That one hurt. The Sacramento Kings played well enough to win that game, but fate disagreed. In what can only be described as awful luck, the Kings lost key personnel at critical points in the game, ultimately falling to the Dallas Mavericks 108-104.
The losses began with Rudy Gay suffering some kind of knee ailment 10 minutes into the game, which he did not return from. Gay was scheduled for a precautionary MRI today. Thankfully, DeMarcus Cousins had one of *those* games where he was the first, second, and third best player on the court. Boogie was positively dominant, scoring 32 points on 21 shots, grabbing 16 rebounds, and dishing 9 assists. Cousins showed off his entire array of skills; hitting jumpers, dishing to shooters (Boogie certainly would have had a triple double if the Kings could throw a rock into the ocean, as the team went 1/17 from three point range), bullying Tyson Chandler in the post, and leading the fast break. Boogie singlehandedly powered the Kings to a double-digit lead in the fourth.
Unfortunately, Cousins did have 9 turnovers on the night. And in what can be described as one of the worst calls made this entire season when accounting for the entire situation, Chandler fouled Cousins out in an egregious flop that will certainly have him considered for an Academy Award sooner rather than later. Without him on the floor, the Kings just could not replace Boogie's offense.
The Kings also got a big boost off the bench from Carl Landry off the bench, who started the game hitting his first seven shots on his way to 14 points. Sadly, Lady Luck's evil twin struck again, as Landry hurt his wrist at some point in the third quarter. Although Carl toughed through the injury and stayed in the game, he did not score again, missing jumpers and just looking visually uncomfortable.
Besides Landry and Cousins, the Kings were a horrifying mess shooting the ball. Darren Collison did a good job pushing the ball in transition, but could not buy a bucket from outside the paint. He scored 18 points but only shot 6/20 from the field and had just as many turnovers as assists. The Kings needed some sharp shooting from Ben McLemore, and just did not get that. Although McLemore ran wild in the first half driving and dishing the ball, he missed all five of his three pointers on his way to 8 points on 8 shots. To add injury to insult, McLemore got an inadvertent scrape across the face which knocked him out of overtime as Pete Youngman tried to stop the bleeding.
After allowing the Mavericks to score 60 points in whatever way they wanted in the first half, the Kings started to clamp down defensively, which helped them build a double digit lead in the fourth quarter and kept them within striking distance despite the sputtering offense sans Boogie in overtime. The Mavericks had the ball up one with 20 seconds to go; in an inexplicable move, Ray McCallum allowed 11 seconds to tick off the clock before committing a foul. The Mavericks went up three after two free throws from Monta Ellis, and fouled Collison the next for two free throw attempts. Collison missed a free throw, and that was essentially the end of the game.
This game was really freakish in so many ways. It hurts to lose when the Kings played well enough to win, but destiny was determined to chalk this one up in the loss column. They didn't play perfectly, but pushed the ball on fast breaks, the ball movement was pretty good, and the defense got significantly better after halftime. Regardless, the Kings fall to 16-22 on the season and need to take this game as a learning experience. Getting better is a process and Kings fans are starting to see some real gains, so the team should continue to work at its weaknesses to get better.
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