CHICAGO -- No rest for the leery.
What remains of the Kings ran themselves into the ground a little bit more Saturday with another long, exhausting, nerve-fraying night and another reason to think they should have won, doubting the controversial 94-93 loss to the Chicago Bulls even though they have seen this sort of thing before.
Or at least part of this thing. Some 24 hours after their 22 turnovers were a major cause of defeat in Cleveland, the Kings had 19 more inside the United Center -- including on three of their final six possessions.
What they hadn't seen, but will undoubtedly be replayed many times on the charter flight back to Sacramento after finishing the eastern trip 1-2, was this kind of finish: Ben Wallace, 50.9 percent from the line coming in, getting his only point of the night on a free throw with 3.2 seconds remaining to provide the final margin. And then Brad Miller getting angry.
The Kings went to Miller for the last-second shot for the win, or at least his own trip to the line and a potential overtime. Going for real heroics in a game in which he had already totaled 22 points, 13 rebounds and six assists, Miller had his 16-footer blocked by Wallace, then collected the loose ball in hopes of squeezing off a final shot.
Chicago's Chris Duhon made contact, but referees made no call. The game ended with Miller furious, first at Sean Wright, the official closest to him, and then at anyone he could find, shouting and gesturing while teammates and Kings coaches gently led him off the court.
"A lot of arm," Miller said.
A lot of problems on the boards, too. In another continuation of a season-long problem that also deeply wounded them the night before, the Kings were hurt by the Bulls' 18 offensive rebounds, six by Wallace, as Chicago scored 22 second-chance points.
Fatigue would have been enough of a concern under ordinary circumstances too, with a third game in four nights and a fourth in seven in four different cities, but these were the Kings of 10 healthy players, several of whom would be at the end of the bench and not in the rotation in the preferred Sacramento world.
Pushing the concerns, coach Reggie Theus needed to keep his regulars in Wednesday in New York when a 24-point lead in the third quarter and what should have been a rare night of rest turned into a 10-point difference in the fourth.
That was before most had to really dig deep Friday at Cleveland. Miller, Beno Udrih and John Salmons played 43. Mikki Moore played 38, about 10 more than his season average.
The Kings essentially used seven players and absorbed a frustrating four-point loss Friday while being outscored by 10 in the final period, collapsing across the finish line in second place.
The wave of medical problems had officially become an issue in ways other than missing talent. By tipoff Saturday, with no indication the Kings would use the available roster spot to sign a player for help, any help, they were down to worrying about attrition as much as sweating the Bulls.
"Guys are fighting hard," Theus said of the mounting stamina concerns. "But it's spending a lot of energy the first 40 minutes and then the last eight minutes, you really need to have something coming in and something happening. It's hurt us. It's hurt us a lot."
Finding more pains, Salmons, one of the dependable players, had two fouls before the game was four minutes old and soon came out. He got his third personal just 1:18 into the second quarter and had to stay in, with Theus making two other substitutions before lifting Salmons after a little more than 2½ minutes later.