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Another Way to Die

At no point during the wild fourth quarter comeback led by Bobby Brown did it really seem like the Kings could pull off the upset victory. Even as the margin shrunk to four and Bobby Jackson got loose, it seemed as if one or two missed shots and a fortuitous play on the Lakers end would signal the game's finish. And as it happened, the Kings missed a few shots and the Lakers turned up a couple of fortuitous plays, and it ended with a 10-point loss, which given the circumstances felt like a 1-point win.

Clearly, the Lakers are no ordinary team. As such, you really have to be careful about making any sort of derivative analysis. But considering Derek Fisher and Jordan Farmar are so similar in quality, the ability of Brown to perform where Beno Udrih could not seemed important. Sam Amick (in one of the best game stories you'll read anywhere) touches on the situation:

The Kings would not maintain the momentum, as the Lakers finally responded with a late 9-0 run, but Brown had certainly made matters more interesting at the point guard position. It has been a platoonstyle effort of late, with Udrih playing a combined 46 minutes to Brown's 50 in losses to Portland and the Lakers. In those two games, Udrih had 15 points, 13 assists and two turnovers to Brown's 34, 14, and seven.

I don't think we're at the point where Brown will challenge Udrih for the starting slot. The team has tied up a lot of hope and responsibility in Beno, and Theus isn't in the business of cutting off his own hand to make a point. But ...

A Brown/Kevin Martin/John Salmons/Jason Thompson/Spencer Hawes line-up has buckets and buckets of offensive firepower. That unit could be one of the most efficient fives in the game. (The team has the No. 10 offense right now, despite the injuries.) But can it play enough defense? We know Salmons can defend. We know Thompson has a physical nature, we know Hawes has turned into a great weakside shotblocker and we know that entire unit is smart. If Brown and Martin could combine to limit open threes and easy penetration off the pick-and-roll ...

... well, then that'd be a damn strong line-up, wouldn't it?

The team's defense is so bad right now that it's hard to tell if Brown is doing well on that end. To be honest, Beno has found himself in the right place repeatedly the past week. He nor the forwards/centers can close out worth a damn, but a lot of the turnovers opponents have made have wound up in Beno's hands. (He has 12 steals over the last five games ... and he only played more than 30 minutes in two of those games.) If he wouldn't get lost on pick-and-rolls and closed out some, we wouldn't likely be having this conversation. All told, the team might be best served with a mistake-free Beno in the front five and a microwave-ready Brown off the bench. But Udrih's defense has to get better to make it all make sense.