Thursday , Nov , 10 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

What’s wrong with the Kings?

By Warren Blatt, Sports Network NBA Editor

(Sports Network) – The Sacramento Kings look like a team that could be in
for a long year if they don’t get their act together.

The Kings, who have made the playoffs seven straight years, have started the
2005-06 campaign by losing four of their first five games. They opened the
season by going 1-2 on a three-game road trip and then returned home only to
lose to the Detroit Pistons, 102-88, at ARCO Arena.

Sacramento fell to a disappointing 1-4 when they were defeated by the
Denver Nuggets, 107-91, at the Pepsi Center in the first of a home-and-
home set between the clubs. The Kings have surrendered more than 90 points
in two of the contests and more than 100 points in three of the games. All
four of their losses have been by double-digits.

Offensively, the Kings look out of sync. Once an offensive machine, Sacramento
is not getting the ball movement and the team play that once made it very hard
to beat in a high-scoring contest.

In the loss to Denver, forward Peja Stojakovic scored a team-high 26 points,
grabbed seven rebounds and dished out two assists in 41 minutes of action. He
made 8-of-18 shots from the field, including six of his 10 attempts from
three-point range.

Brad Miller finished with 16 points and five rebounds for Sacramento against
the Nuggets, while point guard Mike Bibby registered 15 points and five
assists. Shareef Abdur-Rahim, who signed with the Kings as a free agent in the
offseason, posted 15 points, seven boards and seven assists in the loss.

“We didn’t make some shots, and they made some shots, and we also made some
crucial turnovers,” said Abdur-Rahim after the loss to Denver. “A lot of times
we took a lot of long shots and they got a lot of long rebounds along with our
turnovers. And they made a nice run on us when the score was like 85-85 or
87-87.

“We look at our schedule and we’ve played some good teams. We’ve played
legitimate playoff teams. I’m not concerned and I think we’ll get it together.
We’ve got a game Friday and we’ve just got to turn it around. They won the
game at their house, and now we’ve got to win our game.”

The Kings did shoot just 38.3 percent from the field against Denver, which
made 47.7 percent of its attempts from the floor. The Nuggets dominated the
glass, as they outrebounded Sacramento, 56-36.

Marcus Camby led a solid Denver attack with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Carmelo
Anthony netted 18, while Earl Boykins and Eduardo Najera both contributed 15
points. Kenyon Martin and Voshon Lenard each finished with 11 points apiece.

“They (Nuggets) executed more and they just wanted it more,” said Miller. “We
started 1-4 last year and now we just need to start playing like we can. After
a game like this, you’re always anxious to get back and play a game. It just
happens that our next game is against them. We just didn’t finish the game out
and we need to come out and play an entire game. ”

It’s just not clicking for Sacramento right now. Stojakovic, who has averaged
a team-best 19.2 points in the first five games of the season, is shooting
just 41.8 percent from the field. He has drilled 51.6 percent (16-for-31) of
his attempts from three-point range. Stojakovic wanted out of the shadow of
Chris Webber, who was dealt to Philadelphia at last season’s trade deadline.
He needs to take on a more prominent role and has to be more of an all-around
player.

The 28-year-old Abdur-Rahim, who has never played in a playoff game during his
career, is putting up decent statistics, while Bibby and Miller are struggling
big time.

Maybe the Kings are still learning how to play without Webber, who made the
Sacramento offense flow with his excellent passing ability. Bibby, Miller and
Stojakovic need to step up and Abdur-Rahim and Bonzi Wells, who was acquired
in a trade during the offseason, have to start to mesh with their new
teammates.

The chemistry that was once evident in Sacramento’s play is missing. Head
coach Rick Adelman, who has guided the Kings to three Pacific Division titles
during his tenure in Sacramento, has to figure out a winning formula. Adelman
has talent to work with.

A roster that consists of one of the league’s better point guards in Bibby,
Miller, who is a two-time All-Star, Stojakovic and the athletic Abdur-Rahim
should be able to win a lot of games. On paper it looks good. But with
Sacramento’s poor start, there is still one question that needs to be
answered.

What’s wrong with the Kings?

SAC