Failure to finish: Disastrous final minute buries Kings vs Bulls

Failure to finish: Disastrous final minute buries Kings vs Bulls

SACRAMENTO -- The locker room was a lonely place Monday night in Sacramento. After erasing a 27-point deficit and tying the game in the final minute, DeMarcus Cousins came up short on a free throw that would have given the Kings the lead. The final half minute played out like so many others this season -- disastrous. 

Dwyane Wade knocked down a 20-foot fadeaway jumper that was reminiscent of Devin Booker’s buzzer beater Friday night. Matt Barnes’ turnover on the ensuing inbounds play led to a breakaway dunk by Wade and the game was over -- Bulls 112, Kings 107

“It’s tough,” veteran point guard Ty Lawson said. “We just didn’t have a good start. [Chicago] was knocking down tough shots at the same time and we were helping them with our offense. Our offense was putting up tough shots and missing them. They were able to run, get into the lane and get easy shots.”

Bad offense leading to bad defense plagued this team a season ago. Sacramento scored just 11 points in the first quarter while shooting 5-for-20 from the field. They added six turnovers as they fell behind by as many as 18. 

“Obviously, it was a slow start -- a very slow start -- that’s probably an understatement,” Darren Collison said. “Inexcusable. [If] we don’t put ourselves in the hole, probably gives us a shot to win.”

Sacramento bounced back a bit in the second quarter with a strong showing from the second unit, but they still trailed by 15 going to the intermission.

“It’s just energy,” Collison said. “It seemed like when we first came out, we didn’t have enough energy defensively or offensively. [Chicago] just took advantage of it.”

Coming out of the half, the Kings looked like a team waking up from a nap. They fell behind by 25 and coach Dave Joerger called a timeout. He left the same group on the floor coming out of the stoppage, but that didn’t last long. 

“I kind of did a quick pull in the first and I didn’t think it was right to do that a second time,” Joerger explained in post game. “I wanted to give them a chance to figure it out a little bit. Balls weren’t going in, they made some shots, we couldn’t get anything to go down in that quarter and then we got it turned around a little bit.”

With just under five minutes remaining in the third, the Bulls' lead had grown to 27 and Joerger was forced to make changes. 

Lawson is a tempo changer for Sacramento and his insertion into the lineup paid huge dividend again Monday night. He attacked Chicago in the paint, which opened the perimeter up for his teammates. By the end of the third, the 5-foot-11 reserve had his team down 16 and with momentum fully in the Kings favor.

Lawson’s 3-pointer with 5:41 remaining in the fourth cut the Bulls' lead to three. With 37.9 seconds remaining and the Kings trailing by two, his defensive stop on 6-foot-6 Michael Carter-Williams set up a jump ball situation. Somehow the Kings came down with the possession and Cousins tied the game with a basket and a foul with 30.8 seconds remaining.  

But the final 30 seconds was a horror show. Wade was nothing short of spectacular. His jumper and breakaway sealed the deal. 

For the 13th time this season, the Kings fell behind by 20 or more points. They often fight their way back into these games, but with the loss to Chicago, they are 1-12 in those situations.

To add insult to injury, Cousins picked up his 16th technical foul with 1.1 seconds remaining and barring a late reprieve from the league, he will miss Wednesday’s matchup against the Celtics due to league suspension.

“Big Cuz has a lot of production for us -- rebounding and scoring,” Lawson said. “Somebody’s got to pick it up. Everybody’s been working hard, so we have to pick up the slack.”

With the loss, the Kings fell to 20-32 on the season. They remain in the hunt for the eight seed in the Western Conference, but they now trail the Denver Nuggets by 3.5 games. 

Report: Former Kings star offers to pay for Stephon Clark's funeral

Report: Former Kings star offers to pay for Stephon Clark's funeral

Former Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins reportedly reached out to Stephon Clark's family and offered to cover the cost of his a funeral, according to The Sacramento Bee's Jason Jones

Sacramento police shot and killed Clark, a 22-year-old African-American father of two, on Sunday while he was holding a cellphone in the backyard of his grandmother's home. Clark was unarmed. 

During his six-and-a-half year tenure in Sacramento, Cousins was not only the face of the Kings on the court, but the face of outreach efforts off of it. He paid for the funeral of Sacramento-area high school football player Jaulon "JJ" Clavo, who was shot in 2015, and ran free children's basketball camps for the city's children during the summer.

He continued to run a camp last summer following a midseason trade to the New Orleans Pelicans, and has spoken at length about how much he treasures maintaining strong ties to Sacramento. He told The Sacramento Bee last February that he "still consider[s Sacramento] a home."

“It’s very important to me,” Cousins told The New Orleans Advocate in October. “I’ve built relationships in a lot of the different places I’ve been. My biggest thing is helping those kids and helping families in need. I was once in their position, and it would’ve done wonders if I could’ve had a little bit of help coming up. I’m just doing my part.”

Bodycam footage from the officer-involved shooting was released on Wednesday, setting off protests on Thursday. Protestors blocked traffic on Interstate 5 both ways, according to NPR, before locking arms and surrounding the Golden 1 Center ahead of Hawks-Kings that night. Those protests delayed the start of the game by 15 minutes, and an estimated 15,000 fans were unable to enter the arena. 

Kings find themselves in middle of protest as sports, politics collide: 'It has to stop'

Kings find themselves in middle of protest as sports, politics collide: 'It has to stop'

SACRAMENTO -- Basketball took a backseat Thursday evening at Golden 1 Center. Protesters surrounded the Sacramento Kings’ facility, locking arms and blocking the entrance to an estimated 15,000 fans. The game was delayed by nearly 15 minutes and the limited number of ticket holders that made it into the building were basically put on lock down and supplied with free food for the evening.

This issue at hand was the officer involved shooting death of Stephon Clark, a local South Sacramento man that was killed Sunday evening.

Video of the shooting was released by the Sacramento Police Department Wednesday afternoon, setting off community outcry in Sacramento.

In perhaps his finest moment as owner and chairman of the Sacramento Kings, Vivek Ranadivé took center court surrounded by his players to address the undersized crowd.

“On Sunday, we had a horrific, horrific tragedy in our community and on behalf of the players, the executives, ownership and the entire Kings family, I first of all want to express our deepest sympathies to the family. What happened was absolutely horrific and we are so very sorry for your loss.

I also want to say that we at the Kings recognize your people’s ability to protest peacefully and we respect that. We here at the Kings recognize that we have a big platform. It’s a privilege, but it’s also a responsibility. It’s a responsibility that we take very seriously and we stand before you; old, young, black, white, brown and we are all united in our commitment.

We recognize that it’s not just business as usual and we are going to work really hard to bring everybody together to make the world a better place, starting in our own community. We are going to work hard to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening again.”

Protests continued throughout the night in the courtyard adjacent to Golden 1 Center. Security and police stood guard at each entrance, trying to keep the events outside the building from spilling into the team’s two-year-old facility.

The locker room was quiet. Despite the 105-90 victory by the Kings, basketball was the last thing on anyone’s mind.

"I just want to say I 100 percent agree with the protest outside,” Garrett Temple said following the game. “If I didn't have a job to do, I probably would have been out there with them peacefully protesting, because what's going on has to stop. It has to stop.”

Sacramento’s leader behind the scenes, Temple has been active in reaching out in the community and fostering conversation with local youth. He wasn’t able to play in Thursday evening’s game due to a left ankle sprain, but that didn’t stop him from waiting around to field questions.

“I think the protest did what it was supposed to do, it brought a light to what’s going on, I think that’s what protests are for,” Temple added. “After that, something has to change. Us not playing a basketball game isn’t going to change the fact that police unfortunately view black and brown men as a threat, when they are certainly not.”

Temple said that he had viewed the video and admitted that it was dark. A split second decision by a police officer cost Clark, a 22-year-old African American, his life. According to published reports, Clark was holding his mobile phone and not a weapon as officers believed.

The tragic events played out in seconds, but it’s storyline that many communities around the country have had to face on countless occasions.

Temple isn’t one to sit by idly by and bite his tongue. He may have addressed the shooting on his own with or without the protest going on outside the arena. But with the events of the night, politics and sports intersected at 500 David J. Stern Walk, opening a door for Temple to express himself.

“To those that say politics and sports don’t intertwine, this is a democracy, people have a voice and we’re people at the end of the day,” Temple said. “Obviously, sports and politics definitely intertwined tonight. The protesters did what they wanted to do in terms of bring light to the situation.”

In addition to Ranadivé’s comments following then contest, the Kings put out two separate press releases. The first came out around 7 pm to update fans of the current status of the game.

"Tonight's game began with a delay. Due to law enforcement being unable to ensure ticketed fans could safely enter the arena, the arena remains closed and we ask fans outside to travel home. We will issue further information soon regarding a refund."

The second press release came later to insure fans that they would receive a refund.

“Due to law enforcement being unable to ensure ticketed fans could safely enter the arena, the arena remained closed as tonight’s game proceeded with a delay. In the coming days, guests who purchased tickets for tonight’s game directly through the Sacramento Kings or Ticketmaster will receive detailed instructions to facilitate a full refund.”

The Kings return to the court Sunday afternoon for a 3pm matinee game.