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About That Fourth Quarter

This morning, I asked David Thorpe (ESPN analyst and Kevin Martin's trainer for the past six years) for his thoughts on what he saw in the fourth quarter last night. Here is his response:

The Kings did a fine job for three quarters last night in mixing in lots of offensive looks. Post ups and iso's for Artest, a spread floor for Beno drives, and lots of 2-man action with Miller and Martin. Double screens are not needed to spring Martin free - only touches for Miller in the high post. Martin is expert at using backdoor cuts or handoffs to create shots for himself or teammates.

But in the 4th quarter, Miller was not involved. Which means Martin wasn't either. One reason why Kobe could explode in the 4th was that he got to rest on defense while almost every play featured a stationary Martin watching the ball being force fed to Artest.  Kobe had 21 shots in the first 3 quarters-then he really got going.  Martin had 16 shots in 3 quarters, with just one in the 4th.  Only 2 touches overall.  I wonder if the Kings would have scored just 18 fourth quarter points if Martin was just as central to their attack as Kobe was to the Lakers.  And I also wonder if Kobe would have been so effective as a scorer in the 4th if he had to chase Martin around screens and hand-offs and backdoor cuts the entire quarter.  We don't know if Martin can carry this team over the Lakers in crunch time. I'd like to find out. I'm sure Miller would love lots of 4th quarter touches.

Kobe was on Martin for a reason - Phil Jackson wanted the Kings to go to Artest. Had Artest started making shots, I'd guess Kobe would have switched onto him. The Kings did exactly what the Lakers' hoped they would do.

I remember one Miller possession -- he got the ball a bit late in the possession, and had to take a truly awful, off-balance shot. But most other possessions consisted of Udrih dribbling to the right side, slip it in to Artest posting up at 15-17 feet, and rotating out. It resulted in few good things.

It's interesting (to me, anways) that Thorpe thinks just giving Miller the ball would be more effective than running set 'Reggie Miller' type plays for Martin. It makes some sense -- Brad can stroke and provides a tremendous safety valve.

It also makes me wonder a little why, if Theus felt he needed to keep two bigs out there for rebounding purposes, he didn't look at a little Miller-Hawes action. Yes, Hawes is truly atrocious on defense right now. But he's a better rebounder than Moore, has better touch in the high post, and Odom wasn't doing anything on offense anyway since it was 100% K.O.B.E. It might not have mattered -- the Kings went to the same set every damn time down, and it resulted in myriad Artest shots -- but I'm not sure it would have hurt. Hawes is a good, good, GOOD passer, and Moore touched the ball on a few fatal possessions.

But yeah, Theus needs to a) figure out how good a weapon Martin is, and b) find a way to use him in crucial moments. He's a much better basketball player than on-court cheerleader, and we all know this.