The Sacramento Kings scored a big victory on the road Sunday as they erased an 18-point deficit in the fourth quarter to upset the Los Angeles Clippers, 98-97. Second-year center Willie Cauley-Stein helped the Kings end a four-game losing streak as he scored the game-winning basket.
In the final frame, with over five minutes remaining, it looked like the Kings were again going to experience a blowout loss. Heading to the Staples Center, they were defeated by double-digits in their last four games. The Oklahoma City Thunder (110-94), San Antonio Spurs (118-102), Milwaukee Bucks (116-98), and the Golden State Warriors (114-100) all managed to dominate Sacramento.
The Clippers were poised to do the same until the Kings clawed their way back. They went on a 22-3 run to cut the lead to a single point, 97-96, with only 1:25 remaining on the game clock.
Both the Clippers and Kings had multiple chances to ice the game with the time left but their attempts were unsuccessful. Sacramento had possession with just less than 10 seconds to work. Guard Ben McLemore went for a teardrop and missed. The good thing was Cauley-Stein was there to get the rebound and go for the putback. He made the shot to place the Kings on top with only 1.8 seconds on the clock.
Los Angeles had the opportunity to prevent a total meltdown. Raymond Felton found Chris Paul who had a slight opening for a jump shot but it did not go in.
In a report by the Associated Press, Cauley-Stein spoke about his game-winner which was the first in a young career. The 23-year-old product of Kentucky also explained how the crucial play happened.
“I just remember taking off and seeing Ben had dunk, layup, whatever, and then the only thing I’m thinking is if this ball comes off I’ve just got to grab it and put it up, and it just came right into my hands,” Cauley-Stein shared following the win.
Cauley-Stein finished with eight points, 14 rebounds, one assist, two steals, and a block, in a team-leading 33 minutes of action. Pacing the Kings on offense was former Clipper Darren Collison who tallied 19 points and had four assists as well. Joining him in the double-digit scoring club were Buddy Hield, Anthony Tolliver, and Georgios Papagiannis. Hield and Tolliver each had 15 while Papagiannis recorded 12 points.
The Kings’ playoff hopes did not improve with the win over Los Angeles but it was a great morale booster. Sacramento remains among the cellar dwellers in the Western Conference with a 28-45 record.
Meanwhile, the Clippers are still fighting to improve their chances of getting home court advantage during the opening round of the postseason. Unfortunately, the defeat did not aid their cause. They are currently at 44-31 to hold the fifth spot in the West.
Leading the way for Lob City versus the Kings was DeAndre Jordan who had a double-double 20 points and 11 rebounds. Following him were fellow Big Three members Chris Paul and Blake Griffin who both contributed 17 points. The loss was tough for “CP3” and he even said it may be the “worst” regular season defeat he experienced in his career.
Four Los Angeles starters, including Austin Rivers, had efficient nights. However, a factor that may have led to the Clippers’ downfall was the lack of help from the bench. Jamal Crawford was the best scorer for the reserves with nine points.
Up next on the Kings’ schedule is a two-game homestand which begins on Monday versus the Memphis Grizzlies. The Clippers, on the other hand, will stay at the Staples Center to face the Washington Wizards Wednesday.
[Featured Image by Danny Moloshok/AP Images]