For a Kings fan, there is no greater joy than beating the Lakers. Even when Sacramento is fighting with Minnesota for the No. 14 spot in the conference, even when L.A. has two straight titles, even when it's no great salve for the issues that face the franchise ... man, holy Lord alive, it is wonderful. Check out the glee-ridden post-game thread if you don't believe me.
The Kings, one of the worst offenses in basketball, shredded the Lakers. Sacramento shot 51 percent from the floor, and had an incredible 15 offensive rebounds in 36 opportunities. The turnovers (16) were high, and the free throw shooting (12-18) was poor. But in all, it came out to 1.157 points per possession for the Kings, exceedingly good.
Sacramento's defense, especially late, was fine too. The Kings stopped rebounding well in the fourth quarter -- the Lakers had seven of their 15 offensive boards in the final period -- but the shooting defense cranked up, holding L.A. to 7-26 shooting. The Kings flew all over the court, contesting every shot, making L.A. earn its points. Though over the course of the game L.A. ended up with a solid offensive rating (1.099 points per possession), the Kings defense was worthy, especially in the second half. Credit to everyone who played. They worked, and it paid off.
DeMarcus Cousins, of course, was the star. He scored 27 points on 11-19 shooting -- many of the makes unsustainable rainbow 20-footers, sure -- and had 10 rebounds. His defense on Andrew Bynum was shocking in its quality. Bynum still cranked out 12 points and had some marvelous finishes. But for the balance of the game, Cousins defended Bynum straight up, forcing a few turnovers and making shots tougher than they'd normally be.
Omri Casspi wasn't too shabby either. He did his best to limit Kobe Bryant in the second half; the former MVP had 21 points in the first quarter with Tyreke Evans and later Donté Greene guarding him. Casspi took primary Kobe duty in the second half, while Evans switch on to Ron Artest. Kobe had just two points in 10.5 minutes in the third, and though he scored 10 points in the fourth, he needed 11 field goal attempts and six free throws -- or 14 shots, basically -- to get them. Casspi deserves a prize of wonderful glamor.
And, ahhh Kobe. This game is why Henry Abbott has to write such a detailed, comprehensive takedown of the myth that Kobe is the king of clutch. Because Kobe fans, Lakers fans, casual NBA fans won't remember this Kobe performance, where he went 1-5 in the last five minutes, where he bricked two critical threes with less than 20 seconds left and his team down five. Kobe's bricks won't be on SportsCenter. No one will GIF them. They won't be embedded on every NBA blog. They won't be remembered.
You wonder where that 33 percent on Kobe's clutch shots comes from? Nights like that.