Sacramento Kings Sunday game wrap: Clips Paul misses jump shot at buzzer gets Kings razor thin win 98-97 at Staples

March 26, 2017

NBA, Sacramento Kings

Sacramento Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein (00) reacts with teammate guard Buddy Hield, right, after scoring the go-ahead basket with 1.8 seconds left in an NBA basketball game while Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul look on, Sunday, March 26, 2017, in Los Angeles. The Kings won 98-97. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

By: Jessica Kwong

LOS ANGELES – The struggling Sacramento Kings entered the fourth quarter with a 11-point deficit against the playoffs-bound Los Angeles Clippers. So when 1.8 seconds remained in the game Sunday afternoon and Chris Paul missed a jump shot, handing the Kings a 98-97 victory, Staples Center was shocked.

Sacramento chipped away at the Clippers lead to 97-96 and with 4.9 seconds left, Kings guard Ben McLemore missed a running lay-up. But Kings forward Willie Cauley-Stein got the rebound and scored a put-back lay-up to put his team up by 1 point with only a few seconds to go.

“I just remember taking off and seeing Ben had a lay-up and the only thing I’m thinking is, ‘If this ball comes off, I’ve just got to grab it and put it up,’” Cauley-Stein said of the last Kings possession. “And it just came right to my hands.”

The victory was a bright spot in the Kings’ (28-45) season that’s now focused on developing the young players and anticipating a high draft pick. It hurt the Clippers (44-31), who are chasing the Utah Jazz in hopes of taking fourth place in the Western Conference.

“It’s a bad loss, probably the worst one in the regular season in my career,” said the Clippers’ star point guard Paul. “It’s tough. That was a bad one. That was a bad loss.”

The Kings held their own in the first half.

Though Los Angeles took the lead early on, Tyreke Evans hit a three-pointer that gave Sacramento a 18-17 lead near the end of the first quarter. DeAndre Jordan’s slam dunk to put the Clippers up 20-17 with just under 3 minutes left in the quarter, but Darren Collison answered back with a triple to bring the Kings within 24-22. Then Kings center George Papagiannis made a three-foot lay-up to tie the game at 24 at the end of the first quarter.

Sacramento held on in the second quarter and quickly scored to take a 29-24 lead in the first minute-and-a-half. Clippers forward Anthony Tolliver scored two three-pointers, the second putting his team up 40-33 with less than five minutes in the quarter. But Los Angeles caught up and Paul passed the ball to Jordan for a slam dunk that gave them a 44-42 lead at the half.

The game started getting away from the Kings in the third quarter. A few minutes in, Jordan made a running lay-up and the Clippers took a 54-44 lead. That grew to as much as 17 points when Clippers guard Jamal Crawford scored a triple with 2 minutes and a half remaining.

But Sacramento kept at it. Guards Langston Galloway and Buddy Hield hit some big shots and the Kings cut the Clippers’ lead to 11 points at the end of the quarter.

“It felt like we couldn’t score a basket in the third quarter, but we didn’t put our heads down,” Kings Head Coach Dave Joerger said. “We kept saying we were two baskets down from being 10 down or nine.”

The fourth quarter was looking even worse for the Kings, who trailed by as many as 18 points a few times. Hield, Galloway and Cauley-Stein made several shots to bring the Kings back within single digits and the latter’s lay-up and the Clippers meltdown gave Sacramento the win.

“We didn’t lose hope. You talk about when LG (Langston Galloway), Buddy, Ben, Willie, they didn’t lose hope, not one bit,” Collison said. “They kept pulling and pulling and pulling and eventually got some big threes.”

Collision said beating his former team was “fun.”

“It’s all competition and the Clippers are considered one of the best teams in the NBA,” he said. “Anytime you get to play one of the best teams in the NBA, we definitely want to perform at a high level.”

The Kings return to the Golden 1 Center to face the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday, with a 7:30 p.m. tip-off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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