Photo credit: Rocky Widner
By Charlie O. Mallonee
“The Big Show” came to town in Sacramento on Friday night when the Miami Heat played the Sacramento Kings. The sellout crowd was there to see LeBron, Bosh and company, and by the way the Kings as well. By the end of the night, the Kings and not the defending World Champions were the stars of the show.
The Sacramento Kings defeated the Miami Heat 108-103 in overtime at Sleep Train Arena. If you watched the game at the arena or on TV, you know that after the first quarter the final result was not foreseeable. The Kings trailed the Heat 32-19 after one quarter. You could literally feel the air leaving the building as 17,317 fans sat back preparing for another loss.
The Kings did show a little life when the second unit hit the floor. The second unit stayed on the floor to start the second quarter and the tempo of the Kings improved. Quincy Acy scored 8 points and Travis Outlaw added four. When the starters returned to the game, they appeared to have renewed energy. The Kings went on to win the quarter 26-23.
The Heat led the Kings 55-45 at the half, but there was something different about the Heat in that second period. They stopped attacking the rim and began shooting long shots, but they were only hitting 37.5% from beyond the arc. The Heat had changed their approach to the game.
The Heat came out in the third quarter playing as they had late in the first half. Miami attempted long 2- pointers and 3-pointers. The Heat’s shots were falling just short, and they appeared to be tired. Miami shot just 27.8% (5-18) from the field in the third.
While the Heat were missing shots, the Kings began making shots. The Sacramento starting five played the entire third quarter. Rudy Gay put up 11 points, Cousins scored seven, Jason Thompson added six while Isaiah Thomas hit five points. The Kings field goal percentage was 68.8% (11-16). Sacramento outscored Miami 29-18. After three quarters, the Kings led 74-73.
The fourth quarter proved to be a slug fest. Neither team shot particularly well. The Kings lead turned into a six point Heat lead with 6:31 left in the game. The Kings kept battling back and tied the game at 89 all on a Rudy Gay 14 foot jumper. LeBron James had a chance to win the game for Miami but missed a 25 foot jumper at the buzzer. An extra five minutes would be needed to decide a winner.
The Kings scored first in overtime on a Rudy Gay 24 foot 3-pointer and they would never trail again in the game. Sacramento led by as many as eight points, but LeBron James was not going to allow the Kings to cruise to a win. James had a three point play the old fashion way and two 3-pointers in OT, but it was not enough to stop the Kings from winning the game 108-103.
Isaiah Thomas scored seven points in overtime while Gay and Cousins added five points each and Marcus Thornton recorded two. LeBron James led the Heat with 11 points in OT.
The victory was just the Kings first win in the last 11 games versus the Heat. The Kings improve to 9-19 on the season while Miami falls to 22-7.
The Kings big three led the way to victory. DeMarcus Cousins recorded his 16th double-double with 27 points and 17 rebounds. Rudy Gay hit for 26 points with 20 of those points coming in the second half. Isaiah Thomas posted a double-double with 22 points and 11 assists.
LeBron James led all scorers in the game with 33 points. Chris Bosh scored 18. Mario Chalmers had a double-double with 11 points and 10 assists.
The Kings defense held the Heat to just a 44.2% (38-88) field goal shooting percentage. The Heat shot just 34.4% (11-32) for 3-pointers. Sacramento out-rebounded Miami 51-36 for the game.
The key to the win was the Kings ability to score in paint while stopping Miami from doing the same. The Kings scored 60 points in the paint while the Heat scored just 38 in the paint.
The Kings will have to remember that they beat the Heat while Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen and Chris Andersen were kept out of the game. That is not to say it was not a legitimate victory, but the Heat did beat the Lakers on Christmas Day with those three players in the lineup.
After the game, Head Coach Michael Malone had some thoughts on his team’s comeback after giving up 32 points in the first quarter: “I want to give a lot of credit to our second unit. We started out that game tonight by being down 17 points and our starting group didn’t have the best start in the world. The second unit came in and got us back in the game. Quincy Acy brought effort and energy. We cut the 17 point deficit to 10 and kept it competitive. We’ve been preaching defense, and I know we haven’t played a lot of it this year, but tonight I thought that the guys really bought in after that 32 point first quarter. We did a great job the rest of the game, really up until the last minute of overtime when LeBron James went crazy and we kept giving him open looks. I’m very proud of everybody in that locker room: starters, guys on the bench – everybody contributed.”
The Kings will not have any time to savor this victory as they must head out on a two game road trip in Texas. Sacramento will face San Antonio on Sunday and Houston on Tuesday.