Kings (10-31) at Nuggets (27-15)
Scoring: Kings 14th (98.6), Nuggets fifth (104).
Shooting: Kings tied for 20th (44.6 percent), Nuggets sixth (47).
Scoring defense: Kings 29th (107.4), Nuggets 21st (101).
Shooting defense: Kings 27th (47.5 percent), Nuggets tied for fourth (44.4).
Rebound differential: Kings 28th (minus-3.3), Nuggets 15th (plus-0.2).
The links: Nuggets coverage in the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News.
The almanac: On this date in 1892, the first official basketball game took place at the YMCA gymnasium in Springfield, Mass., with nine-man teams, a soccer ball and peach baskets nailed 10 feet above the floor on a balcony. On this date in 1952, George Mikan of the Minneapolis Lakers scored 61 points in a double-overtime victory over the Rochester Royals, a career high for the first superstar. On this date in 1970, Tom Van Arsdale of the Cincinnati Royals and Dick Van Arsdale of the Suns became the first brothers in the same All-Star Game. Dick scored eight points for the West, Tom five for the East in Philadelphia. On this date in 1999, the first regular-season work stoppage in league history ended as the NBA and the player's union signed a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
The 20-62 is important because it would surpass the fewest wins in franchise history, set by the Cincinnati Royals in 1958-59 (19-53 in a 72-game slate) and 1959-60 (19-56 in a 75-game schedule).
That's what the Kings are facing. Forever, and forever has the ball and fouls to give.
The 2008-09 club has made it halfway across this swamp -- 41 down, 41 to go -- at 10-31. That puts it on pace for the 20-62, which looks real bad compared to the rest of the Sacramento era but at least puts them ahead of all that transpired in the lives of Rochester, Cincinnati, Kansas City and Omaha. This is the season you take the good news where you can get it.
That 20-62 is in pencil because what happens between now and the trade deadline is a guessing game. Obviously this roster could stay together and come together and string together some mad second-half run that will allow the Kings to dare to dream about 30. Such lofty hopes. But there's just as good a chance they will do a deal by Feb. 19 that would mean a roster hit in hopes of a big return in the future.
So the big two-oh is no sure thing. Worse for those living through it and paying for the privilege, the Kings will need a decent run pretty soon or else 24-58 becomes a long shot. That's right. Pervis Ellison, Ralph Sampson and Bill Russell may be able to laugh at this group.
The path the rest of the way:
- Forty-one games against 24 opponents with a combined winning percentage of .490.
- Thirteen opponents with losing records, 11 with winning marks.
- Twenty-one road games, 20 home.
- Three trips longer than two games. (Milwaukee-Toronto-Cleveland-Boston at the end of the month, Oklahoma City-Dallas-Houston the second week of February, Washington-Atlanta-Charlotte-New York in mid-March.)
- Nine back-to-backs.
This could be a close one. It won't be boring, what with the Kings still having something to play for. It won't be quiet among the fan base, either.