I have been assigned the impossible task of trying to follow up the Sacramento Kings’ final game in the building formerly known as Arco Arena, and more specifically, the incredible video featuring some of the greatest moments in Kings history that the Kings used to play out tonight’s broadcast. In fact, as I’m writing this recap now, I’m sure many of you are still standing in that building, experiencing a moment I am extremely jealous of, but at the same time, incredibly thankful that we have this basketball team, this building, these players, family, friends, etc. That make moments like tonight possible.
I’ll speak for the folks like myself who had to watch this game from hundreds and thousands of miles away when I say that you could feel the emotion throughout tonight’s broadcast. Grant and Jerry were excellent, the returning players were an awesome touch, and everyone inside the Kings organization should be proud of the event they put on. I haven’t been the only one beating this drum, but I’ve said this before – off the court, the Vivek Ranadive-era Kings have been outstanding.
Tonight was about so much more than Kings vs. Thunder, but a basketball game was played, so we might as well talk about it.
Darren Collison. Darren Collison has been on a tear over the last several weeks, and as a member of the rapidly-decreasing-in-size ‘Rajon Rondo hasn’t been as bad as some people say he’s been’ club, it’s really hard to argue against what Collison has been doing with a short-handed roster down the stretch.
It’d be one thing if this was the first instance of ‘good Darren Collison’, but that just isn’t the case. He was playing at ‘top-15 point guard’ level under Michael Malone in the first half of the 2014-15 season, and he’s been back at that level recently.
He was awesome tonight, which the Kings desperately needed considering how much trouble DeMarcus Cousins had with Steven Adams and Enes Kanter. Cousins’ jumper was off, and his drives to the bucket were missing that amazing touch he usually displays. Everything just felt off for him, and then came the foul trouble and eventual foul-out that would force the Kings to finish off the Thunder without him.
Before we get to the finish, I have to mention Seth Curry’s amazing shooting performance that ran through the middle portions of this game. He cooled off towards the end, but the Kings don’t win without his 20 points that included 6-10 shooting from three.
Here’s the thing with Curry – Even if he was just a three-point shooter, he’d provide the Kings with the deep shooting that they’ve desperately needed all season. That is what always drove me crazy about his sporadic playing time. Marco Belinelli wasn’t shooting well, Ben McLemore wasn’t shooting well, and it wasn’t like either of those guys were providing a positive impact elsewhere, so at bare minimum at least you’re getting the shot with Curry. It turns out, he’s also giving you the best ball handling, the best defense, the best decision making, etc. out of the shooting guard crew, and it took the Kings all season to figure this out. Frustrating.
Rudy Gay wasn’t particularly ‘on’ tonight, either, but his late-game foul shooting both hurt and saved the Kings in this one.
Sacramento had a comfortable lead with just seconds remaining before poor foul shooting, bad defensive awareness, and questionable officiating combined to result in a tie game with just seven seconds on the clock
The Kings ran a normally-frustrating Rudy Gay isolation on their final possession, but to Gays credit he beat his man clean off the bounce, used his body to shield contact, forcing his recovering defender to foul him resulting in two free throws that he (thankfully) made. Game over, Kings win, cue touching video documenting the Kings’ history in the old barn.