If I hadn't watched it myself, I wouldn't have believed it. That entire final sequence, that is. The what-the-Frahm! turnover on the sideline inbounds play that gave Caron Butler the ballin the open court. The loose ball foul on Tyreke Evans that let the Wizards get within one point. And, of course, the brilliant steal in isolation -- plus the two sunk free throws -- which iced the game.
That felt really good.
Evans was, of course, a maniac in only the positive sense (except for that foul -- hard to fault him for it). The urgent drives to the rim, the blocked shots (two!), the transition passes, the steal ... there was one stretch in which Evans was clearly ineffective, there in that second half, when he took two long jumpers and couldn't get the team offense organized. But that's a small slice of spoiled pie compared to all the rest.
And, ladies and gentlemen, please turn your attention to the 6'9 forward out of Israel, number 18, Omri Casspi. 22 points, five rebounds, a steal and a block. And yes, he is a fan favorite.
Jason Thompson (17/13/2) and Andres Nocioni (20/6) also played well, with J.T. doing massive damage in the first half. The Spencer Hawes benching (Hawes finally got into the game late in the third quarter, and played eight total minutes) will be discussed more before Friday's game in Minnesota, and suffice it to say that it didn't a) fix the Kings' interior defense, or b) fix the Kings' defensive rebounding. Hawes happened to be a +9 in the game, though the awful Wizards bench surely has something to do with that.
I watched the ESPN feed in the second half, resolving to see what Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy could say about Tyreke and Omri. Jackson was smitten, and JVG (sarcastic as ever) had great things to say about Omri, especially after a lefty drive through the heart of Wizards defense. The crew took the Kings seriously -- it wasn't some patronizing "oh wow, look at the Kings go!" banter but REAL respect. Of course, it's the players who demand that. But it was good to see they earned it this quickly, both in the decision to air the game and in the actual game discourse.
I have feeling that ESPN will be getting the Kings back on national TV in seasons to come.