Rudy Gay was simply marvelous. Gay finished with 35 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, and a steal. Those 35 points came on just 16 shots. The rebounds often came at key moments. Gay had a few ill-advised heat checks, well-guarded, well behind the arc heat checks, and had three turnovers, but generally speaking I have no complaints about Gay's performance.
Isaiah Thomas played alright. He finished with 19 points, six assists, and two rebounds. But he took 21 shots to get his 19 points, and also chipped in three turnovers.
After Gay and Thomas, no Sacramento King scored in double figures. We often talk about this team having a "big three". And while the Kings' big three may not necessarily stack up to some other big threes around the league, games like this show just how crucial Sacramento's big three are for the Kings to have a shot at winning.
The Kings were once again without DeMarcus Cousins, who is still recovering from his rolled ankle. Hopefully Cousins comes back soon, because another double digit scorer on the floor could have turned this loss into a win.
Instead, the Kings settled for finding ever more creative ways to lose. 10 players saw the floor for the Kings, and every single one registered at least one turnover. Sacramento finished with 14 turnovers to Dallas' four. The Kings trailed at the half, but actually managed to take the lead in the third quarter, leading by as many as 14 at one point. But the Kings' poor defense sent the Mavs to the charity stripe far too often. Dirk Nowitzki, who finished with 34 points, was a perfect 11-11 from the free throw line. Monta Ellis was 8-9 from the stripe, and finished with 20 points.
Despite all this, the Kings found themselves within striking distance as the game drew to a close. With 23 seconds remaining, the Kings trailed 102-100. The Kings failed to foul immediately, as was the obvious plan. Instead, the Kings scrambled about, not wanting to foul Dirk Nowitzki. Given his perfect night from the line, that's a perfectly reasonable train of thought. But the Kings allowed precious time to tick away, finally fouling Monta Ellis. Unfortunately, Ellis was fouled while making a layup as the clock ticked away to 12 seconds.
The Kings allowed 10 seconds off the clock, fouled a good free throw shooter, and gave up a three point play as Ellis made the free throw. It was a painful sequence to watch. Reviewing it now I can hardly believe it was only 10 seconds. It felt like an eternity.
The Kings are a young team, and they are going to make mistakes like this. Growing pains are never fun to watch, and they're even less fun when the team doesn't seem to be learning from the mistakes.
Sacramento will have an immediate opportunity to learn from its mistakes, and the Kings visit the San Antonio Spurs Saturday evening. Don't forget that Sactown Royalty Night III is going down at O'Malley's in Old Sac. If you're able to attend, I highly recommend it.