"No mas! No mas!"
Holy crap. Where to start? OK, for one, I don't know if you have heard this, but the Nets have not won a game since, like, April. 0-15. Zero wins, fifteen freaking losses. No team is really that bad, though I remember the awful 1998-99 Clippers, the team that got it's first win against the Kings in Game No. 18 of a 50-game season. That team was this bad. The Nets, though, aren't. Injury has played such a massive role in this bad start. Everyone has that excuse -- even the Lakers and Cavs and Magic and Mavericks have dealt with missing players. But for the Nets, it has been exceptionally rough. Devin Harris is the motor of the team, and he just came back. (Tonight will be his first start since October.) Courtney Lee missed lots of time. Yi Jianlian -- I have no idea what's gone on with him. Chris Douglas-Roberts had the swine flu! Brook Lopez and Terrence Williams are the only two good players on that team that have been in action throughout, and one of them is an apositional rookie. ROUGH.
As I said, Harris is back, as is Lee. Harris-Lopez might be the best young inside-out combination in the league, with the possible exception of Roy-Oden, Rose-Noah and Gordon-Griffin. (We'll see on that last one, as well as Evans-Thompson or Evans-Hawes.) Harris should have some rust, I'd think, but adrenaline might counteract those limitations, and I wouldn't be surprised if he plays as hard as he ever has. If a well (hopefully) Beno Udrih is guarding him, let's hope our Slovenian can funnel him into help defense, because Harris is lightning quick and smart with the rock.
Lopez went for 32/14 in Portland. Aack!
THE KEY BATTLE
Lopez vs. Spencer Hawes. Goofy lottery big white dude vs. goofy lottery big white dude. Lopez has certainly started his career off in more bombastic fashion, though obviously Hawes has been no slouch, and these two are effectively the same age. Hawes would do well to pull Lopez away from the rim to open up lanes for the slashers and elbow room for Jason Thompson. On the other end, expect early help, especially if Lopez is going strong in the post.
The crowd at ARCO is going to be really interesting. I mean, can anything good come of this game for Kings fans? I haven't been this nervous about a game since that time I played strip Parcheesi with Keira Knightley and Fran Drescher. Mix in the holiday weekend, the lack of a pre-game buffet and the anonymity of the opponent, and ... hmm.
Lawrence Frank is going to yell at someone. Not necessarily a Net.
Kings by 13.
Game at 7. Game thread at 7. Post-game thread at 9:45. Recap at Boreal.