ARCO is welcome.

Orlando, despite its latitudinal challenges, is a good team. Dwight Howard is incredible on at least a dozen levels, and guard onslaught Jameer Nelson and Carlos Arroyo collectively pose no sneezeable challenge. Throw in Grant Griffey, Jr., Darko unchained, and the disinvirused Hedo Turkoglu? Tell me their obvious weakness again?

The Kings are 3-1 against those foul Eastern knaves, losing only in Milwaukee and beating would-be Central div champs Detroit and Chicago. Orlando, like Detroit, is a tough challenge, and one I'm sure the Kings are hungry to triumph over.

What's the game come down to? Only "Read More..." can tell.




STARTERS:

SACRAMENTO
PG - Mike Bibby is not Mike Bibby! without a big man on the floor with him, taking care of his point guard duties for him. Case in point: November 2006.
SG - Guess who's back. Back again. Kevin Martin's back. Tell a friend. (We hope he's back, actually. One 25-point half explosion does not a turnaround make.)
SF - Ron Artest wants more shots despite leading the team in shots per game. In other news, Dwight Howard would like Tony Battie to stop going for defensive rebounds so he can get some more. Only one of these statements is fake.
PF - Kenny Thomas is an albatross around the neck of angry New Mexicans everywhere.
C  - Brad Miller will start tonight. I feel it in my bones. (Actually, I read the message told by Shareef Abdur-Rahim's freckles.)

ORLANDO
PG - Jameer Nelson is better than Kirk Hinrich and Luke Ridnour. Pay Jam Nelson!
SG - Grant Hill's presence on Orlando's payroll makes me feel kind of old. I was fresh outta high school when Orlando took Hill away from Detroit.
SF - Hedo Turkoglu is a soldier, unlike Kellen Winslow, Jr.
PF - Dwight Howard is the most valuable player in Florida. Yes, I said it.
C  - Wait, I thought Orlando traded Tony Battie for Darko and Arroyo? Oh, that was Kelvin Cato? I just thought Kelvin Cato was Tony Battie's middle name. You know, "Tony Kelvin Cato Battie." My bad.


THE LINE:
The Kings are 5.5-point favorites. Orlando has been good on the road (6-4), but anecdotally looked bad in Los Angeles last night. Add in that it's a sort of firewall game for Sacramento after the weekend holiday at the ranch, and you'd have to think the Kings can pull it out. Is 5.5 too much, though? Given how long Orlando's been on the road, I'd say no. Take the Kings. (I'm now 5-7, on a three game winning streak.)

INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT NOTE: Howard only gets the fourth-most attempts per game on the Magic. The strategist in me would suggest letting him get his and focusing on controlling Hill and the point guards. (The Kings, controlling a point guard? Sorry.) The one place Howard has to be corraled, though, is the offensive glass. Get that beast out of there!

PRE-GAME HAIKU:
Dwight - gifted and strong;
Quite unlike Sactown's big men,
who're gifted but weak.

PARTING SHOT:
I really don't know what I'm supposed to do with this field. Bah.

Game at 7! Let's try to enjoy this one!