Round 1 Kings vs. Spurs Game 3 (April 27, 2006)
Let’s move from Sacramento’s most significant playoff victory to one of their last.
This was a gutsy and unexpected win for the Kings against a superior San Antonio Spurs team. Mike Bibby had a marvelous night, playing all 48 minutes and putting up 25 and 8. Ron Artest (it’s easy to forget, but before he completely wore out his welcome, Artest was a major reason the Kings even made the playoffs in 2006) put up 22 points and12 rebounds while going 8 of 15 from the field. Bonzi Wells, perhaps the greatest one-season King in franchise history, put up a 19 and 14 double-double.
However, this game is most notable for another game-winning play, this one from Kevin Martin in just his second season. Rewatching the final play of the game, it’s incredible how close the Kings got to losing this one.
The Spurs had the ball up one with about 27 seconds left on the clock after Michael Finley had put them ahead with a three, then forcing a turnover on the other side. It would take a Mike Bibby steal and a Kevin Martin layup in traffic (that bounces on the rim approximately 500 times) for the Kings to escape with a win. The celebration, complete with vintage Arco thunder, is glorious to revisit.
As it happens, this would be the second-to-last playoff victory for the Kings. They would go on to also win Game 4 before the Spurs began to assert their experience over their overmatched foes. Of course, it has been a tough go for Sacramento ever since, but it’s fun to look back on a time when it looked like the Kings front office brain trust might have been able to pull off an on-the-fly rebuild.