Kings (10-14, 2-10 road, 11th West) @ Bucks (10-14, 8-2 home, 9th East)
Bucks Stats: Offense 18th (101.3 pts/100 poss), Defense 27th (106.3), Rebounding 10th (.509 rr), Pace 21st (92.8)
Kings Stats: Offense 17th (101.6 pts/100 poss), Defense 24th (105.4), Rebounding 24th (.488 rr), Pace 11th (95.7)
Bucks Injuries: Charlie Villanueva left practice on Tuesday with an ankle injury. Michael Ruffin is out another week or so with a fractured wrist. David Noel is out at least a month with a wrist sprain.
Kings Injuries: Kevin Martin is out the rest of the month with a groin injury. Shareef Abdur-Rahim is out for the season with a knee injury. Mike Bibby has been out all season with a torn ligament in his left thumb.
07/08 Series: Kings 1-0. The Kings came from behind to edge the Bucks 96-93 at ARCO. John Salmons had 22 and five assists for the Kings, while Brad Miller chipped in 17/10. Mike Redd led the Bucks with 22 but shot just 8/19 from the field, as Salmons did a nice job defending him. Ron Artest started slowly but finished with 11 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four blocks.
- The Bucks will once again catch the Kings without star guards Kevin Martin and Mike Bibby, only this time they get them at the BC. Both teams have been much better at home, the Kings coming into the game 2-10 on the road while the Bucks are 8-2 at home.
- That said, the Kings are coming off a 106-101 road win in New Jersey last night, improving to 2-2 on their current road trip (they also won in Philly). John Salmons had 31, Brad Miller 23/10, Ron Artest 20 and 'Cisco Garcia came off the bench for 24. The Kings shot a scorching 62% from distance (13/21), so the Bucks will have to hope they left their jump shots in the swamps of Jersey. On paper this is a game the Bucks should win: a weak road team, plenty of injuries, and flying in on the second night of a back-to-back. No excuses.
Ian Thomsen at SI.com has a very interesting read on Artest, including this bit cited today at TrueHoop:
"When Theus calls the play and it isn't for Artest, he's so reluctant to let them get into a play he's not involved with,'' said an NBA advance scout who has been studying Artest recently. "He'll be running down the floor and he should go through to the opposite corner, but instead he'll turn and post up. He might be open and he definitely is good enough that he can be effective in a quick post-up, but that's not the play. I can't tell you how many times that happened.
"He is playing like a very selfish player right now,'' the scout continued. "Maybe he doesn't like the team, or he doesn't think the team is good and so he has to put up numbers to make up for it. I knew he was a time bomb in the past, but I always respected his game. But he has gone down a notch or two because of the selfish attitude.''
- Bogut had been suddenly quiet on both ends recently, but he at least turned up the defensive intensity a bit against the Cavs. Of course, Big Z still knocked down a slew of jumpers over him, but Drew was at least protecting the rim again. Still, his offense has been quiet of late and the Bucks simply don't have the weapons to rely on their backcourt every night. Of course it goes both ways--the guards would be well-served to keep guys like Bogut and Yi involved.
- Yi has shot 25/39 from the field and 12/12 from the line over the last four games, averaging 14.8 ppg and 6.3 rpg in that span. He's been scoring the vast majority of his points early in games however, and while part of that is likely opponents adjusting during the game, the Bucks will need to put an emphasis on looking for Yi in the second half.
- Redd has tied his career-high with nine assists three times in the last week. His recent helper binge is similar to Bogut's early season block party; if they can get those things working at the same time they'll be on to something.
- The Bucks will continue to struggle for points so long as the bench struggles, an all-too-common theme of late. Bobby Simmons has been held scoreless in 29 combined minutes over the past two games and is just 5/22 from the field in four games since returning from his personal absence. And after showing some much-needed signs of life, Charlie Bell is 4/18 in his last three games and has missed his last seven triples.
- On a positive note, Charlie Villanueva worked hard in Cleveland and finished with 13/9 in 23 minutes, while Jake Voskuhl had a season-high 10 and has catapulted past Dan Gadzuric in the big man pecking order. Meanwhile, don't forget Desmond Mason, who had one of his best games of the season in Cleveland, working tirelessly to defend LBJ while scoring 15 (7/12 fg) and hauling down a season-high 11 rebounds.
- As always, Tom Ziller at Sactown Royalty is your source for all things Kings.