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GAME 61/82: at Milwaukee, Open Game Thread

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Remember last week, when the whole Jason Hart situation weighed on me? Well, Rick Adelman seems to have pulled another solution out of his hat - screw ball-handling, just leave your best players on the court and hope for the best in terms of protecting the rock when Bibby is out of the game.

It's worked.

The team had only 11 turnovers in the Atlanta game, with two by Bibby. In the Washington loss, Bibby had five of the team's 16 turnovers. Then, against New Jersey, the Kings had only a remarkable eight turnovers, with two from Bibby.

For perspective, the league leader in fewest turnovers per game is Detroit, who is averaging 10.5 per contest. The Kings are 23rd in the league, with 14.3 turnovers a game.

So the Kings, with one good ball-handler on the court most of time and three sometimes passable ball-handlers on the court the rest of the time, have kept their turnovers down. Jason Hart has played a total of 15 minutes over those three games.

I don't know that it can last, and I heartily endorse a speedy recovery for Francisco Garcia, the team's best backup point guard. But it's pretty crazy that a team with essentially one point guard who's really a shooting guard can handle the rock so well.

To the lineups!

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

MILWAUKEE
PG - T.J. Ford
SG - Michael Redd
SF - Bobby Simmons
PF - Andrew Bogut
C  - Jamaal Magloire

The line: -2. Road favorites against an Eastern Conference playoff team. Yes, it's the 2006 Sacramento Kings. While we're here, remember how the Cavs were struggling and coming off some big losses, kind of in a must-win-to-stop-the-bleeding mode? Well, the Bucks are in the same position, having lost three straight at home. Also, the team's owner (and I believe a U.S. Senator?) ripped them Larry Miller style. A week ago, I'd have said this gives the probable passion edge to Los Buckos. Not today. That team is in a freefall. Let our Kings mop up the mess.

Fun bet o' the night: What the hell did Dan Gadzuric do to Terry Stotts's mom? Let's set the line for Gadzuric minutes at 4. Has any young big man not named Jerome James ever signed a pretty substantial contract in the offseason and immediately get glued to the bench? I can't even figure out what he's done wrong via stats - he's about at his career average, figuring the diminished playing time. Anyone against acquiring DanGad this offseason? The good Senator can't want to pay this guy to wipe The Bogey Man's brow.

Sideshow most likely to be entertaining: T.J. Ford/Mo Williams, the third-best point guard tandem in the league to Chris Paul/Speedy Claxton and Steve Nash/Steve Nash's shadow. That's a fantastic three-guard rotation, too - Ford/Redd/Williams. So why is Charlie Bell playing 25 minutes a game for that squad? I'm not sure I get it. Gadzuric can't get past a crafty but unspectacular Magloire, a young and developing Bogut and convicted double franchise-killer Joe Smith, but Charlie Bell is taking minutes from Redd/Ford/Williams? Terry Stotts's rotation is flawed, I think. (The only answer could be that Charlie Bell is a great defender, which Redd is not. I can't verify this, though.)

Best matchup: Artest and Martin vs. Redd and Simmons. Stopping Redd is a priority. But letting Simmons go off - and he can - is equally damaging. So look for Ron-Ron to switch onto whoever seems most damaging at the time. And hope that Kevin can contain the other. (As an aside, I kind of enjoy seeing everyone get on Kevin's case about defense - Adelman yelling at him, Ron-Ron pointing things out and talking him through it. Would you have seen this two months ago? Um, no.)

Goal tracker update: The Kings are two games below .500. The team is 1.5 games behind the Lakers for eighth in the conference and third in the division. The Kings are 2.5 games behind the Hornets for seventh place in the conference. The Kings are four games behind the Grizzlies for sixth place in the conference.

Interesting note: The Lakers are at New Orleans, at San Antonio and versus Seattle in the three games leading up to Tuesday's visit to ARCO. The Kings are at Milwaukee, versus Memphis and versus Dallas. A reasonable man would project the Lakers would go 1-2 in that stretch and the Kings would go 2-1. Thus, the Lakers would be 0.5 games ahead of the Kings for the final playoff position coming into the Tuesday game. If the preceding happens, I will be heavily quoting Jay-Z's song "Takeover." Bet on it.

Let's go Kings! 4-1 road trip, for sure!