Kings

One important feature that absolutely needs to be written into new gambling laws

One important feature that absolutely needs to be written into new gambling laws

The globe is littered meters deep with the debris from the unintended consequences of useful deeds, and so it shall be with legalized gambling.

Some things can be foreseen, like a likely rise in the number of gambleholics and the need to treat them. That is a public health issue, and our record on public health has been waning for some time now as we sadly transition to a “hey, you asked for it so don’t bother me” society.

But there is one that has not been raised in the euphoria of the Supreme Court ruling in Murphy v. NCAA, the lawsuit that ended for the moment the ban on legalized sports wagering in every state but Nevada, and unearths quite a different ethical and, weirdly, public relations concern.

Tanking, and the benefits thereof.

While there are those who have mentioned the benefit to the leagues of increased tip-to-buzzer interest in otherwise unappealing games – say, Sacramento Kings-Memphis Grizzlies – it has not been pointed out that there might be the possibility that both teams in that scenario might well be trying to lose the game at the mandate of their employer.

In other words, in a new world order where losing can be winning (see Hinkie, Sam, and Process, The), out-and-out game fixing can be considered shrewd business. After all, if it’s legal to try and lose and legal to bet on a team that wants to lose, what would prevent an owner or general manager who is already trying to manipulate results for an improved draft position to make some money on the side?

Based on the law, nothing.

There are rules in place in each league that prohibit employees (players, front office types, etc.) from gambling on games, of course, but employers? Employers tend to do what they please when they please because there is nobody save the Securities and Exchange Commission to stop them. As a hypothetical, if Mark Cuban, who is chosen here because he has openly spoken of his Dallas Mavericks tanking for the long-term good of his franchise, can seize upon purposeful losing as a wise business strategy despite its ethical shortcomings, legalized gambling allows him to profit more directly from losing on purpose, and with legalized gambling, it's all good in the neighborhood.

And who in the NBA can tell him that that is wrong? Certainly not Adam Silver, who works for Cuban in his capacity as a salaried employee. Certainly not his fellow owners, who might want to choose the same strategy if they have not already done so, and in any event are loath to tell their partner/competitors how to run their businesses.

In other words, one of the features of any new gambling law or laws would almost have to include a codicil that prevents performers and their employers from the legal act of wagering, and there would have to be ways to police that effectively.

Good luck with that last one.

Otherwise, we will have a sports landscape in which the Arnold Rothsteins will be inside the games themselves, and the veneer of trust that binds sports to its fans will become just another cynical joke.

This is by no means inevitable, of course; self-preservation based on wisdom may be underused as a tactic but it can be employed.

But the devil in all social legislation is in the details. We have focused on the number of ways in which the gambling pie will be divided up, all of them leading directly to the consumer, but we have ignored the more basic one that allows teams to profit from failure in the most tangible way of all – by manipulating results for direct profit.

If the lawmakers do not comprehend that in their drafting of bills, and if the sports owners do not understand the danger they invite if they do not honor a pledge never to wager on any teams in their sport, the games they sell can be perceived as nothing more than rolling scams, and scams have a short shelf life.

In the haste to get on the gambling gravy train, we all run the risk of watching our most lucrative form of entertainment eat itself by its entrepreneurs not being content with making their gambling money the old-fashioned way – by entering into deals with the bookmakers and letting other people be the suckers.

Kings learn another harsh lesson, blow massive lead in loss to Nets

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USATSI

Kings learn another harsh lesson, blow massive lead in loss to Nets

SACRAMENTO -- The hum of a stocked glass-door refrigerator in the corner was the only discernible noise in the Kings’ locker room Tuesday night. The weight of a monumental 123-121 loss to the Brooklyn Nets hung in the air, and no one was in a mood to speak to the media.

In a season of harsh lessons, blowing a 25-point fourth quarter lead and giving up the winning bucket with 0.8 seconds remaining may have been the straw that broke the Kings' backs.

“It’s just a bad loss,” a frustrated De’Aaron Fox said.

“We blew it. I hate losing, especially like that,” rookie Marvin Bagley said.

After destroying Brooklyn with a 20-0 run to begin the second half, the Kings looked unbeatable headed into the fourth quarter.

Bagley was having another breakout game. Fox looked finished for the evening when Joerger turned to Yogi Ferrell off the bench.

Sacramento led by 103-78 heading to the final frame. They were well on they’re way to their 35th victory, and a move back to .500.

Then, D’Angelo Russell caught fire.

The Kings have seen a player do something similar in the past. Golden State’s Klay Thompson hit the team for 37 points in a third quarter of a game back in Jan. 2015. But this was different.

This wasn’t a run to blow a team out. Russell’s 27-point outburst in the fourth came in a hostile environment, as every point cut into a big deficit. The All-Star guard finished the evening with 44 points out of necessity for his club, and the Kings had no answer.

“Well, that certainly can be a tough one to take, but it’s a good opportunity for our guys to learn and hopefully we’ll be in those opportunities again in the future where we have a lead and we don’t relax,” coach Dave Joerger said. “We relaxed and were very casual, didn’t run back on defense, turned the basketball over a ton and took a lot of jump shots because we thought it was going to be easy.”

The lead evaporated quickly. Sacramento started missing shots, and turning the ball over. Russell started pulling up for 3-pointers on the break, and hitting them.

A stunned Golden 1 Center crowd was silenced as the Nets hit the Kings with one blow after another.

“They made shots, we turned the ball over, they got it going and got hot and they finished the game better than we did,” Fox said.

When Russell missed a couple of shots, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson picked up the slack. When they needed a big 3-pointer, veteran Jared Dudley knocked it down.

Joerger tried different looks in the fourth, but nothing seemed to work. Sacramento shot just 22.7 percent in the final 12 minutes, and turned the ball over seven times. Only Buddy Hield hit more than one shot in the final 12 minutes, and even he went just 2-of-6 from the field, and missed all three of his 3-pointers.

“They wanted it more than us,” Hield said. “They out-toughed us. Outplayed us. They were the guys that were the most confidence. They were talking, having fun. They took the fun away from us in the fourth quarter.”

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In the end, the Nets hit big shots and the Kings came up short. The ball got sticky, the game slowed down and a team with a lot to play for handed Sacramento a devastating loss.

“We kind of relaxed in that moment and the basketball gods punished us. That’s how it goes,” Bogdan Bogdanovic said.

With the defeat, the Kings dropped to 34-36 on the season. Combined with a Los Angeles Clippers victory, Sacramento fell seven games out of the eighth spot in the Western Conference standings with 12 games remaining.

Kings takeaways: What we learned in 123-121 loss on Nets' unreal rally

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Kings takeaways: What we learned in 123-121 loss on Nets' unreal rally

SACRAMENTO -- Desperately needing a win over a tough Brooklyn Nets team, the Kings looked like world beaters in the third quarter.

Then it all fell apart Tuesday night at Golden 1 Center.

Riding an incredible performance by D’Angelo Russell, the Nets erased the Kings' 25-point third-quarter lead. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson got a flip to fall with eight-tenths of a second remaining, and Buddy Hield’s desperation heave came up short as Brooklyn pulled out a shocking 123-121 win.

Here are three takeaways as the Kings dropped to 34-36 on the season, with their slim playoff hopes fading even more.

The good run

Sacramento held a 66-58 lead going to intermission, and then the third quarter happened. The Kings came out on fire, punishing the Nets with a 20-0 run to open the second half.

Brooklyn slowed woke up to score 20 points in the quarter, but the damage was done. Sacramento outscored the visitors 37-20 to take a 25-point lead into the fourth.

The Kings shot 69.6 percent in the quarter, including 4 of 5 from 3-point range. Harrison Barnes scored 12 of his 17 points in the quarter, and Fox added nine as the Kings hit the jets and blew the Nets off the court.

The not-so-good run

An NBA game doesn’t end after 36 minutes, and the Kings learned that the hard way.

Led by an incredible fourth-quarter outburst from Russell, Brooklyn (37-36) stormed back in the final 12 minutes and maintained its position as the Eastern Conference's No. 7 seed.

Russell torched the Kings for 27 of his game-high 44 in the final period, single-handedly bringing the Nets to victory. He didn’t hit the game-winner, but with all of the attention focused on him, the Nets found a way to put the ball in the basket.


Bagley puts on a show

The rookie is growing by leaps and bounds every time he steps on the court. After dropping in 20 points and grabbing nine rebounds against the Bulls on Sunday, he destroyed the Nets' front line on Tuesday.

Bagley shot a perfect 8 of 8 from the field in the first half for 17 points. He backed that up after the break, finishing with a team-high 28 points on 12-of-15 shooting to go with seven rebounds.

The 20-year-old is looking to finish the season strong. He’s posted back-to-back 20 point games despite playing on a minutes restriction.