But the Kings came back! And led by four! With the 2:45 left in the game, following a big swaggerific Tyreke Evans three, the Kings had a four-point lead at 91-87.
Here's what happened from there.
- After good ball movement, Ryan Gomes hit a pretty nice (and reasonably well-defended) long two-point jumper. 91-89 Kings.
- Pooh Jeter enters the ball to DeMarcus Cousins on the left block. Cousins spins baseline, slips through the double-team and puts up a reverse lay-up that doesn't touch the rim while staring at a completely wide-open and very hot Omri Casspi in the corner. Cousins claims he was hit in the face, and very likely was. Clippers ball.
- Eric Gordon gets a high screen from Blake Griffin. Evans fights over it, but Gordon has a half-step. Carl Landry's help is late, and Gordon manages to hang in the air to hit a pretty tough lay-up. 91-91.
- Evans calls for a high screen from Cousins, left elbow extended. Gordon gives Evans loads of space, and 'Reke pulls up for a three. It misses, and though Griffin has boxed out Landry, the long rebound bounces off a Clipper and out of bounds. Replay reveals that Cousins was giving DeAndre Jordan some trouble by being active in the lane. Kings ball with a new shot clock.
- After some failed attempts to get Landry set up on the left block, Cousins establishes position, and Jeter makes a successful entry pass. Griffin is defending. Cousins faces up, and goes baseline. He get under the backboard and tries to fade into the middle and lay it in with his right. Nine of out 10 of those drop. This one did not. Griffin rebounds. Clipper ball, 91-91, one minute left.
- Jordan sets a decent screen on Evans, who wasn't expecting it. Gordon is freed up for an open three on the left elbow. Swish. 94-91 Clippers.
- Evans and Jeter decide not to attempt entry passes to Cousins and Landry, respectively. Jeter takes a contested spot-up three with 12 seconds on the shot clock. Miss. Clippers rebound. Casspi fouls intentionally, and mistakenly. That was the Kings' foul to give. About 27 seconds left.
- After 10 seconds of Gordon huddled near midcourt, Evans, for some reason, fouls Gordon when the Clipper easily breaks the trap. It makes no sense, and Gordon hits two free throws. 96-91 Clippers.
- The Kings put all their shooters on the floor, and Jeter ... drives to the rim. Gordon strips Jeter, and the ball goes out of bounds off Jeter. Game (essentially) over.
It's a frustrating loss, because the Kings shouldn't be falling behind by 16 to a team like the Clippers. And, you know, defensive concessions like this should result in massive fines:
But it's not surprising, and not soul-crushing. The Kings lost. This is not new behavior. Cousins played well, we know Tyreke is better than what he's shown this season, and the team's brightest days are ahead. Way ahead? Perhaps. But ahead. This is not what we're waiting for. This is all we've got tonight, but this is not what we're waiting for. Breathe, breathe again, and look forward to winning days.