The Sacramento Kings lost in the most fascinating way on Friday. The final score was Jazz 104, Kings 102. The Kings had led by 12 midway through the fourth quarter, and Tyreke Evans had a strong game. The Kings defense had done its job. Marcus Thornton and Aaron Brooks had shot well, and Jimmer Fredette provided a nice job. DeMarcus Cousins was pretty good, basically on par with Al Jefferson.
The Jazz crawled back. On two bad offensive possessions, the Kings fouled Utah players in the backcourt; the Jazz were in the penalty. So Utah caught up the easy way: open shots from the field, open shots from the line. Meanwhile, the Kings went into their prevent offense -- slow it way down, let Brooks or Evans try to create, suffer the humiliation. The only two good possessions in that spell saw Cousins draw a foul in the post and saw Thornton hit the nastiest, coldest tying three we've seen this season. The rest? Slop.
Then some crazy happened. With 30 seconds left, a 102-102 tie and the ball, the Kings took a 20-second timeout. Out of that stoppage, the Kings ran this play: Brooks kills clock at the top of the key (about 18 seconds worth) then drives left on Jamaal Tinsley without a screen, trying to create something. He creates a turnover. Tinsley stripped him clean. (There was some contact with Tinsley's off arm, but c'mon.) Jazz ball. Timeout.
Timeout, I said. Twelve seconds remaining. An opportunity for Keith Smart to a) note to his players that the Kings have no timeouts remaining, and b) make sure there's a play for the other end if there's an opportunity to tie or win. It does not appear that either of those opportunities were taken: the Kings tried to switch everything on defense, Tyreke lost Gordon Hayward, Hayward hit a clean jumper with four seconds left, the Kings all acted as if a) the game was over or b) a timeout was coming, the Kings finally got word there were no timeouts and inbounded just in time to ... James Johnson, who streaked down the floor for a full-sprint 15-foot floater that (shock!) rimmed out. Game over.
This team is really something else.