What a strange way to end the season.
Not a whole lot to say with the last game of the 2009-2010 campaign for the Sacramento Kings. The Lakers were without their star player and the Kings might as well not have suited up their star player either. It was pretty competitive for most of the game. At a certain point in the third quarter, it looked like the Lakers would decide this didn’t need to be a game anymore. People stepped up for them that simply aren’t good or consistent NBA players. There were encouraging signs from certain Kings players and other guys just finished out on a frustrating note.
The Kings kept fighting though as they have all season long. A lot of teams, especially young teams, would not have fought through this game and tried to win it at the end. They would have rolled over, been blown out by 20+, and happily started their vacation a couple hours early. But this Kings team tried to get one more victory and that’s what you can take from a game and a season like this. The Kings are no longer pushovers.
They’re fighters and competitors. You saw it with the Blazers a couple years ago when they were rebuilding. You saw it with the Thunder last year before they made their leap this year. There is a difference between being a 25-win team who was a laughing stock all season long (Warriors) and being a 25-win team who people were worried about losing to all season.
And with that, on to some final game bullets for the season. Several things happened in this game that just aren’t the norm. There were also several good things to note with this final Kings performance.
- Jason Freaking Thompson. Have yourself a game, sir. I got to talk to Jason Thompson briefly after the Kings final home game on Monday night and I walked away amazed at how focused he was at the end of a frustrating season. He’s been through a lot personally and physically. But here he was matching Pau Gasol for most of this game. He finished with 19 points, 16 rebounds, five assists and two steals in 44 minutes of play. He was simply everywhere.
I think JT can be an All-Star in this league. The things I saw from him in the first couple months of the season and the way I’ve seen him overcome adversity and a big slump through the middle of this season shows me that he’s just scratching the surface of how good he can be. With the way he can compete on the boards, I wouldn’t be entirely shocked for him to approach Top 5 in rebounding next year.
- I love that Beno Udrih finished with the game he did. He poured in 21 points, 11 assists and didn’t commit a single turnover. He was killer from the mid-range as he always is. He made a huge three to make this game a lot closer than the Lakers wanted it to be late in the game. He also carved up the defense with his passing all game long. He won’t end up getting it but I think it’s safe to say that Beno Udrih has to be among the most improved players in the NBA this year.
- I didn’t know it was Simon Phoenix Night at Staples Center.
It’s an interesting look for the two guys. Thankfully the Kings don’t employ anybody named John Spartan:
(Careful. There is a little language in the video)
- Let’s get to Tyreke’s ejection from this game. We finally saw a frustrated Tyreke Evans and how it can backfire being an expressive rookie in this league. He was in early foul trouble that probably started the frustration. He was on his way to having a nice game as he carved up whatever Shannon Brown was trying to do out there defensively. Then when he came back into the game to start the third quarter, he clearly didn’t agree with the officiating.
Referee Derek Richardson was too kind of the treatment he got from Tyreke after the third play in the early part of the third in which Tyreke thought he was fouled. It looked like he had a pretty decent case (especially the play in which Ron Artest fouled him) but at the same time, you can’t mouth off as a rookie. He clearly said some magic words to get him kicked from the game. It’s not the way anybody expected him to finish such a historic rookie season. I did enjoy this quote from Paul Westphal after the game:
“I thought he could have got by with one technical and the world would keep spinning just fine,” Kings coach Paul Westphal said.
- It was also good to see Francisco Garcia end an injury-filled season with a very nice offensive game off the bench. He did a little bit of everything. Most of his 15 points came in the first half but he did have a couple of big buckets in the fourth quarter to help the Kings almost pull off another nice comeback.
- Overall, it was another road loss for the Kings. They had a rough year away from Arco Arena. In this instance, they lost a game because Shannon Brown and Sasha Vujacic were inexplicably good. Those two are usually some of the worst players on the court. It just happened to be their night.