SACRAMENTO -- At 13-28, the Sacramento Kings have lost in a variety of ways. Slow starts doom them early. Poor shooting nights have happened, as has the occasional blow out. They’ve lost eight games by 20 or more points and even a 46 point stinker to the Atlanta back in mid-November.
On Thursday night at Golden 1 Center, the Kings battled back multiple times from double-digit deficits. They entered the fourth quarter trailing the Los Angeles Clippers 100-89, but didn’t go away.
Sacramento battled back, taking a one point lead on three separate occasions in the final frame. They were in the game all the way down to the wire.
And then for one of the few times this season, the game appeared to shift on one play. Down two with 15.2 seconds remaining, big man Kosta Koufos came up with a steal in the backcourt, giving Sacramento an opportunity to tie or go ahead.
Koufos put the ball on the floor to advance it to the mid-court line and then made a quick pass to point guard George Hill. In the blink of an eye, Tyrone Wallace flashed in front of Hill, taking the ball straight to the rim for a dunk and a four point Clippers lead with 10.9 seconds remaining.
“Sometimes that stuff happens at the end of games and you’ve got to wrap your arms around your teammate and love on them, because we’re all going to feel, like, terrible,” head coach Dave Joerger said following the 121-115 loss to the Clippers.
It’s a moment that hurts. It’s also a moment that overshadows so many other issues that played out over 48 minutes of basketball.
Zach Randolph missed a tip-in at 2:34 mark and then turned the ball over with 1:38 remaining.
George Hill missed two free throws in the final 1:10 of the game and went 1-for-6 in the final quarter.
Buddy Hield shot 1-of-5 from the field in the fourth and missed all three of his 3-point attempts.
“That can happen to anyone,” Bogdan Bogdanovic said. “Game is not with one mistake. We so many mistakes from beginning to start of the second half and end of the game. Kosta was in that situation. Could have been me, could be anyone else. That happened. That’s basketball.”
Koufos had a monster game for Sacramento. He posted his first double-double of the season, finishing with 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting and chipped in 14 rebounds. He was on the court in crunchtime because of his strong play.
Following the loss, the 7-footer got dressed early and then waited in his stall to answer to the media. He was visibly shaken by the final moments of the game, but he’s a pro’s pro.
“It was an error on my part, just tighten it up, that’s it,” Koufos said.
To add insult to injury, the highlights of the game played on the TV screens in the locker room moments later. When it came time to watch the turnover, Koufos couldn’t look away.
It’s a season of development for the Kings. Moments like this are going to occur, even for veteran players like Koufos.
In another of many scheduling anomalies this season, the Kings will get another shot at the Clippers Saturday afternoon at Staples Center. There’s no time to overthink a loss in the NBA. It’s onto the next game.