Kings can't match up to small-ball
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- If the NBA is trending toward smaller lineups and fast-paced basketball, the Sacramento Kings may simply not match up.
The Kings never had the lead Tuesday night as the Suns simply ran by Sacramento 125-102. The offensive assault started early for Phoenix, which rang up 41 first-quarter points and finished with 32 assists, including Steve Nash's NBA season-high of 20.
In a similar loss to uptempo Golden State -- another team that likes to play without a true center -- the Kings allowed 40 first-quarter points and trailed wire-to-wire in the 117-105 loss.
As in the Phoenix loss, a point guard did most of the damage. Baron Davis had 36 points and 18 assists for the Warriors.
Hoping to match the Suns' quickness and speed, Kings coach Eric Musselman went to a smaller lineup, starting Ronnie Price in place of Shareef Abdur-Rahim, and making Kenny Thomas the designated center.
"We went small, but their quickness was still too much for us," Musselman said. "We felt Golden State was quicker than us and more athletic, so we wanted to try something different against Phoenix."
It's back to the drawing board for the Kings, who had better come up with a solution fast. The Kings travel to Golden State on Tuesday, and the Suns visit Arco Arena four days later.
Sacramento allowed a season-high 125 points against the Suns, who had numerous fast-break layups and many wide-open 3-point attempts. With Nash finding the open man in transition, Phoenix shot 49 percent and connected on 14 3-pointers.
"They are a very explosive basketball team," Kings assistant coach Mark Hughes said. "Nash really pushes the ball, they run, and he finds them."
^TAYLOR AWAITS HIS TURN:@ Maurice Taylor's five-game suspension for violating the NBA's anti-drug program definitely won't help his chances of getting more playing time in Sacramento.
Taylor has been suspended twice previously for substance abuse violations. According to terms of the collective bargaining agreement, a player receives a five-game suspension for a third positive test for marijuana.
He missed the first five games of the 2002-03 season, then served a six-game penalty during the '03-'04 season.
Taylor joined the Kings after he was waived by the New York Knicks during the preseason. The suspension begins with Thursday night's game against Miami.
Taylor says he is remaining patient, but playing the wait-and-see game is all new stuff for the nine-year veteran who has rarely left the bench this season for the Kings.
Taylor was not on the roster in Tuesday night's loss in Phoenix. Not that it seems to matter if Taylor is in uniform or not; he rarely gets on the court. He has played 27 minutes in four games, and his statistics suggest he doesn't warrant more court time.
He has gone scoreless on 0-for-8 shooting and has four rebounds. Signed as a free agent in early October just prior to the start of camp, Taylor admittedly came to the Kings out of shape and was not ready for the backup center role that seemed to be awaiting him.
"I was in limbo all summer, so when I came to camp I wasn't in shape," said Taylor, who had two technical fouls and was ejected in the season opener. "Being out of shape didn't help me. I'm just trying to stay positive now and work on my game. I am playing well in practice. I don't think I've lost anything. I can still play."
What Taylor has lost is something he may have taken for granted through his first eight seasons: playing time. Last year with New York, his 18 minutes per game were the fewest of his career. He averaged 6.3 points and 3.4 rebounds.
^BIBBY, MILLER CAN'T FIND THE RANGE:@ Counted on as key contributors offensively this season, both Mike Bibby and Brad Miller are shooting well below their career averages thus far.
Bothered by a sore wrist, Bibby has struggled from the start. A career 45-percent shooter, he is shooting 36 percent this year and has been awful from 3-point territory (23 of 89).
Bothered by a partially torn plantar fascia on his left foot, Miller missed eight games, and his perimeter game has yet to surface since his return last week. He is shooting 31 percent and has missed 9 of 10 3-pointers.
^NOTES:@ Corliss Williamson turned 33 on Tuesday, starting a month of birthdays for the Kings. Abdur-Rahim will be 30 on Dec. 11, John Salmons reaches 27 a day later and Francisco Garcia becomes 26 on Dec. 31. ... Forgotten center Vitaly Potapenko played his first game of the season against the Suns, missing two shots in two minutes. ... The Kings finish a five-game stretch in seven days with a home game Thursday against defending NBA champion Miami. ... Seldom-used Jason Hart had eight points and four assists in 21 minutes against the Suns.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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