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GAME 28 vs Phoenix, Preview & Game Thread

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Nothing like following a miracle 3-2 road trip with a miracle 0-4 homestand. Merry flippin Christmas.

PHOENIX SUNS     (21- 9)   109.1 ORtg (# 1), 102.9 DRtg (#14), 100.4 Pace (# 4)
SACRAMENTO KINGS (11-17)   100.9 ORtg (#19), 104.8 DRtg (#24),  95.5 Pace (#12)
BALLHYPE | NBA.com PREVIEW

With Mike Bibby and Kevin Martin still healing, the Kings obviously cannot afford more absences from Ron Artest. I'd worked myself into a lather over the Philadelphia loss three times; before hitting 'submit' each time, I reminded myself Artest didn't play. (He did grub on some killer looking empanadas on the bench, though. Which food booth sells those?!) Artest is arguably the most valuable Kings; you take him away from a full-strength Sacramento team and you can expect losses. You take him away from a (nearly literally) decimated squad and you're screwed. I'm almost at peace with the Philadelphia loss. Yes, the homestand has been a depressing disaster -- even for us who continued to think the playoffs were a pipe dream, wins are obviously more fun than piled losses. And those of us heading to the arena, we like to have a few other people in there, too. Hearing Kenny Thomas' yelp echo through the building is frightening.

I'm prepared to say if Ron Artest sits out, this game is over before it starts. Ron-Ron says he'll play; Reggie Theus seems less optimistic. He represents a chance for Sacramento, and in the NBA that's all you need. Phoenix has had some trouble against the Kings lately, mostly because of Mike Bibby (who thinks it's 2002 every time Steve Nash steps in front of him). Can Beno Udrih drum the same sort of attack? That will rely on John Salmons' success against Raja Bell.

I'm fully prepared to heckle Brian Skinner's beard; hope the Kings give us enough on-court support and keep the building a little more noisy than a library on New Year's Eve. Game's at 6.

Go Kings.