With one quarter left to play, many Kings fans were counting down the seconds, ready to tune out. In the closing moments, you almost hoped the game would continue into overtime. But nobody in Sacramento is upset with the result. In the span of 12-15 minutes, the Kings preseason game against the Golden State Warriors went from unwatchable to an edge-of-your-seat thriller. In the end, it was Sacramento who came from behind to nab a 91-90 victory and move to 4-2 this preseason. The 12,000-plus in attendance had Sleep Train Arena rocking — all for a meaningless exhibition game.
SALMONS SAVES KINGS LATE – The final two minutes of this game turned into a frantic, back-and-forth battle between the Kings and Warriors. Amazingly, it was John Salmons (34 MIN, 14 PTS, 5-8 FG, 2-2 3FG, 4 REB, 3 AST), who basically slept through the first three quarters, delivering the clutch baskets. The exclamation point — a go-ahead three-pointer with 7 seconds left — came after the Kings gobbled up offensive rebounds on two missed jumpers. When McLemore corralled his own miss after Patrick Patterson kept it alive, the ball swung beautifully to Salmons at the top of the key. The vet buried the shot, giving him 9 points in the final 5:41.
ISAIAH/CURRY GO TOE-TO-TOE – Perhaps the game took on new life after Isaiah Thomas (28 MIN, 21 PTS, 5-13 FG, 2-5 3FG, 9-10 FT, 6 REB, 3 AST, 2 STL, 4 TO) and Steph Curry were involved in a minor dust-up in the third quarter. The two became tangled, exchanged words and had to be separated after a third quarter foul. That altercation was all Isaiah needed to step up his intensity, and the energy level of the entire Kings team took off from that point on. Thomas feeds off of challenges like that, and his fire was critical to the Kings comeback. If he’s not the starter on opening night, it won’t be because of production; it would merely be Coach Malone preferring Isaiah’s energy off the bench.
ROTATIONS STILL UNCLEAR – Coach Malone has vowed to use his final preseason games as a chance to nail down his rotations. He seemed to back off that stance before Wednesday’s game, and it became clear that the rotations are still not set. Jimmer Fredette (21 MIN, 3 PTS, 1-5 FG, 2 REB, 3 AST, 3 TO) got the start but played a quiet game, while Marcus Thornton saw no action. Greivis Vasquez (22 MIN, 7 PTS, 3-5 FG, 2 REB, 3 AST, 6 TO) started but Thomas played more minutes off the bench. After the game, Coach Malone said he hopes the game Friday against the Clippers makes things clearer but that’s not a given.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS – The Kings terrific comeback masked what was otherwise a very poor game for the team. An ugly 25 turnovers frequently resulted in poor transition defense, and Steph Curry was left wide open way too many times … McLemore (25 MIN, 9 PTS, 2-5 FG, 4-5 FT, 3 REB, 1 BLK, 3 TO) had his rookie moments — most notably a costly turnover late in the game when he threw the ball away — but he still looks incredibly poised for a rookie. His hustle on the winning possession was instrumental, and it was good to get him some crunch time experience … DeMarcus Cousins (22 MIN, 11 PTS, 3-7 FG, 5-7 FT, 9 REB, 1 STL, 1 BLK) renewed his rivalry with Andrew Bogut, and the two were involved in plenty of physical interactions. A double foul in the fourth quarter eliminated Cousins (prompting Cousins to tell Bogut, “Ima kick your ass”) and that may have been a good thing. Things were teetering close to trouble; no need to get DMC in hot water during a preseason game … Jason Thompson (24 MIN, 9 PTS, 4-6 FG, 6 REB, 1 BLK) played his typical steady game off the bench, providing a nice offensive boost and solid interior defense.