MIAMI - Maybe the red jerseys were Halloween costumes.
Maybe that wasn't the Heat blasting the Kings on Friday Fright Night, but the Phoenix Suns of the Mike D'Antoni era in new colors. Or maybe the Kings really did just get the South Beach beatdown for the second straight season from a team that's been mostly horrific in recent memory.
Anytime a fan is heckling the coach by asking him if his team will get to 50 points midway through the third quarter, we're talking cover-your-eyes ugly. Such was the case in the 103-77 Heat rout, where coach Reggie Theus did a nice job pretending he didn't hear all the verbal jabs thrown his way from giddy Heat fans.
Theus has plenty to get frustrated with at the moment, as his team's unenviable circumstances have suddenly merged with unexpected truths in the early going. As if the Brad Miller suspension, the Francisco Garcia injury and the Beno Udrih preseason absences didn't put this young bunch even further behind the competitive eight ball, Theus' three returning starters from last season are off to rough starts.
Beno Udrih looks rusty and a few steps slow. Kevin Martin has looked nothing like the scoring machine he was in the preseason. And their lack of production has only exposed the lack of productivity from Mikki Moore all the more.
Yet while the general consensus is that Udrih and Martin will find their games soon enough, it is hard not to notice the glaring difference between Moore and rookie forward Jason Thompson. It is only two games, meaning this point could be moot should Thompson crash and burn badly at Orlando on Saturday night. Still, consider the evidence to this point ...
Thompson: combined 28 points and 17 rebounds in 41 minutes.
Moore: combined 12 points and three rebounds in 39 minutes.
While Theus has been quick to reward Thompson for his play with substantial floor time, he said it's a long ways from a controversy over the starting position.
"Mikki's job is not in jeopardy at all," Theus said before the game. "If (young players) earn their minutes, they will get their minutes. (But) you've got to do something above and beyond to take a veteran's position in the starting lineup."
A few quick notes...
* Theus is concerned with his team's lack of physicality and absence of a dive-to-the-floor mentality. Along those lines, he cited the frustration over officiating early on as something he hopes doesn't become a trend.
"The momentum of the game was all theirs, so you're not going to get any calls," he said. "You have to earn those calls. You have to deserve for the referees to look at some touch fouls around the basket. We didn't play with any force around the basket, so you're not going to get any fouls."
* I have had only limited experiences with Dwyane Wade, but he's always seemed to be a decent guy.
That notion was supported in a subtle pregame moment, when the Miami guard/Olympic champion wished his home staffers on press row well, repeatedly saying "Good luck this year" to the average Joes while offering fist pounds.
* After 2:20 of play, the Kings were on pace for about 80 turnovers for the game. You look at it that way, and 26 wasn't so bad after all.
In all seriousness, I asked Theus to compare these early turnovers (15 against Minnesota and 26 against Miami) to the turnovers of last season that were so often credited to the team's frequent isolation style with Ron Artest still on board.
"I don't have the answer to that," he said. "We're playing a style of basketball now that allows guys to play with body movement, ball movement. I think right now, what we missed today was Brad Miller in the sense that we would have someone to run the offense through and settle us down. ...That experience and ability to settle things."
Moore, who had just two of the team's 26 turnovers and could thereby be dubbed "a big version of Chris Paul" on a relative basis for one night, put the onus of the loss on the starters.
"I don't put this game on anybody else's shoulders but the starters," he said. "We had to come out and lead by example and we didn't tonight."
* Scouts are hardworking folks, and they don't often get the kudos they deserve.
So when the opponent emphasizes the style of play and how it affected their team's ability to be effective, it's a major pat on the back for the men who work mostly in anonymity. To that end, the Miami advance scout (who I don't know personally) would surely love Moore's assessment of Miami's method.
"I believe they (the Heat) scouted us very well," he said. "They knew exactly what we were looking for on offense."
* The push for more ball movement this season received a mini-pushback from Moore, who credited the Kings' extra-generous ways with some of their offensive struggles.
"When we were trying to pass the ball to the right guy it hurt us more than helped us," Moore said. "We were just looking for the extra pass and we should have put the ball up."
The Kings had just 10 assists, with seven after three quarters when they trailed 78-47.
* The league recently installed instant replay, and the Kings had their first experience with it at halftime.
Daequan Cook hit a three-pointer with 1:38 left, and the officials waited until the half to review it. The call stood, and the procedure seemed to work fine in terms of the league's stated goal of not allowing reviews to affect the flow of the game.
* Rookies Bobby Brown and Donte' Greene made their official NBA debuts, but Brown had much more of a chance to possibly earn a few more minutes.
After subbing in just after Theus told him, "Push the ball (and) be smart," he hit two of five shots and had one assist and two turnovers in his 13 late minutes. Greene is still in search of his first NBA bucket, as he missed both of his shots.
* Third-year guard Quincy Douby showed a few signs of life late, too, scoring 10 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter. - Sam Amick