News » Wounded Kings are dangerous Rockets know club with injuries can compensate


Wounded Kings are dangerous Rockets know club with injuries can compensate


Wounded Kings are dangerous Rockets know club with injuries can compensate The news that the Sacramento Kings, tonight's opponent, have won three consecutive games despite missing leading scorer Kevin Martin and key reserve Francisco Garcia didn't startle Rockets forward Shane Battier.

He's seen this.

"When you lose very good players, and they lost two of their best, a team can have two reactions," Battier said. "They can say, ?The stars are aligned against us, it's not our year' and they can give in, or they can say, ?You know what? We still have good players, we have to play more as a team, play harder, play smarter and raise our level collectively.'

"That's what we've done the last couple of years, and that's what I sense the Kings have done."

At various times over the last couple of seasons and all of this season, the Rockets weren't expected to remain competitive minus Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming. But an NBA team's schedule isn't changed due to injuries, forward/center Chuck Hayes said.

"We still have to play the game," he said. "It just means other people have to step up. People can think what they want, but they're just oblivious - they just look at stats.

"We're 5-3, averaging almost 100 points per game. We're doing fine. We're good."

The same might be said for tonight's foe. The Kings have been without Garcia, out since Oct. 10 after surgery to fix a broken right forearm. But they've only recently been missing Martin, who had surgery to repair a hairline fracture of a bone in his left wrist Monday.

Nevertheless, Sacramento has thrived, scoring more than 100 points in each of the past four games, all without Martin. In the first games of the season - all with Martin, all on the road and all losses - the Kings averaged 91.7.

Balanced scoring

In the past four games, in which Sacramento is 3-1, the club has been paced by four players - rookie guard Tyreke Evans at 22.5 points, second-year forward Jason Thompson at 18.5, forward Andres Nocioni at 13.5 and point guard Beno Udrih at 12.8 - scoring in double figures. Another, center Spencer Hawes, isn't far behind at 8.8.

"You move the ball a little more because you don't have that one guy you can focus on getting the ball to, so some teams actually play a little bit better in some circumstances without their star players," Rockets point guard Aaron Brooks said. "Everybody has to pick up their game when somebody is out. It makes you play harder, and it makes you play together."

That's what's happening in Sacramento, where the recent talk is about learning how to finish off the opposition.

Compete, then win

"First you have to learn to compete, and then you have to learn how to win," Kings coach Paul Westphal told the Sacramento Bee.

The Rockets have demonstrated their proficiency in both this season. And because they've gone through what the Kings are living, there won't be any fear of sleeping in Sacramento.

"In this league, you don't overlook anybody," Brooks said. "Everybody can play Basketball, and everybody has proven they can play. You can't overlook anybody or you'll get beat."

And if they did, the Rockets would be guilty of precisely what their detractors have been attributing their success to - that teams aren't taking them seriously.

Hayes shook his head.

"Whoever is out there, whatever lineup they have out there - that's who you play against," Hayes said. "You don't disrespect another team because the star power isn't there because you can still lose. At the end of the day, we're all professionals."

Indeed. It's remarkable, but the Kings (4-4) are at .500 for the first time since Dec. 4, 2006.

No one expected this, especially with the team missing Martin and Garcia.

The final word, as usual, was provided by Battier, speaking from experience.

"You never know how a team is going to react to adversity," he said.

jeffrey.martin@chron.com


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Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 14, 2009

 

 
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