The Sacramento Kings are still learning how to win as a unit. As sloppy and dumb as their play has been at times this season, they have yet to be totally outclassed by their opponent. On the second night of a back-to-back, its hard enough to win on the road, but the Kings had it in their grasp. But with DeMarcus Cousins picking up SIX fouls in the fourth quarter and fouling out, the Kings could not generate enough good shots in overtime for victory.
Cousins co-led the Kings with 30 points on 16 shots. After a sluggish first half, Boogie came alive in the second half, and nearly delivered a victory. Unfortunately, several questionable calls went the Heat’s way, and Cousins was gone for overtime. Rudy Gay was terrific with 30 points of his own, having his way with a really good young defender in Justice Winslow. Arron Afflalo also delivered his best scoring game of the young season with 18 points, but his passing was a bit too erratic for my tastes.
The Heat got a nice performance from Goran Dragic, with 25 points, 8 assists, and 8 rebounds. Dragic punished the Kings by pushing the pace hard after both misses and turnovers. The Kings were sluggish getting back, leading to many 4-on-3 and 3-on-2 situations where the Heat were able to get clean looks at threes. The Heat crushed the Kings on the fast break 22-6.
After a frustrating first three quarters where the Kings were held at arm’s length by the Heat, it looked like the Kings were finally getting a foothold in the game. Gay burst out for a personal 7-0 run to give the Kings a two point lead at 89-87 with two minutes left. The Kings traded buckets with the Heat before Dion Waiters tied the game at 91 with a tough fadeaway two. The next possession, Cousins drove the lane and made the basket, but was called for an offensive foul. Its true that his off-arm made contact with the defender, but he never extended it, and Hassan Whiteside was riding Boogie the entire way to the basket. That was Boogie’s sixth, and two jacked up shots from Waiters and Gay later, the teams were headed to overtime.
From then on, either because of fatigue or straight up emotional drain, the Kings did not compete with the Heat. They didn’t execute well enough to generate good shots, and the Heat went wild in the halfcourt on the offensive end. Afflalo even picked up a flagrant foul to boot.
Here’s the bottom line: the Kings are now below .500 for the first time this season, and on their season’s first losing streak. Everyone wanted to see what would happen to the locker room in these exact circumstances. The Kings still have three more games on this road trip, so they have ample opportunity to right the ship. Will they collapse or will they fight on? Stay tuned to find out!
For now, here are some quick observations:
- Matt Barnes got the start tonight for Kosta Koufos, and had his worst game of the season, missing on all seven of his shots and throwing the ball all over the court trying to make passes. Even so, I liked how it balanced out the rotation with Koufos coming off the bench, even if it kicked Willie Cauley-Stein out of the rotation. Koufos is rock-solid on defense in the second unit, and chipped in 6 points on 3/4 shooting to boot.
- Garrett Temple is proving to be an excellent signing. His defense on Dragic was outstanding in the fourth quarter, and a big part of the reason the Kings were able to come back. He seemed to fit in nicely at SG next to Lawson at PG.
- Ben McLemore crashed back down to earth after his scorching hot start to the season, but he still was making some competent plays out there. The Kings were also able to finally get good production out of Afflalo, so the SG spot wasn’t a complete black hole tonight.
- Cousins picked up another technical, bringing his total up to an alarming three in only five games. He’s on pace for 49 technical fouls in the season!
- Last time the Kings beat the Heat in Miami was November 10, 2001. That’s 15 straight losses down in South Beach
For the opponent’s perspective, visit Hot Hot Hoops. The Kings next play Thursday in Orlando.