Gritty Kings battle back, steal 2OT win in Phoenix


Nov 7, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Isaiah Thomas (3) loses control of the ball against the Sacramento Kings in the first half at US Airways Center. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Well, if that one doesn’t get you excited, you may not have a pulse.

The Sacramento Kings entered Phoenix on Friday riding a rare four-game win streak. With the Isaiah Thomas storyline as the backdrop, the Kings sputtered out of the gate, with sloppy ball-handling and tough Suns defense capping Sacramento’s offense. The Suns shot out to an early double-digit lead.

And Sacramento fought back. It was a recurring theme for the Kings, full of determination and chemistry.

At many times in Friday night’s game, it appeared the Kings were dead in the water. The Suns, who relied heavily on their quick guards not named Isaiah, took a 94-83 lead with just 7:28 left. The Kings response? An 11-0 run over the next 3 minutes to knot things up.

With a chance to steal victory, holding possession in a tie game with 38 seconds left in regulation, a simple inbound play to DeMarcus Cousins (35 MIN, 25 PTS, 6-14 FG, 13-14 FT, 18 REB, 2 BLK) turned into a bogus illegal screen call. Not only did that turn the ball over to Phoenix, it was also DeMarcus’ sixth and final foul.

And that’s where we first got to see just how far this Kings team has grown.

Not one single head was hanging in the ensuing timeout. With Cousins, who just fouled out, leading the way, several Kings could be seen clapping, encouraging each other. It was actually Cousins who was calming down Coach Michael Malone. These aren’t last year’s Sacramento Kings. This team wouldn’t be brought down by one unfortunate possession.

In overtime, Phoenix busted out with the first seven points of the frame. Game over, right? Wrong. The Kings responded again. Darren Collison (33 MIN, 16 PTS, 6-13 FG, 4-6 FT, 2 REB, 3 AST, 2 STL, 2 TO) overcame a botched fastbreak layup to help Sacramento score the final seven points of the period and force a second overtime.

Surely, the Kings, without Cousins and with Rudy Gay (47 MIN, 11 PTS, 5-22 FG, 9 REB, 4 TO) clearly losing a battle with sickness, couldn’t survive another five minutes, right? Wrong again. Ben McLemore (29 MIN, 15 PTS, 5-9 FG, 4-4 FT, 3 REB, 1 STL) stepped up with a clutch driving bank shot, followed by a critical corner three-pointer to pull the Kings within one with 1:49 left. Gay nutted up and sunk a beautiful turnaround on the baseline a possession later to put the Kings up one.

A Carl Landry (37 MIN, 12 PTS, 6-8 FG, 8 REB) offensive rebound, a Collison free throw and one more fantastic defensive sequence secured a 114-112 victory for the Kings. More impressive than the 5-1 record is the way this Sacramento team is playing. Unselfish, motivated, positive. It’s a new vibe and getting wins is such a great reward for the effort.

OTHER OBSERVATIONS — If you’re wondering, Isaiah scored a mere three points. He had a chance to be the ultimate hero, but his off-balance three-pointer at the end of regulation fell short. He didn’t see time in the overtime periods … Jason Thompson (33 MIN, 8 PTS, 3-6 FG, 5 REB) filled the role of center after Cousins fouled out, and his help defense on the Suns energetic guards was terrific. He was quick to show on the perimeter, slowing the momentum of Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe on multiple occasions … Nik Stauskas (29 MIN, 9 PTS, 4-7 FG, 3 REB, 2 AST) earned extended run thanks to some quality shooting. Eventually, he was replaced for defensive purposes, but the rook is showing really solid offensive instincts … The Kings outrebounded Phoenix, 60-42.