Rudy Gay decides to take over
The last 30 or so seconds of last night’s game were just a blur in DeMarcus Cousins’ mind.
With John Wall at the line at the end of regulation, the Washington Wizards had a chance to ice the game. But Cousins’ old college teammate shockingly missed not one, but both attempts at the charity stripe. What followed was a sequence of big time plays by veteran forward Rudy Gay.
“Honestly, everything that happened in that last little stretch is kind of just a flash,” Cousins said after last night’s 117-111 victory against the Wizards in overtime. “It happened so fast, so I really just can’t remember play by play. But I know we made some big plays in the end.”
Following Wall’s two misses, Gay made two plays that were part of the momentum shift in the Kings’ favor. First, he grabbed the ensuing rebound off of Wall’s surprising second missed free throw. Then, he went on to sink a game-tying floater with 5.6 seconds remaining in regulation that forced overtime against the visiting team.
“I think those are the best situations not to call a timeout because the defense can’t get set,” said Kings guard Isaiah Thomas, who recorded the first triple-double of his career last night, of his team’s last offensive possession of the game. “And I mean in those situations, he’s a hell of a player and he made big time plays for us down the stretch and he has his whole career.”
Gay’s clutch play at the end of the game was a result of an increased level of aggression in the final quarter of last night’s win over the Wizards. Through the first three periods of action, Gay had scored just eight points on an inefficient 3-of-8 shooting from the field. The 27-year-old veteran turned his game around in the fourth quarter and overtime, where he combined to score 16 of his 24 points on the night.
“At that point, I didn’t think I was part of the game so I think I had to pick it up,” Gay said of what changed for him offensively in the last quarter of regulation.
Instead of being a bystander in the Kings offense, Gay seemed to take command of the game when it mattered most. Observers and critics might perceive that as a selfish approach, but Gay’s teammates don’t think so. Instead, they saw it as a matter of getting out of the way while one of their team’s best players caught fire.
“I just don’t think that he was really in a rhythm the first three quarters,” Thomas said when asked if he thought Gay took a more demanding stance in the game’s closing periods. “Especially in the second half, I don’t think he got in a rhythm. That’s just how the game was going. And once he got one shot to go, it kind of got him going and he was unguardable.”
At times, the 27-year-old forward has just tried to fit in during the 44 games he’s played in a Kings uniform. But for the most part, Gay has been everything Sacramento has needed and more since his arrival from the Toronto Raptors in December.
“It’s kind of at a stale moment here,” Gay said Tuesday night of the where the Kings are at this point in another losing season. “It’s kind of gotten stale to a point where you play and you realize that you’re trying to build for the future, but I still have to go out there and be myself and I’m just trying to do that as much as I can.”