On no planet should a team starting Devin "The Plugger" Brown, Rasual Butler, Desmond Mason, a one-legged David West, and iron-fisted Tyson Chandler ever beat a team starting Mike Bibby, Kevin Martin, Ron Artest, The Kenny Thomas Experience, and Brad Miller. Not Mars, not Hoth, certainly not Earth.
Why is the Kings offense so... blah? We know why the defense is uninspiring - Bibby and Miller are among the worst defenders at their positions, Martin isn't exactly Bruce Bowen, Artest has allowed everyone in the league to put up 20+ on him, and Kenny Thomas is possibly the Earl Boykins of power forwards. The unspectacular defense is expected at this point. But the offense? Martin is a great shooter from any spot on the floor, Bibby is a capable 20-point, 7-assist guy, Artest has scored 20 ppg twice, Miller used to be a 15-10-5 guy, and according to Charles Barkley, Kenny Thomas is "a flat-out scorer." Off the bench? A repeat All-Star in Shareef Abdur-Rahim, a recent Sixth Man of the Year in Corliss Williamson, a capable swing in John Salmons, a sharp young gunner in Quincy Douby. There is no reason this team shouldn't be a top-10 offense. Right?
They sit at #17 in offense this morning. Their defense - that woeful, woeful defense - is #16. The talent is there - we saw that last spring, we've seen it in (all too brief) spurts this year. At this point, we must take a look at the coach.
Eric Musselman will get the benefit of the doubt from me so long as the well-documented chemistry problems in the lockerroom remain unresolved. But until the roster is shaken up - with the focus on Artest and Bibby lifted - Muss and his crew should be putting a better offensive product on the floor. Shots were not falling in the third quarter last night, true. So get easier shots. Use your bench. Pick up the pace, or slow down the pace, or try to draw a foul - do something. With the well-documented third-quarter issues this team has exhibited, you should be prepared to make serious efforts to curb that inefficiency. Last night, Muss wasn't prepared to curb the disaster. It cost Sacramento the game.
Sacramento's two endgame opportunities sum up this whole inconsistency well: down 5 with 11 seconds left, the inbounds pass goes to Martin, who turns in the lane and scores easily within 2 seconds. Next time down the court, now down 4 with 8 seconds to go, Salmons and Miller play the ugliest two-man game ever and the game is over. Offensive excellency in one moment, offensive ineptitude in the very next. Offensive excellency in the second quarter, offensive ineptitude in the third. It's a pattern that's going to make me puke if I see it one more time.
So get the buckets ready. It's Dallas tonight. Awesome.