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GAME 55 at Orlando, Preview & Game Thread

SACRAMENTO KINGS (26-28)  107.8 ORtg (#15), 110.2 DRtg (#23), 92.8 Pace (# 8)
ORLANDO MAGIC    (35-22)  113.0 ORtg (# 4), 108.7 DRtg (#20), 91.8 Pace (#10)

Color me surprised Stan Van Gundy has not instituted a solid defense in Orlando. His defensive acumen -- which tends to come with the 'Van Gundy' surname, as well as the programming chip Pat Riley implants in all his assistant coaches -- was the part of the package which most excited me about the near-hire in June.

Instead, Orlando can't force turnovers and have no rebounders beyond Dwight Howard. (The Magic still figure #6 in defensive rebounding; they should be top-3 with Dwight in the middle, though.) Given turnovers happens to be the Kings' irresistible weakness, this is a good sign -- so long as Kevin Martin, Ron Artest, and Brad Miller don't get their passes deflected too much (Charlotte was an abomination on this count), the turnovers should stay below 15, which should help the Kings offense put up a good performance.

The other major concern -- Orlando's threes. They have a few guys (Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis) who can hit those bombs regardless of defense. But closing out on Keith Bogans and Keyon Dooling, etc. -- that's key. If not, the Magic can shoot 45% from the field and still put up 110 points. Combined with Howard's inside game, it's no wonder this is the #6 offense in the league. It's a beautiful strategy if you've got the gunners and the inside safety valve, and Orlando certainly has the gunners and the inside safety valve.

We're about due for a 30-point night from Martin, and I'm envisioning a big game for Beno Udrih against the woeful perimeter defense of Orlando. As long as the defense is passable, the Kings should be in this game. The offense could put them over the top.

Game's go the early tip -- 3 p.m. local time. Go Kings.