Photo credit: Craig Mitchelldyer, AP Photo
by Charlie O. Mallonee
We spit on your statistics about back-to-back games in the NBA
The statisticians, experts, journalists and oddsmakers all had written off the Sacramento Kings as having any chance to defeat the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night in the Rose City:
- The Kings had suffered a devastating loss to the Lakers 101-91 on Thursday night in Sacramento
- The game in Portland was the back end of a back-to-back home/road set with the average chances to win the game at 37.3-percent historically
- The Trail Blazers are seen as a more talented team than the Kings and are expected to make the playoffs and possibly go on to the second round while Sacramento is expected to be in the Draft Lottery … again
- The game in Portland would be the Kings 11th contest in 17 days and the team needs a break to rest and recoup
- Sacramento entered the game a 6.5 to 9-point underdog
What no counted on was the Kings forgot to read the script before the game and they came to play. Somehow they survived a first half that ended with the Blazers leading 62-57 and came out ready to to battle in the second half despite all of the odds being against them.
The Kings rode the play of Cousins, Gay, Koufos, Afflalo and Collison in the second half to outscore the Blazers 49-44 to force the game into overtime.
The teams tied the game up five times in the five-minute overtime session. With the Blazers up by two points with 14.3 seconds to play, Cousins missed a 26-foot jump and Rudy Gay missed a 16-foot desperation turnaround fadeaway shot with one-tenth of a second left on the clock. When the horn sounded, Portland had won the game 122-120 but they knew they had been in a battle royal.
Cousins was a different player on Friday night
Cousins put his inconsistent Thursday night performance behind him to lead the Kings in scoring with 33 points to go with nine rebounds, three assists, two blocked shots and one steal. Cousins did all of this after being assessed a technical foul in the first quarter for exchanging shoves with Meyers Leonard. Cousins knew his limitations and worked with them of Friday night.
Rudy Gay is proving to everyone that he is worth the new NBA pay scale
Gay may have given notice that he plans to opt out of the last year of his contract with the Kings but he is not playing like a man who does not care. In fact, it is just the opposite. Rudy Gay is giving it his all on the court every night and not in a selfish way.
Against Portland, he posted a double-double scoring 29 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. Gay also added three assists, two steals and one block. He shot 50-percent from the floor (9-for-18) including going 2-for-4 from 3-point range. Gay went 9-for-10 from the free throw line.
If Vivek Ranadive and Vlade Divac are serious about building a contender, they need to get out the checkbook and get ready to start participating in the bidding war for one Rudy Gay.
Has there been a changing of the guard?
The man on the point who made it happen on Friday night for the Kings was Darren Collison. Collison played almost 40 minutes scoring 20 points while dishing out four assists and hauling in five rebounds.
The Kings starting point guard Ty Lawson played just 15 minutes and had four assists. That is not to imply Lawson has become obsolete but most observers felt that Collison would establish himself as the number one point guard at sometime after his return. It appears Collison decided he would declare himself number one a little sooner than anyone expected.
Ty Lawson will not be going anywhere. He still has a very vital role to play for this Kings team. Look to see more sets with Lawson and Collison on the floor together in a “small ball line up”.
Head Coach Dave Joerger’s thoughts on the game
- Our team played hard
- We were playing on fumes – 11 games in 17 days
- Turnovers were catastrophic – 15 that resulted in 25 Trail Blazer points
- Portland’s guards were fantastic – starters Lillard and McCollum combined for 67 points
- Rudy (Gay) and Cuz (Cousins) gave their all on the court at all times in the game
- It was a fun basketball game
- Our group is resilient – they can take a punch – they don’t go away
- He’s (Cousins) engaged – he’s all in
What’s coming up for the Kings
Thankfully for the Kings after the brutal 11 games in 17 days schedule they have four days off. There will be some practice/shoot-arounds, but they will also be lots of rest on the agenda.
The Kings next game will be on Wednesday night at the Golden 1 Center when the San Antonio Spurs come back to town. The Kings will have four more home games before heading back out on the road.
Hello Biggest Little City in the World
Three of the Kings rookie players have been assigned to the Reno Bighorns of the NBA D-League. Skal Labissiere, Georgios Papagiannis and Malachi Richardson will be playing with the Bighorns.
The fact is these young players would not be seeing any significant playing time in Sacramento. The second fact is they need significant playing time to prepare for the NBA. The solution is to play significant minutes in the D-League.
Do not expect to see the players move from Reno to Sacramento often unless they are needed to cover a roster spot because of an injury to an active player.
We will keep you up to date on their progress in the D-League on a weekly basis.