Rewind: Basketball Gods help Kings in thrilling victory over Toronto

Rewind: Basketball Gods help Kings in thrilling victory over Toronto

SACRAMENTO -- When it really matters, the ball almost never bounces the Sacramento Kings’ way. They are the Charlie Brown of the NBA. Always so close to that magic moment, only to have the ball ripped out from underneath them as they hurl through the air with a barbaric yelp, landing firmly on their backside with nothing to show for all their hard work but bruised ego and another loss.

It happened again on Sunday night. Mired in a four game losing streak, they had one of the best the Eastern Conference has to offer on the ropes. Up three with 2.4 seconds remaining, all Sacramento needed was a stop to send the Golden 1 Center crowd into a frenzy.

The Toronto Raptors inbounded the ball to veteran guard Terrence Ross. He took a separation dribble and then launched a 29-foot 3-point attempt over the outstretched arms of Matt Barnes. Stunned, the Sacramento faithful turned from elated, back to Charlie Brown in the matter of .1 of a second.

Just like so many times before, they were hurling through the air with nowhere soft to land. Overtime.

“I knew I tipped it, I knew he didn’t get it off in time, I knew it didn’t start on time, I also knew we were going to overtime,” center DeMarcus Cousins said from his locker stall. “That’s just usually how things work for us, meaning the Kings.”

Cousins remembered the last time something like this happened. It was two seasons ago against the Memphis Grizzlies and the Kings’ current head coach Dave Joerger. With 0.4 seconds left, the Grizzlies threw a ball under the basket to Courtney Lee and he somehow managed to curl the ball up from his waist and into the basket for a stunning victory.

The Kings cried foul that night, telling the officials that big man Ryan Hollins had touched the ball at the point of inbounds, which should have started the clock. The officials saw it another way and handed Joerger and his crew a big win.  

Joerger had a front row seat for the action again, standing just feet away from the inbounder as the final sequence unfolded.

“I said right away, he tipped it, he tipped it, he tipped it,” Joerger said.

Cousins instantly ran to the officials and asked them to review the tape. He knew the ball had glanced off his fingertips and if that was the case, it might have taken too long for Ross to get the shot off.

It seemed like eternity. Again, the Kings hurling through the air knowing that they never catch a break. After an elongated review, which included the play being watched countless times both in Sacramento and in Secaucus, New York at the replay center, official Mike Callahan waived off the shot, giving the Kings a much needed 102-99 victory. 

"I think we showed who we really are, what we're really capable of doing," Cousins said. "We locked in as a team. We didn't get distracted with what was going on."

According to the official transcript from Callahan to a pool reporter following the game, Cousins did indeed tip the ball, and the clock should have started .1 of a second earlier than it did. After watching the play countless times, the officials were able to determine that Ross took exactly 2.5 seconds to release the ball.

Cousins’ tip saved the game and the Kings ran to their locker room to celebrate a hard fought win. For one night, Charlie Brown didn’t miss. He hit it right on the laces and it was bedlam in Golden 1 Center.

“It was a tough NBA game, I hope it was fun to watch,” Joerger said. “It was fun to be part of.”

It wasn’t a party in the locker room. It can’t be when you are looking at 5-9 record on the season. But there was a sense of relief amongst the players.

“We’re just trying to get off our snide,” Rudy Gay said following the contest. “Obviously, we really needed that win. We came out, executed, played well, played through adversity.

“We don’t never get those breaks. So it was really surprising. I guess it was the basketball gods looking down on us because we played a really good game.”

The game will go down as the tip game, but the tale of the tape will show much more. Sacramento’s defense shut down one of the league’s best scorers in DeMar DeRozan for the second time this season. The high scoring wing came into the contest averaging 33.0 points per game and when it was all tallied in the end, he posted just 12 points on 3-of-15 shooting.

On their home floor, the Kings were outrebounded 48-37, but they shared the ball, coming away with 26 assists to just 14 turnovers.

Gay was the star of the night. He found another gear in the fourth quarter, scoring seven of his 23 in the final frame. He added nine rebounds, four assists and three blocks in the win.

Cousins struggled with his shot, but still managed to score 19 points and grab 10 rebounds. In his first start of the season, Darren Collison came away with 15 points and a game-high nine assists while turning the ball over just once in 32 minutes of action.

The Kings finish up their five-game homestand with games against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday and then the Houston Rockets on Friday before hitting the road for a six game trip out East.

Kings Under Review: De'Aaron Fox leads comeback over dysfunctional Bulls

Kings Under Review: De'Aaron Fox leads comeback over dysfunctional Bulls

The Kings did exactly what they needed to do on their road trip against primarily cellar-dwelling teams - win three out of four and return home over .500 on the season. But for 24 minutes, it looked like Sacramento might not be so lucky.

The dysfunctional Chicago Bulls (6-22) gave the Kings all they could handle early, but the visiting squad came out with a different mindset in the third quarter. With a dominant performance in the second half, the Kings pulled away for a 108-89 victory.

Sacramento currently stands at 14-12 on the season with the win. Here are a few positives and negative from the game:


First half blues

Buddy Hield and De'Aaron Fox struggled in the first half. Fox missed all five of his shot attempts and posted just two assists before the break. Hield hit a late 3-pointer to get on the board after missing his first five attempts.

The Kings won't normally be able to afford either of their top two scorers to have an off night, let alone both of them. The Bulls led by as many as 14 in the second quarter and took an 11 point lead into the intermission. But then they let Sacramento off the hook.

A better team could have put the Kings away early while Fox and Hield were adjusting their energy levels. 


Fox steals the show

After looking out of sorts early, Fox broke out in the third quarter. It started on the defensive end with a pair of steals, but once the 20-year-old got going on the offensive end, the Bulls had no answer.

Fox dropped 16 points in the period, hitting 3-of-4 from behind the arc and single handedly changing the entire pace and tempo of the game.

When Fox is hitting from the perimeter, he's tough to stop. When he's playing elite defense, he's impossible.


Bagley vs. Carter

The battle of the rookie bigs was fun to watch. Marvin Bagley (#2 pick) and Wendell Carter Jr. (#7 pick) teamed up last season at Duke and faced off on Monday for the first time in their young NBA careers.

Bagley scored 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting, showing his high-end potential as an offensive weapon. Carter dropped in eight points and eight rebounds, while his team lost by 19.

Although Bagley came away with the stat line and the win, he also posted a second straight sub-par rebounding night, which is why he makes both the positive and the negative list.

Since returning from a back injury three games ago, Bagley has grabbed a total of five rebounds. That's a concern.


Impacting the game

Willie Cauley-Stein isn't consistently scoring or consistently rebounding, but he is consistently producing for the Kings.

Against the Bulls, he hit the glass for a season-high 16 rebounds to go with 11 points, three assists and three steals.

The double-double was the ninth of the season for the Kings' starting center. He had a total of 12 double-doubles in 73 games played last season.

Cauley-Stein isn't perfect, but he's seems to be figuring out what his team needs on a nightly basis. He's active on both ends of the court and he's making an impact.

Willie Cauley-Stein sees Kings culture change: 'It's a brotherhood'

Willie Cauley-Stein sees Kings culture change: 'It's a brotherhood'

You can see it when you watch these Sacramento Kings. They play with joy and energy. They play for the one common goal of winning games, not for one individual player's stats.

Fourth-year center Willie Cauley-Stein has been there for some bad moments, and now he's seeing something completely different.

"We're a ballclub now. We're linked. We're together," Cauley-Stein said Monday, according to The Sacramento Bee. "Regular teams be on some regular s***, but we ain't regulars. We're a club. It's a brotherhood."

The Kings just wrapped up a 3-1 road trip with a 108-89 win over the dysfunctional Bulls. Sacramento has a 14-12 record and sits half a game behind the Dallas Mavericks for the eighth spot in the Western Conference playoff picture.

The next step for this "brotherhood" is to keep this strong play going and make a push for a playoff spot.