It’s hard to believe that there are such things as fun losses. Well, maybe there aren’t even fun losses. Maybe there are just losses that frustrate you even though it was fun to watch a team attempt an impossible comeback.
After the Kings rolled up on a +35 Chicago Bulls team in December, it always gave you the notion in the back of your mind that the Kings could come back in ANY game. And when they nearly pulled off a comeback when they were down 20+ to the Bobcats a few days ago, it was fun to watch even though the end result wasn’t ideal.
Seeing them try to claw back from a seemingly (and later proved to be) insurmountable deficit against a team that only knows how to win 50 games and go to the playoffs for more than a decade-plus was a lot of fun. The Kings managed to avoid something they have been susceptible to as of late, which is play three really fine quarters and get killed by one really inept quarter. They never really played a bad quarter in this game.
They had a couple of bad stretches throughout that ultimately put them in too deep of a hole to climb out of but managed to break out of that malaise before it became a 12-minute issue. When the Kings cut the lead to 82-81 towards the end of the third quarter, San Antonio went on a 6-0 run to close out the period. When the Kings cut the lead to 92-89 in the fourth quarter, the Spurs put on an 8-0 run and then had a 7-0 run when the Kings got it down to 100-94. By that time it was a 13-point lead with just over two minutes to play and the Spurs were going to cruise to victory.
Except, Tyreke Evans wasn’t cool with letting the clock run out before hitting the showers, getting dressed and leave the arena to do what 20-year old franchise players do in their spare time. He wasn’t going to just accept their beating because they’re the Kings and it was against the Spurs and that’s what is supposed to happen. Instead, Tyreke Evans attempted to challenge some Tracy McGrady magic with a late flurry against a Spurs team that just wanted to move on to the next road game.
- With 1:43 left in the game, George Hill tried to cross over Tyreke Evans on his way to the basket. ‘Reke slapped it away from Hill like he was on an ESPN Wednesday Night Doubleheader, took it the other way and dunked it (2 points: 107-96).
- After a Manu Ginobili travel, Tyreke found Spencer Hawes at the top of the key for a jumper (2 points, 1 assist: 107-98).
- Then with 50 seconds left in the game, Roger Mason Jr proved that he hadn’t been watching the game. He tried an even slower crossover than the one George Hill flashed at Evans. Tyreke ripped that one too, took it down the length of the court before lobbing it up to Donté Greene, who flushed it down (2 points, 2 assists: 107-100).
- After Tim Duncan sinks one of two free throws, Tyreke Evans comes down the floor, puts a move on the Big Fundamental, and easily scores a quick layup with 30 seconds left (4 points, 2 assists: 108-102).
- After Manu Ginobili makes just one of two freebies, the Kings attack again with Tyreke Evans. He uses a horrific moving screen by Nocioni that somehow doesn’t get called and scores a layup against Richard Jefferson and his diabolical goatee (6 points, 2 assists: 109-104).
- After Manu sinks both of his free throws, Tyreke Evans comes down and calmly pops a three-pointer over Keith Bogans with just over six seconds left in the game (9 points, 2 assists: 111-107).
- George Hill makes both of his free throws and the Kings inbound the ball at halfcourt after a timeout. Tyreke Evans finds an open Andres Nocioni for three, who makes it with just over four seconds left in the game (9 points, 3 assists: 113-110).
- George Hill makes two more free throws and Tyreke Evans banks in a three-pointer as time expires, leaving Gregg Popovich with a sheepish shake of the head as he walks off court (12 points, 3 assists: 115-113).
All in all, it wasn’t really that close. The Spurs were always at a safe enough distance from completely blowing a double-digit lead in the final two minutes and ended up closing out the game. But the Kings put pressure on them. Primarily, Tyreke Evans put pressure on them. The Spurs ended up having to be perfect in the closing seconds of the game. They couldn’t miss a free throw. They couldn’t afford to go 1/2 from the line any more. Tyreke Evans was going to make them pay if they did.
It turned a bit of a frustrating loss into a brief moment of hope. I doubt Kings fans really thought this team was going to erase a six-point hole with six seconds remaining in the game. But it showed that Tyreke Evans was capable of going on one of those insane stretches of scoring in the fourth quarter. It’s something to put in his memory bank for another time when the Kings are a much better team, trying to win an important game.
Final Game Notes
- I really like Jon Brockman. He’s been one of my favorite players to watch this season out of anybody in the league. He’s an old school type of player that brings his lunch pail, clocks in to work and throws himself into the other team. He bothers big men. He bothers BETTER big men all the time. He crashes the boards and makes things happen. Going into this game, he was fourth on the team in +/- and possessed one of the best rebounding rates in the entire NBA.
However, he was completely neutralized with DeJuan Blair on the floor. DeJuan Blair is a mythical creature. It’s the only way to describe him. He’s a Minotaur roaming the paint, looking for loose balls, offensive put backs and defensive rebounds that turn every opponent’s trip into a one-and-done. He out-muscled Brockman every step of the way. He was quicker to the ball. He was stronger in grabbing the ball. Brockman bounced off of his opponent for once instead of it being the other way around. There are many times that Jon Brockman is going to get the best of a better opponent. Very few, if any, of those times will be against DeJuan Blair.
- Kevin Martin was completely taken out of the game by the Spurs in the fourth quarter. He attempted four shots but didn’t score. He didn’t score in the final 14:38 of this game. It was great that Tyreke was able to take over and be the almost-hero at home but some help from Kevin Martin in the most important quarter probably gives the Kings a better chance.
- This was the second game of the season in which Spencer Hawes played extremely well against the Spurs. Both games were good games as a result of Hawes being aggressive early and trying to establish himself as a presence down low. He attempted half of his shots around the rim and only took four shots out of close range (and made half of them). He was also very active on the boards and defensively. He blocked three shots and grabbed six rebounds (three offensive). It’s not the type of performance that makes you think he’s an All-Star in the making but it’s also not the type of performance that makes you think this guy might be the next Travis Knight.
- With 46 seconds left in the game, Tyreke Evans had a line of 22 points, seven assists, and seven rebounds. He finished with 32 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. Think about that for a while. It’s preposterous.
- Done thinking about it? Okay, good. Now click this link and look at the list of 20-year old rookie guards in NBA history who have averaged five assists per game in their first year. Not a very long list, is it?
- He’s pretty incredible.