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Beno vs The Coach, Round 2

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Kenny Natt yanked Beno Udrih early and kept him out but for a spell to open the second half. After the game, Melody Gutierrez got this from the coach:

"Not doing his job, that's one way of putting it," Natt said. "Not playing with the intensity and the effort that I know and we all thought he would do and he did last year. So, that's a challenge for him. … Beno is our point guard, but we are having to play other guys out of position and that's not a good thing for us."

For what it's worth, I thought Beno played fine in his first stint -- no bad play sticks out. (I'll go back and watch again to see what I missed.) But Natt pulled Beno at the same time he pulled Francisco Garcia, who picked up three fouls in a couple minutes. Here's what Beno is saying about it:

"It's really hard to say," said Udrih, who signed a five-year deal with the Kings during the summer. "His eyes see it that way and my eyes see it this way. So, I guess we will have to discuss that. I can't really talk about it. I just see different stuff on how our plays go through."

I don't mean to overblow the stakes here, but what happens between Beno and Natt the rest of the season could be the difference in Udrih becoming a helpful, reliable point guard or becoming wasted salary. If Udrih embraces Natt's tough love, he can be acceptable or better in a Kings uniform. If not, the current coach will shove him aside for a Bobby, and a future coach might not have much use for him.

I'd be lying if I said I'm not prejudging the battle based on Beno's history with tough-lovin' Gregg Popovich. Also, I wouldn't think the same way I do if Jerry Sloan hadn't taken this philosophy to impossible success and if Natt hadn't been at Sloan's side for a good portion of said success.