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Heat @ Kings GAMEDAY

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The Arco Arena, Business & Conference Center.

After a tough couple of games against two top Western Conference clubs, the Heat will look to take out their frustrations against a cellar-dwelling Sacramento Kings team that has lost 4 straight and 10 of their last 12. The Heat will likely welcome back Daequan Cook, who missed his last game recovering from a bad bruise on his left knee. I would also say there is a 50% chance that we may see swingman James Jones for the first time this season.

WHO TO WATCH

Kevin Martin has been in and out of the starting lineup of late, but his production has been solid regardless of his role. He has been on fire his last 3 games, scoring 36.6 points in that span, shooting 53% from the field (and 56% from 3-land). The only negative that I find is that while he comes out strong, he struggles in the 2nd half. In their last game, Martin had the ball in his hands with the team down by 3 in the final seconds. For some reason, unknown by his teammates, Martin drove the lane and took a layup despite the team needing 3 points. He missed the layup anyway, and the team wouldn’t get another chance to tie the game.

Brad Miller had a rough start to the season but has been coming on strong the past couple weeks. He has recorded a double double in 3 of his last 5 games, and is another big guy who can shoot from the outside while being a force in the paint. He will provide another big test for Joel Anthony and Jamal Maglore, who struggled early on but has been playing much better of late…if only he could figure out how to hit those pesky hook shots.

THINGS TO CONSIDER

The Kings have been a team in turmoil this season, and this has not wavered despite their recent coaching change. With ‘starters’ being shuffled in and out of the lineup, the players have also been unhappy with some of the play calling.

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Kings Dancers have been looking for alternative ways of enjoying home games.

John Salmons has been very upset with the coaches over the past week, specifically pointing the finger at the coaches decisions not to get him the ball more. The touches he was getting at the start of the year have been going to Kevin Martin, and Salmons is not pleased with his diminishing role.

The Kings will also be giving rookie Jason Thompson the start at power forward over Mikki Moore tonight. Interim coach Kenny Natt said the decision was made after watching the progress Thompson has made over the past few weeks. The rookie has been playing the 3-guard more then the 4, but regardless he is excited for the opportunity and anxious to bring some energy to the team.


Pts Reb Ast
2008 - Jason Thompson 9.2 6.7 0.9


The Heat will also look to send their opponent to the foul line much less. The 40 attempts by Denver on Wednesday was described by coaches as inexcusable, and the less athletic Kings back-court combined with the return of Daequan Cook should help out a lot against slashing guards.

KEY TO VICTORY

Getting off to a good start is immensely important for the Heat tonight. They have struggled early on in the past few games, and against a team like Sacramento who is having confidence issues, an early lead will be huge. The Heat realize where they have been struggling and know the importance of playing a full 48-minutes. We’ll see what kind of effort they come out with.

IN THE DIVISION


Southeast Standings

W L PCT GB STRK
Orlando 28 8 .777 0 Won 2
Atlanta 22 12 .647 5 Lost 1
Miami 18 16 .529 9 Lost 2
Charlotte 13 23 .361 15 Lost 1
Washington 7 27 .205 20 Lost 2

(updated 1.9.2009 at 12:32 AM EST)



HOT READS

Michael Wallace on Shawn Marion finding his scoring touch.

Wallace also tells us about Miami’s tough traveling time after the game in Denver.

Ira Winderman talks about James Jones possible return to the lineup.

Chris Perkins weighs in on Shawn Marion’s increasing offense.

Sam Amick from the Sacramento Bee talks about Kings starting PG Beno Udrih accepting his diminishing role.

Live Game Thread tonight at 10. See you there!