SACRAMENTO -- If the roster were fully healthy, they still would be working out the kinks.
But as it stands, the Kings continue to paddle feverishly to stay afloat with Mike Bibby and Ron Artest out.
Of late, there even has been revived talk of playoff aspirations from coach Reggie Theus, and why not?
As the Kings play tonight at Utah, the preseason proclamation (pre-Bibby's thumb injury) of co-owner Gavin Maloof that his team would not be the worst in the league is holding true. Entering Sunday night, seven teams either were winless or had one win.
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Among them were Chicago, Golden State, Washington and Miami, a strong suggestion that some expected playoff participants might not be there in the end this time.
As the Kings went 2-1 on their homestand -- in essence winning the games they should have won while barely falling to Cleveland in the one game so few expected them to pull out -- they might have established a few elements that will be in place for the long term.
Beno Udrih will run the offense. While Theus said Sunday that Francisco Garcia will retain his starting spot, the long-term plan almost certainly will include the recently signed Udrih playing significant minutes even after Bibby returns in approximately two months.
The need is great for the fourth-year player's point guard abilities, with the Kings desperate to find a way to move the ball at a faster pace and create easier shots than the current approach affords.
They rank last in the league in assists per game (14.2). And as it turns out, their seven-assist outing against Cleveland on Friday was a Sacramento-era record low, trumping an eight-assist outing Jan. 23, 2005, and the worst by a Kings team since the Kansas City-Omaha version had seven assists against Chicago on Dec. 20, 1974. The franchise low came Dec. 5, 1967, when the Kings had three assists against Chicago.
"I knew when I was watching on the sideline that they needed a point guard to push the ball ahead," said Udrih, who watched four games after being signed Nov. 1 while his fractured left index finger healed.
"That's all I was trying to do. I didn't even look to forcing shots or anything. ... We didn't have anybody pushing the ball ahead. We were always playing five on five."
Also apparent is Theus' penchant for using a small lineup, which has much to do with the inability of his frontcourt to help a rebounding effort that has the Kings ranked last in the league (36 per game).
There were times when Brad Miller was the lone big man surrounded by Udrih, Garcia, Martin and swingman John Salmons, or other variations of the lineup. That, too, will likely change, perhaps soon as Artest is scheduled to return from his seven-game suspension on Wednesday at Minnesota, and he could very well become the starting power forward.
The current lot of power forwards is unified in frustration.