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GAME 56/82: vs. Portland, Open Game Thread

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Shareef's Revenge is upon us.

Prepare for 20 pts and 10 rebounds tonight for The Cursed One. He's going against the team against which he suffered a broken jaw and seemingly an eventual demotion from the starting lineup.

On this... it sucks that Reef isn't starting, but it's actually better off that he's coming off the bench. Not because of anything Reef is doing - he's still being quite efficient and staunch defensively. But Kenny Thomas is a completely different player when starting. And if a starting lineup that includes Brad Miller, Ron Artest, Kevin Martin and Mike Bibby needs one thing, it's rebounding. Bonzi Wells proved that. And Kenny is a much better rebounder than Reef.

It looks like SAR will now be getting major minutes backing up both big positions, which is good. If KT gets 30 minutes and Brad gets 35, there are realistically about 25-28 minutes in there for Reef. He deserves more as one of the most efficient bigs in the game. But 25-28 will do for now.

At the very least, the end of the season will allow us to see which lineup (with KT or with SAR) is more effective. It's too hard to tell right now, as Bibby/Martin/Artest/Abdur-Rahim/Miller has only played 12 minutes together. The Bibby/Martin/Artest/Thomas/Miller lineup has had nice results through 221 minutes of play, scoring a gross 36 points more than opponents and winning 60% of their matchups.

Anyways, go Reef! To the lineups!

PG - Steve Blake
SG - Juan Dixon
SF - Darius Miles
PF - Zach Randolph, the marked.
C  - Brian Skinner (!)

PG - Mike Bibby
SG - Kevin Martin
SF - Ron Artest
PF - Kenny Thomas
C  - Brad Miller

The line: A whopping -15. It's actually not that whopping - the Kings have been straight handling fools in ARCO. But the line started at -13.5. People are believing that the ARCO mystique is back.

Fun bet o' the night: Bodog has Z-Bo's points line at 20. I say under. Reef has an elbow for Mr. Randolph.

Sideshow most likely to be entertaining: The whole Sebastian Telfair/Steve Blake thing. Telfair is a spectacular raw talent and a showman in the mold of Iverson who happens to be less polished than my under-12 soccer trophy. Blake is unremarkable at best, but steady as a Toyota for the Blazers. I mean, Blazer fans can't seriously root for Steve Blake to continue as their starting point guards. But could they convince a jury they don't cringe every time they see Telfair get into the game? It's just got to be maddening. Makes you appreciate Mike Bibby, despite his lack of leadership and his dribbling off his foot ways, that much more.

Best matchup: As almost always, SAC's bigs vs. their bigs. The idea that Brian Skinner might actually start for another team (a team with the worst offense in the league, I might add) is secretly exciting. But we know he's got at least a couple blocks in him for tonight. Brad Miller, beware.

Goal tracker update: The Kings are five games under .500 with 27 games to go. Sacramento is 2.5 games behind the Lakers for eighth place in the conference and third in the division. The Kings are also one game behind Utah for ninth place and 0.5 games ahead of the surging Houston Rockets.

It's a News10 affair this evening! Let's do it!