The Sacramento Kings have gotten into a bad habit. Once again the Kings jumped out to an early lead on the Memphis Grizzlies, leading by as many as 26, only to lose on a desperation play as time expired. On a controversial play (more on that in a minute), the Kings allowed the Grizzlies to score on an inbounds play with 0.3 seconds left in regulation, and lost 111-110.
The controversy stems from a possibly-tipped inbounds pass. The Kings players and Grant Napear firmly believed that Ryan Hollins tipped the inbound pass, meaning the clock should have started and Lee's basket would have been waived off. The refs couldn't see a clear angle confirming the deflection, and one replay appears to show space between Hollins' hand and the ball. The refs decided the play would stand, and the Grizzlies won.
Now, I didn't personally think the ball had been deflected. I was too busy noticing that Rudy Gay and Jason Thompson were both guarding Marc Gasol while Courtney Lee was wide open to convert a beautiful layup. Gasol had screened Gay, and rather than switch, Thompson was still covering Gasol. Perhaps Michael Malone had told the Kings not to switch. Who knows. But it was a terrible defensive breakdown.
Ultimately, whether the refs made the right call or not, the Kings didn't deserve to win the game. The execution in the fourth quarter was terrible. The game's flow disappeared as the refs began calling it tight on both teams. DeMarcus Cousins picked up his first technical of the season, and I won't be at all surprised if it gets rescinded. Lest we blame the refs, Mike Conley also picked up a ticky-tack tech in the fourth, his first of his entire NBA career. According to reporters sitting with Mike Conley Sr., it was Jr's first technical dating back, ever. College, high school, ever. So, yeah, the refs may have gotten a bit whistle happy as they attempted to keep the game from getting too chippy.
Ultimately, we're seeing the Kings go through the growing pains that are common for young teams on their way up. The Kings are proving they can hang with the big guys, they just haven't learned how to play with a big lead. It's normal, but no less frustrating.
For the opponent's perspective, visit Grizzly Bear Blues.