There were many layers to Tuesday’s game between the Sacramento Kings and Washington Wizards. It was the Kings who made the first move, building a solid lead and looking comfortable in their return home. But a collection of missed layups, botched fast breaks and defensive breakdowns allowed the Wizards to not only close the gap, but build an 11-point lead of their own. Not to worry. On this night, the Kings had the star of stars, Mr. Clutch himself, Rudy Gay. Gay, while no doubt helped by his teammates, made all the big buckets down the stretch and into overtime, propelling the Kings past the Wizards, 117-111.
THE INCREDIBLE RUDY GAY – Rudy Gay (38 MIN, 24 PTS, 10-17 FG, 4-5 FT, 6 REB, 3 STL, 5 TO) was every bit of an NBA superstar on Tuesday. After a quiet start where he found trouble by overdribbling, Gay came alive in the 4th quarter with the game hanging in the balance. Rudy scored 10 points in the final 4:48 of the 4th, taking a good defender in Trevor Ariza to any spot he wanted on the court. It looked like Gay’s efforts would be for naught when he was whistled for a last minute charge. But Rudy bounced back, forcing overtime with a sweet running one-hander on the baseline. In the extra frame, Rudy canned three more jumpers; his 19-footer from the left wing giving the Kings the lead for good. It was an amazing performance, one only shown by true game-changing talents.
ISAIAH’S CONTAGIOUS DETERMINATION – The entire Kings squad played with heart, following the lead of their energizer, Isaiah Thomas. Thomas (43 MIN, 24 PTS, 6-16 FG, 2-7 3FG, 10-10 FT, 11 REB, 10 AST, 1 BLK, 4 TO) was Sacramento’s spark plug, coming on especially strong as the team fell behind in the third quarter. Isaiah refused to let his team fall completely out of it. There he was, flying in for rebounds, pushing the ball upcourt, taking charges, attacking the basket and inspiring his teammates. The Kings easily could have collapsed in the third and mailed in yet another disappointing loss. But the heart of Isaiah kept them alive. Thomas was rewarded with his first career triple-double.
GIVE COUSINS HIS DUE – While Gay was burying clutch jumpers, DeMarcus Cousins (30 MIN, 24 PTS, 9-17 FG, 6-11 FT, 14 REB, 3 AST, 4 TO) was really doing work underneath the basket, and the Kings don’t win this game without the big man’s effort. There were a few aimless forces in the lane, but really, it would be hard to fault Cousins for much in this one. Cousins scored seven points in overtime, his shining play coming with 1:28 left as he furiously fought to tip in an offensive rebound. Having that reliable anchor down low was pivotal — Cousins brought the hard hat and helped ensure victory.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS – Ben McLemore (50 MIN, 11 PTS, 5-17 FG, 5 REB, 2 AST, 3 TO) came out stroking it, dropping five shots in the first quarter and showing signs of being on fire for maybe the first time as a rookie. Then the second half came, and McLemore returned to spotty outside shooting. A disappointing finish, but any signs of growth are welcome … The Kings had three double-figure rebounders, as Reggie Evans (25 MIN, 7 PTS, 2-5 FG, 10 REB, 2 STL) joined Cousins and Thomas. The Kings outboarded Washington, 57-41 … Ray McCallum (13 MIN, 7 PTS, 2-2 FG, 2-2 3FG, 1 REB) played a solid role off the bench, alternating between point and shooting guard. His inability to defend Bradley Beal in the post led to his benching for McLemore … Speaking of Beal, the Wizards shooting guard really shot his team out of this one. A 7-for-23 line included a missed open jumper that would have won the game for Washington.