I was already writing my “Kings come out flat in the second half and blow a lead to lose” story. It sure looked as if the game was headed that way after the Washington Wizards took an 81-70 lead with 8:56 to play.
After the first quarter, the Kings just hadn’t played with the energy and effort needed to win, especially against a team that needsto improve its playoff positioning.
But Rudy Gay got rolling, and Isaiah Thomas and DeMarcus Cousins found their offense, and the Kings managed to pull out a 117-111 win in overtime over Tuesday at Sleep Train Arena.
I wrote about Gay for the newspaper, because how he finished the game is what the Kings envisioned when they traded for him in December.
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That’s the only way a triple-double by Thomas could not lead a story.
Thomas said it was his first triple-double at any level. He had 24 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists; it was a career high for rebounds.
“Isaiah is someone that gets a lot of criticism for being a guy that may not be a true point guard,” Kings coach Michael Malone said. “You can call him a lot of things, but you have to give him his props because he’s a warrior and he has a huge heart. For him to go out there and get 24-11-10 while being the smallest guy on the court was tremendous. The fact that he did it against one of the rising stars in the game, John Wall, is that much more impressive. I’m really proud of Isaiah and his first career triple-double. I’m sure it won’t be his last. We just need more of that from him.”
Thomas made a three-point shot with 17.6 seconds to play to bring the Kings within two. AfterWall missed two free throws, Gay tied the game with 5.6 seconds to play.
“Coach drew up a play for me to shoot a three,” Thomas said. “I missed the first one, and then DeMarcus got the rebound and found me again and I knew I had to make the second one. I just had to set my feet and keep my follow through and it went in. So it gave us a chance.”
• The Kings managed to execute in the final minute (aided by Wall’s missed free throws) after not knowing when to foul two games ago in Chicago.
That included not calling a timeout after Wall’s missed free throws and allowing Gay to create on his own.
“I think those are the best situations not to call a timeout,” Thomas said. “The defense can’t get set and in those situations he’s a hell of a player. He made big-time plays for us down the stretch. And he has his whole career.”
• Someone asked Cousins about the Kings’ “big three” being the key to wins: “It’s not just us three. We need the whole starting five, we need those guys on the bench and our coaching staff. It’s not just about us three. Everybody has a role on this team and we depend on that person to do their role every night.”
• Kings guard Ben McLemore got off to a good start with nine points, making four of his first seven shots. But McLemore’s shot was off the rest of the night and he finished 5-for-17.
It might something to do with having to guard Bradley Beal. McLemore also played a game-high 50 minutes, which certainly could have worn him down.
Beal finished with 19 points on 7-for-23 shooting.
• The Kings continue to struggle with turnovers. They had 20 – but only one in overtime.