SACRAMENTO -- Death by a thousand cuts. That is what the first half of the 2019-20 Kings season feels like.
After another demoralizing loss at the buzzer, the Kings received the league’s hollow excuse of an apology when the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report hit the wire one day after falling to the Orlando Magic, 114-112.
Aaron Gordon hit a circus shot with 1.1 seconds remaining to give Orlando a 113-112 lead. On the play, Cory Joseph was called for a personal foul, which sent Gordon to the free throw line.
“Joseph (SAC) has his defensive position established against Gordon (ORL) but he does not deliver contact as he begins his upward shooting motion,” the Last Two Minute report states.
With 1.1 seconds remaining the Kings had one more shot to tie the game. De’Aaron Fox sent a lob to Harrison Barnes at the rim. The replay clearly shows Markell Fultz bump Barnes on the left arm. Wesley Iwundu then flies in and hits Barnes in the right bicep and chest area as he attempts to get a shot off.
Foul or no? pic.twitter.com/7K5LcOK3SL— Kings on NBCS (@NBCSKings) January 14, 2020
The league refused to acknowledge the foul on Iwundu, which would have put Barnes at the line with a chance to tie the game and send it to overtime.
“During the inbound pass Iwundu (ORL) and Barnes (SAC) both reach for the ball and as Barnes receives the pass and attempts the shot Iwundu makes marginal contact to his front,” the Last Two Minute report states.
Without question, Iwundu’s actions affected Barnes’ balance and rhythm as he attempted to hit the tying bucket.
This is the 18th time the Kings have shown up on the Last Two Minute report this season. They are 7-11 in those contests, including seven straight losses in games decided in the final two minutes of a game.
In five of the 11 losses, the league acknowledged a mistake in the final minute of play that had a direct impact on the Kings’ ability to win the game. In two of their wins, the league singled out a missed call that favored Sacramento.
There is no recourse. The league’s replay system is flawed and doesn’t allow teams to challenge plays where no foul is called, like the loss Monday night to the Magic.
Every close game is an opportunity for the Kings to gain valuable experience, but the current trend indicates Sacramento might not be learning from mistakes. At 15-25, the Kings are running out of time to turn their season around.