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GAME 60/82: at New Jersey, Open Game Thread (with Washington Post-Mortem)

(Note: I'll be mostly out today, so I'm killing two birds, one of them a foul and nasty knave, with one stone.)

Finally, a game you can almost blame on errant free throws.

It's been a while, I think. I can't remember a specific loss this season that could be attributed to a poor performance from the line. Strange, because that used to constantly be a culprit in tough losses.

It was certainly the culprit Sunday morning. It was actually about time - there have plenty of tight wins during this stretch of quality play that relied on the Kings being nearly perfect from the charity stripe.

But Sunday, Kenny Thomas and Ron Artest each went 2 of 5. Bonzi Wells went 0 of 2. Even Kevin Martin, he of a streak of 25ish straight makes earlier this season, went 3 of 5. No one was perfect from the line, with Brad Miller, Mike Bibby and Corliss Williamson each missing one.

Shareef, strangely, didn't even make it to the line and had his most wholly inefficient game since returning (2 points, 3 rebounds, 1-5 shooting in 16 minutes).

The rest of the offense, save perhaps Mike Bibby, was great, though. Ron gave his field goal percentage a jolt by going 13-19 to get 30 points. Martin put in 20 again. Bibby went for 16 (though on 16 shots) and Miller got 18. Kenny went double-double again.

It was the defense that failed. Two thirty-point quarters given up, on top of a 25-point and 28-point quarter? Letting Antawn Jamison put in 14 in the first quarter, and then Gilbert Arenas get 20 in the second half? Really, 10 points and six assists for Donell Taylor in less than 20 minutes. That ain't going to win games.

Luckily, this has become the exception instead of the norm. Defense is actually expected of Les Rois, so we're surprised when 117 gets hung on them. That's a good thing, that our expectations have risen. Otherwise, it could've been a long season.

To the Monday afternoon lineups.

PG - Jason Kidd
SG - Vince Carter
SF - Richard Jefferson
PF - One of the Amazing Collins Brothers
C  - Nenad Krstic

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

The line: +3.5. Same line as Sunday. Hmm.

Fun bet o' the night: Bodog has Brad Miller points plus rebounds at +/- 24.5. And intriguing bet I probably wouldn't take the over on.

Sideshow most likely to be entertaining: New Jersey visits used to seem fun, because half the crowd was there to cheer for Peja and Vlade. Can't imagine that's the case anymore. Has Vince been a big draw for them? Hmm. (Though I'm not sure I'd show up were I a proud New Jerseyan, seeing how the team is very clearly moving to Brooklyn. No sense creating false ideas of real fandom in the Garden State.)

Best matchup: I imagine Artest will check Carter on the Nets' end. So, Artest vs. Carter. Vince takes a lot of threes, so he could still get his in the face of Ron-Ron.

Goal tracker update: The Kings are again three games below .500. The Kings are now tied with the Jazz for ninth place in conference, and sit 2.5 games behind the Lakers for eighth with 23 games remaining. The Kings are 3.5 games behind the seventh-place Hornets.