Ed Szczepanski - USA Today
Toney Douglas scored 17 points in the fourth quarter to help the Kings come back from an 8 point deficit and beat the Clippers for the first time in three attempts this season.
It’s Tony Douglas’ life!! We’re just living in it!!— Eduardo Montes (@ed_m7) March 20, 2013
I'm on record as hating the trade that sent Thomas Robinson to the Houston Rockets for Patrick Patterson, Cole Aldrich and Toney Douglas. I called it a short term fix for a team building for the long term. I still stand by that.
I overlooked however, the potential impact these additions have on the team for the long term. Patrick Patterson has been exactly what we expected: an efficient scorer who works hard on both ends of the court. But I don't think any of us expected Toney Douglas or Cole Aldrich to have the kind of impact that they have had for the Kings so far. Aldrich has provided Sacramento with a tall, defensive-minded and fundamentally sounded big man who knows his role and doesn't stray. Douglas has added another playmaker as well as a defensive presence in the backcourt. These three players have solidified the Kings chaotic bench rotation and as such we've seen much improved play all around.
In no game since the trade has the impact of the newcomers been felt more clearly than in tonight's surprising win against a very good Clippers team. Patrick Patterson returned to the bench after two games as a starter thanks to the return of DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins had a very good game in his return, scoring 17 points on just 10 shots and grabbing 11 rebounds. He also focused defensively down the stretch, even with foul trouble. But while Cousins contributions helped keep the Kings in the game, it was Sacramento's bench, sparked by their newcomers, that helped them win it.
Patrick Patterson was efficient as ever, scoring 13 points on 6-10 shooting with 5 rebounds to boot. Patterson has become more and more comfortable in the offense and his teammates have become better at finding him when he's open, although I still think he should probably see more offensive touches. Cole Aldrich came in for a significant period of the game due to early foul trouble on DeMarcus Cousins and continued to do the non-glamorous but important work of setting screens, collecting rebounds and defending the basket. Aldrich actually supplanted Chuck Hayes in tonight's rotation, which I found odd considering Hayes' historical success at guarding Blake Griffin. Griffin, for what it's worth, was ridiculously effective from the field, scoring a game-high 26 points on 11-14 from the field with 5 assists. He did pick up 5 fouls and just 4 rebounds in 38 minutes though.
The real stars of the game for the Kings were their bench guards of Marcus Thornton and Toney Douglas. Thornton had a spectacular first half, scoring 14 of his 25 points in the second quarter and helping the Kings get out to a 56-54 lead at the break. Douglas played his part as well, defending Chris Paul and dishing out five assists. His time to shine was still to come.
That time came in the fourth quarter with Sacramento down by five points after a horrifically disjointed third quarter. The officials called 18 fouls in the third quarter alone, disrupting any flow to the game. It was the culmination in a series of baffling decisions by the referees, on both sides of the court. Players were confused, fans were confused, and I think even the referees were confused as they even ended up calling the dreaded "inadvertent whistle", something an official never wants to happen.
But I digress.
The fourth quarter did not start out great for the Kings as the Clippers found Jamal Crawford in the corner for yet another three pointer to open up an 8 point lead, their largest of the game. Crawford finished with 25 points on 7-12 shooting, five of which were three pointers. Down 86-78 with 11:17 to go, the Kings were on the verge of letting another winnable game slip from their grasp unless they responded.
First, it was Tyreke Evans. Evans became a one-man wrecking crew, tearing through the lane and either finding his teammates or getting to the hoop for the basket or free throws. Evans scored 10 of Sacramento's next 15 points, during which the Clippers were held scoreless. Sacramento was now up 91-86.
The Clippers finally answered with a couple of plays from Jamal Crawford, including his fifth and final three. Crawford hit two free throws with 5:15 remaining to cut Sacramento's lead to just one at 94-93.
This is where Keith Smart made the decision to employ a "Hack-a-Shaq" strategy on DeAndre Jordan. Jordan is a career 43.2% Free Throw shooter, and is just at 40.8% for this season. On the next two possessions in a row, the Kings had Patrick Patterson foul Jordan intentionally to send him to the line and were rewarded as Jordan went just 1 for 4. Meanwhile, Toney Douglas hit a jumper and then found Patrick Patterson for another one to extend Sacramento's lead to 98-94. The Kings failed to foul Jordan a third time, instead fouling Chris Paul and allowing Vinny Del Negro to remove Jordan from the game. Paul made both free throws and it was back to a one-possession game.
Then Toney Douglas happened.
First John Salmons found him wide open in the right corner for three, which he nailed, putting the Kings back up by five. On the other end, DeMarcus Cousins drew a crucial charge on Blake Griffin, getting the ball back and preventing Los Angeles from answering. The Kings found Douglas open in the right corner again, and this time he nailed it after a quick pump fake to get rid of the defender running at him. This gave Sacramento an eight point lead of their own for the first time.
Sacramento got lost on defense on the next possession, helping too much on Chris Paul and leaving Blake Griffin wide open at the basket for a dunk. On the other side, it appeared as if the Kings were going to have a broken possession before DeMarcus Cousins saved the ball to Douglas deep beyond the three point line. With just three seconds left on the shot clock, Douglas was forced to shoot, and it hit nothing but net.
Douglas showcased his defensive repertoire as well, forcing Chris Paul into throwing the ball away on the very next defensive possession. Instead of opting for a heat check and possible bad shot, Douglas drove the lane, waited for the defense to collapse and found Marcus Thornton open from downtown for Sacramento's fourth three in a row. The Kings were now up 110-98 with 1:40 remaining.
Douglas finished with 19 points on 6-10 shooting with 7 assists in 26 minutes. 17 of Douglas' points came in the fourth quarter. He was a big part in helping to hold Clippers guard Chris Paul to just 2-10 shooting and 7 turnovers.
It was a great game and a great atmosphere at Sleep Train Arena. At the end, Clippers television play-by-play announcer Ralph Lawler said "It would be a shame if pro basketball left this central California city".
The Kings get a one-day breather before playing the battered Minnesota Timberwolves at home on Thursday, followed by Here We Buy Night 2 on Sunday against the Sixers. There is still plenty of time to buy tickets for that game and plenty of affordable tickets available. Even if you can't go or can't afford to go, please let people know about it, or perhaps offer to buy tickets for someone who wants to go but needs help We've set up a thread for such transactions.
For the opponent's perspective, visit Clips Nation.
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|Los Angeles Clippers||23||31||29||18||101|