And so concludes another season of Sacramento Kings basketball, emphasis on SACRAMENTO. It was clear pretty early in the Kings finale Wednesday against the Phoenix Suns that neither team was playing for the victory. Starters on both sides were limited, and reserves handled all crunch time minutes. Instead, the game was more of a celebration for Kings fans, finally able to relax heading into the offseason knowing their team will be staying put. In the end, the Suns backups helped them to a 104-99 victory, pulling ahead and going past the Kings in the final quarter. But in a 28-54 season, the loss had little meaning to fans who simply wanted to give their team a final sendoff heading into the summer.
FAN APPRECIATION DAY – The mood inside Sleep Train Arena was considerably different than season finales of the past few years. Fans happily honored NBA legends Oscar Robertson, Mitch Richmond, Chris Mullin and Kevin Johnson, all of whom were in attendance. Rudy Gay and Isaiah Thomas cardboard cutout faces lined the stands, a show of hope that both players will return next season. And even with a collection of reserves on the court, fans cheered as if it were a playoff game, trying to give the Kings that final push of the season. Sacramento fans are truly unrivaled in the NBA.
MCLEMORE FINISHES STRONG – It was a tremendous cap to a rocky season for Kings rookie Ben McLemore. Afforded more opportunities with Sacramento’s studs on the sideline, McLemore (42 MIN, 31 PTS, 9-20 FG, 3-9 3FG, 10-15 FT, 5 REB, 5 AST, 1 STL, 2 TO) seized the big role. He scored 18 points in the first half, showing zero hesitation with his jumper while also attacking the basket with determination. He had a chance to guide the Kings to victory, but unfortunately, he missed a couple shots in the final minutes. Nonetheless, it was a great confidence builder for McLemore to take into the offseason. The rookie has shown the work ethic and attitude needed to improve his game — it will be a big summer for the Kings two-guard.
ACY’S ENERGY – It’s really a shame that the Kings logjam at power forward will result in the likely loss of guys like Quincy Acy. Acy (25 MIN, 9 PTS, 3-6 FG, 3-5 FT, 8 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 2 TO) saw ample playing time Wednesday and responded the only way he knows how — by fighting for every loose ball and igniting a Sacramento crowd that loves players who give their all. Acy teamed with Aaron Gray (26 MIN, 6 PTS, 13 REB, 2 AST, 2 STL, 4 TO) to control the offensive boards; the pair combined for 11 offensive rebounds. Acy was also able to deliver one of his patented ferocious dunks, and on a night where key players saw little floor time, plays like that were worth the price of admission. Sacramento holds a reasonable team option for Acy next season, but his chance of returning seems tied to what happens with Carl Landry and Jason Thompson on the trade market.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS – Archie Goodwin was the Suns player who benefited from extra floor time, and the rookie really turned some heads with a great show of athleticism and a team-high 29 points … Thomas and Gay both started but played a combined 33 minutes, scoring just 10 points total … The riddle that is Derrick Williams had another perplexing game. In 31 minutes as a starter, Williams mustered just 7 points and really looked out of place on every possession. He lacked energy and assertiveness, and the Kings rarely looked his way … Sacramento combined on some pretty alley-oops, including a Travis Outlaw to Ray McCallum hookup to start the fourth quarter.
Thank you for reading. Until next year.