Pride can't fully explain such a surprising turnaround. Yes, this is the Lakers. But Sacramento has hosted the Lakers for huge, momentum-shifting games during this rebuild without getting this. Remember the game Charles Barkley provided color analysis for? It wasn't a dissimilar situation, momentum-wise. And the Kings came out flat.
This time, flat is the furthest descriptor pertaining to the Kings' performance.
Pride's some of it -- pride in beating the Lakers and the player everyone seems to hate. Pride in snapping the home losing streak. Pride in snapping the losing streak. Pride in showing you're an NBA player and you deserve minutes. Pride in defense. Pride in hitting corner j's next to the Laker bench.
But there's something more there, and I'm completely lost in figuring it out. The only guess I can make is that the team smelled blood in the water and wanted desperately to help Reggie Theus save his job.
Even in Amick's game story today, he mentions how close Theus had been to being sacked. I mean, it was palpable. That Denver loss was absolutely abysmal. If Theus was already somewhere behind the 8-ball before that game (he was), it nearly sealed the deal. I know some of the players read the press, some don't. But you have to imagine they all knew Coach was in trouble.
This isn't to understate the pride Reggie himself showed Tuesday night. His rotations were great. He had a strong sense of the mistakes he would allow and those he would not. Garcia, Brown, Beno, Donté -- all saw a quick hook at some point, usually after an unfocused, sloppy play. Trying hard and not getting it done? That's alright -- but focus and try hard. Mikki wasn't exactly racking up blocks or rebounds, but he played his tail off after the Bynum spin move. Mikki fought and scratched and cla-- ahem. He fought.
Shock didn't get his shots to fall and had a couple turnovers ... but he rebounded a few balls that few players in the league could get. Shock and Hawes are both good rebounders, but here's the difference: Hawes establishes good position and gets every rebound he is supposed to. Shock flies all around the halfcourt and grabs balls he has no business touching. That's why he is a great offensive rebounder -- he finds open space and chases. And that effort saved some Kings bacon in this game.
If Salmons weren't a teetotaler, he would've earned himself a comped night at the Hardwood Suite for his battle with Kobe. Kobe hit one more FG than Johnny ... while taking 12 more shots. And a bunch of the makes came when the game had been more-or-less decided. Salmons also had more assists, more rebounds, fewer turnovers, and more steals ... and his +/- (+11) was better than Kobe's (-15) by ... 26 points. And this came as each guarded each other most of the night, with some help on each end.
I could go on and on and on and on and on ... and I probably will later today. Suffice it to say this is the biggest win since Game 3, 2006 first round, eclipsing last year's home win over Dallas. Instead of weighing the relative merits of Chuck Person and Kenny Natt, Ricky Rubio and Blake Griffin, I'm glad we're basking in the afterglow of a win over the Lakers. We've got two days before our hearts are on the line again, so let's enjoy it.