On paper, this is just another road loss for the Sacramento Kings (their 26th to be exact). Those who watched the game were in for a treat though, as Sacramento defied all expectations and made this a back-and-forth affair through regulation and one overtime before finally collapsing in double overtime.
Marcus Thornton was especially good, scoring a season-high 36 points and making a career-best 8 three pointers. 18 of Thornton's points came in the 1st half as he carried the Kings to a first half lead. He unleashed a barrage of triples late in the fourth quarter to rally Sacramento and almost came away with a clutch steal and breakaway layup that would have given Sacramento the lead in the final overtime. Unfortunately, Dwyane Wade made a spectacular defensive play on that end, blocking Thornton's layup and sparking a Miami run that ultimately decided the game.
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were both phenomenal in the Heat's victory. James capped off the best month of his career with 40 points (14 of 23 from the field), 8 rebounds and a career-high 16 assists. Wade almost joined him in the 40 point club but fell a point shy. Wade had a couple chances to end the game in regulation, but missed two huge free throws in a row with Miami up two, and then missed a stepback attempt on the other end to try to win it after the Kings had tied it up.
Aside from Marcus Thornton, Sacramento's bench didn't get much time at all. Patrick Patterson actually finished second in bench minutes with 10:13, but barely touched the ball on offense during that time. The starters all played heavy minutes, led by John Salmons' 50:03. Salmons scored 15 points and had 7 assists, but made a bigger impact on the defensive end where he played LeBron James as tough as could be reasonably expected. Salmons had a big block on James at the end of the first overtime that bought the Kings another five minutes.
DeMarcus Cousins made himself known on the inside offensively, finishing with 24 points and 15 rebounds, one of which was the crucial tip-in off of Isaiah Thomas' miss at the end of regulation that tied the game. Cousins was far less impressive on the defensive end of the ball though, as he continuously left his man at the basket to help, and Miami made him pay. This is where most, if not all, of Chris Andersen's 10 points came from.
Last but not least, Sacramento's backcourt of Tyreke Evans and Isaiah Thomas handled themselves well. Thomas, who was averaging 29 points against the Heat coming into tonight, scored 14 points to go with 9 assists. Evans rebounded from a slow start to score 26 points on 11-19 from the field, showing increasing confidence and poise with his mid-range jumper.
Unfortunately, Sacramento's superb effort still ended up as a loss and as a fan, I wonder why we don't see this kind of effort from the Kings on a more regular basis. Hopefully the Kings realize that they won't start winning more games until they do so.
They'll make the short trip to Orlando tonight to play the Magic tomorrow.
For the opponent's perspective, visit Hot Hot Hoops.
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