Taken from the Sacbee.com
"If the Kings could do this every night, they might just be all right.
Before, during, and after the latest loss, fans received gifts -- televisions, navigational systems, DVD players -- as part of "Winter Whiteout" night. The Kings fans who have grown so tired of watching losing basketball -- and Thursday night's 126-119 loss to Washington made it nine losses in the past 11 games -- stayed until the end with good cheer, clapping their team-issued ThunderStix and forgetting how bad their team's plight has become.
There was much more to the latest loss than the box score, although for much of the first half, it looked as if a stat sheet might actually be in the Kings' favor by the end of the affair. They jumped out to a first-quarter lead just like coach Eric Musselman had so often talked about, up 31-24 when all things seemingly extinct -- ball movement, Brad Miller jumpers and an ultra-explosive Kevin Martin -- returned.
After leading 59-53 at halftime, however, a disastrous third quarter put the Kings back in the same spin cycle as before. The Wizards posted a 44-point quarter on the efforts of Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler (31 combined points in the period), and Washington led for good.
But all of it took place without Ron Artest on the bench, as the small forward informed the team approximately 30 minutes before tipoff that he would not be able to play. The injury cited was sore knees, a variation from the back injury that plagued Artest before and a mysterious development. To this point, there had been no word of a knee problem for Artest.
TNT's Craig Sager said in the postgame news conference that he asked the Kings' training staff before the game about Artest's knees, and was told they were not aware of knee problems and that Artest had not complained about them.
"Again, I think you've got to ask Ron and the medical people," Musselman said. "I don't know what else to say."
Artest did, in fact, address the media afterward, a rare occurrence for someone who didn't play because of injury. And before the pack of reporters got to him, he was asked if the knees truly were bothering him.
"Whatever they told you, that's what it is," he said. Once the masses arrived, he proceeded to give a detailed account of soreness that he said is in both knees and has "gone on a couple weeks now." Artest said he had "complained in practice a couple of times about my knees being sore."
Artest did not watch any of the game from the floor, and he said he was in the training room, icing his knees and "laying on the couch." Earlier in the day, he was at the morning shootaround, even taking shots after practice. He shot before the game, too, looking like his normal self before informing Musselman that he could not play. Because the word came so late, Musselman did not have time to activate reserve big man Maurice Taylor.
"As soon as I got done with the TNT people (in an interview), (trainer) Pete (Youngman) came in," Musselman said. "About 6:30. No, excuse me, about 7. No, it's not a lot of time to adjust. I feel for Mo Taylor."
Asked if he would play tonight against Denver, Artest said, "Probably not, probably not. I'll probably just rest."
A Kings spokesman said he was not sure if Artest would travel with the team to Denver.
"Things happen, so you just deal with it," Kings forward Corliss Williamson said. "We had a game plan, and when things like that happen at the last minute, you have to make a lot of adjustments."
Said Kings forward Kenny Thomas: "I don't want to say something I'll regret."
Martin -- returning from a one-game absence because of a sprained right ankle -- gave a valiant effort in adjusting, scoring a career-high 40 points and hitting 13 of 23 shots. Swingman John Salmons tied his career high with 23 points, but Washington's Jamison (33 points), Butler (23 points) and Gilbert Arenas (30 points) were too much to counter."