SACRAMENTO -- The NBA can be a physical game and every once in a while, things get out of hand.
In the fourth quarter of the Kings’ 124-110 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, two-way big man Chimezie Metu went baseline and hammered a monster dunk all over the Grizzlies' Jonas Valanciunas. What happened next was not something you see very often on an NBA court.
The sequence will be replayed like the Zapruder film back at the NBA office. Metu hangs on the rim with nowhere to come down. Valanciunas doesn’t clear out of the circle and then hooks his left arm under Metu’s left leg.
“He dunked the ball, looked like Valanciunas was under him still, so he hung on the rim, looked like he pulled his leg,” De’Aaron Fox said.
What happened next looked dangerous. Valanciunas turned with his arm hooked under Metu’s leg and spun him off the rim. Metu crashed to the floor, although he was able to bounce back up quickly afterwards.
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“Yes, that was a dangerous play,” coach Luke Walton said. “He hooked him by the leg and tried to throw him down. So I didn’t understand how that is not, in what today’s NBA is, is not even considered a flagrant foul. I don’t see how that’s a basketball play.”
According to Walton, the officiating crew said they did not think it was excessive. They called an unsportsmanlike technical foul on Valanciunas, but nothing else.
At the time, the Kings were trailing by 11. If a flagrant foul would have been assessed, they would have had two shots and the ball back.
Instead, Valanciunas went to the other end of the court and tried to recreate the play for his team, with the only difference being that Cory Joseph didn’t return the favor and throw the Grizzlies big to the floor.
Walton was clear that while he disagreed with the call, that was not the reason his team came up short.
“That’s not why we lost the game,” Walton said. “We lost the game because we didn’t play with the right passion, the right fire, the right togetherness -- all the things that are important.”
The league office will likely look at the play again on Monday. Regardless of the questionable play by Valanciunas, the Grizzlies were the aggressor from the opening tip.
Sacramento needs to find the energy they showed over the past few weeks if they hope to snap their three-game skid. The task doesn’t get any easier for the Kings on Monday when a very good Brooklyn Nets team rolls into Golden 1 Center.
Either the Kings step up and find a way to get physical with the Nets or they’ll probably lose by a lot more than 14 points to one of the best teams in Eastern Conference.