Sports

NBA: Front line struggles

SALT LAKE CITY -- Brad Miller and Mike Bibby spent much of Monday evening in the immediate vicinity of each other, wearing brown-toned blazers on the bench when they would have rather donned purple jerseys.

The center was sidelined for a game because of a right quadriceps contusion, the point guard remained out with his left thumb ailment, and forward Ron Artest was somewhere in the area serving the final game of a seven-game suspension and unable to attend the game at EnergySolutions Arena.

The chances of an upset in Utah without three starters? As slim as one of Kevin Martin's legs.

The Kings began this trip much like their last, struggling to stay within two or three touchdowns and falling to the Jazz 117-93.

Jazz forward Carlos Boozer set the early tone by hitting 7 of 9 shots and scoring 15 of his 32 points in the first quarter. Six Jazz players scored in double figures.

Miller's absence was the last thing the Kings' front line needed, if only because an extra 7-footer is always welcome. And in the last three games coming in, Miller upped his rebounding to aid a team ranked in the league last on the glass.

Mikki Moore started in his place, scoring five points on 2-of-6 shooting and grabbing nine rebounds in 35 minutes. Kenny Thomas took Moore's power forward spot and was scoreless with five rebounds in 24 minutes.

"I've got no answers," Kings coach Reggie Theus said of the front line's inability to score. "We're a pick-and-pop team with Spencer (Hawes) and Brad. The only post-up guy we have, really, is Ron, and he's not playing. I don't have any answers. We throw it down there, and who knows what's going to happen. It's a mystery."

The Kings trailed by 22 in the second quarter but cut the lead to 83-73 late in the third quarter before Utah was off and running again. Forward John Salmons led the Kings with 22 points, and Martin had 21.

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