NEWS ALERT: It's must-win time.
Games don't get easier than this the rest of the way out. Sure, Seattle is much improved over the squad Sactown drubbed in Washington earlier this season. (In fact, thinking back, was that Peja's last great game with the Kings? Remember, he went 9 for 10 in the first half, then got smacked on the pinky. It was all downhill from there. Thanks, Danny Fortson! You landed us Ron Artest! Kudos!)
Anyways, yeah, the Sonics are better. Earl Watson is terrific for this team, from what I can gathered from Sonic-fan anecdotes and box scores. And, Chris Wilcox. Wow. As a Maryland Terrapin apologist, I've always had a soft spot for the guy (despite numerous stories about his assholeness). I remember a Clippers game in ARCO in, like, 2003. The Kings were up big going into the fourth, and Wilcox just went nuts. Absolutely crazy. I wondered, as I'm sure many LAC fans always did, "how is this guy not a starter in the NBA?" I'm glad he got his shot in Seattle.
However, I hope he has a horrible, no-good, God-awful performance tonight.
(After that crappy rundown, if you want a real preview, check out the best .com beat writer on the planet, Kevin Pelton. Knowing the NBA like the back of his hand is his job. You can tell. There are some great defensive stats in there, including a line about how the Kings are near-Spurs level on defense since The Trade. Must read stuff. So read it. Now.)
Otherwise, to the lineups!
PG - Cool Hand Luke Ridnour
SG - Sugar Ray Allen
SF - Rashard Lewis
PF - Chris Wilcox
C - Johan Petro, Frenchman
PG - Mike Bibby
SG - Kevin Martin
SF - Ron Artest
PF - Kenny Thomas
C - Brad Miller
The line: -9. Vegas loves the Kings at home. (So do we.) Is nine points a lot, though?
Fun bet o' the night: Will the Kings turn the ball over 28 times? I'm guessing no.
Sideshow most likely to be entertaining: Sadly, it won't be the return of Potapenko. I would've absolutely loved The Ukraine Train to get a shot to return to Seattle in garbage time minutes. Alas, not til next year, when everyone will surely have forgotten him. Maybe Adelman can still throw him in there in the fourth quarter, as a nastygram to Bob Hill. "Your trash, my even more useless trash!"
Best matchup: KT vs. Wilcox. Neither team may register a defensive rebound.
Goal tracker update: It saddens me to note that the Kings have slipped back into fourth place in the division, 0.5 games behind the Lakers. The Kings, of course, could win tonight, setting up another takeover tomorrow night at Staples. It is the way I prefer things - many takeovers of the Lakers in succession as opposed to just one. I think Ron-Ron just wants to break Kobe's spirit going into the stretch run.
Let's go Kings! Keep the dream alive, baby!