Updated: January 21, 2010, 10:46 AM ET

1. Can Evans And Martin Work Well Together?

By John Hollinger

ATLANTA -- The Hawks beat the Kings 108-97 Wednesday. That's barely news -- the Hawks were big favorites coming in.

What made this game interesting was the continuing evolution of Sacramento's Tyreke Evans-Kevin Martin backcourt. The two had one of their best games as a tandem, combining for 47 points and 10 assists to keep the Kings in the game. The only reason they lost, in fact, was because Atlanta's frontcourt so thoroughly outplayed Sacramento's.

Nonetheless, Sacramento did lose, marking its fourth straight setback since Martin came off the injured list and rejoined the club. The Kings now are 1-8 when Martin plays and 14-18 when he doesn't.

Nobody thinks this is because Martin is terrible. Some wonder whether it's because he and Evans have trouble sharing the same stage. Martin is a shooting guard, and although Evans has seen extended duty at the point, in the eyes of many, he's better as a 2 as well.

Additionally, three other points make the marriage between the two even more interesting: (1) the Kings have been losing money hand over fist, (2) Martin makes $36 million over the next three years, and (3) although Sacramento is improved, the club clearly is rebuilding.

Naturally, this state of affairs has set trade rumor-mongers into overdrive wondering whether the Kings might be willing to jettison Martin, 26, to get more favorable contracts and perhaps a young frontcourt player.

Yet it appears that day, if it's to come, is still a long ways away. For starters, the Kings lack a great incentive to rush into anything before the trade deadline. Martin and Evans have played only nine games as a tandem, and the Kings would like to get a much longer look at the duo before rushing into any landscape-shifting moves. Second, Sacramento is enjoying its first small taste of success after an awful 2008-09 campaign and is hesitant to make any moves that would upset its momentum.

But mostly, the Kings don't seem anxious to do anything because both the players and the organization think the pairing can work.

"Kevin isn't himself yet," Kings coach Paul Westphal said. "He just needs his timing to get a little better and get some of the rust off, and it's going to be a really tough backcourt to deal with."

Both players recognize that they're going to have to make changes in their games to make the partnership flourish.

"I don't have a mind frame to go out there and score 30 anymore," said Martin, who seemed notably more active defensively after basically being a one-man offense last season. "[I'm] just trying to do other things, have more assists and get other teammates involved. While I was out, guys developed, and they're good players. I show my respect by getting them involved, and [I'll] attack when it's there."

Martin at least cleared one hurdle Wednesday that might embolden him to attack the rim a bit more in the future. He landed hard on his left wrist -- the same one that cost him 32 games with a hairline fracture and subsequent surgery -- after Atlanta's Maurice Evans crushed him in midair on a breakaway. He got up without further harm, however, and while he spent the next two trips rubbing the wrist, there appeared to be no long-term ramifications.

"I think I needed that fall," Martin said. "That was a pretty hard fall, and it didn't come loose or anything."

As for Evans, he knows he has to use his penetration to set up Martin on the perimeter, where he can use his funky, left-leaning release to launch his deadly 3-pointers.

"It's going to take a little while," Evans said. "I have to get better at finding him, see where he likes to take shots [and] run a few more plays for him."

If Evans succeeds, he and Martin will form a deadly combination. Evans is the runaway favorite for the rookie of the year award and showed why Wednesday, proving to be basically unguardable off the dribble against a series of Hawks defenders. He sliced and diced his way through the paint so effectively that the Kings scored a whopping 66 points there. It's no coincidence that Atlanta pulled away only when Evans went to the locker room after banging his knee early in the third quarter.

Should Evans combine his nose for the bucket with an augmented ability to find Martin -- who is shooting better than 40 percent on 3-pointers for a third straight season -- the Kings will have the unstoppable inside-outside scoring combo of their dreams.

That depends on Evans adjusting well to the point, something that's an ongoing topic of debate. At 6-foot-6, he might be better suited to playing shooting guard, but Martin is a pure 2 and so the pairing works only if Evans plays the point full time.

"I can play both positions," Evans said, refusing your correspondent's offer to typecast himself as a 1 or a 2. "If you put me in at the 2, I can do the job, [and] if you can put me in at the 1, I can do the job."

Of course, all this is moot if the Kings don't get some more resistance from their beleaguered frontcourt. Westphal didn't seem terribly concerned about how his backcourt was meshing, preferring to focus on the beating the Hawks handed Sacramento in the paint. Jon Brockman got the start at center ahead of the disappointing Spencer Hawes, but the Kings' intensity slackened after Brockman quickly picked up two fouls.

"Their bigs dominated the paint," Westphal said. "In general, we need to get tougher for the whole game. That's what concerns me right now; I'm not concerned about those [two] guys."

Everyone else is focused on the Kings' backcourt duo, particularly vulturous execs of the other 29 teams who wonder whether they might be able to pry Martin free. While the answer today would be a stern no, the response might become considerably less emphatic if the Martin-Evans combo can't produce a few more victories between now and the trade deadline.

John Hollinger writes for ESPN Insider. To e-mail him, click here.

Dimes past: Jan. 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 8-9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15-16 | 17 | 18 | 19

2. Dalembert Returns From Haiti

Henry Abbott
TrueHoop Network

The game between the Sixers and the Blazers started at 7 p.m.

"I'd say he was running in here at about 6:40," says Sixers P.R. man Michael Preston.

Samuel Dalembert, starting center and -- post-earthquake -- Haiti's celebrity spokesperson, advocate and benefactor, was screaming back into town after a harried visit to his distressed home country.

The Sixers lost to the Timberwolves in overtime late Monday night. After the game, Dalembert left the team and made his way to Port-au-Prince with Project Medishare. It was a struggle to get back to Philadelphia in time for tonight's game, but that was nothing compared to the challenges he found in Haiti.

He cries talking about what he found there. For instance children without parents, wandering in desperation.

"I'm doing my best," he says. "I'll take another trip with UNICEF. So we can try to get all those children out there ... you know, we have parents who have been trying to adopt for two or three years."

At this point, tears are streaming down Dalembert's face. "You know and ... that's frustrating me ... you're asking people to help. And kids have parents over there who want to adopt them. I've got a hundred parents, and you have a bunch of guys sitting down with the freaking papers. All it takes is one hour to go over everything, you know what I'm saying?"

To read the entire TrueHoop blog entry, click here.

3. Daily Dime Live Recap

ESPN.com writers and TrueHoop Network bloggers chatted with fans and gave their in-game opinions throughout Wednesday night's games -- all in Daily Dime Live.

4. Another Big Rebounding Night For Camby

Elias Sports Bureau

Marcus Camby had 25 rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocked shots in the Clippers' win over the Bulls. The only other active NBA player who has reached each of those statistical thresholds in a regulation (nonovertime) game is Ben Wallace (Dec. 15, 2006).

More from Elias Sports Bureau


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