Ailene Voisin, sports columnist
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    Hector Amezcua Lakers center Dwight Howard (12) didn't have much reason to smile. He took just four shots against the Kings.

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    Hector Amezcua Sacramento's Tyreke Evans drives against Chris Duhon. Evans had 18 points and a team-high six assists.

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    Hector Amezcua Jason Thompson, who had 13 points and 10 rebounds, celebrates a basket with his teammates. Thompson played 40 minutes, nine more than any other Kings player.

  • Ailene Voisin

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Ailene Voisin: Kings could learn a lot from Lakers' blueprint

Published: Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013 - 11:06 am

The Kings' front office types probably don't want to talk about this today. Nah. I'm sure they don't. NBA egos are immensely proportioned, particularly when a surprising, energetic, uplifting performance wakes up the crowd a few hours earlier at Sleep Train Arena.

So what I'm suggesting is that, sometime in the next few days, when the afterglow of Wednesday's victory over the Lakers rubs off, it would be wise to knock on the door of our Southern California neighbors, ask to borrow a carton of milk, and then beg Mitch Kupchak and Jerry Buss and Jim Buss and Every Other Buss to allow a peek at the books.

Just a quick peek at the blueprint. Just for today.

Kings fans would be soooooo thankful.

Maybe there's an answer to be gleaned among all that historic data, valuable nuggets of information that would enlighten and explain how the Lakers can be as dysfunctional, outrageous and controversial as any large family of American millionaires, and still be so darn successful.

Household dymamics? Half of the siblings aren't on speaking terms half of the time. The other half of the time, they're arguing about hiring Phil Jackson, or firing Phil Jackson, or hiring Phil Jackson again, or as happened only last week, firing Mike Brown, not hiring Phil Jackson, and instead introducing Mike D'Antoni.

Finances? Yes, the owners are filthy rich, which gives them an enormous advantage in enticing and signing high-end free agents. But the same is true for the New York Knicks, who continue to pay exorbitant luxury tax fees and haven't owned the trophy since 1973. The small-market San Antonio Spurs, by contrast, are not nearly as financially flush, yet have won four championships and retooled brilliantly throughout the David Robinson/Tim Duncan/Gregg Popovich eras.

Style? The Lakers almost always have style, which is the biggest reason Brown was dumped after one season and five games. As much as the Busses love their rings, they miss their "Showtime," and Jackson's triangle just wasn't flashy enough, apparently.

"The players have been reborn," Lakers commentator and former center Mychal Thompson said earlier Wednesday. "This is the way basketball is meant to be played. Running up and down, using your athletic skills, not walking up court and looking over your shoulder to see what the play is every time. But the last 15, 20 years, coaches have taken control and slowed the game down. Under Mike (D'Antoni), the Lakers will be gazelles, not Clydesdales. They'll respond."

We've seen this act before. We've seen this act often, actually. Magic Johnson throws a fit, gets Paul Westhead fired, and Pat Riley guides the Lakers to four titles. Jackson ends a post-Riley dry spell with three rings, gets canned and spends a year touring the world, then comes back and wins twice more.

Once, not long ago, the Kings even threatened to steal the stage and share a ZIP code – and we don't mean that Anaheim-L.A. relocation stuff.

These teams tangled in an amazing Western Conference finals in 2002, a gripping series that featured Robert Horry's crushing shot, Mike Bibby's last-second jumper, Kobe Bryant's mysterious stomach ailment, the Kings' meltdown in Game 7 and the officiating breakdowns in Game 6.

But then the Lakers went one way (up), and the Kings went down another freeway. The Lakers kept adding titles, and when they didn't win, they made changes and kept things interesting. Big changes, bold changes, costly changes, controversial changes.

Some changes backfired. Their beloved Magic as a head coach? Huh?

No, for Kings fans, it makes perfect sense to loathe the Lakers. But there also is much to be learned. The Lakers will get it together, embrace D'Antoni's unconventional and frenetic style, compete for a championship and perhaps two or three … or they won't.

And if they don't? If this becomes one dramatic mess? They will do what they do. They will admit their mistakes and move on. They aren't afraid. At the very least, they are always interesting.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Ailene Voisin

Ailene Voisin, sports columnist

Ailene Voisin

Ailene Voisin was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. She earned a bachelor's degree in political science from UNLV and a law degree from the University of San Diego before committing full time to journalism.

Her career includes stops at the San Diego Union, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and time spent as the backup beat writer for Dodgers and Angels, Clippers and NBA beat writer, sports columnist, along with numerous assignments covering international events and the Olympics. Ailene joined The Sacramento Bee in 1997.

Phone: 916-321-1208
Twitter: @ailene_voisin

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