Former Kings return to Sacramento, take loss hard

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

John Salmons, Greivis Vasquez, Chuck Hayes and Patrick Patterson were all back in Sacramento on Wednesday. While the Raptors have played better since the trade, the visitor's locker room was full of long faces after the loss to the Kings.

When players return to the cities that they were traded from they expect to play well. In fact, they try to prove to their former team that they made a mistake by trading them.

The Toronto Raptors had four players in Wednesday's game against the Kings that had the opportunity to do just that.

But the Kings' defense (at least through the first three quarters) and an unbelievable 51 free throw attempts derailed the hopes of John Salmons, Greivis Vasquez, Chuck Hayes and Patrick Patterson for a chance at redemption.

They, of course, were sent to the Raptors in the deal that brought Rudy Gay, Quincy Acy and Aaron Gray to the Kings on Dec. 8.

After the Kings defeated the Raptors 109-101 Wednesday night, Johnny Salmons looked completely distraught and lost in thought in the visitor's locker room with his head down. When reporters approached him, he took a few moments to collect himself before he answered the first question.

"Just didn't come out like a team that was hungry," Salmons said quietly.

Vasquez was equally down following the loss.

"I wanted to win this game, it was special because I was here, obviously, but unfortunately it didn't work out," said Vasquez, who finished with five points, four assists and two rebounds in 26 minutes before fouling out.

Center Chuck Hayes had five points, five rebounds and three assists in 17 minutes (honestly, not a bad game for the Chuck Wagon). But he also fouled out. Hayes said he was surprised the Raptors didn't come flying out of the gate given the history between the two teams.

He labeled it the worst game Toronto has played since the trade.

"The history that happened a couple of months ago, you know, it sucks," Hayes told Sactown Royalty. "This is one probably you lose a couple of hours of sleep."

The former Kings shouldn't get too down on themselves, however, because the Raptors have played well since the trade. They are the No. 3 seed (yes, you read that right) in the Eastern Conference right now with a record of 26-23 and have a good shot at the playoffs while the Kings do not.

There was nothing personal between the players themselves on the floor Wednesday night. As Akis pointed out, a lot of joking going on. But these guys clearly wanted this game.

Hayes said he and DeMarcus Cousins chatted before tip-off about their families. Family is what hit Hayes the hardest when the trade happened. Trades occur all the time in the NBA and often lost in the analysis is the human aspect of it.

"It was not expected. It was on a Sunday. I was checking my fantasy football and I got a phone call from my agent and the first thing I thought of was my son," Hayes said. "I understand it's a business, I understand it comes with the territory, but ... my first reaction was my son's going to need a passport so I had to go get him a passport and start packing up his stuff."

For Salmons, this trade stung more than when he was traded by the Kings in 2008 to the Chicago Bulls. He told our friends over at Cowbell Kingdom that the second trade was "a little tougher this time."

I asked him what he meant by that.

"The first time around was more like a compliment to me. This time I didn't feel that way," said the subdued Salmons. His lone stat in Wednesday's game was 1 rebound in 15 minutes.

Vasquez, who had his feet dipped into a bucket of ice after the game, admitted he is still not back to 100 percent following his offseason ankle surgery. He said the trade was a good thing for him.

"At the time, I was struggling here. It was a tough time and then maybe I needed somewhere else to start all over," Vasquez said.

As is tradition with Kings fans, the former Raptors were greeted with applause when they entered the game, and it didn't go unnoticed.

"I was actually surprised and grateful by the ovation I got when I checked in. I was not expecting that," Hayes said. "I wish them all the best, they have a good young team over there."

Rudy Gay finished the game with 24 points, 10 rebounds, four steals and three assists. He told reporters after the game that he "took the fall for a lot of things" in Toronto. The other player involved in the trade, Patrick Patterson, had a decent game. He finished with 14 points, four rebounds and three assists in 23 minutes. And he was 6-9 from the field and 2-2 from three. The Kings sure could have used shooting like that earlier this season!

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