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Drop It Doe Eyes

I'd rather see no other King take those big shots, and I think you feel the same.

Franz Marc - Deer in the Flowers

It's well-known I'm a Kevin Martin partisan, and have been since roughly December 2005. As an unabashed stathead, Speed Racer's repeated assertions of efficiency boggle and amaze; there are few better test cases in the whole 'give great shooters more shots' argument. Add in he's a nice kid, he's an incredibly hard worker, he's got a number of exciting elements to his game... it's hard not to like him as a player.

Whatever you think specifically about Mike Bibby and Ron Artest, you have to admit they did their best to stay atop Martin in the Sacramento tier system last season. They failed; but I have it on good authority Bibby was none too pleased this gangly kid from Nowhere -- a guy who couldn't make it on to the roster during Peja's last playoff run -- would end up the leading scorer. Artest has long pronounced his adoration for Martin, pronouncements which wilt under the pressure of, you know, actual evidence of gameplay. I'm near positive both have abandoned their quest to be the Most Important King; everything I've heard about Bibby this year from inside says he's been a model leader, and a great teammate, and Artest's public love notes to Kevin are consistent and innocent. Both seem willing to defer, inasmuch as very proud, trigger-happy NBA players can ever defer.

Those final sequences didn't illicitly mark a change for the franchise; Martin's contract last summer did plenty to denote the commencement of a brand new era of Kings basketball. But as far as in-game symbolism: Sacramento had six offensive possessions in the final two minutes of the game. Martin accounted for four of them -- his three-ball with 1:49 left, the only-in-dreams tip, a trip to the line and the step-through baseline J. For us live-or-die Kings fans, that's big. Huge.

Also of note: Ron Artest came off the ledge. He controlled himself, only waving his point guard off twice. (Successive possessions in the early fourth. Resulted in two Kings threes.) We like this Ron. We know this Ron only has three weeks to live, before that parasite Bad Ron takes over. We wish there were a cure, and we could rid the world of Bad Ron so Good Ron could live.