Another game sitting there for the taking, and another Kings performance full of late-game errors and a lack of execution. So frustrating. It was much like the Detroit Pistons game of two nights ago. Sacramento did so many things right and should have closed it out. But instead it’s another TV-smashing, punch-the-wall, devastating loss, which is now becoming all too familiar for the Kings. The 93-92 loss moves the Kings to 0-4 on the road trip.
LATE GAME OFFENSE – This game came down to the final minute and there were so many important plays in those 60 seconds. On the Kings third to last possession, Sac had the ball with about 30 seconds and the game tied. John Salmons (3-7 FG, 6 PTS) got set up on a friggin’ tee for a wide open three that he unsurprisingly missed. Then the Kings went into chaos mode. DeMarcus Cousins (19 PTS, 9 REB) snared the rebound and forced up an out-of-control layup. Marcus Thornton (21 PTS, 10 REB) corralled that and missed a 5-foot jumper. Both players should have brought the ball out. Thornton’s miss came with six seconds left. Pull that out, get the last shot and win or go to overtime. Instead both players missed, the Cavs got the loose ball and the Kings compounded the mistake by fouling, giving the advantage to Cleveland. That possession featured three critical miscues that will haunt the team.
LATE GAME DEFENSE – Fast forward to the Cavs final possession. Tyreke Evans picked up Kyrie Irving on a switch, and Cleveland’s rookie drove to the left with about two seconds left. Instead of sliding in front, Evans, normally a strong defender, reached in. It appeared to be a clear foul, but upon viewing the replay, it was an extremely iffy call, especially with the game on the line. Keith Smart was absolutely livid about the call and had to be restrained after the game. Nonetheless, Evans’ risky decision to reach instead of shuffle backfired. Irving hit the two clutch free throws and the Kings had nothing but a desperate attempt with 0.4 seconds left. Sacramento just is not making the plays when it matters.
HOLY ISAIAH THOMAS – This kid should have been the feature story from this game. Thomas (43 MIN, 8-16 FG, 23 PTS, 11 AST, 8 REB) got his second start, and again, he did it all for the Kings. Scoring. Passing. Rebounding. Hustling all over the court. What a magnificent game. It looked like Isaiah might single-handedly carry the team to victory. Smart rightfully kept the rook in there for the fourth quarter — unlike at Detroit — and not only that, the ball was in Thomas’ hands on every possession. He was the director. If you can take anything away from such a disappointing game, it was that Thomas is starting to look less like simply a nice story, and more like a legitimate pro who could be a significant piece to the Kings future. His play of the game oddly enough started with a bricked three-pointer. The 5-foot-9 Thomas hustled after his own miss, flew for the rebound over an opponent and while still in the air, flipped a pass under the basket to Marcus Thornton for two. Truly a joy to watch.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS – Gotta be honest: I’m a little weary of DMC getting the ball for the final shot because of his penchant to get out of control with the dribble. But he showed me with a beautiful reverse layup that should have been the Kings game-winner with less than three seconds left … Tyreke (5-17 FG, 10 PTS, 5 REB) could not finish at the rim to save his life. He spent a lot of the fourth quarter on the bench and it was warranted … Every starter for the Kings produced at least five boards, and four had at least eight. But the team was still outrebounded and the Cavs posted 19 offensive boards, seven from Tristan Thompson.