Imagine attending an NBA game with the Sacramento Kings playing host to the Los Angeles Clippers Monday night at Arco Arena and what evolved before you was an entertaining, competitive – OK, not always well-thought out – contest with both also-rans showing promise for the future.
Ultimately, the outcome came down to the luck of the bounce.
And as things usually go when you’ve lost eight straight and an almost unbelievably-bad 22 of your past 24 games, bounces aren’t exactly flowing on the positive for Sacramento.
Kings’ guard Tyreke Evans hurried a one-handed tap of a missed rebound and tip by rookie DeMarcus Cousins. Evans’ shot rolled off the rim at the buzzer and left the Kings on the negative side of a 100-99 defeat.
Evans began that portion of the possession when it was ruled he’d was in the act of attempting a three-point shot when fouled by Clippers forward Ryan Gomes with 1.9 seconds left.
The whistle appeared to come before Evans stopped dribbling to raise for the shot, but with L.A. holding a 100-97 lead, the second-year guard was awarded three free-throw attempts.
Evans swished the first two attempts, but slightly short-armed the third and it bounced off the rim. Cousins appeared to have an opportunity to tip in the miss, but never left the floor.
“(Clippers’ rookie) Blake (Griffin) pulled me down,” Cousins said of the explosive second-year performer who lined up with inside position on the attempts. “I could have tipped that ball in. But the ref didn’t call it so there is nothing I can do about it. It was a great effort by Blake.
“A sneaky play,” Cousins said of Griffin, “but he did a tough thing.”
Kings coach Paul Westphal said he had a chance to view the replay before entering the post-game media session, but said he didn’t want to comment for fear of being fined.
“Report what you saw,” the coach said.
Once again, the Kings appeared to have defied the odds while leaving the floor in defeat when signs pointed to victory.
The Clippers (10-22) committed 22 turnovers to minimize their their 48-34 rebounding advantage. Sacramento made a season-high 13 three-point field-goal attempts and shot 50 percent from behind the arc.
Evans scored a season-high 32 points during a sweet battle with Clippers guard Eric Gordon (31 points). Evans shot 11 of 24 from the field (including three of six from three-point range) and then dropped another bomb post-game.
Evans said he and agent Bob Myers had discussed possibly undergoing a procedure on his left foot that hopefully would correct the plantar fasciitis giving him problems.
“I talked to my agent about getting something done,” Evans said while admitting he didn’t know much about the procedure.
Evans said it was possible the procedure could be done following the all-star break. He also said the procedure might disable him for three to four months. He did not say why he said last week his foot no longer an issue. Nor did he say why he might wait until mid-February before undergoing the procedure.
Evans appears to be in a quandary about how to get his foot treated.
He also said his agent was supposed to get back to him with more information.
Perhaps the most informative stance Evans took was his foot felt pretty good Monday night and he’s cleared his mind over the weekend aided by an hour-long conversation with his mother visiting from Chester, Pa.
“I didn’t really want to talk to anybody, not my brothers or anybody,” Evans, 21, said. “My mom knocked on my door and I didn’t want to let her in, but I did.”
Smart move, No.1, Evans said because his mom doesn’t play with the cane she uses to help get around.
“I’ve always been pretty laid-back,” he said, “and I usually don’t talk about stuff with people. All this losing has been tough, so I’ve just been trying to go out and have fun. I was trying not to let it show. I talked with my mom and grandma and I’ve got to put it behind me… put it in the past.”
Evans never did get specifically into what has been bothering him over the past couple of months.
“It’s something between me and my family and I’ll just leave it at that,” he said.
Evans also said he was fouled by Clippers guard Baron Davis while attempting a short baseline jumper with about nine seconds remaining and the Kings trailing, 98-97.
“Baron Davis fouled me but (the referees) didn’t call it and we haven’t been getting calls like that all year,” Evans said truthfully.
Perhaps the saddest situation is the Kings realize even the Clippers are getting calls they are not.
It’s clear the officiating crew of Derrick Stafford, Leroy Richardson and Gary Zielinski –already gave all-star status to Griffith, a soon-to-be all-star. Griffith, whose picture can be found in the dictionary next to athletic, beast-like human, scored 24 points, grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds and had four assists.
“It’s not hype with that guy,” Westphal said of Griffith, “he’s really that good.”
His presence was a major reason why the Clippers held a 50-26 advantage in points scored in the paint.
And it didn’t hurt Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro to bring in former Kings forward Ike Diogu, who scored eight points and grabbed six rebounds during 22 minutes.
Said Westphal truthfully and perhaps self-incriminatingly, “I can’t remember a team that has held a fourth-quarter lead recently as many times as we have with nothing to show for it.”