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Delayed Vinegar

That game was all set up for Ron Artest shooting the Kings straight out of it, firing up threes to oblivion. Luckily, some real good defense from Kevin Martin and Francisco Garcia, some patience on offense, and some damn good coaching decisions saved the day.

But screw it: Ron Artest is a ticking timebomb, and this team in its fragile state cannot take much more. Ron screaming at Mike Bibby and Reggie Theus... in his second game back... in the fishbowl of Detroit... when the Kings are playing insanely good? I'm glad Bibby's back; had it been Beno Udrih in said situation, we might have a point guard with a broken eye socket and a mercurial small forward with less than zero trade value. So um, thanks Mike for not getting your eye socket broken.

All the Kings' top scorers run a lot of iso, but Ron's broken plays are more of a problem. Why? Because they occur with no sense of flow. Yes, he can make the dribble-left fade away three. Yes, he can step back from 15. But neither gives the rest of the team an opportunity to be involved. Bibby and Salmons utilize screens at the top and often find a kick-out or an interior pass; at the least, if they don't finish it's a prime opportunity for an offensive rebound for Mikki Moore or Brad Miller. When Martin drives, he scores at an insanely efficient rate (due to fouls). Ron does neither. It kills the flow of the offense, makes others stand around more. (Not that off-ball movement peaked during Artest's absence... but it was noticeably worse last night.)

For this season, an Artest trade might be addition by subtraction. Despite the win, this team could play better. Salmons can provide the offense more efficiently, and as we said yesterday, the defense is beyond salvation. Free Ron-Ron.