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Death By Charity

Just for clarification, Beno Udrih and Brad Miller are both career 80% foul shooters. No one on the floor for the Kings is a noticeably better foul shooter than Miller, so you can't fault the decision to inbound the ball to him.

The Kings have lost a number of games by missed free throws over recent years, but this may have been the most egregious. Udrih had the ball up three with 40 seconds left; the Nuggets did not want to foul, but Eduardo Najera got a bit excited about a tie-up opportunity and reached in on Beno. Immediately, this was a bit of relief: the Kings could go up by 5, or at least 4, with two possessions left. Beno missed them both.

You feared the three, of course, going into the next Denver possession. Instead, Carmelo Anthony rode to the rim and scored a lay-in with 17 seconds left. Down 1, the Nuggets must foul. Beno having just missed two, Reggie Theus opted to get the ball to the other good FT shooter -- Miller. One make gives you overtime in the least; two swishes make overtime the worst case scenario. Two misses? Yikes.

And so two misses it were. The Kings still forced Allen Iverson into a bad shot, but couldn't rebound the ball. Linas Kleiza hit one of the more exciting shots you could imagine -- collect the loose ball near the top of the key, check the opposite clock, turn around and fade fade fade away. A brilliant individual play, one which had no business going in considering so few of Denver's outside attempts touched twine. That was the shot which killed Sacramento, not an Anthony drive or a Marcus Camby catch-and-shoot or a J.R. Smith salvo? That's basketball, I suppose.

Of course, the terrible fourth quarter itself was the root cause of the loss, not some free throws. 18 points in 25 possessions, including six turnovers -- three of which came in successive possessions early in the quarter which cut Sacramento's lead from 11 to 6. The shots were questionable; the passing and ball-handling was terrible. The foul shooting, reallly, was just sort of icing.

If things are meant to be, you don't come from ahead to lose impossibly tight games at home.