Last-Minute Failures Keep Kings From Upsetting Warriors


Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Not exactly the shootout we’ve come to expect when the Kings meet the Warriors, but this one had every bit as much drama. And even though Sacramento played a crummy offensive game, there the Kings were, leading in the final minute with a chance to upset Golden State. But alas, the Kings again provided a series of head-scratching plays that trashed any chance they had at victory. Golden State squeaked by with an 87-83 win.

HOW TO LOSE A GAME — Some of the worst late-game execution you’ll see from the Kings, and that’s saying something. Man, oh man. Sacramento’s final unit put the team in a great position to win the game with gritty defense and timely offense. Then Keith Smart interjected, the players went brain dead and things went south in a hurry. With the ball, a one-point lead and 1:10 remaining, the Kings started milking the clock, a strategy that they have yet to master. John Salmons wasted the entire shot clock, forced a dribble drive and lost the ball. After a stop, it was Toney Douglas’ turn to fritter away the clock. His deep hoist with the shot clock ticking down missed. On the other end, Salmons made the dumb decision to slough off Klay Thompson to pinch the middle, and Thompson burned the Kings for the go-ahead triple with seven seconds left. Inexplicably, Keith Smart responded by drawing up an isolation play for Tyreke Evans, the same Evans who was 3-for-13 to that point and had played an awful game forcing dribbles into the crowded paint. What. The. Hell. Evans got nowhere, and the Kings lost the game. This one goes on Coach. As soon as the team gets the lead, that’s apparently the time to change your entire offense and turn to things you’re not good at. Just score the damn ball, screw the clock. So frustrating.

NEW KINGS SHINE — The loss really ruined what would have been heroic performances by new Kings Patrick Patterson and Toney Douglas. It’s important to say that most Kings fans who looked down on the trade of Thomas Robinson did so because it was the wasting of an asset (#5 pick), not because of Patterson’s skill level. Patterson (28 MIN, 15 PTS, 6-10 FG, 3-3 3FG, 8 REB, 4 AST, 1 STL, 1 BLK) was a man down the stretch in Oakland, popping outside to bury two critical three-pointers in the final five minutes; the second of which gave the team the late lead it was unable to hold on to. The clutch shooting complemented Patterson’s strong effort on defense and the glass. Meanwhile, Douglas (28 MIN, 10 PTS, 3-9 FG, 2-6 3FG, 6 AST, 3 REB, 2 STL, 2 TO) was called upon to stop Steph Curry, and he absolutely succeeded, as Curry scored just 13 points. Douglas blanketed Curry all over the court, showing incredible burst to keep up with the Warriors speedy guard. Offensively, Douglas did a solid job running the show and knocked down a couple long balls to show he has some offensive game. Douglas definitely earned more playing time, as Jimmer Fredette has been struggling mightily as of late.

DMC AGAIN ABSENT — DeMarcus Cousins’ attitude is again starting to wear thin. Much like Tuesday’s game against Denver, there was very little focus on actually playing basketball by Cousins (20 MIN, 5 PTS, 2-10 FG, 4 REB, 3 AST, 2 TO, 4 STL). He exhibited a pissy attitude and geared most of his night toward looking for foul calls rather than just dominating the Warriors inferior defenders. A complete non-factor. One of the things Keith Smart did right in this one was sit Cousins for the entire second and fourth quarters. Until he gets his head on straight, you can’t justify force-feeding him playing time, especially with how well Jason Thompson and Patterson played together.

OTHER OBSERVATIONS — Thompson (34 MIN, 17 PTS, 8-13 FG, 8 REB, 2 STL) was again an efficient producer, and he succeeded at both the power forward and center spots … The Kings offense was a mess all night, and that’s probably because Isaiah Thomas (20 MIN, 9 PTS, 3-5 FG, 1 AST, 2 TO) just wasn’t involved that much. The ball movement stunk … The Warriors got to the line 29 times, while the Kings shot just 12 from the stripe.