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Kings fall to Suns 104-99, but progress shines through

Like so many times this season, the Kings managed to fall just short. Nonetheless, it was a fun game to cap off a fun season.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The theme of the evening may have been Fan Appreciation, but the underlying theme was progress.  The Sacramento Kings lost to the Phoenix Suns 104-99, but like so many games this season, it was a loss full of promise.  Throughout the night we were reminded of how far we've come in the past year.  How far we've come as fans, how far the Kings have come as a team, and how far Sacramento has come a city.  The loss is a number in the record books, but it doesn't capture what this game meant.

For the first time in three years, Kings fans found themselves enjoying a season finale without worrying about the future of the team.  We're fans, so we'll always worry about the future, but we know it's our future.  The Kings aren't going anywhere, and we're safe to get excited about the progress we see.

The Kings broadcast featured appearances from Kings President Chris Granger, Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, Kings great and now Hall of Famer Mitch Richmond, Kings GM Pete D'Alessandro, and they all echoed a similar message; what a difference a year makes.  This teams, despite its flaws, it moving towards the future in every way.  The roster is showing signs of improvement, the new arena is on track, and we're able to appreciate our past with the knowledge that we have a future.

At halftime, Mitch Richmond spoke to the fans.  As he's confirmed previously, he affirmed he'll enter the Hall as a Sacramento King.  But he reminded us that he wouldn't be going alone.  He was going to be taking Kings fans with him.  He was joined on the court by his family, Vivek Ranadivé, Chris Mullin, and Jerry Reynolds.  Jerry, Mitch reminded us, was the man who traded to bring Mitch to Sacramento.

As for the game, progress was everywhere.  Ben McLemore had a difficult transition to the NBA, but finished his season on a high note.  Ben played aggressively, and finished with a career-high 31 points, a career-high five assists, and five rebounds.  He shot well from three, from mid-range, and used his athleticism inside.

A quick note on the Suns.  They truly deserved better than this year.  That team played wonderfully, and has the misfortune of playing in the Western Conference.  But they can take some small solace in the fact that they've got a great young team with a bright future.  Archie Goodwin led the Suns with 29 points.  For the Suns perspective, visit our friends at Bright Side of The Sun.

The team as a whole played with a tremendous amount of heart.  The Kings had nothing to play for, and neither did the Suns, yet both teams came out and played hard.  The Kings had multiple highlight alley-oops.  It was a fun show in front of a sellout Sacramento crowd.

Speaking of the crowd, bravo to everyone in the stands.  There was tremendous energy.  You'd never guess this was the capstone to a 28-win season.  And although the team finished this season with the same number of wins as last season, the difference was night and day.  This season has been a pleasure to watch and to cover.  It's been my favorite Kings team to watch and root for in years.  I hope you all have enjoyed it as much as I have.

I know the Kings lost, but I humbly suggest we close out the season with some dance gifs.  What say you?