by Charlie O. Mallonee
NBA fans used to live for the final two minutes of a game. They were rough, tumble and full of exciting action. Now with all of the stoppages for replay reviews, the excitement of the final 120 seconds has been all but lost.
On Friday night at the Golden 1 Center, the sellout crowd (17,608) were treated to an “old fashion” nail biting two minute finish in the game between the Phoenix Suns and the Sacramento Kings.
The excitement began with 2:32 remaining in the game when DeMarcus Cousins broke a 98-all tie with a step-back 3-point basket from the right corner off an assist from Matt Barnes. The Suns missed a jump on their possession. The Kings grabbed the rebound and called a timeout with 2:09 to go.
Cousins missed a jumper coming out of the timeout that was rebounded by Bledsoe of the Suns. T.J. Warren sank a jump shot at the 1:34 mark to bring Phoenix within one point of the lead at 101-100.
Each team missed a field goal opportunity then Cousins missed a layup that Lawson rebounded and then he was fouled by the Suns Tyson Chandler. The Kings maintained possession and Cousins attempted a 3-point shot that missed and Chandler rebounded.
The Suns Warren hit a 3-pointer (assist Booker) with 21.6-seconds on the clock to give his team a 103-101 lead. The Kings immediately called a timeout.
The Kings ran their play out of the timeout and with 8.2-seconds to go Darren Collison sank a 15-foot jump shot (assist Cousins) to tie the game at 103-103. It was the Suns turn to call a timeout.
Phoenix inbounded the ball at midcourt and to no one’s surprise the ball wound up in the hands of second-year guard Devin Booker. Booker put up a 20-foot fade away bank shot that went in the hoop as the final buzzer sounded. The Suns had won the game 105-103 to the stunned amazement of the big crowd.
Who did what in the game
- DeMarcus Cousins led the Kings scoring attack with a triple-double: 22 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists(sixth career triple-double). Cousins got into foul trouble and picked up his fifth personal foul with 9:22 to go in the 4th quarter and he did not return until there was just 3:18 left in the game. How much of a difference could the big man have made in that six minutes is now a question to be pondered over beers at the local pub.
- Darren Collison scored 19 points for the Kings as he shot 8-for-16 from the floor and hit 3-of-4 3-point attempts. Joerger was very happy with Collison’s play after the game.
- There was a Ben McLemore sighting on Friday night. McLemore made a rare start as the team made adjustments with Temple out due to injury and Arron Afflalo did not dress due to illness. McLemore played 35-minutes and scored 18 points.
- Ty Lawson made an impact in the game off the bench again for Sacramento on Friday night. The speedy guard put up 18 points hitting on 7-of-10 attempts from the field and went a perfect 4-for-4 from the free throw line.
- Matt Barnes did not have a big scoring night (6-points) but hauled in 10 rebounds and dished out 4 assists for the Kings.
- Willie Cauley-Stein played only 14-minutes in the contest but came up big especially in the six-minutes that Cousins was sitting on the bench in the fourth quarter with the five fouls. He also scored four points and had four rebounds.
- As a team the Kings outrebounded the Suns 43-39. They outscored Phoenix in the paint 36-20. Sacramento even scored more fast break points (14-9) than the Suns. The Kings had 23 assists versus 13 turnovers which resulted in 22 Phoenix points.
- 20-year old guard Devin Booker scored a game-high 33 points for PHX. He scored just seven points in the first half. Booker went 11-for-24 shooting and hit 4-0f-8 from beyond the 3-point line. He also went 7-for-10 from the free throw line.
- T.J. Warren was the offense for the Suns in the first half. While much of the team seemed less than present, Warren was active and ready for action. He finished with 21 points including going a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line.
- Eric Bledsoe had a 20 point game for the Suns in 33-minutes on the floor. He was just 4-of-12 from the floor but was 3-for-6 from 3-point land.
- Maybe the disappointment of the night for the crowd was the play of local product Marquese Chriss. Chriss who played his high school basketball in Elk Grove and was drafted by the Kings and then traded to Phoenix played just 15-minutes and scored only two points. Chriss picked up two quick fouls in the first quarter which really limited his playing time. It may well have the combination of playing before a large contingent of family and friends while trying to defend DeMarcus Cousins that keep the young rookie from having a better game.
Joerger’s postgame thoughts
- Heck of a basketball game
- Both teams started kind of slow (it was 49-49 at the half)
- I’m really proud of out guys. We held a fast break team to nine-points on the fast break and basically won every statistical category there is.
- I thought Darren (Collison) really stepped up his game in the second half.
- It was tremendous that we had great point guard play with Ty (Lawson) and Darren at times playing together.
- It was great to see Ben McLemore get going a little bit and heck of a basketball game.
- Very proud of out team
Focusing on 8th place in the Western Conference
The battle for the eighth and final playoff slot in the Western Conference continued on Friday night:
- Denver now has sole possession of 8th place as they beat the Bucks 121-117
- Portland is in 9th place 1.5 games back after losing to Dallas 108-104
- Dallas has jumped into 10th place 2.5 games back of Denver with their win over Portland
- The Kings are now in 11th place 3.5 games behind Denver after Friday’s loss to Phoenix
Up next on the schedule
The Kings have no time sit and ponder their loss to the Suns. The Golden State Warriors make a return visit to the Golden 1 Center on Saturday night. It is never easy to face “the Splash Brothers” but to have to play them on second night of a back-to-back set is really unfair.
Phoenix returns home on Saturday night to host the Milwaukee Bucks who lost in Denver on Friday.