The Sacramento Kings made another valiant comeback effort Sunday afternoon at Sleep Train Arena, coming back from 11 points down in the fourth quarter, but losing to the Golden State Warriors 115-113.
The game very nearly took a dramatic turn with 3:10 remaining. Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins was called for a flagrant-2 while battling under the offensive glass for a rebound. Because Cousins had already been assessed a technical foul in the third quarter, a flagrant-2 and the accompanying technical would mean ejection for the Kings’ big man.
The officials reviewed the play however and assessed Cousins with a common foul, his fifth personal of the game.
The Kings had a 104-102 lead at the time of the near-ejection, but the Warriors took the lead on a 3-pointer by Klay Thompson. Sacramento’s last lead came on a layup by Patrick Patterson with 2:33 to go.
Cousins tied the game twice in the closing seconds, abusing Andrew Bogut on isolations in the low post. But when John Salmons fouled Stephen Curry in a tie game with 8.6 seconds left, sending the dead-eye Curry to the line, Curry hit both free throws to give Golden State a two-point lead.
With no timeouts remaining, the Kings had to take the ball the length of the court. Thomas drove coast-to-coast and had to settle for an off-balance floater in traffic that Bogut swatted and caught out of the air.
Part of the problem with the play at the 3:10 mark is Cousins himself. If it were almost any other player, there wouldn’t have been a question that there was nothing intentional, that whatever elbow was thrown was inadvertent.
But when you’re DeMarcus Cousins and you’ve picked up somewhere in the neighborhood of 8 gazillion technical fouls in less the four seasons in the league (numbers approximate), well, the benefit of the doubt from the officials isn’t happening for you.
The Kings got beat on Sunday by two recurring themes: An inability to get a cohesive finishing play in end-of-clock situations and a complete inability to even slow down opposing backcourts.
Curry scored 36 points and had 10 assists and Thompson had 28 points—64 of the Warriors 115 points from the starting guards.
Sacramento’s bench tried to keep the Kings in the game after three starters—Derrick Williams, Ben McLemore and Greivis Vasquez combined for a less-than-robust 14 points and five turnovers. The bench wound up scoring 65 points, led by Marcus Thornton, who scored 21, including 5-of-8 from 3-point land. Patterson added 18 and Thomas finished with 19 points and eight assists. Cousins led the Kings attack with 24 points, but was limited to only 21 minutes because of foul trouble.
It’s a shame Cousins could keep himself on the floor more—he was 10-of-13 and it was clear Golden State could do absolutely nothing to stop him once he got the ball and a little space to work with; Bogut is a solid defender, but against Cousins’ combination of size and quicks, Bogut making a stop became about as rare as a steak that is still attached to the cow.
Another close defeat leaves Sacramento at 4-11. They continue their homestand Tuesday night when they welcome the Oklahoma City Thunder to Sleep Train Arena at 7 p.m. Pacific.