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Kings still can't close December, 7, 2010 DEC 7 3:30 AM ET EmailPrintComments By J.A....

Kings still can't close December, 7, 2010 DEC 7 3:30 AM ET EmailPrintComments By J.A. Adande Archive Welcome to the bottom of the NBA. The view from here is straight up, like trying to see the top of the Empire State Building from West 33rd Street. If the next level up is the Los Angeles Clippers, what does that make the Sacramento Kings? After the Clippers beat them, 98-91, Monday night, the Kings have the fewest victories in the NBA. Four. Even that number looks large compared to their chances of making the postseason according to John Hollinger’s playoff odds calculator: 0.0 The Kings lost this game the same way the Clippers usually lose: fighting back from a big deficit, only to throw the game away in the final minutes. They lost it for the same reason the Clippers usually lose: they’re young. When the starting lineups went out for the opening tip, the Kings’ Beno Udrih was the only player on the court with more than two years of NBA experience. For the Clippers, Baron Davis has been relegated to a reserve role because of injuries, and he tweaked his left hamstring again Monday night. Chris Kaman is out again with a sprained left ankle, and Brian Cook was suspended for his flagrant two foul in Sunday night’s rugged game in Portland (which the Clippers, of course, lost). So much for the veterans. Samuel Dalembert is the most experienced (and most expensive) player on the Kings’ roster, but he didn’t start at center. Rookie DeMarcus Cousins did, and he bumped Blake Griffin around enough to keep him at 13 points and 11 rebounds, which are subpar numbers for the super-rookie. But Cousins missed four of his six shots in the fourth quarter and he called the missed layup that preceded a go-ahead three-pointer by the Clippers’ Eric Gordon "the play of the game." "It gave them a big momentum swing," Cousins said. "I’m taking the blame. "I know I’m supposed to move on to the next play, but I really believe that was the play of the game, and I messed up." Cousins needs to stop lingering on the bad things. The rookie still turns his attention to the officials when he doesn’t get the calls he’s looking for (which is frequently), even missing most of a hastily assembled huddle by Francisco Garcia because he was still jawing at an official. "He still lets himself get distracted sometimes," Kings coach Paul Westphal said. "He gets hit in the mouth, he deosn’t get the call…you can’t really blame him, but you can’t do that." Westphal also saw Cousin's agility in the low post, the long arms that could deflect rebounds away from Griffin, and said Cousins has "a chance to be a big-time player in this league." That’s not going to happen until Cousins matures. Until then, the Kings are devoid of leadership. Tyreke Evans, the 2009-10 rookie of the year, is still wavering between scorer and distributor. He opted to go to the basket himself Monday, and it worked when he scored nine points in the first quarter. But he scored only seven on 2-for-12 field goals in the second half, when Pooh Jeter, the undrafted 5-foot-11 free agent from the D-League and Europe, sparked Sacramento’s comeback from a 17-point deficit. But Jeter, Cousins, Evans or Omri Casspi couldn’t come up with the shot when it mattered most. Or couldn’t maintain possession or grab the loose ball. "Down the stretch we couldn’t make the plays," Westphal said. "We go home disappointed again." Then they went downstairs to the basement

TrueHoop Blog - ESPN
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