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Game 34 - vs Houston

The game that was to be important: Bonzi Wells' prospective return to ARCO Arena. Many fans railed the Kings front office for letting Bonzilla go this offseason as Geoff Petrie balked at adding to the offered $36 million, 5-year Sacramento proposal. Bonzi ended up taking chicken scratch to play for the Rockets in hopes of brokering a big deal this summer, except that Bonzi came to camp late and out-of-shape, and he's been injured for all but 11 games this season. Kevin Martin has excelled in the starting shooting guard role, though one has to wonder if Bonzi would've been a better sixth man than John Salmons thus far, especially considering Ron Artest's frequent departures to insanity.

Sadly, however, Bonzi won't be in uniform tonight, holding off a court return to next week. The matchup - either Martin/Bonzi or Ron-Ron/Bonzi - would've been incredible to watch, even if the Bonz was coming off the bench. Bonzi is, essentially, Ron-Ron Lite with a superior nose for the ball off the glass. The two of them jostling in the lane would've at the very least been entertaining.

Part of the reason myself and others applauded the decision to let Bonzi fly away was Ron-Ron. Their similarities - great in the post, poor from the perimeter unless they're slashing, leather-tough and burly on defense - made them seemingly redundant. After the second-half sprint to respectability, the Kings weren't going to ship out Ron. So Bonzi was the lost one, the guy you could do without.

What if things were different, and the Kings got something (Jackie Butler, a high draft pick, Kwame Brown?) for Ron in the offseason and resigned Bonzi to play alongside Kevin. The two would've been formidable, especially if Shareef Abdur-Rahim shared the court as the starting power forward. Who do you double off of? Martin and Bonzi's games were so complementary, it seems, that pairing them would make a whole lot of sense. It wasn't suggested last summer, though, when Ron's value was high, Bonzi's was lower than believed, and Kevin was still a relative unknown.

Since Ron and Bonzi are similar, then shouldn't the Martin/Artest pairing be working, according to our Martin/Bonzi theory? Well, no. Ron doesn't play like Bonzi did - Ron thinks he's a Martin-type player: shoot, shoot, shoot. Ron should be playing like Bonzi did against San Antonio: bang, bang, bang. It's unfortunate, and it's something we probably should've seen coming.

Anyways, this is all to say it's a bummer Bonzi won't play tonight, and it's a bummer Ron hasn't worked out as we thought he would. It's all a bunch of damn bummers. Bummer bummer bummer.

Let's get to it.


PG - Mike Bibby's turnovers have been at least as alarming as his inconsistent shooting. He used to be able to dribble haphazardly through two defenders and get a bucket or assist. Now, he dribbles it right into the other team's hands, or off his foot, or he throws it to an opponent instead of a teammate. Infuriating.
SG - Kevin Martin needs to take more shots. He had the opportunity to take over the game in the third quarter last night, but passed the buck to Ron. I know he's an unselfish guy, but he's got to know he is the best offensive weapon on this team and this team's success depends on him busting fools.
SF - Sometimes, I wonder if Ron Artest's outside jumpers go in by luck, because when he misses, he misses really badly. I know he's got shooting skill. But most shooters don't regularly miss a foot to the left. It's weird.
PF - Shareef Abdur-Rahim is doing nothing to make me look good for rallying to get him in the starting lineup. Tonight, though, Juwan Howard shouldn't stand in his way of success.
C  - Brad Miller got killed by Joel Pryzbilla of all people. Pryzbilla: the Kings killer. I think even 30 seconds of Justin Williams might have made us all feel better about this.

PG - Point guards who shouldn't be able to kill you all night: Alston, Rafer. Point guards who nonetheless will likely kill you all night: Alson, Rafer.
SG - The one advantage the Kings have over most opponents: our shooting guard is better. Not the case tonight, with Tracy McGrady in the building.
SF - Shane Battier is on the top 5 all-underrated team. Yes, Yao Ming was fantastic before the injury, and TMac has been incredible the past couple weeks. But this team is 11 games over .500. Battier has a ton to do with that.
PF - Juwan Howard, however, probably doesn't. If Bonzi comes back strong, I don't think a Alston/Wells/McGrady/Battier/Ming starting lineup is out of the question.
C  - Ladies and gentlemen, Dikembe Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean Jacque Wamutombo.

The Kings are 2-point favorites. The bank is open on Saturdays! Houston should win by 10.

Justin Williams' 10-day contract runs out Monday, either after or before the MLK Day Knicks game. Think he'll get one second of playing time? So infuriating. I wonder if this angers Geoff Petrie.

Mike Bibby stops people like Jerry Reynolds in a banana hammock on the Causeway. When under pressure, Eric Musselman wilts like a magnolia on Mars.

Let's hope the combined forces of TZ + louismg in attendance will shift the tide. (I am 1-0 on the year, after all.) Have a fun time watching, and God bless Kenny Thomas.